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Late April trip to Tivat, Montenegro

I had early morning flight from Helsinki to Tivat. Taxi drive from airport to city center takes about 10 minutes. I actually booked a rental car for the one week trip but then realized that Europcar had overbooked and did not have a car for me at all. Hence, trip to Albania changed to one week in Tivat but I will explain that in the next post.

Tivat has really busy harbor and some of the boats are superb, costing over 300 million. IMG-2121

Tivat is surround by higher terrain and some of the popular biking routes are on the slope and hills near by.

IMG-2090

Costal area north and south of Tivat is really beautiful and I managed to enjoyed it when running up and down the coast. Besides the commercial harbor city center has also reserved some room for visiting smaller boats. I even spotted a sailing yacht with a Finnish flag.  IMG-2130

Safe travels to all.

Never rent from Europcar – overbooking, extra charges

I had really bad experience with Europcar. For the past ten years I have been active customer of Europcar and they are not the cheapest. I have rented from the in US, Australia, NZAsia and Europe. I was planning to have holiday in Albania and I had booked hotels for one week trip. I landed TivatMontenegro and I had booked rental car from the airport Tivat, location of the Europcar. Booking was done in January. I actually called them to ask if I have a car and that I could drive it to Albania. Everything was told to be ok.

Then when I landed in late April sales person responsible for the location said that they do not have a car for me. And that same holds for many people in the line behind me. I was really surprised and furious.

They have overbooked and that is their practice in the Tivat location as well as in the rest of the country. They also charge 7 euro or smth for car cleaning i.e. you pay that in front or you will clean the car and wash the car yourself somewhere before returning.First time that this happens with Europcar. Perhaps next time I have to pay 7 euro that car tires have air.

Well, then sales person said they might have a car (I assume that he just wanted get me out of the line and serve others) and I waited for 45 minutes but they did not have a car. They tried to call other rental operators but I knew from my phone calls in January that they do not rent a car to be taken to Albania.

After not getting my car I was really upset. Only option left was to cancel the hotels in Albania and try to look for free one in Tivat. After some 20-30 minutes browsing I found one hotel in Tivat  which was of course 3 times more expensive than the one I had in Albania. Of course I had to order a taxi to take me to Tivat  as well. Overall, I had to pay 500-600 euros more for holiday that I did not want to have in Tivat . So lesson to all of you, you should never rent a car from Europcar as so many of us had really bad experience with Europcar.

So if you are going for holiday in  Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, FranceDenmark, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, NZ, Portugal, Spain, Ceuta & Melilla, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and US I would strongly recommend not to rent from the Europcar. Negative experiences and all the bad reviews will strongly advice not to rent from Europcar.

 

And I was asked to file a customer service complaint, which I did for the headquarters and Montenegro regional office. After one month reply was “they are sorry about this” but I will not be compensated in anyway. So do not rent from Europcar.

 

Early April holiday in Split

We rented apartment in the Old Town of Split. Enjoyed some well deserved and relatively inexpensive dinners (picture on the left).

On the right hand side is picture from the Diocletian palace. We had rented a car for two days and the goal was to go to Krka national park that was highly recommended by colleagues and friends. Krka is about one hour drive from Split and if you drive like locals it will be little bit less. You will buy tickets in the front and there is ample of car parks. You can take a bus down to Krka. After that it is up to you how you want to experience the park. We walked around the designated areas. Happy and safe travels to all.

Kiev, Uman and Odessa – March 2019

During March of 2019 I had my first trip to Ukraine. I landed Kiev and Boryspil Airport. Surprisingly, I found that there is about 2 euro train connection to the city center. Train is small, but enough.

Kiova center

There is a lot to see in Kiev from museums to monuments and of course shopping. Found a shopping paradise called Gulliver which is similar to Finnish company Stockmann or French Galeries Lafayette Hausmann.

I continued by trip towards Odessa by staying one night in Uman. Uman is rather small city but managed to find a new color, baby blue, to my collection of churches.

Uman blue chrurch

Continued after one night from Uman to Odessa. Odessa is old city with lots of things to see and do.

Odessa Green Building

And most importantly it is also so called friend city of Oulu where I was born. Within city there are lots of old buildings (Opera below), museums and of course shopping possibilities.

Odessa Opera Teather

Odessa old2

I also managed to find two new colors for my church collection. Yellow one might be from Kiev.

