Monthly Archives: March 2015

Reassuring Lie

Knowledge Information and Data

Knowledge Information and Data

Planning your next trip? You are going to be using information, right? Reviews from Tripadvisor, hotel booking site hotel details, price comparison websites, travel blogs,  Pdf Guides to the area and maps from Google.

Be Warned, all is not as it seems

Data, Clean Simple Facts

Mobile phone companies are offering bundles of “All You Can Eat Data” but what is data? In this case it is a stream of digital signals, your phone translates them into sounds, text and images called information Wrong! This is not data. It is information converted to digital form.

Data is fact. It is the distance from A to B. While this sort of data does not change there is some data that does change, like the temperature in Athens, exchange rates and hotel prices. The trouble is people, select the facts they see because they cannot see the facts or choose not to include a fact in their description. In this case it is not Data but information.

Unless you are looking at numbers related to physical things, like the length of a river, you are looking at information that is open to dispute. Even things like “The Best Currency Exchange Rates”, which are fixed at least for a minute at a time on a national level, are different from one website to another.

In general if it is presented as a “Fact” it probably is just information.

Information, All Done With Mirrors

You only have to read two Tripadvisor reviews of the same hotel to see that information is open to different ways of looking at the “facts”. I have illustrated this in my Illustrated Package Holiday Story. It is not so easy when you “think” you are reading facts published about a hotel on a price comparison site or reading a tourist guide to Venice.

Price comparison sites claim to offer information to help you make a decision but the FSA

However, our review found that they were not meeting our requirements in delivering fair and consistent outcomes for consumers.  We also found, through our consumer research, that consumers had a number of misconceptions about the services they provided. 

The Financial Conduct Authority

A complaint was made about the Trivago, the hotel price comparison website that their TV advertisement which stated that “Trivago compares over 100 websites to find you your ideal hotel at the best price.”  was “Exaggeration”. The complain was not upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority

We considered that consumers would understand the ‘best price’ claim in the context of Trivago’s claim to compare over 100 websites and concluded that the ad was not misleading.

ASA

I cannot argue with the judgement from the ASA, it would not be too difficult to compare 100 websites for prices, so it is probably not “Exaggeration” but I doubt if they can find “My ideal Hotel at the Best Price” because it may not be on a hotel booking website. Hotel Booking sites charge commision and some smaller hotels do not advertise on hotel booking sites. Here is how to find a hotel not on booking sites.

Some Travel Guides offer alternative places to eat, but obviously cannot cover all restaurants in a city, other offer a selection, some of which are just sponsored advertising in the guise of “Best of ” information.

In general if an article claims to offer you the “Best of … ” or “The Top Ten …”  It is at best only the writers opinion, it is not unbiased information, at the worst it is disguised advertising or sponsorship.

Knowledge Belongs to You

If you’ve got some data and some information and so  you have some knowledge. But what you choose to do with that knowledge is up to you, reject it, use it or forget it. That will depend on what you want the knowledge for and whether you believe where it came from.

If you read any of my other posts, you will notice that I like to check things out, where ever I can,  for myself and I would strongly advise you to do the same. The aim of this website is to help you to do what you want, only a little bit better. This is not your normal Travel Blog.

 

 

Hotels Paderborn

3 Very Different Hotels in Paderborn

On my visit to Paderborn I stayed in three very different hotels.The first night I stopped in the Airport hotel, then moved into a cheap hotel in Paderborn and finally stayed in a more expensive hotel that looked like a German Christmas card picture. What can you expect from the hotels Paderborn has to offer?

When I review hotels on Tripadvisor I am always aware that people have different expectations, needs, wants and desires, so these observations are very personal and based on what I look for in a hotel.

What I Look for in a hotel

BedThe first and most important is a good nights sleep, a comfortable bed and a warm (cool) clean room. I do like tea and coffee making facilities but can make do with a bottle of water. I like a good hot shower and towels that dry me in one go, not a small cardboard substitute for cotton. I like the hotel to have a restaurant and some public space to sit and read a book, work on my laptop and meet other people. After that you can keep the extras like a big TV and fresh flowers, they only add to the cost of the room but add little to my eudaimonia.

