Travel Tips - Things you might not have thought of!
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    1. #1
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      Travel Tips - Things you might not have thought of!

      I thought it would be helpful to post some things that would make the trip easier. Some things relate to OSD specifically, others just general travel to Europe.
      Please add on.
      [Can we make this a sticky note?]
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    2. #2
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      A tip for Credit card use in Europe: most places in Europe require a 4 digit PIN number to use with your credit card. Make sure you have one, call you bank to set one up if you don't have one. Also, be sure to tell them you will be out of the country - when and where you will travel -- to make sure you don't end up having your charges denied [as fraud protection].

      European cards have chips in them, since we don't your cards will be swiped, but almost all machines will ask for your PIN. Also, some gas stations [unmanned ones in France for example] won't take US cards since they don't have chip.

      Another big user of chip only cards are railway ticket booths. If there is a manned booth, no problem as they will swipe. But automated machines won't work.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    3. #3
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      Carry a backup credit card, and bring photocopies of cards with you. If you own more than one credit card, carry a backup card just in case your primary card doesn't work. If you can carry the backup card in a different place from your main card, such as a hidden "neck safe," so much the better.

      Also, it's wise to make photocopi...es of your cards (including the customer-service phone numbers on the back) so you can report any theft or loss of your card immediately. Keep the paper copies separate from your cards, and if you're traveling with a companion, let the other person have a copy of your card information.

      Also, make copies of your passport info page [the one with picture]. Don't go out and about with your passport, you won't need it. Take the copy with you and leave the real one in the in-room safe.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    4. #4
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      INSURANCE. Make sure your medical insurance will cover you in Europe. If you are on Medicare and only have Original, you won't be covered. Some MedicareSup plans [or other Private Insurance Sup plans] will cover you, but check to be sure.

      If you have private insurance, check with them to be sure of coverage and what documentation they would need so you can get it while on the trip; getting it after the fact when you are home will be harder.

      Also consider travel cancellation insurance in case you can't go. [Happened to someone that posts on swedespeed.] And consider medical evacuation insurance, in case you need to be flown home. We used http://www.travelexinsurance.com/ It cost us about $100 for the 2 of us for 26 days and 4 countries, for supplement insurance, evacuation etc. Peace of mind.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    5. #5
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      Most ATM and credit cards from US charge foreign transaction fees. We signed up for Capital One Venture Credit Card which offers no annual fee, 0% interest for a year and absolutely NO fees. We also signed up for their online banking account to get the same NO fee ATM card. It was easy to do - all online and they will even transfer money from your regular bank acct to new one to set it up. Easy peasy.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    6. #6
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      Bring some kind of music with you if you are going to be driving around in the new car. No English language stations in Gothenburg nor on the way to Oslo. Satelitte radio doesn't work in Europe. Bring CD's, or some device for music.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    7. #7
      Junior Member dmcj's Avatar
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      Deb,

      Thanks for all the awesome tips!
      My wife was raised in Albuquerque and we were just down there last weekend visiting her Mom over Mothers Day weekend.
      We have ordered a 2012 XC60 and are waiting for our confirmation letter from Volvo. Expecting to head over to Gothenburg in Aug/Sep for a couple of weeks in Europe. We are both enjoying figuring out where we want to go. Thanks again for all the hints and heads-up...
      Dave

    8. #8
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      Bought a Garmin nuvi 275 refurbished on E-Bay for $140 and this unit has both Europe and North America maps. It was a life saver and it even tells you when there is traffic jams and police cameras.
      I don't use it here as our cars have built in navigation although this Garmin is a much better unit than the factory unit in our XC60.
      Heading to Scotland next month to play golf for two weeks and I will be taking this unit along to navigate our way to 15 different golf courses that I have already pre-programmed into the device. The only concern now is driving on the left side of the road and hitting fairways and greens.

    9. #9
      Good info ...and thoughtful of you to offer your help for future OSD'ers. Tack sa mycket
      Bob Kennedy
      University Volvo OSD Mgr
      Charlotte NC
      VOLVO FOR LIFE
      http://www.universityvolvo.com/volvo...as-program.htm

    10. #10
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      Det är vad vänner är för
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    11. #11
      Global Moderator GrecianVolvo's Avatar
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      I will make it a sticky. It would be a good idea to start using the title field, if you have something new (and useful!) to post. Therefore, each post (and new idea) will be easy to identify on a per need basis.
      2001 Volvo V70 T5 M SR, Classic Red/Graphite Lthr, TME Stage II ECU, 3" Downpipe w/ Cat-back exhaust from MTE, Volvo Roadholding & Lowering Kit w/ Nivomats, 17" PEGASUS, Rear Spoiler, Dolby Surround Sound
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    12. #12
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      Tack
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    13. #13
      Deb ..

      Du måste tala grekiska för Yannis så han kommer att förstå

      Great idea Yannis!!

      Don't forget to pack a power converter for your rechargable items ...cameras/laptops/cellphones and for the ladies blowdryers/curlers.
      Last edited by universityvolvoOSD; 05-14-2011 at 11:44 AM.
      Bob Kennedy
      University Volvo OSD Mgr
      Charlotte NC
      VOLVO FOR LIFE
      http://www.universityvolvo.com/volvo...as-program.htm

    14. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by universityvolvoOSD View Post

      Don't forget to pack a power converter for your rechargable items ...cameras/laptops/cellphones and for the ladies blowdryers/curlers.
      Actually, cell phones, cameras and laptops can actually be plugged into outlets without converter! Check the fine print on the power source for each of these items and it should be clearly stated[in really tiny letters, but it's there]

      What you do need [thanks for the reminder]is an outlet ADAPTER!! We had some old ones but our laptop plug has a ground prong in addition to the regular 2 prongs, so we had to buy one. The outlets everywhere we went had 2 round holes for the plug to go in. We actually bought the adapter in Gothenburg. It was about $12 or so. We bought it here: http://www.nordstan.se/shopping/buti...kmagasinet.php The store was in Nordstan, a shopping center just a few minutes walk from the Radisson Blu.

