Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Sweden, Norway, definite thoughts on Norway in a Nutshell, what has happened to Copenhagen, fabulous Paris, and OMG where do can I buy some of that Limoncello?

Sweden, Norway, definite thoughts on Norway in a Nutshell, what has happened to Copenhagen, fabulous Paris, and OMG where do can I buy some of that Limoncello?

Old Jul 11th, 2007, 06:17 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 170
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sweden, Norway, definite thoughts on Norway in a Nutshell, what has happened to Copenhagen, fabulous Paris, and OMG where do can I buy some of that Limoncello?

We are just back from 3 weeks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and France, and it's so good to be home. But a week from now I will be ready to go again. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Here are some of the basics that answer frequently asked questions:

The trip cost $10,000 including airfare from the west coast and a 15-day Eurail global pass for 2 people. I took 2 pairs of SAS shoes and had absolutely no problem with my feet or extended walking whatsoever (except the people with me weren't so lucky so that limited my walking a bit). I was there to celebrate my 50th birthday and I lovingly have been planning this trip for a year. Everyone was incredibly nice, helpful, patient, even in Paris where we were repeatedly asked if we needed help. It was cold and rainy almost the entire trip so I got really tired of wearing a coat every day, but one does not go to Scanadinavia to perfect one's tan. Another reason I'm glad I'm back on the West Coast where it's hot. If you can possibly fly on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) do so. Brand new planes with cool cameras mounted so you can see the land below, nice employees, good food. It was a pleasure to fly from Chicago to Stockholm and I am terrified of flying. On the way home got stuck in Chicago due to thunderstorms. I swear next time I am going to find myself a non-stop flight from Europe back to San Francisco so I don't have to go to Chicago. I took one rolling duffel bag and a daypack. There were 4 times on this trip that we left the big suitcases behind and just travelled overnight with daypacks. That sure is convenient. If you are going to Mont Saint Michel for the night, do not bring anything more than a daypack. The hotels do not have elevators and you might get a room on the 4th floor like we did!

Here is a list of hotels we stayed in:

Stockholm: Rica Hotel Gamla Stan (excellent!!)
Oslo: Thon Hotel Stefan (also very good but would suggest Thon Hotel Cecil simply because it's closer to the sightseeing)
Norwegian Fjords: The Stalheim and The Balestrand Hotel (see below for more details)
Bergen: First Hotel Marin (really nice and well-located but expensive for a short stay)
Copenhagen: Ibsens Hotel (nice, fabulous breakfast, noisy, close to train/S-tog/Metro station but not close to anything charmiing)
Aero Island: Hotel Aerohus (very nice but we were there in the pouring rain so whole trip to Aero Island unnecessary)
Paris: Hotel Bonaparte (okay Ira, don't yell, but here's the honest scoop--this hotel is very well-located, staffed by very nice people, is shabby and noisy, and reasonably priced. Next time I would stay at the Hotel Madison just to be a tiny bit closer to the action)
Mont St. Michel: Mere Poulard (excellent and fun, just heed my warniing about bringing only a daypack)

Here are some more thoughts and observations:
I was in Copenhagen 10 years ago and thought it was beautiful and charming. But this time we were really disappointed. There is graffiti everywhere, broken glass and trash in the streets, kids drinking beer on the trains, heavy smoking, etc. It was very worth it to be there just to see the town of Roskilde and coincidentally we happened to be there just before the Roskilde festival which attracted teeming hordes of teenagers on the trains, and also the Sea Stallion (a replica of a Viking Ship) was leaving the day we visited Roskilde from the fascinating Viking Ship museum on its way to Ireland. Aero Island is cute and charming but there isn't much to do there especially in the pouring rain.

Here is my unsolicited advice about Norway in a Nutshell. We left Oslo on the 8:11 am train and went as far as Myrdal. The land just before Myrdal is snowy and gorgeous. When you get off at Myrdal there is a short wait for the Flamsbana railway down to the little town of Flam. The Flamsbana train is very beautiful and exciting with lots of waterfalls. At the end of the line is the tourist craziness of Flam. You can see the boats waiting for boarding. If you are following the normal Nutshell thing, you get on a boat to Gudvangen and it is really really beautiful. Lots of of waterfalls and cute little towns. At Gudvangen there are many busses wating to take you up to Voss via the Stalheim hotel if that's where you want to go. The busses are provided by the county and they guarantee you that there will be enough. If you are spending the night at the Stalheim you should know a few things. First of all, the road going from the main road up to the Stalheim in my opinion was terrifying. My husband thought it was steep and a little scary and quite an experience. My dad thought it was fun. The Stalheim itself is a big old hotel with an absolutely breathtaking view. You will be there with huge tour groups coming and going. There is an expensive buffet and an equally expensive cafe. When you want to leave the next morning, again, the county guarantees you will have enough busses. Here is where I think you should vary the usual Nutshell itinerary. I do not suggest you go up to Voss. I suggest you go back to Gudvangen, and take the boat back to Flam. (there is also a bus that goes from Gudvangen to Flam but I hear it is mostly through tunnels). Back in Flam again, I suggest you take the boat that heads across the Sognefjord to Balestrand. To me, that is where the views were the most breathtaking. We stayed at the lovely and friendly Balestrand Hotel and it was a gorgeous place to be. The next morning we headed to Bergen which is a 4 hour ride down the Sognefjord. I thought that was breathtaking too because of all the snow-covered mountains. When you get close to Bergen, the boat weaves its way through a bunch of rocky islands and then pulls into Bergen. By the way, you may be told that reservations are not necessary for all that Norway in a Nutshell stuff, but that was absolutely not true. We had reservations for every leg of the journey, and since there were hordes of people travelling, we were glad. If you look at the Balestrand Hotel webpage transportation link, even if you don't stay there, all the reservation websites are listed for you.

