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Category: Travel

How To Visit The North Cape In Norway

Europe’s northern most point and wild weather swings might not be your first thought for a summer vacation but if seeing wild elk, whale watching, and stunning natural views sound like your kind of trip, Norway’s North Cape has something for you. The land of the midnight sun, Hege Jacobsen recently joined an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast on how to plan your trip to North Cape.

Getting There

Although it’s a bit remote, getting to the North Cape is pretty straightforward once you get to Norway. You’ll want to get to Alta (the one in Norway, not Alta in Utah which is also great for hiking by the way) and from there you can either take a bus or rent a car. A drive from Alta to North Cape takes roughly 3-4 hours but keep in mind the weather can change rapidly and potentially slow you down.

What To Do

The North Cape is where you want to be outdoors but to best enjoy it, make sure you dress appropriately. Summers are generally chilly while some days climate change shines and it can get quite warm. Take a look at any given 7 day forecast and you’ll be taken on a roller coaster of icons with plenty of precipitation possible on any given day.

North Cape Norway Costs

Norway is expensive there’s no other way to put it. There are ways though you can travel to North Cape on a budget as Hege explains in the episode. For a unique experience up in the Arctic circle with plenty of hopping off points around Norway, North Cape might just be the perfect next destination for you with family or as part of a solo trip.


Patagonia’s Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Is Grounded

Finding a travel bag that’s just the right size – not too big but not anxiety-inducing small isn’t easy but Patagonia’s Black Hole Wheeled Duffel comes close but doesn’t work where you might need it most.

You can watch the full review in the video above or read on.

Less Shiny But Still Glossed

The Black Hole is a long standing line by Patagonia and the wheeled version of this duffel is 70 liters and comes in several color options, black, buckhorn green, and touring red. Patagonia says this redesign of the Black Hole is less shiny then the previous versions but make no mistake, the recycled polyester rip-stop used here is noticeably glossy.

patagonia black hole wheeled duffel

The hard plastic back is covered with the same polyester but has a matte finish and contrasts nicely with the shinier elements. The Black Hole 70 liter version measures 70 centimeters by 35.5 by 30 centimeters and the use of polyester here makes it about 25 grams to a kilogram on average lighter than similarly sized luggage in this price range that uses nylon. The reduction in weight also comes with better weatherproofing since it uses TPU-film laminate.

Keep On Rolling

The wheel bolts are placed on the outside and exposed which has lead to other users reporting damaged, dented, and misaligned wheels, especially when the Black Hole gets chucked about by baggage handlers. I haven’t had any problems and it might not be a problem for you depending on how you use this bag.

patagonia wheeled duffel 70l

There’s also a lack of handles on the Black Hole. Being a duffel, you have a large snap-able grip on the front that goes over the main opening of the bag but there are no other handles on the sides, making it difficult to get a hold of at certain angles. There’s a plastic handle on the bottom of the Black Hole but a flimsy fabric grip on the top, making for an uneven hold. In situations where you’re just throwing the Black Hole into a car trunk or back of a truck, it’s not an issue. For train overheads or airport luggage carousels though you’re going to miss those handles which are common on most other bags.

Spacious Gravity

Patagonia have really maximized the interior space giving you a large 70 liters to work with. There is one big bucket with no interior dividers and there’s usable space right into the corners. Internal compression straps give you a little more room if you pack softer items like clothing that can be tightened down.

The interior space is good for gear or longer trips and it’s one of the roomier 70 liter bags I’ve come across (though from the outside it doesn’t look that big). To me, the Black Hole is a good back for hauling gear for fishing, skiing, or hiking, that’s going to go right into a car. It’s also good for family road trips but doesn’t have the best feature set for airports. Trust me, you’ll be looking for those side handles in a lot of situations so while the size of the Patagonia Black Hole 70 liter is spacious without feeling excessive, carrying all of that weight, at least on planes, will have to wait.

Asking Indians What They Really Think About Pakistan

A few years I ago I visited Pakistan and asked locals if they could say one nice thing about India. After that video was posted many said that trying the same thing in India would go sideways and nobody would have anything nice to say.

Well, I went back to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) which is known for its active student political base during contentious elections. With feelings of nationalism, pride, and general rhetoric in the air, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

You can watch the video above to see the slow start but once people opened up, I was surprised at what Indians had to say about their neighbor, Pakistan.

The Trick To Getting A Bhutan Visa (500 Error Solved)

Bhutan requires a visa from tourists of most countries and on the surface it looks straightforward. However, like most things about visiting Bhutan things aren’t quite a simple as they might seem. Some of the steps to getting the visa can be cumbersome but there is a trick to speeding up the process.

