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Trip Report Norway - Slightly out of the nutshell

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About us- 40, love city walks, long hikes, and great scenery on vacation, not foodies, nor are we overly particular about lodging as long as it is clean, safe, in a good location, and no shared bathroom :). Have travelled several times in Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Switzerland. Once (but not last) in South America. We travel with carry on bags only.

This trip to Norway came about as we typically start to plan a trip early in the new year, but have a very long and varied list of all the places we want to go....we have to let work approved vacation time frames and airfare prices help guide us. This year it seemed to be between Portugal, Columbia, Norway and Sweden. Norway airfare took a serious price nosedive and combined with an excellent connection from our home base of Halifax (Canada) made our decision easy!

I am very appreciative of all the information I have gleaned from posts and TRs from Fodors....much less information for this country was available compared to the other areas we have visited, so I am trying to include a lot of content here, with the intention of providing some information to others, to use as they see fit.

Below is our itinerary, trip report (with interspersed hotel and restaurant reviews) and at the end some general comments about our experiences travelling in Norway. A caution for those with a short attention span- I can be long winded and somewhat boring (do you really need to hear that we woke up and got cleaned up?? Again? We do this every morning!)
Before I get started , I will say this was a truly unique trip. The scenery and what we experienced was unforgettable, and what I found really special was how I did not feel like a tourist...we merely fitted ourselves into the regular pace of many Norwegians. There was no special "tourist" treatment, or particular attention paid to who we were, where we were travelling from, or what we thought of their country. They were doing what they were doing regardless of us, and it was very refreshing!

Our (much debated) itinerary, which took place from 11 Sept 2014 to 29 Sept 2014:

Arrive Oslo- 1 night (Oslo)
Train to Bergen- 1 night (Bergen)
Pick up rental car in Bergen, drive to Floro (1. Night Floro)
Drive to Alesund- 2 nights (Alesund)
Drive to Geiranger- 3 nights (Geiranger)
Drive to Flam- 1 night (Flam)
Drive to Bergen and drop off rental car - 3 nights (Bergen)
Bus to Stavanger- 3 nights (Stavanger)
Flight to Oslo- 2 nights (Oslo)

About our itinerary- while we had a fair amount of time (17 nights) to explore Norway, we wanted to make sure we had time to really enjoy a few places we thought would warrant it. We prefer not to pack up every morning for a new spot...this was one of our shorter trips, and it seemed like we were also packing up after only a night or so too often, but such is the case when there is a lot to see and little time to experience it all. Due to the special geography of Norway (it is long and skinny!) we had to limit ourselves to central with just a bit of southern (Stavanger) and leave the northern part for another time (land of the midnight sun, and northern lights experiences would have to wait!). Ironically, as we landed in Norway, there was a solar storm through parts of eastern North America- we were in a country famous for aurora borealis sightings and meanwhile the exact same were happening in our own backyard!
11 Sept 2014

Arrived at Halifax Airport approx 1.5 hours before our 10pm departure, no issues with flight, and we were very pleased with the room available for economy class on Iceland Air. A short (4 hour) flight and we were in Iceland....at 5 in the morning it was a very quiet airport, so we easily went through customs and found our gate ( and tried our best to snooze but weren't successful.)

12 Sept 2014

We dozed briefly on the 2 hour flight from Reykjavik to Oslo, but too quickly we landed and went through the airport....it was routed thought the duty free area, and we we shocked at the amount of people shopping, particularly for alcohol . We succumbed to the pressure and picked up a bottle of wine (and glad we did), then picked up flytoget tickets for the train to get us to the centre of Oslo. These cost approx. $30 each. It was a very quick train ride, a little over 20 minutes and soon we were checking into our hotel.

HOTEL REVIEW: We booked the Thon Astoria, it was close to the train station, and within easy walking distance to many of the popular sights in Oslo. The room was small...like have to walk over the bed to get to the bathroom small, but that was OK. And the bathroom was small...picture three people standing straight in a line-left is shower, centre is sink, and right is toilet. No room for anything else, and no actual shower stall, just a curtain and a drain that was part of the whole bathroom floor. We found this actually worked quite well for us, no water issues, and the shower was nice and hot and strong. The buffet breakfast was really, good for a European buffet breakfast, to the point where I was looking forward to coming back and being able to spend time just eating there...and it was included in the price of the room! Our room was facing the street, and it was a Friday night, and we left our window partly open, and still only had minimal street noise (we were on the 6th floor though).