Happyness

Too much information can be confusing but not enough leave you not having the information to make a decision.

The Airport Hotel Paderborn

Airport Hotel Bed

 

This was my first encounter with a German bed. One thin duvet and a large pillow. I thought I would never get a good nights sleep and with typical German efficiency, there was only one pillow and one cover because while it was a double bed, I had booked a single room. It was the same with the tea and coffee, just enough, no more! I did get a good nights sleep the pillow was supportive and the duvet filled like a good quality, 4 seasons sleeping bag.  The shower was state of the art functionality.

Airport Hotel BarThe hotel bar was a very pleasant surprise, the restaurant staff spoke English, were efficient and helpful and I enjoyed the meal. If you look behind the bar you will see a pink light, well it changed colour, why I have no idea, it must have been a joke because it had no aesthetic appeal or efficiency function. The menu consisted of German dishes and a special Scandinavian selection. There was a slight mistranslation on the menu and crab turned out to be prawns.

The bottom line as always is would I stay here again and the answer is yes because airport hotels make life easier.

The Hotel Sud Paderborn

hotel sud

The bottom line, as always but first this time, would I stay here again and the answer is yes but not with my wife, daughters or other family members but I would take them to eat here.

The bottom line is first, because from what I am about to say you might think I didn’t like the hotel and I really did, because it met my criteria for a good hotel.

The hotel is literally on the wrong side of the track. The room was Spartan, the stair carpets threadbare. The bedding and towels looked like my mother’s spare room accessories and the bathroom had a lino floor. The staff were friendly, the evening meals exceptionally good (see their quote on another post) the breakfast under priced for the quality and I slept well and had a good hot shower in the morning without the temperature fluctuation every minute.

This hotel was a true Grey Packer Gem, I would look for one in every city, mainly occupied by travelling salesmen, working men and locals.

 The Galerie Hotel Paderborn

Galerie-HotelHaving started giving the bottom line first, I will continue. Would I stay here again for €60+ a night without breakfast? In the hotel comments sheet they asked if the reason for choosing the hotel was because of the balance between cost and facilities, if that were the criteria, I were to judge the hotel on, the answer would be no.

I had been seduced into booking the hotel by a copy of their menu on their website, Goose and Marzipan apples had led me to expect more. “Petite Galerie Tapas” was a sure warning sign that I would be disappointed. Food is an important part of my travelling experience. I have eaten tapas from the north to the south of Spain. They originated as cheap snacks with a meal some are now very sophisticated morsels of pure delight or free with a drink. And while I am having a rant “Anti Pasti” is Italian not Spanish. I wanted to try good German food in a hotel in Germany, pasta, Argentinian steak, tapas and pizza, I can get anywhere.

With careful attention to detail, all rooms have been individually furnished and decorated, a process, in which special care was given to the choice of harmoniously matching high-quality design and furnishing.
All of our rooms are equipped with modern bathrooms as well as top-quality beds.

Hotel Website

The room was very pleasant to sit in and the desk and arm chair most welcome. Just as well as the public space was limited to a couple of tables crowded near the reception desk. There was style and quality in the bedroom.

The bed was solid and firm but the bedding was weak and flimsy. The German pillows, which I had grown to like so much that I am going to buy one soon, had no real filling and I had to ask for an additional two pillows just to give some support to my head. The cover was so light that on the first night I awoke so cold and had to search for an additional blanket, which looked good but was 100% polyester. In fact on inspection the pillow filling was too and the towel was small and mean. It is a shame that the linen seemed to have been supplied from a cheap third party supplier.

One tripadvisor review commented

We liked:
– location downtown
– building, oldest house in town
– paintings
– it was clean
– Internet for free

We did not like:
– quality of the bed
– the rooms look much nicer on the photos,a real standard room for almost 100€
– service is average

tripadvisor

And I can but agree, nice location, clean and with an individual style but as a hotel it was just average.

On a positive note

The many bright and colourful paintings – painted by the owner herself – almost turn the hotel into a small art gallery.

They were strong, well composed, expressive, and imaginative. To call them “bright and colourful” is an insult to their quality. I have rarely seen, better modern art, on the walls of the major European art galleries.

