Keystone, Colorado, USA

Keystone is an impressive destination for all kinds of conferences and meetings. As you will see on the map below, Keystone is located in the Rocky Mountains. The location is literally spoken somewhere in the middle of nowhere but this is what makes it unique for project workers who aim at combining pure nature and some physical exercise with work.  In the wintertime, Keystone is one of the nearby skiing resorts of the Denver area. In the summertime, hiking, biking, horse-riding and golf are the major leisure time disciplines. For seasons with less visitors, a modern conference centre has been built and helps Keystone Resort to have a stable visitor stream all over the year.  By the way, to the  physical exercises should be drawn special attention because Keystone is located on 2.800 meters above sea level and a sun burn comes without prior notice. Untrained persons might also feel the thin air when climbing the few meters from the hotel complex to the conference centre.

What to do

Keystone Resort offers a large variety of leisure time activities and the resort managers will happily assist meeting organisers in combining work and leisure-time activities. Have a look at the map of the resort, where you define different layers of interest. The activities themselves heavily depend on the season:

  • The winter season offers all options of ice-skating, downhill and cross-country skiing.
  • In the summertime, we can recommend mountain-bike trips and hiking. For team-building processes, think about booking a guided rafting trip.
  • Try fly fishing. You will not find a better place to catch your first trout. Before starting to buy all the equipment and joining the mobile fishing community, consult the legal frameworks or visit the homepage of the  Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW). The CDOW releases annually a brochure which includes all relevant information regarding closing seasons, licences, fishing definitions, etc. Starting fly fishing from the scratch without a trusted guide is not a wise idea. Better have a look beforehand for some professional advise.

Where to stay

  • The Keystone Lodge and Spa is located pretty  close to the conference centre and group discounts can be negotiated for bigger conferences. Check with your local organizer whether such an agreement has been made.
  • If you prefer some distance to the conference centre (for what ever reason) check the website of the resort for some alternatives.

Getting around

  • Before speaking about getting around, we need to clarify how to get there. The next international airport is Denver International, which is about 120 kilometres away and can be reached via interstate 70 in less than an hour (without traffic jam). For getting to Keystone, you have basically two options: The first option is booking a ride with the Colorado Mountain Express (CME), which offers regular connections to all these small villages in the area. When going for this option, check with your host whether they have a special agreement with the CME, otherwise you might have to pay much more when booking the trip spontaneously at the airport. The second (and more convenient) option is renting a car. It will also significantly increase your mobility  in Keystone itself.
  • Keystone Resort is so small that all Points of Interest are in walking distance. However, do not expect too much from a resort which has less than 900 inhabitants. There are only very small stores with a minimum of products.  The only real alternative, if you like to see something of the beautiful surrounding,  is renting a car before coming to Keystone.

Where to eat

  • The resort itself offers a large variety of restaurants and dining facilities. A brief overview can be found on the official website of the resort. However, one should have in mind that Keystone is somehow a closed cosmos and that price / quality ratio could be much better when making a short ride with the rented car down to Dillon or Silverthorne [1].
  • Check the Arapahoe Café in Silverthorne, where you can try all the good stuff which the United States are famous for. Here you will get some tasty spare rips, burgers and steak – it is delicious …..

What to bring home

  • Make a stop at the Outlets of Silverstone at Rainbow Drive. Here you can buy all the nice brands, like Calvin Klein, Adidas,  Old Navy, Nike and many others for small prices. When planning the shopping stop-over, leave enough space in your luggage beforehand and think about what you are allowed to bring back home. If you are not sure, have a look at the website of the customs service. Silverthorne also has a shopping center where you can buy all daily-life-products.

Maps

  • Have a look at Google maps

[1] The city of Silverthorne retrieved its name from “Hangin’ Judge Silverthorne” who become famous for his strict interpretation of the wording of the law. However, time have changed and you do not have to fear to find yourself hanging at the next tree for minor misdemeanours.

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WC-Special: Vuvuzela Stop – How to filter the annoying Vuvuzela sound in realtime

The blog Surfpoeten has released instructions how to filter out the annoying sound of the Vuvuzelas at the 2010 World Cup games with the help of a ‘high-slope band stop filter’ and a computer. However, many of us do not to have the software Apple Logic Express 8 (or other versions), which is required to be able to follow the instructions of the Surfpoeten.

In principle, the construction of the filter is quite simple. The audio signal must be transmitted from the receiver to the PC, where you can apply frequency-specific filters in realtime. Therefore, we have searched for other options and found some that work for PC users as well.
On the blog icanmakeit.de, the author presents an effects preset for Ableton Live software that allows you to configure the multi-band EQ of the software so that the Vuvuzela sound disappears from the soundtrack or at least get well-damped.

