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Norway/Denmark Adventure late August/September 2016

Hi folks!
Here I am again with an updated itinerary for our much anticipated Scandinavian adventure. I would greatly appreciate your feedback and answers to some of my questions.

We are booked on Icelandic Air and will fly from Minneapolis to Oslo via Reykjavik on 8/27, arriving in Oslo mid day 8/28. I had intended on staying in Oslo at least overnight to recover from jet lag before flying on to Tromso, where we will stay one night and pick up the reverse Hurtigruten cruise (3 days) from Tromso (at 1:30 a.m, mind you) to Bergen. We will stay several nights in Bergen before heading directly back to Oslo on the train - since we'll have seen so much fjord beauty on the cruise there is no need for us to do the NIN tour. We would stay at least 2 nights in Oslo before heading to Denmark, our next leg of the trip.

Questions: 1) Since we are going that far north, should we stay another day in Tromso? I understand it has quite a history as the "Paris of the North." If so, what should we see? We are both history buffs and if there is a Resistance Museum there, that would certainly be on the list, 2) Two nights in Bergen or three? I am a musician (a pianist) and I understand that Edvard Grieg had a home there? Are there concerts? 3) What should we see in Oslo? I'd love to do a side trip to Lillehammer and see the Open Air Museum. I want to see at least one Stave Church while we're in Norway and I have many of my Mother's original rosemaled pieces - I'm sure there are museums scattered about - could you tell me where they are?

Many thanks in advance for your responses. I have learned to plan the logistics of our trips, i.e. planes, boats, trains, but to me there is nothing like the experiences of those who have actually been in a foreign country/city to help you understand what may be important for you to see.

Peace and best to you. Liz

Posted by
3392 posts

Since you are going to all of the trouble to get up to Tromso, I would think about staying for an extra day. It's a nice town.
Regarding Bergen, IMHO two nights (one day) there is plenty. It doesn't take long to go up the funicular for the view of the city, see the historic waterfront, and visit the old fortress museum. Walk around town, get coffee, and you've pretty much seen it. That said, the home of Edvard Grieg is well worth your time. As a music lover myself, I found it fascinating for the history of the man and the architectural beauty of the home in it's stunning setting. Maybe you'll want to stay 3 nights in that case!
There is a beautiful stave church at the open air museum in Oslo. You have to take the ferry to get out to the spit of land it's on - it's right next door to the Viking Ship Museum...doing both museums together makes sense. The stave church was moved there from another location and it's quite beautiful. The open air museum has an extensive collection of Norweigian folk art and furniture as well as village and farm buildings from all over the country that have been moved here to be preserved.
The best stave church is in Borgund which is very far from Oslo and quite remote. The stave church in Bergen is a complete reconstruction - the original one that was hundreds and hundreds of years old was burned down by a Satanist a number of years ago. It is exactly like the old one but is not authentic. Here is a guide to the stave churches remaining in Norway.
In August you will have an extraordinary amount of daylight! The sun won't go down until around 11 and will come up again around 2...take advantage of it! Museums close down at the end of the business day but the restaurants and bars stay open late, especially in Oslo. Oslo is a great restaurant town...every ethnicity and culture is represented. There is a well-established coffee culture too...tiny private roasters that serve some of the best cups you'll ever enjoy.

Posted by
155 posts

Thank you, Anita, for the information - this is exactly what I was looking for. A broad brush, so to speak, with some important details. As of this writing, we will arrive in Oslo on 8/28. I have not decided yet if we will spend the night in Oslo or continue on to Tromso that day - since we will be coming back to Oslo after our Hurtigruten and Bergen adventure I'm thinking we may just fly on to Tromso, even if it's a long day. We are booked on the Hurtigruten Nordnorge out of Tromso on 8/31 at 1:30 a.m. and will arrive in Bergen on 9/3 at 2:30 in the afternoon - I know it will be expensive, but I am willing to do it because chances are we will never go back. There are so many places to see! I did a bit of research about Oslo after your suggestions and found the Open Air Museum and the Stave Church and the Viking Ship Museum - we look forward to seeing them. We intend to stay several nights in Bergen before taking the train back to Oslo and then on to Denmark - but that's another post. Thank you again! I have found this travel forum very valuable, due to the kindness of the people involved,

Posted by
5837 posts

Re: "...Oslo. You have to take the ferry...."

I believe that Bus 30 from the Central S also serves the Bigdoy peninsula. Our hotel was downtown. We took Bus 30 out And the ferry returning to the Aker Brygge. Oslo has a lot of transportation options including walking about.