To repeat the bottom line again. Would I stay here again? If, after this review, the hotel would have me, then the answer is probably yes.

 

 

Paderborn Hotels

Paderborn Hotels

Booking.com offers 25 hotels in Paderborn, although some will be booked for the nights you want but still every time I looked there was a choice of about 15. So how do you make a choice.

In ViaThe one I thought sounded good was In Via. It had good reviews and the pictures seemed to show a smart clean entrance. But it was fully booked for the dates I wanted, always a good sign. I had no idea about Paderborn but has it turned out the hotel was on the “far side” of the city, not that that was a major problem as it turned out because you can walk across paderborn in 30 minutes.

I tend to book a hotel before I book the flight, as long as it has “free cancellation”, that way I get an idea of my total expenses before I commit to anything. You can easily change a hotel but not a flight.

Some stupid information on the Internet said you could get a train from the airport into the city. Yes you can but you have to take a bus to get to the station and you can get a bus all of the way!

Hotel Map Paderborn

Here is the map of hotels in Paderborn. In Via is at the top right. The two near the station, I have pictures. I booked the Hotel Sud for three nights because it looked like a German hotel and not like a concrete bunker. It was also a £1 cheaper per night but that wasn’t the real or only reason for choosing the hotel. How can you not want to stay at a hotel with such an attitude to food?

We wondered whether the meat that we process ever has to travel from Argentina to the long, complicated way across half the globe, but if we can find in our East Westphalia lush meadows with happy animals. Or whether we should process the meat of animals that we do not know how they were made. No, we did not want.
We have searched and found regional producers who work with passion to their cause.

We visit our Where to buy in person and get a picture of the animal husbandry, so we can safely say:

Here the cattle are happy and living in welfare friendly environment. This not only tastes better, that calms the conscience.

The producers from whom we source our meat, among other peasant Peine , with his happy pigs in Pömbsen in Bad Driburg – well worth a little trip -; the organic-Heggehof in isopods delights us with cattle and buffalo and the court Engelns in Hovelhof has happy free range chickens with a whole lot of flavor.

I used Google to Translate the hotel Website

Airport Hotel PaderbornWhen I had sorted the flights and realised that I would be landing at the airport in the dark, not knowing where I was going, I decided to stay at the Airport Hotel for the first night and catch the bus into Paderborn in the morning. It cost a bit more but while I am all for cutting costs, I do not want any hassle when I travel.

The hotel is 2 minutes walk from the airport exit.Go under the covered way by the car park ticket machine. Cross the road and there you are.

Travelling on a budget is all about cutting costs here so you can spend more there, it is not about doing things on the cheap, just keeping your spending within what you can afford. So having saved €44 by not having a taxi and having booked a really cheap hotel, I was able to splash-out a bit on a better hotel for a few days.

 

Lufthansa to Paderborn

How to get to Paderborn from the UK

How to get to Paderborn from the UK ~ The Solution

Having spent hour researching, “How to get to Paderborn from the UK” here is my solution, although not ideal it is the best of a bad bunch. I looked at the alternatives in How to Get to Paderborn this is what I ended up doing.

Starting off with the basics Paderborn has an Airport, And I have two local airports, Manchester (MAN) and Leeds Bradford (LBA) and I wanted to go on a Sunday. I Googled Who Flies to Paderborn

Who Flys to Paderborn

Google knows LBA is my local airport but at £1,118 it is out of my price range. So I go to SkyScanner to see what they have to offer from Manchester.

SkyScanner

This is more reasonable and I learn that Lufthansa fly to Paderborn at a more realistic price. Skyscanner search the internet for flight deals but you have to book through the airline itself, so here it is.

Through SkyScanner

Lufthansa, along with some other airlines let you compare prices across the week or even month. This is great if you can be flexible with your dates.

Change Day

I am sure there are other solutions and I would be interested to have your comments.

This is How to get to Paderborn from the UK but it is not the way I do things. I always check how much hotels will cost before I start creating my own Package Holiday, so first I booked a hotel on a free cancel through booking.com.

Next Post Hotels in Paderborn.

