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Norway: Hiking trip with Backroads; photos

Norway: Hiking trip with Backroads; photos

Old Jul 23rd, 2011, 11:36 AM
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Norway: Hiking trip with Backroads; photos

Hello

I wasn't going to post this yet because I haven't reviewed but a fraction of my photos so far. With yesterday's tragedy I thought I'd post them now anyway. Such a beautiful and peaceful country.

I felt very safe the whole time I was there - country, city. In fact in one hotel where we were to set off from a hike I took my Garmin watch off in the restroom of the hotel (near lobby) in order to reapply sunscreen. I forgot to put the watch back on. It was still there when I got back.

Brief summary: Norway has been on my visit list for some time, primarily to see the Fjords. I knew very little about Norway before this trip and my one-week visit has whetted my appetite for more.

Doing a hiking tour with Backroads is a great way to see the countryside. Hiking is a must-do, here, and it's good to have a company who knows the ropes and who will take care of you. Someone to lug your luggage, know where the good hikes are, and bonus: a group of like-minded people for camaraderie on the hikes. Their hotel picks were fantastic (more on them later) and we lucked out with the weather. Eight nights in Norway and only one day of rain (a little bit on a few other days but at night which didn't affect us).

Itinerary:
Flight into Bergen, one full day/night on my own.
Next morning I met the group in Voss.
Five nights with Backroads. We stayed at the Hotel Stalheim one night; two nights at the Walaker Hotel in Solvorn; one night at the Hotel Mundal in Mundal (also called Fjaerland); one night at the Hotel Viknes in Balestrand. Each hotel was chosen for both comfort and for the history. More on them later.
Last two nights on my own in Oslo at the Grand Hotel Rica. I flew to Oslo from Bergen.

We didn't merely hike on this trip, we also did a good morning of glacier climbing (Nigardsbreen - breen means glacier) and had a number of Fjord boat rides. In all, I saw three new UNESCO World Heritage sites on this trip, too.

I'll fill in more details about the trip later as well as continue to update the photos on flickr. If you click the link below you will get a smattering of photos but by the time I'm done I imagine I'll have three times as many included.

Enjoy the photos - it really is a beautiful country. So sad, so very sad for the people of Norway today.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...41775324/show/
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Old Jul 23rd, 2011, 11:38 AM
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ps. I wrote the below to some friends. I thought I'd repost here - gives a flavor of what we saw.

I'm so glad I finally visited Norway after putting off the trip for years. Something else always came up. "Next year", I'd say.

And now I know what I'll find there: towering mountains cleaved by fjords; glaciers still crashing, slow motion, into the terrain; thundering waterfalls and shoe-soaking springs; ferries which dot the fjords and which are in turn dwarfed by the mountains - and don't forget all the sheep. Puffy clouds and blue skies, except when they are thick and heavy with rain or fog. Tiny red (or yellow, or green) clapboard summer homes mirrored in the clear green fjords. Ancient stave churches that were contemporaries of pre-Norman invasion England (!!) and, more recently, Victorian homes and English churches. Words that look suspiciously close to German. Friendly people with an enviable quality of life. Summer sun that just won't quit (except when it's, um, raining, or foggy). I am curious about the opposite effect of the midnight sun - now I'm thinking about a winter trip on the Hurtigruten to see the Northern Lights. Ooh, wouldn't that be fun.

Stunningly beautiful scenery and stunningly spendy costs. 900 NOK for cab fare between Oslo's airport and my hotel - each way! That's an anecdote that is going to have legs. Norway looks like Switzerland, kind of, but it's even more expensive. No mean feat.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2011, 11:49 AM
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Thanks so much for sharing. The pix are gorgeous! I'll be there in a few weeks and you've got me excited!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2011, 12:06 PM
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Lovely photos! I am looking forward to your report.
I fell in love with Norway in February, on the Hurtigruten and it is lovely to see your summer photos.

I am going on the Hurtigruten again next March, with my husband this time, still cold and snowy and the chance to the lights but longer daylight hours than in February.

I hope we will visit Norway in the summer in a couple of years, when he has retired.

I hope you get the chance to do a winter trip.

Having been there and met the people and experienced some of the country makes yesterday events even more shocking somehow.
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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 04:56 AM
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Thank you.

I agree Barb! It hits home. Definitely go in summer. The midnight sun is something else. I think if sets at some point but it doesn't actually get dark-- kind of dusky.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 03:55 AM
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I checked with the backroads website and those tours seem to be way pricey, $3600 per person for double occupancy for 6 days(5 nights). For a couple this amounts to be $1200 per day which is expensive even by Norway standards(and im including accomodation and food costs). What did you think of the cost factor?
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 04:32 AM
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Stunning pictures! The colors seem so crisp and bright. I loved the ones looking out the windows with the curtains and geraniums and the boat beyond in the other.

I am looking forward to more of the trip story. I chaperoned a high school trip to Norway in the 60s and we stayed one night at the Stalheim hotel so I will be interested to hear your account of your visit there.
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Old Jul 30th, 2011, 04:32 AM
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Stunning pictures! The colors seem so crisp and bright. I loved the ones looking out the windows with the curtains and geraniums and the boat beyond in the other.