We checked into the hotel, dropped our bags,after a quick brushing of teeth....no sense even looking at the bed since we wanted to acclimate ourselves as best as possible to our new time, and headed out to walk and stretch our legs. After an hour of wandering we found ourselves down by the waterfront, and there was a food festival going on. As we were pretty hungry (no meals on the flights) we sampled a few grilled meats and a burger, and a yummy mix of lingonberry jam and sour cream...added to the top of burger. We walked some more as the weather was delightful, and tried to reset our internal clocks. We enjoyed a beer on KarlJohan's gate, and took in the ongoing book festival, as well as a little people watching. The beer was pricy, I won't lie, but not crazy...we tried to not convert everything before buying, but it was hard.

After cleaning up at the hotel, we went for a walk around the royal gardens, then made our way to our dinner reservations at Ruffinos. Today was Mitch's birthday so we wanted to enjoy dinner. This place came recommended from a few places so we were excited to try it. We started with prosecco, and shared baked scallops, with each having an entree of carbonara del mare, an incredible seafood dish. The service and food was spectacular, and we were happy to have celebrated this birthday in such a lovely country! There was a little tiramisu on the house for the birthday boy and after that we were happy to head back to our hotel for a great night's sleep!

13 Sept 2014

Had a great sleep, and were up very early to get our train to Bergen. I had purchased our train tickets a couple months prior on nsb.no for 348kr each.
At the train station we easily found our train and our seats. We had decided to take the train directly to Bergen and not get off in Myrdal, as we were planning to drive in that area once we picked up our rental. We hoped we wouldn't regret this choice.

Our train ride ended in Bergen and we oriented ourselves and found our home for the night -Citybox. It is basically an unmanned hotel, but there is a "host" around for a few hours should anything come up. Check in was simple and painless; our room was small but clean and adequate. after being on the train for so long we were eager to stretch our legs. We checked out the fish market area briefly- it was busy and bustling and seemed like a fun place to check out in more detail later.

We took the floibanen (funicular) which cost $16 cdn for both of us, one way ticket. We checked out the amazing view, and walked around the top. We saw many starting points for different hikes but decided to just walk back down to the city centre; we were getting hungry and were still a bit jet lagged. Although I had done some restaurant research for this trip, it seemed nothing I looked up was close by or open. We stopped at Egon restaurant (a chain restaurant I think for Norway)... and wanted to have a beer while weighing our options for food. We were seated outside, but after 40 minutes of no service whatsoever decided to leave. Before I jump into a scathing review of the poor service, we later learned that these restaurants have a system where customers order all food and drink at the bar, and the tables are just bussed at the end of the meal; lesson learned! We ended up at the Harbour Cafe with two pricy but tasty burgers and beers. We knew it was overpriced, but were hungry and tired and didn't feel like searching for an alternative. $108 cdn later, we somewhat justified the price since we hadn't paid for breakfast or lunch....we walked slowly back to our hotel and called it a night.

HOTEL REVIEW - For some reason the Citybox just wasn't doing it for me so I decided to switch up our reservations for when we were back in Bergen a week later. We booked into the Basic hotel Bergen at a better rate, but the hotel seemed similar in style....we'll see. Citybox was clean enough, and close to the train station. It cost 950 kr, which was one of the cheapest we could find in Bergen. Citybox felt like a hostel without actually calling itself a hostel, and I'm sure it was safe enough, but I didn't feel quite comfortable there.

14 Sept 2014

After a fitful night's sleep (Bergen on a Saturday night with a room at the front, with a never ending parade of hotel guests coming and going until 4:30am is not a great combination) we had a quick breakfast of banana, peanut butter and bun (procured from the grocery store nearby) and then walked to the fly bussen bus stop to head to the airport to pickup our rental car. The bus was easy and non eventful (160kr for both) and we quickly picked up our rental car- our preference was the smallest car available but we were given a Volvo V40. We decided not to get GPS and soon were on the road to Floro.