      Adapter looks like this;
      http://www.amazon.com/American-Europ...5398329&sr=8-2
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    15. #15
      Hey Deb -

      Want to toss up the link you posted for the discount Choice hotels - started pricing out rooms on my exact dates and its going to save me a ton, thanks a bunch!

      http://www.choicehotels.no/choice/en/lowPriceCalendar

    16. #16
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      Quote Originally Posted by DMage View Post
      Hey Deb -

      Want to toss up the link you posted for the discount Choice hotels - started pricing out rooms on my exact dates and its going to save me a ton, thanks a bunch!

      http://www.choicehotels.no/choice/en/lowPriceCalendar

      We also saved a LOT and the hotels were clean, comfortable and convenient.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    17. #17
      Quote Originally Posted by DebitNM View Post
      We also saved a LOT and the hotels were clean, comfortable and convenient.
      Did they charge you for the rooms up front when you booked, or did they charge you when you checked in? The site contradicts itself. At the bottom when you 'submit' your reservation it says you will be charged immediately, however in the rate section it says payment is due upon arrival at the hotel. Made a booking today for Stockholm and didn't see anything hit the credit card yet - want to make sure it went through. Thanks!

    18. #18
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      It said it was prepaid, but in fact it never hit the credit card prior to check in. I wondered if it went through too, but we were ok on all 3 ressies.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    19. #19
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      Let your bank know dates you will be gone--my card got "frozen" when I was in France (8 to 9 hrs time diff. for me to contact bank). Banks are pro-active in protecting you!!!

    20. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by mrb View Post
      Let your bank know dates you will be gone--my card got "frozen" when I was in France (8 to 9 hrs time diff. for me to contact bank). Banks are pro-active in protecting you!!!
      This is very important, especially if travelling abroad is not an every day thing for you. Let the bank know what countries you will be travelling to and thru. You may only be stopping over in Copenhagen, but you may want to do some duty free shopping at the airport.

    21. #21
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      I did mention above to let your bank know you will be out of the country but it can stand to be repeated. My bank even asked the dates, just to be sure that the charges were during the right time frame. One thing I didn't mention - in all of the places were went, the waiters had hand-held card readers, so you never lost sight of your card. I liked that a lot and wish we had them here in the US. I don't like watching a waiter walk off to some dark corner with my card, to swipe it.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    22. #22
      I had a heck of a time trying to book train travel on http://www.sj.se as they do not take American credit cards. I tried Visa, MasterCard, and Amex. Found out that they use something called 3D Secure, its a different version of Verified by Visa than we use in the US. But, if you have a Visa card that allows you to sign up for Verified by Visa, you can book through http://www.bokatag.se/. Same tickets, same price, just a different rail company that sells SJ tickets as well. Finally was able to purchase Stockholm -> Goteborg today!

    23. #23
      Something I would definitely recommend in addition to a GPS: printed directions, point to point! Our GPS often had trouble finding a satellite signal, especially in the Norwegian fjords, but also in Copenhagen and Oslo...I had thought I was being a little too obsessive about bringing printed GoogleMaps directions as well, but we were definitely glad to have them every time we got in the car. (We still got lost sometimes, but probably a lot less often than we would have otherwise!) The road signage in general was not abundant, so we were really glad also to have something that gave an idea of how long it would be before a certain exit or cross street came up--otherwise, we would have driven right by a turn that we wanted, because the sign was almost immediately before the road itself.

      We found that GoogleMaps were pretty accurate, if you had actual addresses to input; this site, Visveg also was pretty good...it has an English icon you can select, along with options for fastest, shortest, or tourist routes.

      One other thing to keep in mind, at least in Norway: as others have said before, not only are the speed limits lower than in the US, but the roads are mostly 2-lane (ie, one lane in each direction), very winding, and often traffic is going slower than the max. speed possible because of the big tour busses or wagons pulling campers or whatever. We found that our travel times in Norway were always at least one and a half to two and a half hours longer than the estimated times given in Google or Visveg, and that doesn't include getting lost!

      The highways in western Sweden seemed very similar to US highways -- multilane, with traffic going at a somewhat faster clip than Norway.

    24. #24
      Junior Member drummerben's Avatar
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      European Hours!

      We found that places typically open late and close early compared to the US. For instance, on our last evening in Gothenburg, we went strolling around the shopping area only to find that a lot of shops were not open on Sunday, and the ones that were, even at the mall, closed at 4pm. We found the same to be true in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo. Just keep in mind that weekend hours are more limited in Europe than in the US. We were really sad that a little design shop we happened upon in Gothenburg was closed on our last day. If there is a certain place you're planning to go, be sure to check their hours first and arrange your schedule accordingly.
      2012 XC60 T6 | Ice White | Soft Beige-Espresso | Platinum | Climate | August OSD

    25. #25
      Junior Member drummerben's Avatar
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      Tipping.

      This has been covered in a couple of threads, but it's probably good to reiterate it here. We asked our servers in each country (Sweden, Norway, Denmark) about tipping and got similar answers. Tipping at a restaurant is not expected like it is in the US. Servers there are paid more and less dependent on tips. Our servers said that not tipping isn't considered rude at all. Sometimes people tip, sometimes they don't. If you do decide to tip, the standard seems to be 8-10% for good service. Good service is also relative as most restaurants w visited seemed under-staffed compared to US standards. In fact, at one crowded restaurant, our server would disappear for 15-20 minutes at a time. Then I finally spotted him and realized where he was disappearing to...he was also a line chef in the kitchen!
      2012 XC60 T6 | Ice White | Soft Beige-Espresso | Platinum | Climate | August OSD

    26. #26
      Hi All

      Here are some tips from my recent OSD and two+ weeks spent in Norway. Some of this maybe Norway specific. Also some of this is focused on cost savings. Norway is really expensive especially if you want to live like an American while you are there.