500 Error Fix

Many users who visit the Bhutan visa website and upload their passport information and photo have encountered this dreaded 500 error. Your first instinct is to refresh a million times and eventually try to start the process over again only to get another 500.

bhutan 500 error

Instead, you should email the site’s official IT department to let them know about the 500 error. Once you do, they will manually add your account in the system and you’ll be able to login without issues. These are the email addresses (found in the conformation email you get when you created a site account): [email protected] or [email protected]

Response times are about one to two business days. You’re almost to the finish line but there is another thing to be aware of so you don’t slow your application down.

Bank Troubles

There is a cost to obtain a Bhutan tourist visa as well as a sustainable development fee you must pay. Another problem you might run into is the payment gets stuck at “pending” and never changes status. In these cases, email the accounts personnel ([email protected] or [email protected]) to make them aware. They’re likely going to tell you to simple re-try the payment (with the original still stuck on pending).

paro festival bhutan

Of course, double check with your credit card to make sure you haven’t been double-charged but once you have completed a successful payment, you should be ready to submit your online visa application. After 3-5 business days you will get a response but keep in mind they won’t email you like the system says it will. Because, of course.

Despite the mild hassles though, traveling to Bhutan and seeing sites like the iconic Tiger’s Nest makes it all worthwhile.

Where To Stay In Paro, Bhutan

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan isn’t the easiest to visit but if you’re flying in it will be through Paro. Home to the country’s only airport, Paro is the gateway into Bhutan. A historic city of just over 11,000 people it’s worth more that a stopover and one of the most unique places to stay is fit for royalty.

Hotel Olathang

Literally made for a king, Hotel Olathang was originally created for the guests of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck’s coronation in 1974, also making it Bhutan’s oldest hotel. Reservations aren’t possible online, you’ll have to call to make a reservation so don’t rely on last minute planning. Although Bhutan doesn’t get many tourists, around certain times of the year there are events (like March’s Paro Festival) and bookings can fill up fast.

paro bhutan

Royal Rooms With Variety

Because of its original purpose as royal accommodation, Hotel Olathang’s rooms are separate buildings on a large mountain property overlooking Paro. Many of the hotels in Paro are higher up but only a short 10 minute cab ride into town, with each way costing roughly $3-4 USD.

The design of each room is different with several options for larger groups and the newer tent rooms, ideal for summer stays. Walking is a must at Hotel Olathang as the stone walkways to the rooms may not accommodate wheelchair access. Reception is a separate building a few minutes walk from the furthest room and that’s where you’ll find the hotel’s restaurant as well.

paro bhutan

Bed And Breakfast

Hotel Olathang does offer a breakfast that’s not included with all of the rooms but you’re not missing much if you don’t pay for it. The breakfast is a mix of eggs, beans, tea, and bread plus or minus some miscellaneous additions. Where you’re short on time for an early morning to a place like Tiger’s Nest, it’s better than no food at all. Same goes for the dinner at their restaurant but if you have the time, you’ll certainly get a better meal in town. You can also order to the Hotel Olathang which reception will happily help you with.

Best Of Bhutan

Hotel Olathang has incredibly helpful staff that can arrange drivers, pickups, and provide you with a lot of local tourism expertise. Located in the mountains just outside of town gives you incredible views, a peaceful environment, and fresh air. Hotel Olathang is close enough to town where you don’t feel isolated and the wifi is surprisingly fast. Finally, when it comes to the prices the rates at Hotel Olathang are quite reasonable ($50-70 a night) when compared to other accommodation in Paro.

Rolling Your Clothes Saves Space In Luggage But At A Cost

We could all use a little more space from our suitcases and aside from packing less or getting a bigger bag how you fold your clothes can make a big difference. It turns out that rolling your shirts and pants can significantly save space, reduce wrinkles, but not if you’re short on time.

Watch The Technique

You can see in the video above on how to roll shirts (sleeves in, collars forward) and pants (split down the middle and rolled straight) results in space savings of around 44%. That is a lot of added space compared to folding and just a little more than having no method at all. It turns out the throw everything in your bag and smash it down so the zippers close is a valid method only 11% less efficient.

In between though on the scale of time, is folding. Rolling is the slowest method, free for all the fastest, and folding lands in the middle. You can see there are advantages and disadvantages to each packing method so if you’re short on time, fold or throw, but keep in mind that luggage won’t be as efficient. Rolling takes more time not just at packing but also repacking, which can add up if you’re taking a multi-city trip.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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