Norway 2015

17th June 2015 - To Bergen

Always amazing how long before a flight you have to leave home in order to catch a it even when you start in the same city as the airport. 11am flight so aim to get to the airport if not two hours before then definitely more than 90 minutes. An hour by public transport to get there. End up getting out of bed not long after 7am. I'm not one for last minute rushing or cutting it fine when I fly.

Anyway, to Gatwick, Wetherspoons breakfast and we're off. I'm taking Mum and Dad to Norway. Everything ran very smoothly and we land in Bergen some time after 2pm. Airport bus to the centre and checked in to our apartment around 3pm. Journey smooth but the weather in Bergen isn't. Damp and cold.

We've got a lovely apartment, one bedroom and a huge living room with a permanently made up bed in it. Far better than getting a triple room in a hotel where we'd all be squashed up in one room.

Soon time to brave the weather. It's not that bad just a bit miserable. 12 degrees and intermittent light rain. First up a walk to the station which took a lot longer than planned due to a bit of a navigation cock-up. But we got some fresh air saw some of Bergen and still managed to find the station in the end. Picked up our tickets for Friday, supermarket and back to the apartment.

In the evening it had to be some proper Norwegian food so off to Pingvinen. A pub with a large selection of beers and some interesting food. So it was an Old Ale and whale steaks for me, a Red Ale and slow cooked reindeer neck for Dad and a £10 bottle of Bulmers and a traditional fish dish for Mum. Yes things are very expensive in Norway even more so than you expect. The cheapest 400ml beer is nearly £6. Meals were well over £20 each. But the beer was very tasty and the food gorgeous. The whale steak was peppered and tasted like really good beef, very tender and no grizzle at all. Reindeer was tasty and falling off the bone the fish thing was fish and potato and herb and a bit like a big plate of fish cake with bacon.

18th June 2015 - Bergen

Still wet and cold. Mum has no idea why anyone would every want to live here; wet, cold and expensive. We spent the morning walking around the UNESCO listed old town. Loads of wooden buildings some looking a bit rickety a loss of alley ways running between them. Most house shops; some tacky souvenir shops and others housing some really nice artist galleries. Textiles, pewter, silver, jewellery made from polished stones, some of it really nice and different to anything I've seen anywhere else.

On the way back we walked through the fish market where we had intended to get lunch but £20 for fish and chips or some prawns. How much! We got some really good sandwiches from the 7-eleven instead and went back to the apartment.

In the afternoon it brightened up thankfully as we wanted to go up the funicular railway to Mt Fløyen, a hill overlooking Bergen harbour. It was quite a modern train and a gentle ride up. We were first on the train so we got pole position at the bottom of the train so we could look out straight down the track as we rode up. Great view, I think for Mum it was a little hairy.

View out the window in front of us.

From the top there is a great view of the harbour and all around. Boats coming in and out, cloud rolling in over the tree covered hills. At one point the sun even tried to poke its head through the clouds.

On Mt Fløyen there are lots of walking trails so we headed off along the side of the hill then back into the trees. As usual we got a 100 yards from the station and there was no one else to be seen. A woodland walk, a few birds singing, the sound of water running, lovely. We then came across a some lake which we walked around and them headed back towards the train.

We looked down on the train coming up.

I think that's a hint of sun trying to shine through the clouds.

In the evening we would have eaten at Pingvinen again but it looked full, so up to the supermarket for a pizza and some Asian microwave food. Fast food on Norway looks to generally be Thai which is fine by me. In the evening I had a frozen microwave Thai curry which was less than £3 and didn't look all that promising but it was really good. If I'd been served that in a restaurant I wouldn't have been disappointed.

19th June 2015 - Norway in a Nutshell

Every guidebook, every website says if you go to Norway you must do the Norway in a Nutshell tour. I'm not usually one to go with the flow but this time weight of opinion was so string I couldn't resist it and I'm glad I didn't. It's a train, bus, boat, train, train which took us from Bergen to Oslo via some windy roads, some fjords, a steep railway and through a mountain pass above the snow line.

First up a local train from Bergen to Voss. This is the main line from Bergen to Oslo and our train stopped at most stops. The line is very scenic running along a fjord for quite some time and cutting through many tunnels some short some very long. Along the fjord are some lovely little villages in little coves, all the coves ringed by little boats.