Odessa light green church

Yellow church

Opposite to a nice Italian restaurant called Tavernetta I found this street art / car. Headlights facing Tavernetta so owners have done their marketing correctly 🙂

Odessa street art

Even tough there are pictures of old churches I rarely go inside one, rather I would go to fortress like one below called Akkerman fortress.This fortress is about 1h40 min drive from Odessa. If you drive like locals maybe 1h10 min 🙂

Akkerman fortress

Picture is from inside fortress facing the ruins of old buildings.  Here you can find the most common pictures of the old fortress – Discover Ukraine.

Visit to Perth, Penang and Ho Chi Minh

From November 21st to December 13th 2018 I had a visiting professor period at the Edith Cowan University, Perth Australia. I was teaching a class of Global Marketing in the Digital World. On the last day of lectures students also presented their case studies which they have been working on for the two weeks. One of the groups focused their case on Cadbury Chocolate. Below a picture of me with Cadbury Freddo mascots and some of the students

Teaching at ECU 12 12

Besides, teaching I also gave invited guest lecture for the faculty on the topic of using live cases for teaching, industry collaboration and research. Also managed to take this nice picture outside my hotel but never had a change to have a swim.

Perth in between teaching

After Perth I had layover in Singapore and interviewed a doctoral student candidate and continued to Malaysia, Penang by bus and ferry 🙂

Ferry to Penang.jpg

Enjoyed lots of cafe latte and street art in Penang.

Penang street art

Before I started my teaching in Perth I manged to have a holiday in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh. Below a picture from the Reunification palace

Ho Chi Minh Reunification palace

Usually, I try to spot some unique buildings and this Pink Church caught my eye.

H C M red

Views from the 265 meters tall Biteco Financial Tower.

H c m from Tower

Besides the city life I also enjoyed the Mekong river with one day river cruise. Before jumping to boat spotted this Buddha statue.

Mekong river cruise

I think I have visited Perth close to 10 times and it always feels like second home. It was my first time in Vietnam and people were really friendly and always smiling. Penang was full of street art and it was fun to watch tourist from tour boats and elsewhere running from one piece of street art to the next – Gotta Cath ´Em all.

Holiday trip to Malta

Before my teaching in the University of Bergamo I decided that after teaching I will have a holiday in Malta, Valletta, European Capital of Culture. I had flights from Helsinki to Istanbul and then to Malta with Turkish Airlines. Service was really good and transfers easy. Holiday week started on November 7th and ended 14th.

For the first day I visited the capital area namely Valletta. Here is night time picture from the seaside when approaching Valletta from the Gzira.

Valletta

There is plenty to do for those who like history, culture and knights. Besides culture I also managed to spend time walking around the Gzira area opposite to Valletta.

Ships

The port is really busy with both military ships as well as commercial cruise ships and other ships. Different types of tours that take you to the nearby islands are hugely popular and hence there is something for the next time as well.

Visiting professor trip to Italy, Bergamo October 22 to November 5

I had pleasure to be invited as a visiting professor to University of Bergamo by Associate Professor Daniela Andreini. My visit lasted from October 22 to November of 5th. During that time I was teaching Marketing Management at the Knowledge and Marketing Management program. Over the course students reflected on Marketing Management challenges and opportunities in different home countries of the 11 groups of 6 or so students. Our lectures during the weeks focused on traditional marketing management issues but also the core processes of marketing (Srivastava et al. 1999) i.e. Customer Relationship Management (we called it Customer Experience Management), Product Development Management (we called it Innovation) and Supply Chain Management. During the first week there was also students graduation parties.

Graduation

During the first week we had the traditional dinner at the Citta Alta. Below is a picture from the  city of Bergamo towards the Citta Alta, which is now Unesco heritage site.

Citta Alta

Between lectures I had also pleasure of having tours around Bergamo. About a decade ago we were visiting Milan and I remember that we took a train to Lake Come and toured a lake. Now I took a car from Bergamo and besides having lunch at the Lake Come I also toured around the lake a bit. Below a picture of Villa Olmo from the opposite side of the lake.

Como

In addition to Lake Como I visited the  Lake Carda. Now I also know where the Finnish whooper swans go before the harsh before winter.

Garda

This time I did not manage to visit Venice but as we visited that 4-5 years ago it did not matter instead I took the motorway to Verona which is new place for me. Verona has similar Amphitheatre but smaller compared to The Colosseum in Rome.

Verona

During the second week I had about 50 minutes train ride to Milano and toured the city for a day. As we have visited Milan several times I tried to fine new places such as this gate – Porta Ticinese.

Gate

We had preliminary talks to visit Bergamo again and now in my list is also the Bergamasque Alps and the coastal city of Bari.