      Utilizing Volvo

      The Volvo people did a great job of making airline reservation and we also paid them a modest fee to make an additional night reservation at the Radisson for the end of our trip. Frankly they were able to get a better price on the room than I could.

      Note that the FDC will provide transportation from the airport to your Gothenburg hotel, Gothenburg hotel to the FDC for car pickup, from the FDC to your Gothenburg hotel after drop off and from the Gothenburg hotel to the airport on your departure. A great cost savings!

      Plan to get an early morning delivery at the FDC. It will give you time to visit the Volvo Museum (the FDC front desk will give you free passes). It is a short drive from the FDC but will give you a chance to drive the car and get familiar with driving in Sweden. You can then have lunch at the FDC and still have time to take the factor tour-don’t be late for the tour, they tend to leave a little early-almost missed it. If you leave the FDC right after the tour, you should be in Oslo by 6:30 or so.

      Trip Planning

      I booked the bulk of my trip/time in Norway through Authentic Scandinavia http://authentic-scandinavia.com/ . They had a number of “canned” trips in both Norway and Sweden, most designed for those touring via auto. They did a great job and we managed everything by e-mail and payment via wire transfer. They made all the hotel reservation, provided a day-by-day driving itinerary, provided vouchers for all of the ferry crossing and tunnels. The only thing we paid additional was parking, meals, fuel, tolls etc. Each of their “canned” trips can be adjusted to add additional time in a certain city or add cities. This made planning this part of the trip really easy.

      Although I enjoyed many aspects of Bergen and Oslo, we liked the farther north areas much more. Bergen has a neat waterfront and Oslo many museums etc but they are wet and fairly crowded. The fjords towns, especially Balestrand and Geiranger are beautiful but the weather tends to stack up in the fjords so do not expect those blue sky days like in the tour books. Kristiansund, Molde, Bud, Trondheim are all in the north and the area is more like the Northeast coast of the US (Maine etc). Striking archipelagos and easy travel. We got within about 250 miles of the Arctic Circle but if there is a next time, we will go much further north like to Lofoten etc.

      I organized all of our travel materials, itinerary, supplemental maps, flight stuff, car purchase documents, travel vouchers, FDC information etc into a book which I spiraled bound at Kinko’s. I also included a manila envelope so we could add documents as needed. We had two copies, a primary for in the car and a back up in the luggage.

      Be aware that it takes forever to drive in Norway. Generally once away from the major highways the speed limits are 35-45 mph, winding roads with many obstacles. This is really important because we found that for the most part we had to drive 4-6 hours per day on what appeared to originally be a leisurely itinerary. We were glad to have booked second days in some places just to get a chance to see something other than the inside of the car.

      Oslo and Bergen are a pain in which to drive. Oslo is brutal (I lived in Seattle for 35 years so I get driving in a city). If you go, you will want to park your car in a well secured garage (it will cost $35-$60 a day) and walk/take public transit. Oslo and Bergen are about 8 hours apart by car of focused driving with yes 52 tunnels. I would suggest a night in between at Geilo, a nice mountain/ski area. Stayed at the Bardola in Geilo and really enjoyed it.

      If you go to Oslo for a few days or will go on to Bergen/Geilo I would suggest a slight diversion to Hadeland Glassverk in Jevnaker http://www.hadeland-glassverk.no/english/. Worth every minute spent to get there and tour the extensive location. Great shopping (and I hate shopping) and the café offers some nice sandwiches etc (split the lox sandwich it is ample for two).

      Of you got to Balestrand I would recommend a stop at the home of Solveig and Rolf Haukaas. They are internationally renowned enamel artists and their home/workshop is near the Dragsvik ferry dock. Ask a local in Balestrand and they can give you directions. Rolf will give you a presentation on their processes in English and you can buy their work on-site, be sure to bring cash.

      Note that the summer weather can be wet and the tourist season is short. We encountered rain everyday from 8/23-9/8. We wore long pants everyday and every picture we have we are either wearing rain or polar fleece jackets (sometimes both). Bring gear for rain including an umbrella. Also know that the tourist season comes to an end beginning 8/15. From that time on, lots of attractions either begin to close or have severely limited hours. Many of the museums that we wanted to visit were either closed or on such limited hours (10-3) that we could only see one or two in a day. But the positive is that the crowds are non-existent at the end of the season.

      Flam Railway-Nice trip but a few tips. If you drive there, your GPS will likely direct you up a little paved side road off the highway through a sheep pasture. This will take you into Flam but not to the railway station. If you have time, drive into Flam as it is very pretty (you will see it on the train). To get to the train station, you have to drive under the highway overpass (left on the off ramp) as the station is at the end of the Fjord. It was not crowded when we were there but apparently it gets really crowded. If you can, sit on the side of the train that has three seats across rather than the side that has two seats across. The three seat side has most of the eye candy/photo ops.

      Books

      Rick Steves has a pretty good book on Scandinavia. It is a little light on Norway but he does a good job on Bergen and a really good job on Oslo (it is worth the price just for the Oslo piece). For Norway, I would strongly recommend the Norway book as part of the Eyewitness Travel series. Traveldk.com. Available at the large book retailers (if any are still in business).

      Laundry Tip

      Never could find a place to do some laundry-hotels were absurdly expensive to do it. At my local grocery store, in the travel sized products area, they had a travel size kit of three packets of Tide detergent (about $2). It is made to wash things out in a sink etc. Technique is to wash the stuff, roll up a towel and then hang in the bathroom. Most of the hotels have heated floors in the bathroom, so just crank up the heat and shut the door, even athletic socks, cotton pull over shirts, etc will be dry in the morning.