It was an absolutely stunning drive; sunshine and clear skies, and scenery that took your breath away. We found our lodgings for the night and I immediately wished we had booked for longer. It was a two bedroom apt (cottage) with wood interior, right on the water. It was 900 kr for the night (we supplied the sheets and towels, but these cost extra if you don't have them). A note about the sheets and towels....it seemed most cottages were well equipped but Norwegians tend to bring along their own sheets and towels (places charge extra for both per person per night). We realized this as we were booking places at home and decided we could fit into our carry on a couple sleep sacks and towels (the towels were from Mountain Equipment co-op and worked similar to a chamois...very thin and folded quite small, but were quick drying).
We dropped off our bags at the cabin, and quickly found our way to the grocery store to pick up a couple things before it closed in case we could not find any restaurant open.

After a quick cruise around we stopped at Bistro To Kokker, which was a diner-like place where we enjoyed delicious fish and salad (with water and coke zero) for 189 kr total ...a reasonable price for dinner! We went back to our cottage and sat on the deck enjoying the water and the view and chatting; the sunset was beautiful and we felt truly relaxed.

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    15 Sept 2014

    After a quiet night and a great night's sleep, we awoke early, and sadly left our cozy cabin on the water. We thought we might get to do a boat tour of the islands, but it seemed all were done for the season (and the passenger ferry was not running until the late afternoon, if at all), so we hit the road for Alesund. We were glad to have the extra time, as it took us 5 hours for 213 Kms! Ferries and winding roads were the main time deterrents. We pulled into Alesund and found a place to park very close to our lodgings.

    HOTEL REVIEW- We chose Alesund Hostel for these 2 nights, mostly because it was the only central place that wasn't really, really expensive. Breakfast was included, we had our own bathroom, the place was spotless, and the host was very friendly and helpful too. We were very impressed with this hostel experience, and would recommend it to others looking for a well priced place to stay in the area.

    After exploring the streets around our hostel, we walked to Fjellstua (the steps were closed in August for construction and maintenance for about a year) but there was a footpath which led to the same place and only added about ten minutes to the walk up. It was a beautiful day, and we loved this walk and the scenery; for the classic view of Alesund it might have been better for photos to go in the morning, but we still got some great shots, and had fun exploring the area a bit. After checking out the guest kitchen at the hostel we decided to eat out instead (the accumulated smells of so many people cooking in a basement kitchen did not whet my appetite at all). Our host highly recommended the Egon restaurant just down the street for the pizza and salad buffet for 105 kr each. We were sceptical of a buffet, but the pizza was freshly made and super hot (they made three fresh ones once we ordered the buffet) and the salad was basic but nice to have some veggies. Not gourmet, but the food was tasty and filling, and easy on the budget, which was nice.

    16 Sept 2014

    A great sleep at the hostel, and we had breakfast (boiled eggs, cereal, meats and various spreads, smoked salmon, yogurt, bread, coffee, and juice) before putting a bit more money in the parking meter for the car. We found our way to the Tourist Information spot, and chatted with Mathilde, who was a great help. She had spent 10 months in Canada, specifically Ottawa, to learn French. She said that it wasn't as beneficial as she had hoped because everyone immediately spoke English to her when she started conversations in French. She also said she really missed Tim Hortons coffee :)

    She showed us a great walking route over two of the three Alesund islands. It was a great way to spend the morning, and we had a great time checking out view points we would not have seen if we had did this on our own. Unfortunately the Alesund church was locked so we were not able to see it from the inside. It was a clear sunny day; great weather to explore Alesund, and we were happy to spend a bit more time in one place, without moving on after a night...not our preferred pace at all.

    Lunch was a great break; sandwiches at Let's Eat deli. Very good, and reasonably priced (89kr each); a cute coffee shop/cafe that it appeared a lot of locals enjoyed as well. We seriously considered coming back here for dinner as well, but it closed at 5... A little early for us, given it was late when we had lunch. After a nice break from the morning's walk we decide to take our car over to Sukkertoppen and do that hike. It is possible to walk from the town centre of Alesund but we weren't up for that long of a hike. It seemed that Sukkertoppen was higher than Fjellstoa, and it was more challenging (at least according to my thigh muscles), but a great chance to get outside and see some more amazing views of Alesund. The views at the top were fantastic, and we lingered as the sun slowly set. There were a lot of locals out walking and running the trail; it seemed very popular.

    We stopped at a grocery store on the way back and picked up supplies for sandwiches...not quite as good as Let's Eat, but they were good (and we were hungry!)