Next, you can download on icanmakeit.de a Vuvuzela filter for energyXT and use it immediately. But those who do not possess the program and don’t want to buy it, can build their personal Vuvuzela filter with a VST hos, and an equalizer plugin. This is also described on this blog with a nice manual.
With a little effort, you can adapt the filters to other programs such as WinAmp, Audacity and Adobe Audition. Another idea would be to filter a live broadcast via Internet radio stream directly on the PC and then listen to the radio stream instead of the TV soundtrack.
So we wish you success your personal recording studio work and to enjoy a more silent great 2010 World Cup.

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Lofoten Islands, Norway

Hamnøya island in Kjerkefjord

Picture 1 of 11

Hamnøya is a fishing village on an island in Kjerkefjord's dramatic entrance. Dried cod and rental cottages included.

Lofoten Islands are Norway’s northwestern outpost of civilisation. Above the arctic circle, the islands experience midnight sun from the end of May, while frequently enjoying the Northern lights during winter time.

There is certainly no better meeting location than Lofoten in case you’re working on a project dealing with both mountains and fisheries at the same time.

Lofoten are both the place of astounding nature, and traditional fishing business. Coastal cod fishing, fish drying, whaling and salmon breeding are dominant occupations among the natives. The major harbors and airport cities offer a number of small business and traveller hotels, while Norwegians will recommend a traditional fishing village (called Rorbu) with their sailor cottages as meeting or conference location.

The islands are somewhat on the edge of the world – which requires a sacrifice for the meeting participants, but at the same time will make sure they stay for a while. Tourism, however, is very seasonal. Outside the summer season (June to Septemper),  you can’t expect all local restaurants or tourism businesses to be available without prior reservation. Call ahead if in doubt!

What to do

Conference side activities on Lofoten islands are numerous. You’ll have to decide, and make sacrifices on sightseeing, eating, hiking, biking, fishing climbing or scuba diving. Get organized in time!

Popular activities are:

  • Rent a boat, and go fishing! The fishing villages will rent out ‘rorbu’ cottages right on the seafront, often with a boat included and a large freezer available for your catch. However, be aware that tidal currents are infamous between the islands and along the coasts – get thorough information & instruction on how to avoid these before you leave!
  • Take a look at the Lofoten Viking Museum in Borg. The 60-meter long house reconstruction building was raised on an archaeological site where a Viking tribe built one of the largest known viking houses. Today’s reconstruction offers several sections inclusing a dining and assembly room and a museum section, where staff in Viking costumes explain the history of the place and some Viking culture.
  • Use the west coast’s numerous sandy beaches with turquoise water and dramatic mountain silhouette for your enjoyment (and swimming, depending on water temperatures).
  • Hike Lofoten’s dramatic mountains, which offer hiking altitudes literally from zero to over 1000 meters. Particularly the mountains on Moskenes, the southernmost of the big islands, are utterly dramatic close to the uncomprehensible. Canyons, waterfalls, shark-teeth shaped mountains grinded down by prehistoric glaciers, and steep walls down into lakes and fjords will impress any aplinist.
  • Scuba dive around the Lofoten! Dry suit experience recommended! Bring your scuba certificate!
  • Visit Nusfjord, a protected, traditional Lofoten fishing village. Most of the catch processing buildings are museums, while the fishermen’s quarters are available for tourists.  Dramatic scenery in a remote fjord. Fancy outdoor hot tub view a view of the fjord!
  • Visit Å i Lofoten, which, with its population of about 100 is still a fully operative fishing and cod drying village. In addition, you can rent seaside cottages and fishing boats.  While in Å, take a look at the Lofoten Stockfish Museum!
  • Whale watching is another highlight. Killer whales and mink whales are roaming around the islands.  In addition,  you can eat whale in local restaurants or buy it in supermarkets. Norway manages its vast Mink population with strict catch quota management, while hunting any other whale species is strictly banned.
Stamsund's old sailor quarters, called Rorbu, are used as a cottage hotel.

Stamsund's old sailor quarters, called Rorbu, are used as a cottage hotel.

Where to stay

Lofoten offers many alternatives to the few larger business hotels. You can choose according to your activities and budget. You can legally put up a tent on your hikes anywhere at least 150m from housing (unless posted otherwise), or use the hiking cottages for short-term stays. For a post-meeting weekend, you can get a camping van. You can stay at Bed & Breakfasts, rent a fishing cottage for some days, or sleep on your fishing boat. If you happen to hit main season (June to August), then you should get reservations ahead of time to avoid loosing precious time searching for alternative hosts.

