Norway
Bergen, Oslo, a Cruise and More

 by Sandy Katz


 


 

 I TOOK A LIKING TO THE VIKINGS

The history of the Viking is closely linked to their role as masters of the sea. For more than 200 years (from 800-1050AD), the Vikings were feared as fierce and ruthless pirates. But this is not the full story. The Vikings were also poets, lawmakers and artists. Their ships explored unknown seas, and they settled new lands.

VIKING LAWS

  1. Be brave and aggressive: be direct; grab all opportunity use varying methods of attack; be versatile and agile and attack one target at a time.
  2.  Be prepared: keep in shape, find good battle comrades and choose one chief.
  3. Be a good merchant: find out what the market needs, don’t demand overpayment and arrange things so that you can return.
  4. Keep camp in order: keep things tidy and organized.

 

INTRODUCTION TO NORWAY

Norway is the edge of Europe’s most northern land mass, where sea and mountains have merged to produce one of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes.

This is a country whose ancient peoples, the Vikings, helped shape the history of northern Europe. The Vikings once controlled half of Britain, sent mariners as far west as Newfoundland and as far south as the Strait of Gibraltar .

It is this vigorous and resourceful national character, reflected in Viking foundation that still exemplifies modern Norway .

The broad southwestern half of the country is known as the South Country. Here, on the coastal fringe and around Oslo, is Lowland Norway where the sheltered coast is a favorite vacation destination for Norwegian families.

Farther north lies fascinating Bergen, against a setting of island and mountains. Bergen is the starting point for boat journeys to the north along the coastal islands and into the 120-mile long Sognefjord, the deepest and longest fjord in the world.

Norway is an extremely well run constitutional monarchy. Norwegians are level-headed, open and generous people. They are unfailingly courteous.

You can eat very well in Norway. Norwegians are experts at buffet preparation, the ideal lunch experience, often with smoked salmon, trout and smoked lamb dishes as favorites.

                               BERGEN

Bergen, “gateway to the Fjords,” is a world heritage city. It is the north’s largest city with a population of 235,000 people, situated in the heart of Fjords of Norway, which makes it a natural starting point for exploring this exciting landscape.

Bergen is a cosmopolitan city, rich in tradition and history. It dates back nine hundred years and contains an old world charm and atmosphere amplified by wooden houses, narrow alleyways and a busy historic harbour. It’s an old city with a young outlook.

Bergen is unique not only because of its magnificent location and world famous surroundings but also due to its seven spectacular mountains and beautiful fjords.

Aside from their commercial interests, Bergen merchants had a nose for culture. They laid the foundations for Bergen to be the cultural city it is today. Bergen has one of the world’s oldest symphony orchestras, the country’s first national theatre, a host of international festivals and a whole range of museums and institutions that owe their existence to the generosity of merchants.

Bergen Tourist Board: www.visitBergen.com

[Purchase a Bergen Card at tourist info, which entitles you to free bus travel as indicated on map and to most museums and attractions.]

Start your day with a stroll around the fish market and the old Hanseatic area, Bryggen. Visit one of the city’s many museums and visit composer Edvard Grieg’s home in Troldhaugen.

Nina and Edvard Grieg ’s home lies on a promontory jutting out into Lake Nordas with an outstanding view of the lake. Grieg lived here from 1885 until he died in 1907. Today, Troldhaugen is a living museum consisting of the museum, villa and the composer’s hut. www.troldhaugen.com

Bergen is a well-established cruise port. More than 245 international cruise ships with a total of 190,000 passengers visit Bergen from May to the end of September every year.

Year round, the famous coastal voyage, Hurtigruten, starts and ends its popular round trip to the North Cape Kirkenes and the Russian border in the port of Bergen.  You can board the coastal ships at any port and disembark where you like. There are 34 ports of various sizes.  www.hurtigruten.com

ONBOARD MS NORDNORGE

With 34 ports of call, the Norwegian Coastal Voyage is a life-line along the west coast of Norway. It provides services carrying freight, cargo and passengers -showcasing the dazzling scenery of fjords, snow-capped mountains and farm communities tucked away in between rolling hills, as well as bustling fishing villages and picturesque towns-every day year-round.

The fleet provides adequate comfortable small cabins, a variety of public areas and panoramic lounges fill the ships. Breakfast and lunch buffets are typically a marvelous Norwegian fare. At night there are two sittings and it was time to be waited on by the pleasant and hard-working staff that does double duty as housekeepers as well.

The guests onboard the ship originated from all corners of the world. You have an opportunity to meet people from a variety of countries and cultures. Time to brush up on your languages!  www.norwegiancoastalvoyages.us

The 7-day northbound voyage, Bergen-Kirkenes is considered “The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage.” Each day the ship offered a selection of enriching and educational shore excursions for the passengers who want to learn more about the nature, history and people along the Norwegian west coast.