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    Thanks for your trip report, and all of the details. My impression is the same as yours - there isn't as much information about Norway and Scandinavia as some other areas. I'm currently trying to decide how best to visit the Sognefjord and Geirangerfjord areas so I'm especially grateful to read an account of someone who drove and went a bit off the nutshell.

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    17 Sept 2014

    We were excited to get started today- lots to do! After breakfast at the hostel we packed up the car and headed east. Leaving Alesund we headed towards Andalsnes on our way to Trollstigen and Geiranger. We left at 9am, and easily found our way to out of Alesund. It was a great drive and we soon found ourselves in Andalsnes where we got gas (diesel), coffee, and a few groceries to tide us over for the night. We enjoyed our coffees on the road, and soon started on the famous Trollstigen.

    For a fairly short journey we stopped numerous times for some great photo ops- what a unique road! The weather was perfect too so that helped. We found ourselves in constant awe at the scenery during this drive. We somehow timed our drive so that we drove right onto the ferry about a minute before it left, then the real views began. As we approached Geiranger, with the sun hitting the fjord, we were happy to have booked three nights in this area. We passed through Geiranger and made our way via the directions we got from Google maps to our cabin at Westeras Gard. There were a couple different cabin areas, and signage was not precise, but the reception on the first road (per directions) was closed, so we dialled the number indicated. The woman who answered seemed to have forgotten we had the cabin booked, but instructed us to go to a particular cabin, the keys were in the door, and make ourselves at home. This was a super cute cabin (though a bit small and not quite what I had expected after seeing the online photos). We unpacked, took some photos, and even opened a beer we had picked up earlier. We were able to access wifi (the code was listed inside the cabin), so while we waited for our host, I looked back at our original reservation. As I looked at the booking photos, and took in more of our surroundings, I started to make a couple connections.

    The cabin we had actually booked was further up the road; no wonder the woman I called seemed surprised at our appearance. We quickly packed up and vacated, trying to leave the place as spotless as we found it. We appeared at our new place, apologizing for our 3 hour delay. Honestly these places look very similar, and the names of the cabins are not crystal clear at reception.

    Sheepishly we checked into our "new" place , and settled in yet again. It was a very cozy well equipped cabin, and we made it into a short term home very quickly. An improvised spaghetti bolognese was made (ground chicken as I was unsure what the other ground meats were at the grocery store) and no real spices to speak of, but still, after a long simmer it tasted pretty good.

    We enjoyed some wine purchased at the vinmonoplet; not "typical" European prices but very similar to what we pay at home in Nova Scotia, so no issues there. We got some great hike info from our Westeras Gard host, so we had fun plans for the next couple days.

    18 Sept 2014

    With such peaceful, quiet surroundings it was difficult not to get a good night's sleep here. We quickly got ready and headed to the main town (Geiranger) for a quick breakfast, check things out, and head up to Eagle's road viewpoint to take some photos with the morning light. Had coffee and a pancake at Cafe Ole for 59 kr each; very good, and we picked up some apples at the Joker grocery store close by in case we got hungry later. A cruise ship had docked and business picked up in the little shops and cafés, but wasn't at all overcrowded.

    Shortly after 11 we picked up tickets for the MS fjord sightseeing boat. We got seats, and the boat quickly filled up. We enjoyed the fjord views from this vantage point and were glad we did this on such a beautiful day. After the 1.5 hour cruise we wandered around a bit more, then had lunch at Brasserie Polsen-very good and we were able to eat outside with a great view. We each had a burger, very well made, with coleslaw and potatoes. With water and a Pepsi max the bill came to 300kr.

    We picked up a couple supplies for dinner and breakfast, then headed back up to our cabin for a hike. This hike basically started at the door of our cabin....approximately 45 minutes one way up to some great waterfalls. The first bit was quite steep and rocky (there was another start to the hike which was a bit less hilly), this hike took us to a beautiful waterfall which we got to walk behind. We also fed some very friendly sheep. We would highly recommend this hike, only 2 Km each way. FYI, you should watch your step; while the sheep are cute and friendly, they seem to prefer the rock walking path as their toilet of choice.

    After a full day we relaxed in the evening at our cabin.

    19 Sept 2014

    Today was a slow and easy day for us; we were well into vacation mode and really enjoyed our peaceful surroundings. Also, as we had been so fortunate with weather our first week here, we wanted to enjoy it and soak up the sun. After a late start, we drove up to Dalsnibba for some photos. It was very barren compared to the lushness to the fjord, and was very cool to see.

