Norway in a Nutshell

09:54 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

When people come into town, in addition to showing them around London (or Istanbul in times past), they usually have a desire to visit somewhere else in Europe.  Last year, we visited places around Turkey, Russia, Italy and Romania with people who came to visit.

This year, with Paul's parents & grandmother in town, we made a visit to Norway. Paul's parents lived there for a couple years and Paul has made a couple of visits, making me the only first time visitor.

We stayed in Bergen with some of family friends of the Tarts, and hit the ground running for sightseeing once we landed.

View of the beautiful buildings from the harbor

Our first stop was food, where all the seafood eaters enjoyed salmon open sandwiches (a bit like Copenhagen's). Immediately after lunch, we visited Rosenkrantz Tower where I probably walked off a good portion of my lunch, climbing up the 5 flights of stairs to the top. The tower was originally built in the late 13th century, but modified in the 16th century to be what we see today. The rooms leading up to the top weren't much of a sight to see, but there is a portion at the top with information on the tower & area, but the real attraction are the views. From the roof, you can see clear across the port, and probably even further on a sunny day.

Top of the tower with the harbor behind us

In the same complex as Rosenkrantz is Haakon Hall. This was the largest royal palace in the 13th century when Bergen was Norway's capital. During WWII, a German ship docked near the hall accidentally exploded, destroying the hall as well. It has since been re-built and visitors can take in the beautiful and simple hall during a visit.

The next day was our first true view of the fjords. We took a 3 hour boat ride out to Kinn to see a play in which some friends children & grandchildren were participating in. The play is called Kinnaspelet and while it was all in Norweigan, our friends were kind enough to give us an overview of what was going on. Basically, it is about the Protestant Reformation by the Danish king, with the locals trying to convince the king they can stay a part of Norway and their current faith. There was singing, fighting, even some smoke, and I was able to get the gist of it.

Kinn - the weather ended up beautiful

Some of the actors from the Kinnaspelet, with the split
mountain (Kinnaklova) in the background

 On Sunday, we went out to the fjords again. I have come to find that it is basically impossible to avoid the fjords in Norway. There are so many fjords diving up the land, with bridges and tunnels being build over the last few decades to help ease commuting around the country. Our boat took a similar path as Kinn to start, but as we got north, we turned into the Sogne Fjord. This is the largest and deepest fjord in Norway, and at the end, near Flåm, parts of the fjord are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Us and Turid on the Sogne Fjord Cruise
Our journey started off a bit rainy, unfortunately, but as we neard Flåm, the skies cleared up and we were able to take in the breathtaking scenery. From the tall cliffs on either side, with greenery dotting them on the way up, to the water, to the waterfalls which sprouted out from the top and were still carrying plenty of water from the melting snow.

When we finally got to Flåm, we had a picnic lunch with bread, cheeses, chicken and my new favorite raspberry jam, before we grabbed a train to Myrdal and more scenery.

The train to Myrdal was fashioned after old trains, and while it wasn't particularly fast, you got great views of the valleys and rivers below you. As it was the summer, the train makes a stop at Kjosfossen waterfall for the chance to take a picture and perhaps glimpse the siren running around the ruins nearby.

Monday was our last day in Bergen, we checked out a few sites, including Edvard Grieg's house, the funicular to views over the city and a church where Paul's ancestors were buried. Paul's great great grandparents came from Norway in the 1800's from Bergen, so it was very special to go back to his family's roots.

With so many people to visit in Norway, and so many things to see, I'm sure we will find ourselves back again soon!

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