 

Rimini-Bologna-San Marino

During summer holiday in Italy between July 18-25 I had please of vising Rimini, Bologna and San Marino. Rimini is famous for the long beach they have and I have to admit it is really beautiful and lots of families around Europe and elsewhere get together  there during each summer. If you also like history old town has some real Roman history like the Arch of Augustus.

Rimini

It used to be more decorative but wars and wearing and tearing has influenced the arch.

I have been planning to go to Pisa and see the leaning tower of Pisa but I have not yet managed that due to various reasons. Well I  was surprised in our day trip to Bologna.

In addition to witnessing the leaning tower of Bologna I visited the old town areas and the university campus (those who have studied at university in Europe know that we have a Bologna agreement or Bologna Process so I was curious to see were this was agreed).

 

Bologna

When your trip was closing to an end we had another day trip near and in San Marino.

San Marino.JPG

 

Visiting San Leo and San Marino. Half day was not enough to full capture the beauty of San Marino as there is a lot of elevation, parking is a bit difficult and the crowds as well. Overall, really lovely experience. And rent a car to see all the lovely places. Nothing to be afraid of. Better roads than in Finland 🙂

 

Singapore-Perth-Kuala Lumpur

Early April 2018 I was visiting my colleagues a the Edith Cowan University in Perth. We had really nice discussions about AACSB-accreditation and more broadly on research. With my colleagues we also advanced one of our research project on the Twitter use in the industrial markets. As I have visited Perth close to 10 times now I did not take any photographs.

This picture is from Singapore as many will notice. It is from the Marina Bay area. I enjoyed the cleanliness and modern architecture.

Singapore

Enjoyed also a half night in club Zouk which is ranked as one of the best in Asia and. Zedd had a gig there and played his hits including Clarity.

From the Singapore I took a luxury bus to Kuala Lumpur and back. Buses are actually really nice if you have new and bigger ones. I was in one seat (with massage etc functions) at the front with 3-4 meters to a next person.  Air-conditioned, toilet and of course meal and hot drinks included. Below the necessary picture from KL. In both cities I enjoyed the parks, old towns, China towns and other attractions.

 

KL

Trip to South of Spain and France (March 15-22)

I landed first Barcelona and started to drive to Pyrenees and Andorra. Roads are in good condition and and there was only a bit of snow under some scattered trees. While reaching higher altitude and Andorra la Vella I noticed that there is still lots of downhill skiers including snowboarders having fun. Some of the highest peaks are at 3400 meters while this one in the picture is closer to 2900 meters or so.

Andorra

As Andorra is famous for shopping (taxes lower than in rest of the Europe) I managed to buy Channel Sport perfume with 43€ (in Finnish airport it was 56€ or so). Well, if you calculate all the costs of the trip saving is not much. E.g. one toll road of 150km or so will cost the price difference 🙂

Next day I was driving from the Andorra to Narbonne are realized that roads are in excellent condition with 3 lanes. Of course there are some slow parts when still in the mountain area but after that it is actually fast drive. Crossing the border from Andorra to France was easy. Customs pulled over and wanted to know if there is alcohol and tobacco in my car as those are cheap. Well none of those this time. Later arriving to Finland I saw that in Carcassone there was a terrorist attack which is one of the cities on the route from Andorra to Narbonne. As my plan was to stay over night in Martiques (actually in Fos-sur-Mer) I continued my journey after a quick lunch in Narbonne. Fos-sur-Mer is one the big ports and I was able watch lots of ships moving to and from harbor.

My trip continued next day to Antibes which is close to Nice, Monaco and Cannes. Antibes has port for big ships and actually the harbor and the surroundings are full of different types of services for these ships and of course you can buy one as well. Same is true fro Nice and Cannes. This picture is from Antibes.

Antibes

I was staying three days in the Antibes and besides enjoying that I had day trips to nearby areas. Cannes, Nice and Monaco. This view is familiar to most visiting Cannes.

Cannes

While going to Nice and Monaco it was raining so no nice pics from that day. I can say that Monaco was a bit of disappointment due to the elevation (build on hillside).

Drive from Antibes to Barcelona (Sitges) was the longest drive. Compared to driving in Finland, during winter (icy roads) with one lane to each direction and having 80km/h speed limit, it was still easier than driving from Helsinki to Oulu. 3-4 lanes and 130km/h,  I was faster than expected in Sitges (one of the beach areas near Barcelona). Below is beachfront church.

Barcelona Sitges

Overall, it was relaxing trip as most of the driving was relatively easy and scenery is different from the flattish Finland.  I had my Finnish GPS with the European country maps. It seems that some of the maps were old as I did manage to drive around the bay area of Etang de Berre near Martigues instead of driving directly to Martigues.