Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House, or Operahuset, is situated in the Bjørvika neighborhood of central Oslo, at the heart of the Oslofjord. Its construction was financed from the budget, it is managed by the Norwegian government. The Opera House is the largest cultural building constructed in Norway since Nidaros Cathedral was completed circa 1300. 

Oslo Opera House

HISTORY 

The idea to build a national opera House in Oslo first appeared in the end of the 19th century. However only in 1999, after the national-level debates, the Norwegian government decided upon the location of the future theater – the Bjørvika peninsula in the center of the capital next to the Central Station and the sea port. A design competition received more than 200 projects by the architects from all over the world. The winner was the Norwegian company Snøhetta that had become famous ten years ago for its project of the New Library in Alexandria. 

CONSTRUCTION 

The construction took four years – from 2003 until 2007 – and was accompanied by the archeologists' works. As the location of the future theater was previously the sea bottom, it was highly probable to find there parts of sunken vessels. The archeological excavations were carried out by the experts from the Norway Maritime Museum. The budget of the construction estimated around 300 mln. Norwegian crones, equalling one fifteenth of the whole Norwegian year budget. The great opening on April 12th 2008 was attended by King Harald, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and President Tarja Halonen of Finland. 


In 2008, the Opera House won the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona. The jury noted its outstanding architecture as well as its special popularity among residents of Oslo and tourists. In 2009, the theater was awarded European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. 

ARCHITECTURE 

Snøhetta architects' idea was to build an ultramodern theater building harmonizing with the city landscape, rocks of Oslofjord and the busy sea port, linking the historical center to the West of Bjørvika and modern quarters to the East. 

Oslo Opera House

The building stands on the very edge of the Oslofjord's coast, even goes down to the water. Its main feature is undoubtedly the roof. It angles to ground level, creating a large plaza that invites pedestrians to walk up and enjoy the views of Oslo. While much of the building is covered in white granite and La Facciata, a white Italian carrara marble, the stage tower is clad in white aluminum, in a design by Løvaas & Wagle that evokes old weaving patterns. 

INTERIORS 

The main auditorium of 1364 seats has a classical horseshoe shape providing high acoustic quality. Smoothly curving walls of the auditorium, balconies, and stairs are paneled with oak. Warm oak contrasts with cold marble of the external surfaces. 

Oslo Opera House

The main auditorium is illuminated by an oval chandelier containing 5,800 handmade crystals. With the diameter of 7 meters and the mass of 8.5 tons, the chandelier is the biggest in Norway. Seats include monitors for the electronic libretto system, allowing audiences to follow opera libretti in Norwegian and English in addition to the original language. 

Oslo Opera House

The electricity is partly provided by the solar panels with a total area of 300 square meters situated on the southern (back) façade of the building. 


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Friday, 27 May 2016

Unknown Norway and Its Small Oddities

Close your eyes and imagine a small kingdom among the seas. Magnificent fjords, cold winds and landscapes frozen in time. This fairy-tale is real and is called Norway. 

Unknown Norway and Its Small Oddities

Norway is home of Scandinavian gods, curved fjords and dominating mountains, crystal rivers and mighty waterfalls, ancient legends and rich history, high welfare level and industrial fishery. However, Norway is also famous for its small oddities. 

One of the Norway's landmarks are grass roofs. Many Norwegians prefer to cover their roofs not with regular slate or tiles but with turf and green grass. It keeps houses warm and protects them from humidity during cold northern winters. And grass roots harmonize with the landscape. 

Unknown Norway and Its Small Oddities

Small oddities start from the childhood. For example, in kindergartens children eat hot food only once a week – on Fridays. All other time they have sandwiches and biscuits. 

At school, children learn two official written standards for the Norwegian language – Nynorsk and Bokmål. On the other hand, they have a colossal graduation party at the end, that lasts for 17 days – from May 1st until May 17th! The preparation starts already in the Fall.

