Friday, December 19, 2014

Lost Gloves in Stockholm

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flight Report: $490 to Stockholm on Norwegian... Plus, first time on a 787!

One of the new benefits of being in Oakland is that I have a new option for getting to Scandinavia: Norwegian flies to Stockholm, non-stop, from Oakland. It's a ten hour flight where you step on in California and off in Sweden. That's pretty much unheard of, since I've always had some connection, either in Europe or on the East Coast. The most convenient was always SAS, who flew to Copenhagen and then onward to Stockholm... but this is a new level of convenience.

Plus, my ticket was $490 round trip. I've paid more to get to the mid-west. For that price, you might be wondering what you get and how scandalous Norwegian will treat you once you get to the airport. After all, prices that cheap make people think of RyanAir and their shenanigans.

Turns out, you get exactly what you pay for. In my case, I opted to skip any additional services like food, drinks, checked bags, and a reserved seat (saving $140 in the process) and I got what I paid for: A spot on a plane. They did weigh my carry on (there is a 10kg limit that IS enforced), but none of the Ryan Air stuff like being forced to check in online or pony up a hundred dollars.

On the plane, there is no free drink or food service, but you can ask for a glass of water in the back for free. Otherwise, the best move is to bring it with you; Even at airport prices (and Oakland Airport does suck for food), it's still less than buying it on the plane. I didn't get a snap of their meals, but it looked like standard airline fare. Not worth the money they want for it.

The bottom line is this: I'll fly with them again. They are cut rate, but they are at least nice about it.

Another big bonus for this flight was that I finally got to fly on a 787. I've been waiting for the opportunity to take a trip on one of these aircraft and Norwegian runs them on their international routes (to the US and Thailand). Inside, it is pretty spacious. The cabin is nice and the storage pulls up pretty far to give it the feeling of having extra room. The new electrochromatic windows are alright, but they let in far too much light for my taste (see the last image). It's harder to sleep than with traditional blinds that can be pulled down. I suspect in the future they will either do both or have to dramatically improve the technology.

While the inside is nice, the real stunner is the wings. These things are amazing. They move like they are almost organic and on lift off, the bend in the wing is pretty dramatic. Most other wings are pretty stiff, but these flex in the wind and you can see them curl as the lift starts pushing the plane upwards. Check out this video of what I'm talking about.. (not mine). Pretty exciting to see them in action in person!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Food Friday: Ma'ono in West Seattle

When visiting Seattle, one area that isn't quite as frequented by tourists is West Seattle. Many people may visit Alki beach, which is where the photo above was taken, but there is a lot more to the neighborhood than just the summer beach area.

By far, the best area to explore is the California Junction. Once upon a time, this was the streetcar junction where the current commercial center is (See maps of the Streetcar Network here. It was all ripped up in 1941 to make way for buses!)

The neighborhood commercial area here is pretty good. It has a good mix of businesses, bars, and restaurants that make it a vibrant area. There is Easy Street Records (one of the few remaining places to get knowledgeable advice on music), the kid friendly Cupcake Royale, West Five (the home of interstellar mac-n-cheese), and the renown Bakery Nouveau.

This time around, I tried Ma'ono for brunch. They opened up a couple years back, but this was the first time that I had been there. The menu is hawaiian inspired (delicious, but "healthy" it is not) and features fried chicken. Reservations are recommended, both for a table AND for the friend chicken. If you don't order it ahead of time, then you may end up without it.

So, how was it? Delicious. The breading is nice and crispy, while the meat is tender and not overly oily. The sausage gravy that comes with it feels so wrong, but ends up being something you can't stop eating. By the end, you are looking at those spoons in the gravy and thinking, "What if I just thought of this as a sausage stew? No one is going to judge me for eating stew, right?"

On the menu there is also chicken nuggets and french toast. While also fantastic and seasoned well, it's just not the same as the bone-in fried chicken. The french toast is lightly sweetened and plays well with the savory ground chicken nuggets, but isn't the same show stopper at the fried chicken. It's great by itself, but having them side by side will leave you wishing you could just some of the fried chicken with your toast instead.

A meal this good, however, is not guilt free. However, the guilt is a pretty cheap price of admission for something like this.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Winter at the Pike Place Market

It's no secret that I love the Pike Place Market. It's one of the defining features of Seattle, just like Mount Rainier, The Sound, and The Space Needle. In fact, one of the downsides of living in the Bay Area now is that there really isn't anything quite like The Market down here in the Bay.

Fisherman's Wharf? Uh, no. That place is a full on tourist trap. And the chowder ain't that good (certainly not up to Pike Place Chowder standards. Or even Ivar's).

The Ferry Building? Close, but not quite. It is a very nice building, but it is small and lacks the nooks and crannies that make The Market interesting. It's also a little too haute to be in the same class as The Market. It's more akin to Chelsea Market in New York than The Market.

Where else? I don't even know. If you have a recommendation, send it to me or post a comment.

If you are looking for the iconic Seattle's Best Coffee sign, it is long gone. Now it is the RGB sign!