A kinder gentler Scandinavian journey

Jun 8th, 2019, 12:14 PM
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A kinder gentler Scandinavian journey

First of all, thank you to all who gave their advice so generously as we planned this trip.
Thursday we left our home in New Mexico and drove to Durango and flew to Dallas. Plane was on time (hurray) and rested for 3 hours in the American Airlines lounge until it was time to take off. We flew American to Heathrow (lounge there was less pleasant) and then 4 hours later to B.A. to Copenhagen. Somehow ended up being a 24 hour trip. The cross Atlantic flight was not bad, food was good and great flight attendants. And staggered in exhausted to the Admiral Hotel in North Copenhagen. This trip over was the part I was most worried about in terms of my husband's health issues which tend to get worse with lack of sleep, but he was a trooper, (or is that trouper), and thankfully did not have any issues.

view from our window

All in all, I think the Admiral is a good choice. The staff at the front desk is very friendly, the location right on the waterfront is excellent. The room is a bit small, but probably par for the course in an older city. Some concern with small bathroom, and sink not working properly. Breakfast this morning was good.
Day 2 - We decided to walk to the National Gallery which was wonderful, extensive collection of art from both Danish and broader European artists which we thoroughly enjoyed. And then mini-disaster #1 - a rookie mistake. while walking down the steps looking at his phone to find a nearby restaurant for lunch hubby tripped and fell and now has a bit of a swollen ankle. Which then led to two of us getting cranky as we tried to find restaurant that was both nearby and had gluten free options (so far everywhere we've gone has been very accommodating re gluten issues). But finally landed an excellent option - Sticks and Sushi which is evidently a chain here - but was wonderful -really creative options. I had something called sensory exploration (I think) that included sushi, sashimi, and three mini kabob type offerings.
After a brief rest we went around the corner to Hey Captain and signed on for a one hour canal cruise. It was led by a lovely, friendly young lady who showed us the sights from the canals with a good dose of history and current events thrown in.

Canal cruise
We then sat in front of the hotel and had esspresso/capuccinos by the water - I love this about European cities, all the places to just sit and sip coffee or have a drink and watch the world go by.
Then finished off the evening at a Chinese French fusion restaurant called Red Box - we were one of two couples there which was a shame because the food was amazing and again, very helpful re gluten concerns. Steve had Hake with herbed butter sauce, I had duck confit. and so far have enjoyed two green ice cream deserts (green pea last night, green tea tonight).

what, you've never had green pea ice cream?

Steve is icing his foot - fingers crossed as we have been walking everywhere so far and really enjoying it. Streets aren't crowded at all, and unlike our last five vacations, temperatures are lovely and cool (usually we bring heat waves with us wherever we go). And yes it's true, so far everyone we've met has had impeccable English, and everyone is incredibly friendly.
Tomorrow the palaces!
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 9th, 2019, 07:51 PM
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Hope Steve’s ankle is better. The ice cream looks delish. Following along on your trip report.
Paqngo is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 07:27 AM
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Laura and Steve at Whitsun: the journey continues

Day 3 - In spite of my concerns about Steve's foot he insisted that all was ok, so we walked over to Amielsborgslot in time for a quick visit to the museum - it is really pretty small and we were able to see it in 1/2 hour. I liked how homey the King's study seemed, I could imagine my grandfather sitting at the desk surrounded by books smoking his numerous pipes. We hurried out by noon to see the changing of the guards - ha! we were silly - to actually see anything we would have had to be lined up 45 minutes earlier. What we saw were a lot of tourists backsides and cameras aloft snapping pictures. oh well. Walked to the corner for a quick lunch of smorrebrod then onwards to Rosenborgslot (palace). We had bought timed tickets before we left.
and ran into our first grumpy Danish peoples - we wanted to take a taxi to limit Steve's walking and the taxi at the front of the line did not want to drive us there - he kept insisting it was only 5 minutes to walk which I knew it wasn't since we had walked quite near it the previous day. We finally convinced him to take us there. Meandered through the King's garden - I got such a kick watching people play croquet - I've been trying to convince my kids for eons that it is a worthy game. People here were playing it in team jerseys with wine glasses in hand. When we got to the palace we encountered grumpy person two - a lady who was ruling the line with an iron hand. As was mentioned in a prior post, you need coins to put your backpacks in lockers, but the gift shop gives them to you. Our pre-purchased tickets did not have the reequired bar code on them and for a moment I thought we would not be allowed in - but grumpy lady relented and kindly let us in.
Ok - true confession time. When I was a young lass growing up in the US I loved the idea of castles and palaces and Kings and Queens, and was thrilled by all the pomp and circumstance when we visited France. But now, having visited a goodly number of other countries from England to Thailand, and seen castles/palaces in each I realized that I have become jaded. It almost felt like 'if you've seen once castle, you've seen them all." Which of course isn't true, and it was wonderful to hear the stories of the different kings and see the the royal thrones whereon they sat. My favorite part was the crown jewels/royal collection in the basement - pretty darn cool and astounding, amazing carved ivory and yes, crowns fit for kings.
And by then we were tired. We walked back to the hotel and Steve's ankle was not looking pretty.
For dinner that evening we went to a restaurant Steve had found on a gluten-free site - it was in a different part of town so took a tax and got to see some of the very beautiful government buildings from the outside. The restaurant was named Tight - more of a casual place - Steve was thrilled to find lobster bisque that he could eat (made from coconut milk - very delicious) and we both had BBQ ribs which were also yummy. I finished with chocolate cake.
Day 4 - this morning I tried to convince Steve that we should take it easy, save his ankle for the rest of the trip but he wasn't having any of that. He had his heart set on the history and war museums so off we went. First, picture of women aloft in the rigging taken from our window.