Unknown Norway and Its Small Oddities

Graduates choose their suits; usually these are jumpsuits of various colors. By the way, red jumpsuits are for future economists, blue – for those who apply for liberal arts, black – for future engineers, and white – for sportsmen. During these 17 days the graduates walk the streets and execute as many as possible special tasks, like grabbling through the town center, dancing, running etc. 

Unknown Norway and Its Small Oddities

Another cute oddity is the Norwegian traditional sweater decorated with small black dots. The Norwegians call these sweaters lusekofte – "flea jacket". The lusekofte dates from the 19th century. After it was discovered by tourists in the 1920s, it became very popular and today they are made in are many different patterns and colors. The lusekofte is a casual attire, traditionally mostly worn by men. 


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Monday, 23 May 2016

Ode to Norway

A brief surge into just three of multiple dimensions of Norway: cuisine, traditions and… tigers! 

Ode to Norway
 
 NOT A FRENCH CUISINE 

Norway is a sea state, and naturally, fish is a major dish in the country. Fishing is one of the eldest ways of survival for the Norwegians. The recipes of fish are numerous. For example, there is a wonderful soup of various kinds of fish. The first broth is poured out, and the dish itself is made on the second one. Add leek, carrot, basil and cream – and the result will be amazing! 

Ode to Norway

Cod is a traditional king of fish in Norway. Bake it in the oven, or boil it with salt, pepper and bay leaf. On the northern coast of Norway many fish farms breed cod and salmon. 

Do not miss famous lutefisk, it is made of trout and lye. The process is quite complicated, and households do not use it practically at all. 

Curiously enough, local men mostly refuse to consider fish "real" food. That is why meat cuisine is various and developed in Norway as well. The Norwegians prefer beef. During the hunting season, they cook deer in the oven or make beef stroganoff of it. 

Ode to Norway

Whale meat is popular in Norway as well, but do not rush to taste it – it smells seaweed, some people may dislike it. If you still insist on trying it, whale works best as a starter, like carpaccio of smoke-dried or smoke-cured meat. 

Overall, the Norwegian cuisine is not as sophisticated as, for example, the French, but it is natural at maximum. 

TRADITIONAL APPROACH 

Traditions play a very important role for the Norwegians. For example, they put on traditional costumes for important family holidays. Usually such costume, or bunad, is a gift for the Rite of Confirmation that Lutheran Norwegian teenagers undergo at the age of 15 or 16. 

Ode to Norway

Confirmation is considered an important event in life, second after the wedding. There is a big family fest with guests and presents. Sometimes, the costume for Confirmation is worn for the wedding. With its color, it is easy to define the native region of a bride: blue shade means North, red dresses come from the South, and black is for the Oslo region. National suit is hand-made and costs from 3000 euros. 

TIGERS IN THE CITY! 

Another tradition is quite new and is typical for Oslo. In the end of the 19th century, a poet and writer Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson (who received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature) wrote a poem about a fight between a horse and a tiger. According to some critics, tiger is an allegory of the town while horse symbolizes the village. Since then sculptures of tigers started to appear virtually everywhere. 

Ode to Norway

Today, the most famous tiger stands next to the Central Station. The sculpture was created by Elena Engelsen for the 1000th anniversary of the city that was celebrated in 2000. 


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Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Castle of King Sverre and the Trøndelag Folk Museum

The town of Nidaros that is called Trondheim today was the center of the gathering of Norwegian lands into the single country and for a long time was its capital. It became home of the royal dynasty founded by king Sverre Sigurdsson and a stone castle was built there. 

The Castle of King Sverre and the Trøndelag Folk Museum

Sverre was born and brought up on the Faroe Islands and intended to become a priest. From his mother he found out about his royal descent and went to the mainland to fight for his right to the Norwegian throne. He met a group outlaws called Birkebeiners and soon became their leader. Initially, the Birkebeiners had been reduced to a ragtag army of brigands and vagabonds with no more than 70 men. Many regard Sverre's achievement of forging them into a force of skilled and professional soldiers as proof of his leadership qualities. The Birkebeiners played a crucial role on Sverre's way to power. 