Our ship sailed into Geurangerfjord and we took an excursion via the Trollstiger Road and along the panorama of Romsdalsfjord. The 11 hair-pin turns kept me at the edge of my seat and extremely awed by the spectacular scenery.  www.visitgeirangerfjorden.com

The sightseeing tour of Trondheim included a visit to Nidaros Cathederal, Norway ’s biggest Gothic-style medieval church, which is considered most beautiful church in entire country. www.visit-trondheim.com

Bodo sightseeing included a visit to Saltstrumen, the world’s strongest tidal current. www.visitbodo.com

Tromso city tour included Polaria Arctic Experience center, an interactive museum and Tronso museum. www.destinasjontromso.no

The North Cape bus excursion from Honningsvag through reindeer-filled Arctic landscape to the north-most point in Europe brought us to a small Sami camp where we stopped for a photo op. www.northcape.no

On the ship, there was an initiation ceremony to receive your certificate of the Arctic Circle, indicating you crossed the Arctic Circle. You had to either sing a song or have an ice cube put down your back by a costumed “King Neptune,” a ship’s officer in a grotesque rubber mask, aided by the Captain. I chose to sing “You are my Sunshine.” That’s about all the entertainment we had on this cruise.

No cruise-ship airs await on the Ms Nordnorge, but stunning sights along the way will make you forget there’s no casino, entertainment or shopping mall onboard.

Instead your entertainment is breathtaking scenery!

For brochure information: 800-582-0836   Reservations and Info: 212-319-1300   800-323-7436   www.norwegiancoastalvoyage.us

From Kirkenes, we flew to Oslo, where we enjoyed some sightseeing before flying back to the U.S.A.

OSLO

Oslo is the capital of Norway and offers a pass which gives free admission to museums, sights and public transportation.  It is available at tourist centers. www.visitoslo.com

Oslo is a small, modern city of great character, but without the grandeur of many larger European capitals. Its spacious suburbs, forests and parks are all within sight and sound of the sea and give the city great vistas.  The capital has outstanding art galleries and maritime museums.

Outstanding among attractions: Fram Museum has the preserved Arctic vessel Fram, with a bow like a battering ram and hull as solid as a castle wall built in 1892, which was used by Norwegian explorers in polar expeditions. www.fram.mueum.no

The Kon-Tiki Museum has the vessel from Thor Heyerdahl's expedition on display and the original Kon-Tiki’s balsa-wood raft and papyrus boat Ra II. www.kon-tikt.no

The Viking Ship Museum exhibit has the best preserved Viking ships in the world. The ships were used 1,100 years ago to serve as vessels for the royal owners. www.khm.uio.no

The Sculpture Park and Museum Vigeland covers an area of 80 acres, which is open 24/7 year-round. The park contains 192 sculptures and more than 600 figures, all modeled in full size by Gustav Vigeland .

CONCLUSION

Norway fulfilled my aesthetic enthusiasm for glorious breathtaking scenery coupled with Viking culture and history.

Definition of Fjord:  Fjords are found in locations where current or past glaciations extended below current sea level. A fjord is formed when a glacier retreats, after carving its typical U-shaped valley, and the sea fills the resulting valley floor. This forms a narrow, step sided inlet (sometimes deeper than 1300m) connected to the sea. Fjords are some of the most dramatic landscape features on earth.

A cruise on the fjords is best way to experience their incredible beauty.

IF YOU GO

Transportation: SAS Scandinavian Airlines  800-221-2350  www.scandinavian.net

Norway information: www.visitnorway.com/us

Norwegian Coastal Voyage Information:  800-666-2374   Reservations and information:  800-323-7437   212-319-1300   www.norwegiancoastalvoyage.us 

Hotel accommodations:

Solstrand Hotel and Spa   www.solstrand.com   In outskirts of Bergen, our first overnight as we went on sightseeing tours near Bergen. What a magnificent hotel, where we also had a delightful dinner experience.

 

Ullensvang Fjord Hotel www.hotel-ullensvang.no

Neptune Hotel was centrally located in Bergen within walking distance of most attractions   www.neptunehotell.no

Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania in Oslo was in heart of the city and convenient to most attractions www.choice.no

 


The United Nations in November 2006 ranked Norway as the world’s best nation to live in for the sixth consecutive year. The oil-rich country topped the U.N. Development Program’s human-development index, based on such things as life expectancy, education and income. Norwegians earn 40 times more than the lowest ranking country, live almost twice as long and have a literacy rate that is nearly five times higher.