At Voss it was off the train and straight onto buses which were waiting. Norway on a Nutshell is a self guided tour which you can piece together from the many components but everything runs really smoothly and it is a great tour which anyone could follow. So off we went on the bus down to the fjord. About half way down we went off of the main road which carried on through a tunnel to take the old road which climbed over a hill and then dropped down the otherwise. The trip down involved hairpin after hairpin and great views across to some big waterfalls.

We then had about 50 minutes before jumping on the ferry to go down one fjord and up another to get to Flam. Even though we were only on small side fjords they were still quite wide and of course they had the characteristic steep sides rising up out of the water 100s of metres above us. The weather today was great so we got great views up and down the fjords and of all the waterfalls cascading off of the sides of the hills.

We managed to bag a table just inside for the 2 hour cruise, so we sat a bit and went outside a bit to get the full view. There wasn't a commentary as such but whenever we passed anything interesting we didn't get a few functional sentences on it. The Norwegians do seem very Germanic, everything they say is very functional and to the point.

Waterfalls running down the hillside.

Me spoiling a great photo of the fjord.

2 hours on the cruise were great but I don't see how people could do a week crossing the fjords after a while it does all start to look a samey. Stunning but samey.

No blog of mine would be complete without a flag photo.

We saw a few of the ferries which run between the towns on the fjord.

I love the reflections on the water.

One of the towns along the fjord.

Another of my favorite fjord pics.

Interesting photo, looks like smoke coming off the hills.

We got 2 hours on Flam. Time to look out over the harbour, go to the supermarket and have something to eat. There was a small seafood market so it was whale for Dad, some fishcakes for Mum and a fish mixed grill for me; although we shared stuff forward and back as usual. The sun was shining we were sat outside all very civilised.

Soon it was time for the Flam railway. An hour's journey up a1 in 18 gradient running up the valley and through many tunnels including one which U shaped one. Great views down into the valley as we climbed up the side.

Half way up the train stopped for 10 minutes for everyone to jump out and take photos of a giant. Rather surreally music started playing and two women dressed like Kate Bush in the withering heights video danced on rocks in the waterfall. Soon it was back on the train and up to the train and up to the top where there was quite a bit of snow on the ground.

An hour at Myrdal Station and the a four and a half hour train ride to Oslo. At first we climbed a bit well above the snow line. More than a foot of snow either side of the train, froen lakes and burried huts. It was then a long run all the way down to Oslo and we got to our apartment around 11pm with it still light enough to not need street lights. A really good day.

20th June 2015 - Oslo

A day wandering and exploring Oslo. First up the Royal palace. Norway has a royal family, King Harald and Queen Sonja great Scandinavian names. It's a big house with nice gardens which are open to the public. The palace isn't open to the public until July so we walked around and headed onwards.

Next we headed down to Aker Brygge, the old dock area which has now been transformed into the place to be. The most expensive apartments in Oslo, lots of restaurants and big expensive motor boats. It was nice place to walk around but a bit sterile.

Next up the Akershus Fortress which overlooks the harbour. Big solid ramparts, inside a castle, church and room for a small village. It was really well preserved / rebuilt but again it felt sterile. It was too well maintained. Again nice to walk around and it gave great views over the water.

To finish the day off we did a two hour cruise around the harbour. First up Oslo Opera House. Then out around the islands. There are lots of islands close to Oslo and very few have bridges to the mainland. I don't know if they are inhabited all year round but I assume the harbour freezes in Winter so they are probably evacuated for those months.

In the evening we went to a Thai restaurant close to the apartment. Good Thai food at a good price ... for Norway.

21st June 2015 - Oslo

Final day inm Oslo. Dropped bags off at the station and headed for the ferry across to Bygdøy peninsula where most of Oslo's museums are.

From the ferry a great view of the fortress (above) and Aker Brygge (below).

We walked past the Flam Museum (the Flam was Amundsen's boat) and the Kon-Tiki Museum.

We walked around the Folk Museum which was set up by King Oscar in the late 18th century. It contains houses from around Norway which have been reconstructed here. It is a big museum so plenty to walk around and see.

The museum had two parts firstly the old houses and then some big museum buildings which have rooms made up in different styles from the last 100 or so years.

From there it was back to Oslo, up to the airport and home.