sailors aloft
So about the title of today's post - Whitsun. Now as some of you may know from my numerous questions asked, I am a hyper planner. And we learned our lesson several years ago when we ran into St. Anthony's day in Portugal, to research holidays that one may not be familiar with before travelling. I thought I had - but somehow I missed Whitsun which is a week long holiday 7 weeks after Easter (a Pentacost celebration). My only previous encounter with Whitsun was the Gordon Bok song "Dancing at Whitsun". But here we are and here it is - today is Whitsun Monday, which means some things are closed (Steve's hoped for War Museum) and there is a royal run occurring all day and blocking off all sorts of streets.
We did make it to the national Museum which is a history museum. Very well done and we stayed hours, and could have done more. We got seduced by the stone age and bronze age exhibits and had to speed through the 17th -20th centuries. What I really liked is that in addition to having multitudinous items on display (including mummified remains of sacrificial offerings from the stone age) it is a multi sensory experience, so for example, in the 18th century rooms they were playing baroque music.
We had hoped to just eat at the museum restaurant but it was closed (Whitsun? or just Monday?) so we went out in search of sustenance. Luckily we decided to try our luck in the Tivoli gardens. Though it may seem extravegant to pay admission just to eat it was worth it. We had one of the best lunches so far at the beer garden (I'd expected blah amusement park food) - plates of roast beef, curried chicken salad, herring and fried hake, and a fish plate for Steve. We then wandered through the garden a bit. We were going to head to the war museum but luckily Steve checked the website and found it was closed so we went back to the National Museum (we still had our little stickers) and saw a cool multisensory exhibit about "In the steppes of Ghengis Kahn".
Tired we tried to head for home but the poor taxi driver got blocked over and over again by the race. He let us off as close as he could get. So now we rest . Am hoping we did not overdo it - stay tuned.

lunch int he Tivoli Gardens

Lupines in the garden
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 10th, 2019, 03:48 PM
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Following along thanks.
xcountry is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 04:19 PM
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Enjoying your report. Thanks for posting it.
Kathie is online now  
Jun 10th, 2019, 04:46 PM
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Hi Laura,
I am enjoying your trip report! I don't much about Scandinavia. What is your itinerary for this trip?

Did you go to Portugal recently? Or Spain? I remember reading 1 or 2 of your trip reports, either Portugal or Spain, or both, and found them very helpful.

I'm happy to hear you like the food so far. My husband doesn't seem too interested in Scandinavia (but I am), because he doesn't think he will like the food.
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Jun 10th, 2019, 11:09 PM
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Hi Karen, you are so right - we did go to Spain and Portugal. As I recall you were following us to Spain a few months later. We actually chose Scandinavia because every country we have visited so far we seem to bring 90 degree temperatures with us so we thought this might be a bit cooler - which so far it has (rainy andd 60 today). Tell your husband that the food has been good to fabulous so far - very continental so if you don't like fish there are other options. We will be in Denmark for two more nights, then 6 nights Norway (Oslo and Bergen) and 4 nights Sweden. How did you like Spain?
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 10th, 2019, 11:33 PM
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Kokkeriet oh my!