 

 

How To Get To Paderborn

How To Get To Paderborn

Finding out “How To Get To Paderborn” was not as easy has it should be and even when I did it was a very difficult journey. I was in Aldi in York and the queue was long so I got chatting to the soldier waiting behind me. I told him I was thinking of going to Paderborn. He said he had been posted there and his parents used to visit him by bus.

Of late one of my main website I use for initial planning is Rome2Rio.

Rome2Rio

Here is the route suggested by the soldier.

By Bus to Paderborn

 Now to miss-quote Aldi’s slogan “I like travelling by Bus but I also like travelling by train.” and 19 hours on a bus starting at 6.00 in the morning, waiting in London for ages, travelling over night and changing buses in the early dawn to get the next local bus to Paderborn was not a realistic option. The Train was quicker.

Train

But when I looked into the actual timings, I was either waiting on the platform for hours or trying to change platforms in less than 10 minutes. What about driving?

CarI like Rome2Rio but they must use a different car to mine. The timing assume you drive at 60 miles an hour, no rest breaks, no road works, no traffic jams, just no idea about the reality of the road. But I was about to be let down by Rome2Rio in another way.

Fly

There is an Airport in Paderborn! But not according to Rome2Rio, Fly somewhere and get a train was their answer. Still it got me thinking. Ferry to Amsterdam or Fly to Amsterdam and get a plane or train, these were options, were they not? Well has it happened they too involved complicated changing between trains and planes and were no cheaper than the solution I choose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Information About Paderborn

How to Find Information About Paderborn

In my previous post I said I was going to Paderborn and gave some reasons why I wanted to go. Here is how I found the information. First I just typed Paderborn into Google

Google Search

There were two areas that caught my eye, as worth exploring more.

Explore Google Paderborn

The picture leads to a website, which I looked at quickly and walked away from just as quickly because there was not much information and there were a lot of adverts. The second was a Google map, which gave me an overview of the area and I would come back to later in a different disguise.

Paderborn Wiki

This is a “mashed-up” image but it shows what you get, in this case less the main body of the text. Some folk say you cannot trust Wiki. There are some mistakes because it is compiled by normal people, just like you and me. As a jumping off point for further research it works very well, you get a brief outline, the basic “fact box” and some references and links. The text also contains links for further research. As I have said in my Ramblings page, I enjoy following the wave of surfing and seeing where it takes me.

If you want see what I found out there is a link at the top of the page “I am Going to Paderborn.”

For my next post I will explore How To Get To Paderborn.

 

 

 

 

Paderborn

I am going to Paderborn

Why I am Going to Paderborn

Uk troops withdrawI can get inspired to travel by the oddest things. I am going to Paderborn and it all started with a news story in the Guardian, the British Army of the Rhine is to leave Germany. Now it has been there since before I was born. I have been to Germany twice, once when I was a young student backpacking around the Black Forest and later on a walking holiday with my wife. I have never felt inspired to return, mainly because I am not inspired by the food, and travel and eating go hand in hand on my travels.

How to Get to Paderborn

Coat of Arms of PaderbornI am jumping head a bit but when I decided to travel to Paderborn, I did my usual research and planning, using my “famed IT skills” and thought it would make a useful series of posts because it was not as easy to get to Paderborn, as I thought it should be, and I learned some useful things, just from the planning. So I thought I would share them with you over the next few days.

5 Reasons To Go To Paderborn

Reason 1

Paderborn has the World’s largest Computer Museum. Do I need more of a reason to go to Paderborn?

Reason 2

There is great Hiking, Cycling and Adventures around Paderborn.

Walking around paderbornerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason 3

Paderborn seems a bit like York, it is an old city with a cathedral built on a river and full of history and it is always interesting to compare the similar in a new setting.

Paderborn and York Cities

Reason 4

Charlemagne founded PaderbornWhile doing my research I found that Paderborn was founded by Charlemagne in 795. Charlemagne was often called the “Father of Europe.” Many is the child who has had to suffer my history lessons on Charlemagne but my knowledge was only from the textbook. Here was a chance to find out more, with actual source material.

History CharlemagneIf you want to find out more about Charlemagne, the picture to a history site is a link.