    Back in Geiranger, I purchased a jacket. It was great quality and surprisingly a better price than I would have paid back home. Even better, the tax is refunded at the airport if you submit the appropriate paperwork. It was purple too so that was a bonus:)

    The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the deck of our cabin. We felt the rain gods would soon be upon us (at least that was what the weather forecast predicted). We also had an early start the next day with a long drive.

    20 Sept 2014

    It was an early morning start today, so we packed up and tidied our place in Westeras Gard and hit the road. We had a long 5 hour drive to Flam, and it was overcast. We traversed across some amazing scenery, and at points the surroundings were quite desolate, almost every. The landscape changed as we got closer to Flam, more lush and "fjordy". It was abit tricky finding our lodgings for the night- we missed the not very big sign and ended up having to backtrack down a very windy and steep road...in the mist and fog. I'm a firm believer in keeping all 4 wheels on the road at all times, so I became a little panicked when we came close to the edge of a very steep slope without guard rails.

    Our host was very friendly, and gave us fresh flowers for the place, even though we were there for just the night. The place was spacious and clean, and the bedroom quiet and dark for sleeping. We didn't stay long though, and walked the very short distance to the rail station Hareina stop) where we planned to get a return trip on the Flamsbana, to Myrdal. We were glad we did this to really get to enjoy the scenery, but the return journey went much smoother. The ride up was quite full of tourists stuck to the windows (not necessarily the windows next to their seats) to video and get the best views. The return trip was more relaxed, and we really enjoyed it. At this point there as some rain, but it didn't seem to affect our experience at all.

    We returned to our room, and did a small load of laundry. We were getting hungry, so we headed into Flam. There was a brewery pub which started serving food at 6 so we enjoyed a local beer around a roaring fire while waiting for our table. The decor was. Rustic but gorgeous inside, and we found ourselves sharing a table with a lovely couple from Bergen, We had a great time chatting with them, and also thoroughly enjoyed our meals ( they were huge). The couple also treated us to a tasting "plank" of several of the local beers brewed right at the pub; and we ended up spending most of the evening with them. It was so nice to have a chance to discuss a variety of topics with locals, and we really enjoyed this experience!

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    "We traversed across some amazing scenery, and at points the surroundings were quite desolate..."

    Yes that is exactly how we would describe Jotunheimen National Park, just to the east of your drive.

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    21 Sept 2014

    After a uneasy night's sleep (European washing machines are compact but loud) we packed up and drove down to the marina area of Flam. We wanted to do a boat trip from Flam to Gudvanger. We first had a filling breakfast at Flamsbrygga Hotel (a fairly large hot buffet breakfast free for those staying at the hotel, but for us it cost a little over 100kr each. It was worth it and we were full until well past lunch.

    We went into the tourist info place and bought tickets for the Sognefjord boat trip to Gudvanger, and return bust back to Flam. This boat was smaller and a bit nicer than the car/passenger ferry, but we could have saved some time and abit of money if we would have taken our car onto the ferry; we weren't really in a rush though.

    The boat ride was great and the weather cooperated. We stayed in Gudvagen for about 45 minutes waiting for our bus...not a lot to do in Gudvangen so we walked around to stretch our legs in anticipation of the car ride to Bergen.

    Arriving in Bergen and dropping the car off was no issue at all, and soon we were back on the airport bus returning into central Bergen to check into Basic Hotel Bergen. I most definitely enjoyed this hotel more in terms of location, our room was bigger and overall was a bit nicer than Citybox.

    We walked around Bergen and then had dinner at China Palace...not bad chinese food, and the decor was very entertaining.

    22 September 2014

    After a great (and quiet) night's sleep we were up early to get a boat to Rosendal. We bought tickets on the boat and were soon off (there was only one other person on the boat with us...we were definitely in the off season). We reached Rosendal in about 2 hours and although it was too chilly to stay on the top deck of the boat, we enjoyed the sunshine nonetheless. At arose dal we walked to the Barionet and had a nice time exploring the gardens and walked the trail to the waterfall. We didn't have enough time for the 5 hour hike, but am sure it would have been amazing. The manor itself was closed, but we didn't mind, and took the opportunity to photograph all the rose still beautifully in bloom.