I forgot to mention in the first installment one travel glitch. American Airlines must have left my bag sitting in a puddle or in pouring rain because it was soaked through and at least 1/4 of the clothes were wet when we arrived. I was worried that some electronics might have gotten ruined, but thank goodness all was well.

Now about that Royal run. I admire all the Cophenhagenites who came out for it and celebrate the general health and in fitness of the people we've seen, but the run went on all day - thousands of people, and street aftere street were closed off. I'd wanted to take a taxi to dinner because of Steve's ankle and my feet, but none could reach the hotel. Even pedestrian routes were blocked off. So walk we did. At nine when we caught a taxi back the streets were still blocked off. The poor cabbie was beside himself. He said all day bits of the city were blocked off, and he had to drop riders off far from their destinations and they were all angry at him. I do wish the hotel had thought to warn guests so we could have figured out transportation or destinations in advance. ah well.

We had booked Kokkeriet from the states because now that I"ve discovered Michelin restaurants I'm hooked. There were only a few tables full when we got there at 6
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Jun 10th, 2019, 11:41 PM
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Kokkeriet oh my!

oops pushed send by mistake. There were only a few tables full when we arrived at 6:30, but by 9 when we left it was full. Before I go into ecstasies over the food I want to note how much fun it was to listen to all the different languages around the room: Danish, English, French, Spanish and Portugese for sure. I'm a language junkie.
So they start off by bringing everyone 5 little snacks as they call it - intricat3e constructions that are almost beyond description (charred bread with a garlic dip for example). We chose the 7 course tasting menui - glad we didn't go for ten. Everything was a crazy combination of tastes based on traditional Danish foods but oh what creativity - my favorite was the amuse bouche of lemon sorbet in a pine basket so you tasted the pine as you ate the sorbet, and a liquid course that included rye seeds, beer and stout, prune juice pistachios and crystalized chocolate and lemon verbena and yes, it was incredible. They were very accomodating to our dietary concerns, often bringing us slightly different offerings avoiding gluten for my husband and egg for me. Everything impeccable served, and at the end the kitchen staff comes out to say good bye to you. Wow wow wow (expensive but worth every penny). Here are a few pictures and then we hit the road.

desert at Kokkeriet

the fish course

sorbet on pine needles
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 12th, 2019, 11:05 AM
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And We Hit the Road

Days 5 and 6. Before leaving Coppenhagen just a final observation that with the two exceptions noted above, everyone was friendly and helpful, incredible English language skills, and we were and are so grateful for the awareness of special diets and the willingness of the wait staff and chefs at every restaurant we ate with to accommodate my husband's gluten free needs.Many restaurants even had gluten free bread.

On Wednesday we were met in the lobby of our hotel by the guide we had arranged ahead of time - Suzanne from Tours by Locals, along with her driver Joan. We were soon out of Coppenhagen and heading up the coast. Our first stop was Fredericksburgslot - one of Christian the IV's many castles. I know I said yesterday that I was castle jaded, but maybe just being out of the city, or just the scope of this one felt different, but it was grand and ostentatious and exactly what a good castle should be. We then headed to Esrum lake where we ate a wonderful lunch at a restaurant on the shore next to another royal residence (this one is where all the European royals would retreat together for summer vacation during the 18th century - strange imagining all those kings and queens hanging out together). After lunch we had a surprise stop at a museum in a field sort of in the middle of nowhere where one of Denmark's more famous sculptors created an outdoor gallery of his work. Very beautiful and evocative.
Finally we headed to Helsingor and Kronberg Castle. I know it was kitchy but I loved the actors acting out the final scene of Hamlet - total highlight of the day. We spent the night at the Marienlyst Strand Hotel where we had a room overlooking the beach and the castle (and where we could see the lights of Sweden across the Fyord at night). The hotel was great, and being tired we had dinner there - it was supposed to be casual but was served with great elegance (and sensitivity to dietary needs) and was delicious. Awesome breakfast the next morning.
I shall pick this up later.
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 12th, 2019, 11:08 PM
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Was the museum in the middle of a field called the Rudolph Tegners Museum? It’s a statue park as well. My OH is from Helsingør, so know the area pretty well inc the lovely Marienlyst Hotel. The views are over the sea to Sweden. If there’s time, Hornbæk is a pretty town close by to walk around, has a beautiful white sand beach, boutiques, antique shops & a great fish restaurant.
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Jun 13th, 2019, 12:26 AM
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Day 6 continued

So yesterday we were met once again by Suzanne and Joan. I can't recommend them highly enough. Suzanne was knowledgable, warm, sensitive to our needs and concerns, flexible and just fun to travel with. Joan was an excellent drive, a real gentleman, and also flexible and willing to do anything to help.