This is getting pretty long so I will close. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Oh, and we had limoncello 3 times and I just have to have some of that stuff here at home. Have some and you will be hooked!

teacherlady is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2007, 06:31 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,699
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You can find Limoncello at just about any liquor store in any city in the US.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2007, 09:28 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 170
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, because of jet lag, I wrote this early this morning, and now I see there's plenty of info I left out. The main thing I forgot to say is how much I appreciate all the help I received on this forum. People kept asking me how I knew so much and it's almost entirely from reading this forum for so many years. A huge Thank You to you all. I had to laugh at my husband who was doing some laundry in a hotel bathtub and then fretted because he had no place to hang the clothes. I suggested he use dental floss for a clothesline. That's one of my favorite tips from this forum. The other thing I wanted to say but forgot earlier is that Stockholm is absolutely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, right up there with Salzburg and Prague. If you go, do not miss the Vasa museum...it was absolutely fascinating. Oslo is less scenic, but the museums on Bygdoy island are not to be missed, especially the KonTiki and Viking Ship museums.
Again, much gratitude to you all.
teacherlady is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2007, 10:26 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 36,434
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the report. I loved the Vasa museum. Glad you stayed in Gamla Stan, I stayed there too, different hotel. It was a super location I thought.

Alcohol is a big issue in Copenhagen. It was winter when I was there so not so much night time noise etc, except for New Years Eve, and THAT was a story in itself!!!!! Glad your trip was a good one.
crefloors is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2007, 10:30 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, I have noticed drinking problems in Scandinavia in various cities. And the no smoking thing has not taken off in Denmark, for some reason.

I'm a bit discouraged by your Copenhagen comments. I was there in 2003, and it was pretty nice, and we're going this summer. I'll report back on how it is in August.
WillTravel is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2007, 11:28 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 121
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
teacherlady, thanks for the great trip report. A friend of a friend just returned from a cruise in Norway...don't know if it was with Coastal Cruiseslines, HAL, etc., but apparently reported there were few Americans on that particular cruise and found people in Norway to be unfriendly. Don't know exactly why she thought that..but doesn't sound like you ran into any of this type of sentiment, did you? We're thinking of a fjords cruise next year and wouldn't want to think that we're unwanted up that way! Thanks for any info you can pass on. And....I'm going to try some of that Limoncello!
onthegogo is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2007, 07:35 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 170
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
On the go: No, we encountered absolutely no unfriendliness whatsoever. We even had a great conversation with an Iraqi taxi driver in Stockholm. I would say go! The scenery is so magnificent, the museums fascinating, the food delicious and abundant, the people friendly and proud of their ability to speak English. I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity.
teacherlady is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2007, 08:10 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 36,434
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
They are working on the "no smoking" in Denmark and it WILL come about at some point. I was talking to a guy at our hotel in Copenhagen and he said they are still arguing about whether or not to included bars and pubs or just restaurants and public builings...the same arguments that come up everywhere. It will be resolved, just don't know exactly when.

Most of the Scandanavian people speak perfect english and mostly with an american accent, with some british thrown in. My neice was in school in Copenhagen for year and was required to learn Danish and none of the Danes would speak Danish to her. There english was so much better than her Danish, they just couldn't be bothered. They start English in third grade and take it all through school and at some point add an additional language. She said German and Russian usually.

I was never in Norway, but the Swedes and the Danes aren't unfriendly. They are reserved so that could be seen as being cold or stand-offish I guess. Do NOT be afraid of going. The Scandanavia countries are so easy to travel in, and no one expects you to speak their language, and I never got any kind of attitude or dirty looks because I spoke english. It was expected.
crefloors is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2007, 08:23 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,879
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ttt
annhig is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
lery
Europe
6
Nov 20th, 2010 07:08 PM
bernice_nyc
Europe
10
Jul 11th, 2010 04:35 AM
pmarq32
Europe
6
May 27th, 2007 01:17 AM
quebec
Europe
5
Mar 29th, 2003 08:25 AM
titusdahl
Europe
7
Feb 16th, 2003 09:46 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information