      Eating

      Food and dining out is really expensive. Dinners will easily run $30-$80 per person and you should expect it to be $40-$70 each. I enjoy good food but you can really save in this area:

      1. Eat like a local. All the decent hotels provide an outstanding Scandinavian breakfast inclusive with the room fee. Watch what the locals eat and follow along. Have a bowl of yogurt and grains with a dollop of their excellent jam. Follow with an open-faced sandwich with some great cheeses, meats and various fish products. Finish up with some fruit. That meal may well last you till dinner.

      2. For lunch (if we ate lunch) and often for dinner, we ate stuff we bought at the local grocery store (especially Rema 1000 and Spar). Note that often grocery stores are hidden in the downtown malls (look for COOP signs etc) Many rooms had mini fridges for the mini bar stuff. We just took out their stuff and put in ours. The local breads are superior to those in the US and the deli meats/cheeses are very affordable. Give up soda as it is out of sight-about $6 for a pint-sized bottle of coke. Beer is also very expensive, about $35 a six pack so we drank those sparingly.

      3. Be prepared to picnic as above. We bought a picnic set from Rick Steves website http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/ca...tId=126&id=369 -about $10 and included sturdy knives, forks, spoons and a wine opener in a carrying case. I added my Swiss army knife. We also brought along a big hand full of individually wrapped hand wipes, about 30 granola bars, and a few Ziploc bags. All in all we figured that we saved in excess of $600.00 each just on meals and we still ate well.

      4. Places to eat:

      ·In Gothenburg there is a little hole in the wall sushi place about 5-10 minutes walking from the Radisson. Go out the front door of the Radisson, turn left to first street, turn left at that street and go to the first street and turn right. Go about mid-block and it is on the right hand side, address Drottninggatan 50. It is called Super Sushi, there is another sushi place across the same street but we did not try it. Super Sushi is little, filled with young locals. Menu is simple but the quality is good (and I am picky about raw fish-also have vegetarian), price is really cheap (two of us ate large meals for about $16 each). The staff speaks a little English and is fast. Does not look like much but ate there twice and it was fine-can do take out as well.


      · In Oslo Deli De Luca has a couple of locations. Good sandwiches that they will heat up about $12 each. Also some good Chicken Szechwan, Beef Chop Suey thing and a Chicken Vindaloo (sp). To order one of these, just tell them what you want, they will put some in a container for you to approve. They will weigh it out to calculate charge and then ask them to fill the container with rice. They will heat it up and give you forks to take away. Enough for a light supper for two is about $12. Also I can recommend Ikea. If you have one locally you know about it but if you do not, Ikea has a great dining area in the stores. A wide selection with an ample portion of Swedish meatballs, potatoes, gravy and jam for about $12 each. Very popular with the locals, so can be crowded. Also they always have great parking and it is preloaded in the Garmin.


      · In Bergen again try Deli De Luca (they are in the Garmin as well).


      · In Balestand if you do not want to spend $100 each to eat at the buffet at the Kviknes hotel then try the snack bar at the aquarium at the harbor. They will make a very tasty lox, shrimp or deli type sandwich for about $10 each-sit outside at the tables and enjoy the view.


      · Trondhiem another city that has an Ikea.


      · Bottled water is really expensive. You can save a lot of money here. We bought one large bottle of water for about $5. At the end of every day I rinsed it with the really hot tap water all the hotels had. Then in the morning we refilled it for the day-the local water is excellent. This saved us $100-$200 during our trip.

      Paying for stuff

      Cash-I work at a bank and I ordered some Swedish and Norwegian currency. It is probably the best exchange rate you will get. If you bank with a decent sized bank they can probably get you the currency in a couple of days via the local branch. We used cash for groceries, tolls and other small purchases. Here is a trick. Your bank will buy back your paper currency but not the coin and you will get an exchange rate ding on the repurchase. So on your last day in a country, try to pay for the balance of a hotel room, parking etc with the last of your local currency and any unpaid portion with your credit card. I left the US with about $150 in Swedish, $600 in Norwegian. Never used an ATM and came home with two 50 Norwegian Kroner notes worth about $20 and about 5 in Swedish coin.

      Credit Cards-Contrary to all the stuff on the web it is easy to use your US Visa or Mastercard to make credit purchases. You do not need a PIN and in fact Visa does not issue PIN’s for credit transactions (not to be confused with debit or cash advance transactions). I used my card to pay for gas from Oslo all the way north to Trondheim and also to pay for a hotel and a City Pass in Oslo at the TI office with never a problem. When buying gas be sure to be pumping from a pump that will take a cash transaction (at one station in Oslo some of the pumps would only take a credit card with a chip but others were cash pumps. Push either the mechanical or digital button that says “Kasse” (cash)-that will start the pump. When done go into the station, say Hi Hi to the clerk. When the clerk sees that you have a non-chipped card, you will be asked to swipe the card, when the card reader asks for a PIN just push “ok”. Then the clerk will ask you for some ID like your passport or drivers license.

      Parking garages, they can be hair pullers. Most allow you to make payment with a credit card (if it has a chip) or cash (there will not be an attendant). However, the currency readers generally suck so be sure to have enough coin to pay your fee or you may be stuck (or begging 5 Kr from a French guy like I had to do..)

      Language

      Most everyone who interacts with tourists speaks fair to excellent English. However, they really respond if you can great them and thank them in their local language. Also we found, the farther north we went the fewer fluent or confident English speakers we encountered.