    We walked back into the town, and had time for sandwiches and coffee at the Pedar Bakar cafe (170kr). We got the return boat back and had time to walk around Bryggen before sunset. Had a quick dinner at Hot Wok (stir fries) and enjoyed the light meal.

    23 Sept 2014

    Today, our last day in Bergen, was a walking around the city day. It was overcast when we headed out but with no rain to speak of we got to check out many of the typical attractions like fortress, castle, Cathedral. We stopped for a midday break and relaxed at Krog og Krinkel. This was a super spot to unwind, chat, and read. It rained while we were there and with the incredible smells from the freshly baked goods, we were in no hurry to leave.

    Earlier in the day we had been able to purchase breakfast vouchers from our hotel for breakfast buffet at Scandic hotel. The buffet was great and we thoroughly enjoyed it and it kept us full until dinner.

    After the rain let up we left the café and walked some more soaking up what we could of Bergen. We found lots of nooks and crannies to check out! We got cleaned up at our hotel later in the afternoon relaxed for a bit and then decided to spend the evening at Drapen, a wine bar close to our hotel. It was a great, cozy, candlelit place, perfect for a dark and misty night in Bergen. Wine and yummy snacks were a a great end to our Bergen stay.

    24 Sept 2014

    Today we took the 9 AM bus to Stavanger. 1100 kr for both, purchased on the bus. It was a 5 hour drive, broken up by two 30 minute ferry rides. The bus was comfortable enough but we were happy to finally get off in Stavanger, check into our hotel (Myhregarden), which was located only a few minutes walk from the bus station. Our hotel was very nice and well located and we were soon out exploring Stavanger in the late afternoon sunshine. We found a cute café on Ovre Holmgate and enjoyed a beer. We soon got to chatting with a young woman doing her PhD and taking a course in Stavanger for the week. She lived just outside Alesund, and gave us some very interesting insight on Norway and was very open answering all our questions. After we parted ways we headed to a little Thai place we had spotted earlier. It quickly filled up and we really enjoyed our meal of beef jungle curry and pad Thai with spring rolls.

    25 Sept 2014

    So today was Preikestolen day. It dawned clear enough and after breakfast we walked the few minutes to the ferry. We took the 8 o'clock ferry and after getting the bus we arrived at the start of the hike around 9:15 AM. I wasn't feeling overly confident with this hike. While heights certainly aren't my friend what sometimes seems to get me more is the straight up climb over rocks and trying not to slip and fall to my death in the process.

    With the oncoming rain I had pretty much talked myself out of the hike but nonetheless started up. After 30 minutes I let Mitch continue on his own with other tourists; not completely by himself. For some reason this hike was not meant for me! On our previous trip I had been able to talk myself into hiking up Huanupicchu, but not this one. Mitch enjoyed the hike up but coming down was pretty rainy and slippery. We met up and got the 2:30 bus back to the ferry and were soon back in our hotel to get cleaned up.

    Mitch was pretty tired so after a quick rest we headed out for pizza at Al Forno. It was delicious and a great thin crust best, we've had here in Norway.

    26 Sept 2014

    We started a bit later today and after good breakfast (although not the best hotel breakfast we've had here) we walked as much as Stavanger as we could. We covered a great deal before the rain started to fall heavily enough for us to take shelter in a café. We sat outside with awnings and heaters blasting overhead and thoroughly enjoyed watching the rain and sipping our coffee. Today was a down day and we didn't have much planned; we did enjoy the relaxed pace and felt that we explored a lot of Stavanger as well. We had a late lunch at Dognvil Burger, it was good but very filling. Since we had an early morning we skipped dinner and got a good nights sleep.

    27 Sept 2014

    Up at 5:15 AM to catch the 6 AM bus to the airport we quickly packed up and checked out. The number 44 bus stop was on the route for the airport bus so we didn't have to walk to the bus station... the stop was right outside our hotel.

    Half an hour later we went through security and were waiting at our gate. Stavanger has a nice airport- there were even fresh cut flowers in a vase in the bathroom-not something you find in every airport bathroom!

    Before long we had landed in Oslo after a very smooth and short flights and well worth the $100cdn each instead of all the driving. We checked in again at the Thon Astoria, and although it was only 9 AM were able to check into our room and were also able to get breakfast- it was great service!

    At 10 am we headed out to walk to Vigeland Park. This walk took us through some lovely parts of the city and took about an hour to walk there. We took lots of photos, and it was a stunning day and spent another hour or more walking around the huge park. We walked back through the Frogner area, and really enjoyed getting to see Oslo on foot. After walking along the waterfront area we stopped for a quick lunch and then walked some more!