While on the Bigdoy Peninsula, also visit the Viking Ship and Fram museums. That would be a good day to have an Oslo 24 hour card. A lot to see in a compact zone, The Fram is a heroic story about Fridtjof Nansen, Arctic explorer and Nobel peace prize winner.

I would spend more than one day in Oslo on first arriving to adjust to time travel.

Yes to Lillihammer Maihaugen museum.

Oslo Open Air Folk museum has relocated buildings including a stage church if memory serves me.

PS. We landed here in Copenhagen just about 26 hours ago. May be our age but tine travel of 9 hour zones is brutal. Spent today waking in the rain and sheltering in the National Museum learning about Danieh history from prehistoric to modern. Back at the hotel for a nap. Plan on at least two nights and two easy days or more in Oslo.

Posted by
155 posts

Thank you, Edgar, for your advice and information, particularly regarding the Bigdoy Peninsula. Would you be so kind as to share your choice of hotel in Oslo with me? You said that your hotel was downtown - we love to stay downtown in the middle of things, as we appreciate wandering around and jumping on public transportation whenever we feel so inclined.
Liz

Posted by
5837 posts

I've been happy with the Thon Hotel chain. The Thon Hotel Astoria is a "budget" hotel for Oslo, good location as in near the Central S and has a decent breakfast.

Posted by
4158 posts

I thought I would jump in with a few thoughts - Like Edgar , I would also recommend the Thon Hotels , We stayed at the Thon Hotel Panorama on Radhusgata , where we had a small one bedroom flat with a galley kitchen . Easy walk to the center and to the city pier ( ferry to Bygdoy ) . As Edgar says , Bus #30 runs out there as well . As for Grieg's home in Bergen , it's called " Troldhaugen " and I do believe there are some performances there ( We were not able to fit Bergen in on our recent trip ) His lovely composition " Wedding Day at Troldhaugen " refers to this place - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_Day_at_Troldhaugen and listen here to the orchestral version https://youtu.be/bpLbYxck2w0 Insofar as The Fram Museum , we spent a whole day there , I have long been interested in Fridjtof Nansen and Roald Amundsen and the stories of their lives are fascinating . If you have the inclination , there are two wonderful biographies of these men by the English historian , Roland Huntford - " Nansen " and " The Last Place on Earth " the account of Amundsen's voyage to the South Pole in 1911 . In 1985 , The BBC produced a very accurate film version of " The Last Place on Earth " , and while six hours long ( in serial format ) it is brilliant . If you can see it , it will make your visit to the " Fram " hugely meaningful https://youtu.be/lZ27CIoRg28

Posted by
155 posts

Thank you, Steven, for chiming in! This is wonderful information and I do so appreciate it. I've looked into the Oslo Thon Panorama and it seems a good fit for us. Even with breakfast provided (which got very nice reviews) the galley kitchen would be beneficial. After reading many reviews about how expensive it is to eat in Norway, the best plan for us may be to breakfast at the hotel, pack a sandwich and fruit for lunch and look for reasonably priced dinner options - I'm sure they're out there... somewhere. Thank you so much for the Edvard Grieg link - his "Hall of the Mountain King" is one of my very favorite pieces to play and I hope to get to Troldhaugen. Unfortunately, I had to cut our time in Bergen to two nights in order to spend three nights in Oslo before we head to Denmark. While in Oslo, we will take full advantage of the Bygdoy Peninsula - your links regarding the Fram museum were excellent. We will watch "The Last Place On Earth" before we go.

Posted by
4158 posts

One more tip - If you use the Thon Panorama , the higher floors seem to have the extended accomodations . In the living room , there is a table , a sofa and a large flat screen TV on the wall ( that was how our room was arranged ) If you walk over toward Central Station , there are two shopping malls - look for the Oslo City Mall , it's huge , you can't miss it . In the basement level is a large gourmet supermarket called " Meny 's " . We were able to get great meals to carry out and take back to our room , about a ten minute walk . A whole roast chicken , piping hot , was about six dollars USD , and two greek salads , about four dollars each (of course , in NOK ) Terrific dinners , wide selection in the store , and no need to go hungry , or broke . The breakfast in the hotel was also wonderful . Good luck on the trip , Oslo was wonderful , we can't wait to return ALMOST FORGOT , good thing my wife reminds me , try to fit in the Resistance Museum , if you can

Posted by
155 posts

Thank you again, Steven, for the wonderful and practical advice. It's so nice to know that there are reasonable options for eating in Norway and we will certainly put Meny's on our list. I have just booked the Thon Panorama, thanks to you and Edgar. I have Norwegian roots but still, I understand that we are guests in their country and the money we spend will go to the local economy. We'll split our meals between restaurants and take away. Please thank your wife for the suggestion of the Resistance Museum - I knew about it and intended to visit since my Danish grandfather, my father and my uncles are all Veterans of WWII - some made it home, some did not, some were damaged beyond help. My husband is a Vietnam and Desert Storm Vet. The Resistance Museums are a priority with us, wherever we travel.