Some recommendations are:

  • The Norwegian trekking association DNT maintains two hiking and mountaineering cottages: Selfjordhytta and Munkebu. You need to sign up for membership (ca. 500 NOK per year), and you need to check out the cottage key with local shops as described on the linked cottage pages.  Selfjordhytta is a few meters off an unpaved road, with many opportunities for local hikes, and an astounding passage over a ridge to a beautiful beach. Using Munkebu will bring you up a steep trail into the center of Moskenes’ dramatic high mountains, facing the over 1000m high Hermansdalstinden summint from a ridge on the other side of a canyon.
  • The islands’ west coasts offers the old fishermens’ and sailors’ quarters virtually in every single place with a boat landing. Called ‘Rorbu’, these cottages on wooden poles reside right by the sea, usually providing an opportunity to attach your fishing boatnearby. Some scenic places are Nusfjord, Hamnøya and Å (see above).
  • If your meeting happens in Leknes’ Best Western hotel, then you ended up in one of the most boring locations around. Getting out & around is a must!

Getting around

Transport planning  is important for your visit on Lofoten. Distances are long (Leknes airport to Å is nearly 100km), and bus service is sparse. There are some local boat services (particularly around Kjerkefjord). Your choice of transport depends on your planned activities – a rental car might just be  a waste of money if you go fishing, or plan a crossing hike from Selfjord to Munkebu.

These are your transport options on Lofoten:

  • Getting there: By plane via Oslo with SAS/Wideroe to Leknes or Svolvær on the islands, or to Bodø on the main land. From Bodø, just as from Tromsø, Hurtigruten ferry service connects both Moskenes and Stamsund, which are important ports . The ferry crossing from Bodø takes about 5 hours. In case you’re travelling on a conference cruise up the Norwegian coast, you can get off the boat at Lofoten – the best place to escape a boring conference on that route!
  • Taxi service is available, but priced according to good Norwegian standard. Avoid rides out of town in a taxi!
  • There are buses running up and down the main highway E10 and into side roads, which in main season during the summer service the road all the way down to Å and on the side roads several times per day. However, many brave men have cried in despair over Norwegian public transport web pages, which only make sense when you’ve been born in the area.
  • Get a rental car! The airports host the usual suspects in cer rentals. Leknes and Stamsund have their own local rental companies with varying service levels and prices.  Price orientation as of 2010: 6 days small car rental cost 3000 NOK. A car is your best bet when you plan to use several locations, some of the beaches, the cottages or the mountains.

 

Mountain panorama on Flakstad island, seen from Tverrfjell.

Mountain panorama on Flakstad island, seen from Tverrfjell.

Where to eat

Eating options are very much dependend on the seasion. Summer season offers many restauratns, marinas and cafés around Lofoten, while off-season visits will confront the visitor with retaurants that are open on weekends only, and small villages where the general store or the gas station are the only source of food.The restaurants offer a wide variety of fish and meat dishes, where Bacalao, cod, mussels, whale and locally bred lamb are local specialties.

Some restaurant suggestions are:

  • Skjærbrygga in Stamsund is a former fish reception/processing dock in the port. Today, it hosts a hotel and a fancy, rustical restaurant where you can land your boat right on the edge of the restaurant’s terrace.
  • A less fancy alternative that is open off-seasion is stamcaféen in Stamsund. This is the local bar, café, native meeting place, and bistro. You’ll find it on the corner of Steinevn and J.M. Johansens vei , at the end of the harbor basin with the Hurtigruten terminal.
  • Brygga Restaurant in Å offers a scenic view of the fishing village, and a decent menu for hungry tourists. Address:  Å RORBUER & Brygga Restaurant, Å i Lofoten, N-8392 Sørvågen, Lofoten Islands.
  • In Reine, at the mouth of Kjerkefjord, you can eat at the Gammelbua Restaurant. This is, of course, the center of yet another old fishing village. However, they do have all of: Food, conference room, marina, boats, a view, and hiking trails.
  • Ramberg gjestegård offers a restaurant, cottages and a campground right on one of the longest beaches on Lofoten – in the small town of Reine on Flakstad island.
  • Hamnøy mat og vinbu is a pub built into the old general store on Hamnøy island. It is small, but – as you can expect – rents our fishing huts. The scenery around Hamnøy is  most dramatic, and in addition, the location offers quick access to a local museum and fish shop with local products just down the bridge on the next island – Sakrisøy.

What to bring home

  • Dried fish – called stockfish – is a local food tradition valued all over the world as an ingredient for Bacalo, fish stew and fish balls.
  • Smoked whale meat (check with your local customs regime first!)
  • Warm woolen hats and sweaters crafted from locally produced Lofoten wool.
  • Some artists produce glass art, pottery and iron objects (there is a sculpting blacksmith with a studio on Flakstad island).

Maps & further information

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