    Dinner was at Rufino's again, and it did not disappoint . We took our time walking home tired after a long, full day, but were very happy!

    28 Sept 2014

    Today was our last full day in Oslo and the weather treated us well-bright and sunny! We had breakfast at the hotel and walk to Pier three for a wooden sailing ship cruise to a few main points. It was a great day for this, and we loved seeing Oslo from. Different perspective. After the cruise we walked around the Opera house, which was lovely, and the fortress. We were also lucky to pick up a couple of beautiful paintings from a couple of art students...we can't wait to get them framed!

    We sat at a cafe in the afternoon, and people watched. We had some great mussels and salad at Grand Cafe Oslo, and walked some more. Based on other reviews, and some comments, we hadn't expected to enjoy Oslo as much as we did.

    29 Sept 2014

    Our flights back to Halifax were not until 2pm, so this morning we checked out, stored our bags at the hotel and walked to Munch museum as our last real activity in Norway. We enjoyed the small museum more than we expected to, and took the metro back to our hotel instead of walking so we would make our flight on time.

    There were no issues with our return flights, and before long were back home.

    GENERAL COMMENTS

    As we were planning this trip, many people said "Norway...why Norway?" A couple even said why go to Norway when you can go to Newfoundland....it's cheaper and looks the same. I have been to several places in Newfoundland, and now I can say, Newfoundland is beautiful, but it's not Norway.

    So, we loved Norway. We loved the absolutely stunning, raw nature we saw at every turn. We loved the ease with which we could travel from place to place. We came to love the freedom of travelling in a country where our travel/tourist dollars weren't of utmost importance- this is not to say that prices were not high, but we spent what we wanted to spend...we did not feel that we were taken advantage of because we were simply tourists. We loved the independence of fitting in, learning by observing, and not having the whole trip written out in a guidebook.

    We loved the fact that Norwegians are polite, helpful, friendly, proud. The fact that they can all speak significantly better English than we can Norwegian is something we were truly grateful for. And we really want to back and explore the areas to the north.

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    I enjoyed reading your report, thank you very much for your time.

    Norway is on mt watch list, but what holding me back mainly is small trains network, compared to the land size.

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    Yes, Norway does have some stunning scenery. Some years ago we enjoyed Oslo and then over to Bergen via the Nutshell train-boat which included going through the Sognefjorden. Bergen is one of my favorite cities...strolling the waterfront and Bryggen, touring the old Hanseatic buildings, high up for overview, a concert at Korskirken, fish buffet at Enhyornegen, fjord trip on the White Lady, walking over to lovely Nygardsparken, excursion to Oygarden to see fishing village & drilling operations, looking inside Mariakerken, and then a tour of the unique Ole Bull house on island of Lysoen. Never did meet up with any trolls though.

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    Great report about one of my favourite countries - really well written. I also like that you did not obsess about food costs - Norway is more expensive than many other parts of Europe but not impossible to eat well affordably, and the way I see it you have to look at the total cost of the holiday - if there's a ton of stunning landscape and scenery to look at for free and you aren't paying daily entry into theme parks and galleries then it all evens out.

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    I see you are from Halifax which we visited last year in a Maritime Provinces tour. One dinner because of rain at the Lord Nelson and another night at Durty Nellies down the hill. Enjoyed Evangeline Trail, Peggy's Cove, etc. Likely you know about the large Christmas tree in Boston? Am now completing report on most recent trip...Spain and Portugal in Depth. You were also in Sevilla, Ronda, etc.

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    So sorry I didn't respond sooner!
    Live42day-good luck in your planning...it is my second favourite part!
    Omar_F1 - I think a more extensive tour of Norway would need even more the use of a car or very reliable transport....there is so much more to see when you have freedom with your own vehicle, and the rail system is only it seems on the more traditional routes.
    Ozarksbill- yes we live in (and love) Halifax. So glad you were able to visit our small province! I have to say it always gets us into the Christmas spirit when we hear of our big tree each year being sent to Boston! I will be searching out your Spain and Portugal TR...Portugal is on the short list for the next couple of years and Spain was one of our absolute favourites!
    Sberg- I hope you have lots of fun planning your trip...please ask if you have questions!

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