The most expensive part of my American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum Challenge trips to Europe is coming up this week when I fly back from San Francisco to Bergen, Norway on British Airways and then fly SAS north to Evenes Airport EVE in Arctic Norway. I have five nights booked using 80,000 Choice Privileges points. I paid $565 to purchase 74,000 points in the past month.
The good news is Choice Privileges has Cash & Points function working online with its new website. The Cash & Points function was out of commission when I made my Norway reservations in late July. The value of Choice Privileges Cash & Points is the option to redeem 8,000 points per night and buy the remaining points needed at the rate of $7.50 per 1,000 points. Most Nordic Choice Hotels in Norway are 16,000 points per night, meaning you can pay 8,000 points + $60 for a hotel night.
Last week I stayed at Clarion Collection NO13 in Bergen for 12,000 points. This hotel is 8,000 points + $30 with a Cash & Points rate. The hotel room rate was $240 USD the night I stayed there last week.
Rain Forecast for Norway
Unfortunately, the forecast is for rain the entire four days I will be in the Polar region of Norway. My plans were to tour Lofoten Islands, a photographer’s paradise, according to several articles I have read.
Bus service looks like a slow way to tour the islands. In the past hour, I reworked several hotel nights of my Norway trip to minimize the ground travel time. I had planned on a three hour bus ride from Harstad to Svolvaer on the Lofoten Islands, where there is a Best Western hotel I booked for $93 USD.
My plans are to minimize my time traveling between hotels and focus on taking every opportunity to be outside around Harstad, Norway when the weather is best. There are still about 13 hours of daylight from 6:15 am to 7:15 am, with 8 fewer minutes each passing day.
The Transit Time Suck
Carrie at FreakinFlyers.com wrote an article last week: 8 things we still haven’t figured out about nomadic life (September 5). The two aspects I can relate to with my travel lifestyle are the pain of doing laundry and the productivity time suck of transiting between places.
Minimizing Transit Time
It’s really hard trying to be productive on transit days, even when the “transit” is as minimal as crossing town and checking into a new hotel. Somehow switching hotels can quickly eat up multiple hours. SOMEHOW.
This baffles us all the time, because it only really takes half an hour to pack up our things. But by the time you’re actually checked out and on your way, that can add another 20 minutes. Let’s say your next hotel is just a ten minute taxi ride away. Then assume it takes another 20 minutes to check in, unpack our laptops and get them successfully signed online. Another hour can be added if the internet isn’t working (see above point), or if we never managed to grab lunch before checking out of our previous hotel (as tends to be the case,) and now we have to explore a bit to find a cheap lunch spot.
My original plans meant arriving at Evenes Airport, Norway at 5:30pm, taking an hour bus ride to Harstad to check-in to a hotel, then getting up the next morning to take a 3-hour bus ride to the Best Western hotel in Svolvaer. Hang out in Svolvaer hiking around and snapping photos, then take a 3-hour bus ride back to Harstad, before flying back to Bergen.
This week’s rain forecast for the Lofoten Islands changed my plans this morning. In lieu of seeing more of the Lofoten Islands from a bus window, I decided I will stay put in the same hotel and take in the surroundings of Harstad, the biggest town around (25,000 residents) with services like grocery stores and retail shops.
Spending time in the Arctic has been on my travel list for many years. If all travel plans go as scheduled, then I will be writing Loyalty Traveler from 68°48′00″N 16°32′45″E over the weekend.
The rain and wind and temperatures in the 40s won’t stop me from hiking around Harstad, Norway. The pair of shorts I packed for my trip last week hiking around Bergen will remain in California. My luggage this trip will hold Goretex rain pants, wool sweaters, and hiking boots.
And I’ll pray to the sun god for moments of clear skies to shine over me.