      Electricity

      Europe is on 220-240V while the US is on 110V. Your 110V appliance will not work overseas without a power converter. However, if you look on the back of your electronic device you will likely see something like the following: Input 100V-240V AC. This means that your device has the ability to automatically adjust to the current with a converter (some device like hair dryers may have a physical switch). In this case all you will need is a converter plug like these again from Rick Steves for about $1 each-note buy a couple in case you lose one or have several devices http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/ca...ntId=126&id=24

      Buy a GPS unit

      If you value your travel partner/navigator, buy one. I bought a refurbished Garmin 1370T for about $150.00 with both US and Europe maps. It worked very well as long as it had satellite reception. The pedestrian mode was really helpful and it was full of preloaded sites, restaurants, grocery stores etc. Also it was great at calling out the speed limits (which change every 3 minutes it seemed) and the location of traffic cameras (if you care). Finally, when at the FDC I set our present location as a favorite and the Garmin guided us right back the FDC when we dropped on the car.

      Staying in Touch

      We left the lap top at home in order the travel light. However, we found the Ipod Touch to be a great alternative. Most of the hotels had free WiFi and we could use the touch to check flights, weather, hours of operation etc. Also it was handy to e-mail the FDC to confirm our return plans.

      Cell Phone-your smart phone may work in Scandinavia but likely your old standard phone will not. I have smart phone for work but you know the deal, if you take it with you the office will never leave you alone. Rather than buying a phone for the short term, if you have Verizon, you can temporarily transfer your number over to a Scandi compatible phone. They will supply the phone, charger etc to you for about $20 and then you pay about $1.99 minute for international calls. After you get back they transfer the number back to your phone and you mail the international phone back to Verizon. We only used it a couple of times (family with medical issues) so it probably cost about $30-$40 total and it is easy.

      Road Tolls

      Most of the tolls areas are automatic so just drive through-we never did the registration for an auto pay number etc. At the ones that had a manual lane (only about three or four), we just pulled in and paid-be sure to have local currency and some only take coins (sort of semi automatic).

      Hope this makes your trip more enjoyable.

      Mark

    27. #27
      Quote Originally Posted by Anothercar View Post
      Hi All

      Here are some tips from my recent OSD and two+ weeks spent in Norway. Some of this maybe Norway specific. Also some of this is focused on cost savings. Norway is really expensive especially if you want to live like an American while you are there.

      Utilizing Volvo

      The Volvo people did a great job of making airline reservation and we also paid them a modest fee to make an additional night reservation at the Radisson for the end of our trip. Frankly they were able to get a better price on the room than I could.

      Note that the FDC will provide transportation from the airport to your Gothenburg hotel, Gothenburg hotel to the FDC for car pickup, from the FDC to your Gothenburg hotel after drop off and from the Gothenburg hotel to the airport on your departure. A great cost savings!

      Plan to get an early morning delivery at the FDC. It will give you time to visit the Volvo Museum (the FDC front desk will give you free passes). It is a short drive from the FDC but will give you a chance to drive the car and get familiar with driving in Sweden. You can then have lunch at the FDC and still have time to take the factor tour-don’t be late for the tour, they tend to leave a little early-almost missed it. If you leave the FDC right after the tour, you should be in Oslo by 6:30 or so.

      Trip Planning

      I booked the bulk of my trip/time in Norway through Authentic Scandinavia http://authentic-scandinavia.com/ . They had a number of “canned” trips in both Norway and Sweden, most designed for those touring via auto. They did a great job and we managed everything by e-mail and payment via wire transfer. They made all the hotel reservation, provided a day-by-day driving itinerary, provided vouchers for all of the ferry crossing and tunnels. The only thing we paid additional was parking, meals, fuel, tolls etc. Each of their “canned” trips can be adjusted to add additional time in a certain city or add cities. This made planning this part of the trip really easy.

      Although I enjoyed many aspects of Bergen and Oslo, we liked the farther north areas much more. Bergen has a neat waterfront and Oslo many museums etc but they are wet and fairly crowded. The fjords towns, especially Balestrand and Geiranger are beautiful but the weather tends to stack up in the fjords so do not expect those blue sky days like in the tour books. Kristiansund, Molde, Bud, Trondheim are all in the north and the area is more like the Northeast coast of the US (Maine etc). Striking archipelagos and easy travel. We got within about 250 miles of the Arctic Circle but if there is a next time, we will go much further north like to Lofoten etc.

      I organized all of our travel materials, itinerary, supplemental maps, flight stuff, car purchase documents, travel vouchers, FDC information etc into a book which I spiraled bound at Kinko’s. I also included a manila envelope so we could add documents as needed. We had two copies, a primary for in the car and a back up in the luggage.

      Be aware that it takes forever to drive in Norway. Generally once away from the major highways the speed limits are 35-45 mph, winding roads with many obstacles. This is really important because we found that for the most part we had to drive 4-6 hours per day on what appeared to originally be a leisurely itinerary. We were glad to have booked second days in some places just to get a chance to see something other than the inside of the car.

      Oslo and Bergen are a pain in which to drive. Oslo is brutal (I lived in Seattle for 35 years so I get driving in a city). If you go, you will want to park your car in a well secured garage (it will cost $35-$60 a day) and walk/take public transit. Oslo and Bergen are about 8 hours apart by car of focused driving with yes 52 tunnels. I would suggest a night in between at Geilo, a nice mountain/ski area. Stayed at the Bardola in Geilo and really enjoyed it.

      If you go to Oslo for a few days or will go on to Bergen/Geilo I would suggest a slight diversion to Hadeland Glassverk in Jevnaker http://www.hadeland-glassverk.no/english/. Worth every minute spent to get there and tour the extensive location. Great shopping (and I hate shopping) and the café offers some nice sandwiches etc (split the lox sandwich it is ample for two).