I am looking forward to more of the trip story. I chaperoned a high school trip to Norway in the 60s and we stayed one night at the Stalheim hotel so I will be interested to hear your account of your visit there.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2011, 03:42 AM
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Thank you Irishface! I really gotta get on the stick and add more photos. A few people have told me they really like the curtains/window photos, which is nice to hear because I hesitated on whether they should make the cut.

The Stalheim was beautifully situated. Good hotel - large rooms. I loved that they had shoe/dryers. Necessary for wet hiking! That view you see in one photo was the next afternoon - the day we got there and the following morning we were completely socked in. Could not see past the ledge! I didn't know that hotel was used by the Nazis as a sort of base during WWII. They showed us a gun turret near the gardens.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2011, 03:43 AM
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ps. not cheap, true. The single supplement added quite a bit more (plus I bought insurance through them) but I felt it was worth every penny. I didn't think it was that much more than what I would have paid had I done this all myself though. Norway is spendy.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 01:24 PM
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I added a few more photos this morning. Not done yet, and I still have to write the report. But, more photos online if anyone is interested.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 02:06 PM
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Wow! Nicely done, flygirl. I mean that. Your pix really took me back to out trip there last year. Beautiful stuff. That view from the Stalheim hotel is one in a million, isn't it?
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 04:36 PM
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Pictures are wonderful and I'm enjoying your report. I'm currently finalizing my own trip for this coming May/June. I'm planning on staying at the Stalheim and the Viknes in Balestrand. Shoe dryers? I'm curious as to what kind of shoes might be best.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 07:28 AM
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Thanks mr_go! It is a *stunningly* beautiful country. We had only one day of rain (and rain it did, wow) but when it cleared it was mostly perfect weather. We had a little bit of clouds another day, but that cleared up too. And I don't just mean sunny - I mean no humidity, crisp and clear. The lighting for photography is fantastic. It was interesting to watch the progression of the day, the sun seemed to barely track across the sky.

The guide told us that the Stalheim Valley reminded him of another valley in the US and now I cannot remember which one. Yosemite? I've never been there, but now I feel like I must visit more of the US. My window view would have been that valley but that was the day it rained like there was no tomorrow. The next morning we hiked in fog, which lifted, and when we came back to the hotel to freshen up before taking off again it was clear.

historytraveler: Thank you! Two great hotel choices. Are you planning to hike? The shoe dryers were a stroke of genius. When you're hiking in rain, no matter if you have waterproof shoes, you are gonna get soaked. The fields become soup and there is water everywhere.

For drying soaking wet shoes, another trick I learned (while waiting for the dryers) is to stuff newspaper into them. Really pack it in tight. The newspaper draws the moisture away. When we got in from hiking, there weren't enough dryers so I had to have papers in my shoes overnight. They were damp but acceptable the next morning, but I finished 'em off with the dryers during breakfast.

I used this trick in Annecy with my sandals which got SOAKED the first day. Not quite the same because they are sandals this you can't pack them except under the straps, but it made a difference.

When you ask about "which shoes are best", what do you mean? For hiking? Or just general sightseeing?
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 07:52 AM
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Thanks for the great newspaper tip. I'll only be doing a bit of hiking but since it'll still be early in the season and rain always a possibility, I want to be prepared. I've done some hiking on the Moors of Scotland where it may look dry at a disrance, but your feet can quickly be covered in brown peaty water. That was first introduction to conditions quite a bit different from hiking in the "Rockies".Ever try Gore-Tex socks? That was a recommendation too.

Looking forward to rest of your report and any photo tips. Yours are excellent.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 04:04 PM
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Thank you history traveler! I've spent a fair bit of time today putting up even more photos. I have not tried Gore-Tex socks but will have to check them out.

As far as photo tips, what did you have in mind?

Whoever might be reading this, when I am done I will separate them by area and put new links up so that you aren't looking at 300 photos at one time.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 04:20 PM
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I had a look at the Gore-Tex socks, and think it's a bit of overkill for me.

I did look at the Backroads website and while the Norway trip doesn't work out for me this time, they do have several v.interesting itineraries. Looking forward to hearing more about the trip.
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Old Oct 24th, 2011, 07:02 AM
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 06:10 AM
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We are about to take this trip. Love your photos. The materials mention no jeans or tennis shoes at dinner. How dressy are these hotels? Seems a bit strict.
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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Hi RJ!

They certainly won't turn you away. The hotels are very nice, but somewhat remote which means your dinner is pretty much with your own hiking companions. Of five dinners, only one included others not in our group - and there, the town was so tiny it was all guests of the hotel in their formal dining room - but as that was the day of the Big Hike, the brochure said that was casual night.

They were all at the hotel - in their dining room or a large private room... I brought dresses just for that but didn't really feel like I *had* to wear them. Smart casual would be fine. Or, bring one "nice" pair of slacks and rotate "nice" tops - or bring a light blazer for alternating nights if you must. Truly, they won't turn you away. It's your trip.

I felt better being a little dressed up (not outrageously so) because everyone else had on a casual blazer/button down shirt or a dress. So I'd consider bringing at least one decent outfit and gauge what to do after the first night. It's summer, a woman can get away with bringing two-three lightweight dresses and a number of scarves/perhaps a light cardigan to throw over a dress one night... men are even easier. No one knows you wore those black slacks 5 nights in a row, especially as you will ONLY wear them to dinner.

Trust me, most of your time will be in hiking clothes.
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