Posted by
5837 posts

Yes, the Resistance Museum (and Holmekollen Ski Museum) should be must see for anyone of Norge heritage.

True stories of Norwegian fortitude must reads include:

We Die Alone
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/242669.We_Die_Alone

Sledge Patrol
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/295605.The_Sledge_Patrol

Assault in Norway (Nazi Heavy water plant commando raid)
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/487441.Assault_In_Norway
This last book is a must read for anyone touring the Hardangavidda.

Posted by
155 posts

Thank you again, Edgar. It appears we have a lot of reading to do before we go, and that's ok. Since we are both of Scandinavian heritage, it's valuable information and I do so appreciate it. As of this writing, we will fly Mpls to Oslo on 8/27, arriving 8/28 and go directly on to Tromso. We'll stay in Tromso for two nights (8/28,8/29) board the Hurtigruten very late on 8/30 and sail to Bergen, arriving 9/3. We'll stay in Bergen two nights then take the train to Oslo. Our current dates in Oslo are 9/5 - 9/8 but now I am looking at the StenaLine ferry from Oslo to Fredrikshavn, Denmark for the next leg of our trip. Since the boat sails at 7:30 pm and takes 12 hours (arriving at 7:30 the next morning) it makes sense to me to skip the hotel in Oslo for the third night, board the boat the evening of 9/7, sleep on board and wake up in Fredrikshavn, then continue on with our Denmark plans - Fredrikshavn to Skagen to Aalborg to Aarhus to Odense (I've discovered cousins!) to Copenhagen. My question to you and others reading this thread: Have any of you done this crossing? I have read very mixed reviews, but as far as I am concerned that is to be expected since everyone has different expectations. Thoughts?

Posted by
4158 posts

I have just read a bunch of the reviews for Stena , and I certainly understand your reticence . When we left Oslo , bound for Copenhagen , we traveled overnight on DFDS - Crown Seaways ( The boat , cabin , and food were all first rate ) . Since your trip is only run by Stena , you have little in the way of alternatives . If you use Stena , it seems that the food service is the weakest point ( from the perspective of health safety ) . Bringing along some picnic style provisions would solve that problem ( Bread , cheese , dry sausage , wine etc ) OR - train - Oslo to Gothenburg , Sweden 3:45 hours and then Stena Ferry to Frederikshavn 3:15 hours .

Posted by
544 posts

Liz, did you book your onward flight to Tromso already? If not, you might consider reconsidering. From my experience I think you would much prefer spending the evening at a hotel like Thon Opera and flying out the next morning to Tromsø.

If you do book a flight the same day. Please make sure to have extra time to connect in Oslo. I made the mistake of buying a train ticket ahead of time from the airport to Lillehammer, didn't give myself enough time, and missed it. It can easily take over an hour to deplane and collect your bags. It might be boring to wait 5 hours in Oslo for your next flight, but I'd rather you do that then end up missing your flight and having to buy new tickets at last-minute pricing.

As for Stena Line, I used them for an overnight ferry from the Netherlands to the UK and found the food at dinner and the breakfast buffet to be darn good. I get seasick very easily, so I do recommend taking a seasick pill 30 minutes before a boat's departure. Especially if you're going to bed anyway it can't hurt, but if you do get seasick you have to take the pill before you're symptomatic or it doesn't work.

Posted by
155 posts

Thank you, Nordheim, for joining this thread! In answer to your question: no, I have not booked our ongoing flight to Tromso yet, and now I am reconsidering. Since both you and Edgar strongly suggest that we stay in Oslo that first night, I think it's probably the prudent thing to do. Since I am an optimist I always feel that nothing will go wrong, but we all know that it doesn't happen that way sometimes, and after that long flight and going through customs, we'll probably want an easy night, with something good to eat and a comfortable bed. So thank you for your suggestion of the Thon Opera. Thank you also for letting me know about your experience with the Stena Line. It's good to hear from someone who has actually experienced it. In your opinion, are we shorting ourselves with just two full days in Oslo? I haven't made the Stena reservation yet, and wonder if we shouldn't stay another full day in Oslo. I can't cut time in Copenhagen with my Danish cousins, but I could possibly cut a day along the way in Denmark. Regarding sea-sickness - I grew up on the water in Minneapolis, but that doesn't mean I have "sea legs," so I will be prepared.