      Of you got to Balestrand I would recommend a stop at the home of Solveig and Rolf Haukaas. They are internationally renowned enamel artists and their home/workshop is near the Dragsvik ferry dock. Ask a local in Balestrand and they can give you directions. Rolf will give you a presentation on their processes in English and you can buy their work on-site, be sure to bring cash.

      Note that the summer weather can be wet and the tourist season is short. We encountered rain everyday from 8/23-9/8. We wore long pants everyday and every picture we have we are either wearing rain or polar fleece jackets (sometimes both). Bring gear for rain including an umbrella. Also know that the tourist season comes to an end beginning 8/15. From that time on, lots of attractions either begin to close or have severely limited hours. Many of the museums that we wanted to visit were either closed or on such limited hours (10-3) that we could only see one or two in a day. But the positive is that the crowds are non-existent at the end of the season.

      Flam Railway-Nice trip but a few tips. If you drive there, your GPS will likely direct you up a little paved side road off the highway through a sheep pasture. This will take you into Flam but not to the railway station. If you have time, drive into Flam as it is very pretty (you will see it on the train). To get to the train station, you have to drive under the highway overpass (left on the off ramp) as the station is at the end of the Fjord. It was not crowded when we were there but apparently it gets really crowded. If you can, sit on the side of the train that has three seats across rather than the side that has two seats across. The three seat side has most of the eye candy/photo ops.

      Books

      Rick Steves has a pretty good book on Scandinavia. It is a little light on Norway but he does a good job on Bergen and a really good job on Oslo (it is worth the price just for the Oslo piece). For Norway, I would strongly recommend the Norway book as part of the Eyewitness Travel series. Traveldk.com. Available at the large book retailers (if any are still in business).

      Laundry Tip

      Never could find a place to do some laundry-hotels were absurdly expensive to do it. At my local grocery store, in the travel sized products area, they had a travel size kit of three packets of Tide detergent (about $2). It is made to wash things out in a sink etc. Technique is to wash the stuff, roll up a towel and then hang in the bathroom. Most of the hotels have heated floors in the bathroom, so just crank up the heat and shut the door, even athletic socks, cotton pull over shirts, etc will be dry in the morning.

      Eating

      Food and dining out is really expensive. Dinners will easily run $30-$80 per person and you should expect it to be $40-$70 each. I enjoy good food but you can really save in this area:

      1. Eat like a local. All the decent hotels provide an outstanding Scandinavian breakfast inclusive with the room fee. Watch what the locals eat and follow along. Have a bowl of yogurt and grains with a dollop of their excellent jam. Follow with an open-faced sandwich with some great cheeses, meats and various fish products. Finish up with some fruit. That meal may well last you till dinner.

      2. For lunch (if we ate lunch) and often for dinner, we ate stuff we bought at the local grocery store (especially Rema 1000 and Spar). Note that often grocery stores are hidden in the downtown malls (look for COOP signs etc) Many rooms had mini fridges for the mini bar stuff. We just took out their stuff and put in ours. The local breads are superior to those in the US and the deli meats/cheeses are very affordable. Give up soda as it is out of sight-about $6 for a pint-sized bottle of coke. Beer is also very expensive, about $35 a six pack so we drank those sparingly.

      3. Be prepared to picnic as above. We bought a picnic set from Rick Steves website http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/ca...tId=126&id=369 -about $10 and included sturdy knives, forks, spoons and a wine opener in a carrying case. I added my Swiss army knife. We also brought along a big hand full of individually wrapped hand wipes, about 30 granola bars, and a few Ziploc bags. All in all we figured that we saved in excess of $600.00 each just on meals and we still ate well.

      4. Places to eat:

      ·In Gothenburg there is a little hole in the wall sushi place about 5-10 minutes walking from the Radisson. Go out the front door of the Radisson, turn left to first street, turn left at that street and go to the first street and turn right. Go about mid-block and it is on the right hand side, address Drottninggatan 50. It is called Super Sushi, there is another sushi place across the same street but we did not try it. Super Sushi is little, filled with young locals. Menu is simple but the quality is good (and I am picky about raw fish-also have vegetarian), price is really cheap (two of us ate large meals for about $16 each). The staff speaks a little English and is fast. Does not look like much but ate there twice and it was fine-can do take out as well.


      · In Oslo Deli De Luca has a couple of locations. Good sandwiches that they will heat up about $12 each. Also some good Chicken Szechwan, Beef Chop Suey thing and a Chicken Vindaloo (sp). To order one of these, just tell them what you want, they will put some in a container for you to approve. They will weigh it out to calculate charge and then ask them to fill the container with rice. They will heat it up and give you forks to take away. Enough for a light supper for two is about $12. Also I can recommend Ikea. If you have one locally you know about it but if you do not, Ikea has a great dining area in the stores. A wide selection with an ample portion of Swedish meatballs, potatoes, gravy and jam for about $12 each. Very popular with the locals, so can be crowded. Also they always have great parking and it is preloaded in the Garmin.


      · In Bergen again try Deli De Luca (they are in the Garmin as well).


      · In Balestand if you do not want to spend $100 each to eat at the buffet at the Kviknes hotel then try the snack bar at the aquarium at the harbor. They will make a very tasty lox, shrimp or deli type sandwich for about $10 each-sit outside at the tables and enjoy the view.


      · Trondhiem another city that has an Ikea.


      · Bottled water is really expensive. You can save a lot of money here. We bought one large bottle of water for about $5. At the end of every day I rinsed it with the really hot tap water all the hotels had. Then in the morning we refilled it for the day-the local water is excellent. This saved us $100-$200 during our trip.