 

 

Reason 5

Well having got four good reasons the fifth is always the best, I have never been there.


 

Tripadvisor Reviews

I have just received an email from Tripadvisor

 Restaurant Reviews

I review for TripAdvisor, for the same reason I am writing this blog, I want to help other travellers and I like the thought of being cherished. But the question is can you trust Tripadvisor reviews?

I am always totally amazed at how the same restaurant can get wildly different reviews. I know that chefs have their days-off and even their off days. I know that people like different foods and have different tastes. I know that some people don’t know what to expect, if something is new, people either love it or hate it. And I know that some people get paid to write reviews. I know this because I wrote a review for a restaurant in York and the previous review, under the same heading was a review for a restaurant that had closed three years ago but it was dated two days before my review!

I use Trip Advisor to get an insight into hotels, restaurants and places of interest. I trust Trip Advisor, I don’t always trust the reviewers. I trust Trip Advisor because I know they try to avoid false reviews, they have even tested me out with an email asking a question about York.

I reviewed one hotel that got really bad reviews except for one, it stood out like a saw thumb. It was from a coach driver, who took parties there, It was obvious from his pen-name, it wasn’t Plaxton (a coach builder in Scarborough) but it was an other coach builder and a dead give-away that it was a biased review. See a bit lower down the page for more information.

Tripadvisor reviews

The first thing you should check is the profile

QuickProfile

I have redacted the reviewers name because he was obviously having a rant, he, as I do often,  wonders why the hotel is getting such good reviews and his experience was not too good, and he comes from Barnsley and on the whole I trust folk from Barnsley.

If you go a step further and check the full profile.

Profile

You can see more information. I feel sorry for the poor sod, he’s travelled 152 miles to spend the night in a rubbish hotel in my home town. If you are coming to York let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

Always research outside Tripadvisor

FawltyTowers

DVD from Amazon

The Hotel  reviewed by not Mr Plaxton (above) was part of the Britannia group, I bothered to review the hotel because at one time it was THE hotel in Scarborough and despite my warnings about checking reviews before you book, I did not do it this time, and boy was I let down. Now had I done some research I would have found, The Independent headlines “Britannia hotels is the worst chain in UK satisfaction survey finds”

 

 

With “rundown” hotels that are “well past their best-by-dates”, Britannia Hotels’ accommodation is said to be more Fawlty Towers than first class.

The Independent

A lesson well learned. I will never book without doing my research again. I should know better I wrote the “Cheap Package Holiday Story”

 

 

What makes a good meal

what makes a good meal?

What makes a good meal. Trip Advisor v. Grey Packer

ScarboroughThe other day I went to Scarborough, a seaside town in Yorkshire, Seaside towns in England are not well know as gastronomic centres of excellence. Fish and Chips, Sausage and Chips, with or without curry sauce, Candy floss, ice creams and seaside rock are the main delights. At some cafes you might get offered a “Home Cooked” pie, mash potatoes, peas, bread and butter and a cup of tea. Take care “home cooked” does not always mean “home-made.” It is a bit like the difference between “English Wine” and “British Wine.”

Questioning“Please Sir! What is the difference the between “English Wine” and “British Wine.”

If you want to know too, ask in a comment.

To get back to the story …

Eggs Benedict For lunch we went to a small village just outside Scarborough. I normally do not “do lunch”, but some things are unavoidable on a menu. Eggs Benedict is one such item. It was a small unpretentious cafe but they were a true delight, runny yolks, and creamy sauce.
For dinner we went to a restaurant that was supposed to be one of the best in Scarborough. Trip Advisor gives it good reviews. But I was reminded of the story of “The Emperors new clothes”, and almost wanted to sing “The King is in the altogether!” I think some reviewers say a restaurant is good, because they are told it is good, and/or they paid a lot of money, Good food is on the palate as well as the plate!


My Definition of Good Food

  • Good food is when you are so excited by the experience that you want to offer your companion a taste.
  • Excellent food is when you hope they won’t ask for a taste.
  • Average food is when they say, “What’s” it like” and you say “It’s OK”
  • Bad food is when you don’t finish the plate.

In this restaurant, needless to say, I left over two-thirds on the plate.