First stop was a 3000 year old passage grave, like a burial mound but with several graves inside. On the top it was a monument to one of the Kings' mother, but inside it still felt like a journey through time, all of this in the middle of a farmer's field.

speaking of fields, they were yellow with barley and red poppies scattered throughout. I felt like I was in a Van Gogh or Cezanne painting.

We crossed the fyord on a ferry and then had lunch at a sweet little inn on the shore. Again, even a casual lunch was served elegantly in little cups with sprigs of sprouts, and great sensitivity to dietary concerns.

Next Rosskild and the thousand year old Viking ships retrieved from the bottom of the fyord where they had been sunk for defensive purposes. the museum is pretty simple, the boats speak for themselves. what is amazing is the replica they constructed using only materials from the era, which they then sailed to Ireland. We were tired by then, so just a quick glance at the Cathedral, built in brick rather than the stone I've seen elsewhere, and then our guides dropped us at the Clarion hotel at the airport.

A word about the Clarion. It is part of the Nordic chain, and the first thing I noticed when we entered the room was a variety of placards, even a hard bound little book, about their commitment to social responsibility, encouraging environmental awareness, giving $ to stop human trafficking, and support for workers rights, pride month, etc. I was pretty blown away. Also had a good dinner

and now off to Norway - see you there.

Clarion hotel note

Viking boat replica in Rosskilde
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 14th, 2019, 12:16 AM
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yes, it was the Rudolph Tegners Museum, we mostly walked through the staue park. We did drive through Hornbaek but didn't stop. The whole area is just gorgeous, one beautiful little town afteer another. And loved the thatched roofs! (please forgive my misspellings, It is my weak link)
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 14th, 2019, 07:22 AM
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and now Norway

Day 7 was pretty much allocated for travel. As I mentioned earlier, I was very impressed by the airport Clarion outside of Copenhagen. The airport was relatively easy to negotiate, and the SAS flight was quick and on time. I was pleasantly surprised that there was no passport or real customs to go through, so we were out of the airport and on the way to the hotel in less than an hour.

It's about a 30 minute drive and I was immediately struck by the difference in the scenery that declared: yes, you are in northern climes. It reminded me of the forests of upstate New York. Gorgeous lupines along the road.

We are staying in the hotel Continental thanks to a recommendation from another fodorite. It is lovely and gracious and very comfortable. We grabbed a quick lunch in their bistro, and then took the afternoon to rest a bit. For dinner we found an Indian restaurant about 4 blocks away - not up to Indian food we used to love back in Philly, but still, since there is none where we live it was nice to have some again.

After a lovely breakfast (in addition to the usual incredible European breakfast buffet you could also order special egg dishes and oatmeal - yum) we headed out to my A #1 priority - the Munsch museum. I fell in love with Munsch during a college art class 40 years ago (don't do the math please) and was thrilled to get to see more of his work. I'd forgotten about the theft 15 years ago and the security was pretty intense for a museum. Also interesting to learn that Munsch himself didn't take very good care of work, leaving it outside in the rain and snow a lot. It's a lovely collection - and I was very happy and extravegant in the gift shop. So we detoured back to the hotel to drop things off.

lunch at a little place on Karl Johann gate - nice chicken salad with greens - then walked to the Resistance Museum. Although it was very old fashioned in its design/displays somehow that doesn't matter when you are learning about the horrors of WWII and the courage of those who stood up against the Nazis -
we are resting now, then off to dinner. Don't know what tomorrow's priorities will be

When the Scream was stolen

of course the Norwegian Resistance Movement would need a good pair of skis

the courage of ordinary people
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 15th, 2019, 08:39 AM
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More Oslo

I think we are up to day 9. A few observations, Oslo seems more bustling than Copenhagen. Maybe it is just the street we are staying on (although both hotels were near the harbour areas), but the party seems to never end here. It is now light up till 11 pm, and the street below continues to bustle. The hotel has very good soundproff windows, so when we are ready to sleep they keep out the noise, but that also means there is no air circulating at night which can get kind of stuffy. Today is the first truly warm day of our trip so tonight might be a bit warm. So far none of the hotels we've stayed at have had air conditioning which is certainly understandable given the usual climate.