      Paying for stuff

      Cash-I work at a bank and I ordered some Swedish and Norwegian currency. It is probably the best exchange rate you will get. If you bank with a decent sized bank they can probably get you the currency in a couple of days via the local branch. We used cash for groceries, tolls and other small purchases. Here is a trick. Your bank will buy back your paper currency but not the coin and you will get an exchange rate ding on the repurchase. So on your last day in a country, try to pay for the balance of a hotel room, parking etc with the last of your local currency and any unpaid portion with your credit card. I left the US with about $150 in Swedish, $600 in Norwegian. Never used an ATM and came home with two 50 Norwegian Kroner notes worth about $20 and about 5 in Swedish coin.

      Credit Cards-Contrary to all the stuff on the web it is easy to use your US Visa or Mastercard to make credit purchases. You do not need a PIN and in fact Visa does not issue PIN’s for credit transactions (not to be confused with debit or cash advance transactions). I used my card to pay for gas from Oslo all the way north to Trondheim and also to pay for a hotel and a City Pass in Oslo at the TI office with never a problem. When buying gas be sure to be pumping from a pump that will take a cash transaction (at one station in Oslo some of the pumps would only take a credit card with a chip but others were cash pumps. Push either the mechanical or digital button that says “Kasse” (cash)-that will start the pump. When done go into the station, say Hi Hi to the clerk. When the clerk sees that you have a non-chipped card, you will be asked to swipe the card, when the card reader asks for a PIN just push “ok”. Then the clerk will ask you for some ID like your passport or drivers license.

      Parking garages, they can be hair pullers. Most allow you to make payment with a credit card (if it has a chip) or cash (there will not be an attendant). However, the currency readers generally suck so be sure to have enough coin to pay your fee or you may be stuck (or begging 5 Kr from a French guy like I had to do..)

      Language

      Most everyone who interacts with tourists speaks fair to excellent English. However, they really respond if you can great them and thank them in their local language. Also we found, the farther north we went the fewer fluent or confident English speakers we encountered.

      Electricity

      Europe is on 220-240V while the US is on 110V. Your 110V appliance will not work overseas without a power converter. However, if you look on the back of your electronic device you will likely see something like the following: Input 100V-240V AC. This means that your device has the ability to automatically adjust to the current with a converter (some device like hair dryers may have a physical switch). In this case all you will need is a converter plug like these again from Rick Steves for about $1 each-note buy a couple in case you lose one or have several devices http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/ca...ntId=126&id=24

      Buy a GPS unit

      If you value your travel partner/navigator, buy one. I bought a refurbished Garmin 1370T for about $150.00 with both US and Europe maps. It worked very well as long as it had satellite reception. The pedestrian mode was really helpful and it was full of preloaded sites, restaurants, grocery stores etc. Also it was great at calling out the speed limits (which change every 3 minutes it seemed) and the location of traffic cameras (if you care). Finally, when at the FDC I set our present location as a favorite and the Garmin guided us right back the FDC when we dropped on the car.

      Staying in Touch

      We left the lap top at home in order the travel light. However, we found the Ipod Touch to be a great alternative. Most of the hotels had free WiFi and we could use the touch to check flights, weather, hours of operation etc. Also it was handy to e-mail the FDC to confirm our return plans.

      Cell Phone-your smart phone may work in Scandinavia but likely your old standard phone will not. I have smart phone for work but you know the deal, if you take it with you the office will never leave you alone. Rather than buying a phone for the short term, if you have Verizon, you can temporarily transfer your number over to a Scandi compatible phone. They will supply the phone, charger etc to you for about $20 and then you pay about $1.99 minute for international calls. After you get back they transfer the number back to your phone and you mail the international phone back to Verizon. We only used it a couple of times (family with medical issues) so it probably cost about $30-$40 total and it is easy.

      Road Tolls

      Most of the tolls areas are automatic so just drive through-we never did the registration for an auto pay number etc. At the ones that had a manual lane (only about three or four), we just pulled in and paid-be sure to have local currency and some only take coins (sort of semi automatic).

      Hope this makes your trip more enjoyable.

      Mark
      Mark,

      Thank you for sharing a very detailed and comprehensive guide. It is and will be much appreciated. Enjoy your new Volvo.
      William

      Go on a Journey for Life...
      " See Europe by Volvo "
      Click ^^ to take first step

    28. #28
      Junior Member
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      Dec 2010
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      Albuquerque New Mexico, USA
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      in fact Visa does not issue PIN’s for credit transactions Your bank that issues you the VISA is the one who gives you a PIN. I would strongly suggest getting a 4 digit PIN because there were time that we did have to use it for credit purchases. It doesn't do any harm to get it - if you don't need it, no biggie but if you need it and don't have it, then it will be a biggie. This is especially true if you plan on going to other European countries.

      Getting foreign cash here in US isn't always easy and can be expensive. It is also a problem if you are going to a few countries - we went to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France. We would have had to get 4 currencies and no knowing how much we needed would have left us in a possible bind. It is much better to withdraw smaller amount of cash as you need it in each country using an ATM card. We never had any cash left when we switched countries except perhaps a few coins. IF you get a Capital One checking acct set up, you can get free ATM that have absolutely NO foreign fees [not even the ones VISA and MCard charge as Cap
      One picks those up]. It allowed us to not have to carry excess cash on us and worry about getting stuck with leftover currency.
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    29. #29
      Junior Member
      Join Date
      Dec 2010
      Location
      Albuquerque New Mexico, USA
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      257
      Oh, meant to mention that for doing laundry in sink [I will never underestimate my washing machine again!] I used Purex sheets. They were lightweight, easy to carry [popped them into a ziplock baggie] and no chance of spilling in suitcase. http://www.purex.com/products/deterg...omplete-3-in-1. A single sheet can be cut in half for hand washing.

      Some hotels do have self serve laundry, which wasn't cheap, but that was when we washed our jeans - there was NO WAY I was washing them by hand. We only wore jeans as a special treat so that we would be able to wash them at hotel. We wore wash and wear fabrics/clothes from the outside to inside -if you get my drift!