Last night was our Oslo Michilen night (I've allowed us one per country). We went to Stratholdergaarden, which is located in an old house down by the harbor, very elegant, beautifully served and quite delicious (uh oh, am I getting Michilen jaded? nooo)

Today was the first fully sunny warm day of the trip. We decided to take the ferry across to the Folkmuseum - I think I was too hot and tired by the time we reached it to appreciate it. We didn't really figure out well what we wanted to see, but I did enjoy just wandering the wooded paths, and the Stave Church was awe-inspiring. (it reminded me of the black temple in Chaing Rai, I wonder if the builder of that had been to Norway and was perhaps there inspired?)
leaving the Folk museum in search of a lunch place we saw the Viking ship museum and had to wander in for a look. It was worth it - just awe-inspiring to see the ships - one with 90% of its original wood. We ate by the harbor as it seemed to be the only nearbye restaurant, service was pretty awful, food ok, but it was lunch. By then we were pretty tired and decided to take the ferry back to our part of town, thinking we would head to the history museum, but when we got off the boat the Nobel Peace museum was right in front of us and being tired (plus it was recommended by the concierge) we decided to go in. And was glad we did. It was for me the highlight of the day. Powerful interactive exhibit about climate change (challenges you to challenge yourself - we had fun trying to guess what the other had chosen, turned out we chose the same challenge for4 ourselves - snap), and then the hall of honorees, very inspiring, and also up to date technology that allowed us to learn much more about each person. Left there with much to think about.
Honestly though, best part of the day was the ferry rides - so beautiful in the harbor, and I do love boats.

now for a quick dinner before heading to Bergen tomorrow.
lauramsgarden is online now  
Jun 17th, 2019, 08:16 AM
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from Oslo to Bergen

Day 9 cont. We finished Day nine with dinner at a Vietnamese place my husband found called (I believe ) Xich Lo on Karl Johann Gate. I'd expected something like the little hole in the wall place that we frequent in our town, but this was way upscale including a French sommalier with strong opinions lol. I had a mango salmon salad and a wonderful veal in lingonberry dish, Steve had lamb and spring rolls - very lovely, I highly recommend it.

The next morning we met Bjorn, the driver we had arranged to go with to Bergen. He is a retired police officer who was very easy going, but with much excellent information about Norway. We traveled up Route 7 and then across on the E16. I was again struck by the deep, dark, lush greenness of the countryside, with small towns here and there. We saw beautiful lakes along the way (including the one where there was the horrible terrorist attack on the summer camp several years ago). We had to look a bit to find a place for lunch as the area we drove in was mostly a winter holiday location, but finally found a small cafe where the owner cooked fresh trout to order for us. It was simple, healthy, delicious and what we needed after so many rich meals. We climbed ever upwards and soon were above the tree line. The landscape was rugged and wild and still had large patches of snow on it. It was exquisitely beautiful. Once we started down again we drove into clouds that were hanging low - we tried to see a waterfall but it was so cloud shrouded that we could only hear it's roar. And then we were driving along the shores of the (forgive my misspelling here )Hardangerfyord. It was one oh my goodness that is gorgeous moment after another. words fail me at the beauty of it all. We arrived in Bergen around 6 pm. Although I wasn't driving, I will say that the roads looked easy to manage, and other drivers were considerate.
We are staying at the Hanseatic hotel - not my favorite, but then again, anything after the Continental would be a comedown.

Today we met our guide, Pawel, a young man who moved here from Poland for school in outdoor skills, and has stayed ever since. We'd arranged an itinerary several months ago, so when I looked last night to refresh my memory it was an uh oh moment - it turned out that our plans for today were exactly the drive we had just done. I let Pawel know last night and with great good cheer he came up with other ideas. Today we drove down the archipelago of several different islands on the Atlantic coast. We stopped several times to just walk and take it in. Lunch at a little place at the very end of the chain with no one else there, and met a waitress from Colorado! The wind was blowing and it was raining and it was wild and wonderful and beautiful. We drove out to see the German cannon and bunkers along the coast (WWII), and had wonderful conversations about history and politics. Pawel is very knowledgeable about Norwegian history and geography. We finished the day at the Edward Grieg House which was a calming way to end such a wind blown day (we learned that Bergen has rain 275 days a year, and it doesn't count as a rain day unless it rained for at least 4 hours. We are resting and getting our tootsies warm again. till tomorrow.
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