      I also brought a rubber sink stopped in case the sinks didn't have one. I got one like this at Wal Mart for a buck or 2. http://www.amazon.com/Do-Rubber-Sink.../dp/B000DZD3QA
      2011 S40 T5 Ice White with Leather Calcite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Heated Seats, delivered 18 April at FDC.

    30. #30

      Question looking for some wisdom!

      Great info - thanks all for sharing! We'll be picking up our XC60 at the end of June (first OSD trip!). All told we'll be spending several months in Europe & the UK - happy day! Well-deserved sabbatical & 50th birthday celebration for the husband. We've traveled to Europe several times, but this will be our first trip in the northern regions. We'll be doing some camping, especially in Norway, so we're looking for suggestions on the following:

      We'll be starting out with about three weeks in Scandinavia. Knowing how expensive liquor/wine is, I'm wondering if it makes sense to buy some duty-free to take into Sweden with us?? We've never really purchased much duty-free, so I'm a rookie with this.

      We're also looking for suggestions on shopping for affordable camping gear (probably the only "major" purchase would be sleeping bags).

    31. #31
      Member GregK's Avatar
      Join Date
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      Chesterfield, Missouri
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      Quote Originally Posted by susangh View Post
      Great info - thanks all for sharing! We'll be picking up our XC60 at the end of June (first OSD trip!). All told we'll be spending several months in Europe & the UK - happy day! Well-deserved sabbatical & 50th birthday celebration for the husband. We've traveled to Europe several times, but this will be our first trip in the northern regions. We'll be doing some camping, especially in Norway, so we're looking for suggestions on the following:

      We'll be starting out with about three weeks in Scandinavia. Knowing how expensive liquor/wine is, I'm wondering if it makes sense to buy some duty-free to take into Sweden with us?? We've never really purchased much duty-free, so I'm a rookie with this.

      We're also looking for suggestions on shopping for affordable camping gear (probably the only "major" purchase would be sleeping bags).
      Sounds like fun........have a great trip!!!!
      2012 S60 T5 (OSD 4-2012) Ember/Offblack l Premium,Multimedia,Climate,Dynamic l BLIS/PCC/ABL/F&R Park Assist/Sport Pedals/Chrome Endpipes

      2004 Nissan Armada

    32. #32
      Member gascos80's Avatar
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      Jan 2007
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      Encino, CA
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      7,250
      Quote Originally Posted by susangh View Post
      Great info - thanks all for sharing! We'll be picking up our XC60 at the end of June (first OSD trip!). All told we'll be spending several months in Europe & the UK - happy day! Well-deserved sabbatical & 50th birthday celebration for the husband. We've traveled to Europe several times, but this will be our first trip in the northern regions. We'll be doing some camping, especially in Norway, so we're looking for suggestions on the following:

      We'll be starting out with about three weeks in Scandinavia. Knowing how expensive liquor/wine is, I'm wondering if it makes sense to buy some duty-free to take into Sweden with us?? We've never really purchased much duty-free, so I'm a rookie with this.

      We're also looking for suggestions on shopping for affordable camping gear (probably the only "major" purchase would be sleeping bags).
      I have being in Europe, and in Sweden specifically, more than once, and I do not remember ever having the "price shock" when it comes to the local wines, beers and liquors at the supermarkets. On the other side, since duty-free sells mostly upscale brands, the prices look expensive there...
      I like to explore local products...

      ...totally clueless about the camping gears...last time I camped, was almost 40 years ago in the former Soviet Union...
      2008 S80 3.2; 2005 XC90 V8 AWD; 2003 S60 2.4T

    33. #33
      Quote Originally Posted by susangh View Post
      Knowing how expensive liquor/wine is, I'm wondering if it makes sense to buy some duty-free to take into Sweden with us?? We've never really purchased much duty-free, so I'm a rookie with this.

      We're also looking for suggestions on shopping for affordable camping gear (probably the only "major" purchase would be sleeping bags).
      No, it does not make sense purchasing duty-free liquor at the airport in the US and bring it to Europe. As you will be changing planes in either Copeenhagen or in Stockholm, you may also be subject to a security check there. At that point there is a big risk that you willl have to let go of the liquor, as you are not allowed to bring more than a very small amount of liquids with you.

      There is not much use purchasing liquor at Copenhagen airport (after having passed security) either, as prices there are about the same as in the stores in Sweden. If you are flying directly to Norway it may be an idea, as prices in the stores in Norway are higher.

      If you are going camping in Norway after you have picked up the car in Gothenburg, I would recommend purchasing as much of you food, liquor, beer, camping gear, etc in Sweden. Even the Norweigans themselves travel to Sweden to benefit from the better prices.

      Liqour, wine and beer (with an alcohol content higher then 3.5%) is purchased at Systembolaget in Sweden (and at Vinmonopolet in Norway). You can find the closest store and what products they sell at: http://www.systembolaget.se/

      There are three supermarket chains in Sweden where you can buy all of you food. They are called ICA, Coop and Willys.

      There are a few different sports shops, such as Stadium or Intersport, that often also have basic camping gear such as sleeping bags. If you want high end camping gear look out for Naturkompaniet: http://www.naturkompaniet.se

      Best of luck with your new car and enjoy your vacation!

    34. #34
      Quote Originally Posted by susangh View Post

      We're also looking for suggestions on shopping for affordable camping gear (probably the only "major" purchase would be sleeping bags).
      I would go to Ikea for all of the other camping supplies and they usually have an assortment of food also.
      Sharon

    35. #35
      Bob Kennedy
      University Volvo OSD Mgr
      Charlotte NC
      VOLVO FOR LIFE
      http://www.universityvolvo.com/volvo...as-program.htm

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