Sverre Sigurdsson usurped the throne with violence. He was especially famous for his conflicts with the Catholic Church. Sverre wanted to see priests as subjects of the king while the Pope insisted that priests should obey to archbishops. 

The Castle of King Sverre and the Trøndelag Folk Museum

The king built his castle on a hill to the West of Nidaros. Under severe conditions of the civil war, it should have been a real fortress to be able to survive numerous attacks. The construction finished in 1183. 

After the death of king Sverre in 1202, two generations continued to live in the castle, but the rebels managed to destroy it several times. For a long time only ruins reminded about the former glory, until in 1913 it was decided to found a national folk museum in the place of the former royal castle – Trøndelag Folk Museum

The Castle of King Sverre and the Trøndelag Folk Museum

Today Sverresborg Trøndelag Folk Museum is the third largest cultural history museum in Norway. Apart from artifacts and photos, it exhibits historical buildings from the Trøndelag region. Many of them were brought to the museum from far away. The eldest building is the Haltdalen stave church built in 1170. However, the majority of the buildings date back from 18th-19th centuries.


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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Holiday in Norway: Tips for Travelers

Random tips that are useful to know before you go to Norway. 

Holiday in Norway: Tips for Travelers

 NATIONAL TRAITS 

Among national traits, we can highlight a sort of lentitude of the Norwegians, their imperturbation, and ability to react calmly, without raising the voice, even in difficult situations. Many people emphasize the honesty of the locals, their passion for skiing and traveling. The Norwegian generally have a good sense of humour and are quick to react. And they are very respectful to the elderly. 

ENTERTAINMENT 

Holiday in Norway: Tips for Travelers

Nightclubs, discos and other spots are strictly divided from the point of view of age, offered alcohol drinks and open time. Do not forget to take your ID! 

ALCOHOL 

Vines and strong alcoholic beverages are sold in special state-chain shops that work by a special schedule. Many village communities do not sell alcohol at all (except for beer). It is forbidden to sell strong alcohol on Sundays and holidays, before 1 am and after midnight on workdays. However, vine and beer can be sold daily. 

LAWS 

You may freely travel around the country, still some protected territories have limited access or even may be closed in specific times of year. In the rural areas, use special tracks to avoid disturbing flora and fauna. A tent should be set up at least 150 meters from the residential buildings. 

Holiday in Norway: Tips for Travelers

From April 15th until September 15th, you should make a fire only in specially provided places. After your stay, collect all the garbage and throw it away into a special container. 

SMOKING 

Smoking is prohibited in public transport and in the majority of public buildings, offices etc. Bars and restaurants have special zones for smokers, and up to 50 per cent of hotel rooms are for non-smokers, mind it when booking your hotel. Cigarettes are sold to people older 18 years and are quite expensive. 

TIP 

Holiday in Norway: Tips for Travelers

Tip is usually included in the bill in restaurants and hotels, but it is ok to leave 5-10 crones. When you pay for the taxi, you may round up the sum or leave 5-10 crones as well. 

TRADITIONS 

Traditions are very important in the Norwegian society. The royal family is highly respected, and ironic commentaries towards the monarch are simply inacceptable. The Norwegians do not hug when they see each other, but shake hands. When they say goodbye, they may pat each other on the back. 

ELECTRICITY 

The voltage is 220 V., 50-60 Hz. Sockets are standard European. 

TOWNS 

Norway features small towns with little population, situated quite far away from each other. That is why a car or a bus are the best way to discover the country. 

Holiday in Norway: Tips for Travelers

Although the majority of sights are located close to the towns or villages, they usually do not have comfortable driveways, as the locals prefer to interfere the natural landscapes as little as possible. 


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Saturday, 14 May 2016

Øvre Anarjohka National Park: the Untouched Nature

Øvre Anarjohka National Park is a far away and untouched part of the great Finnmarksvidda Plateau, Finnmark. The Park was opened in 1976 and covers 1409 square km. The landscapes include valley with birch forests, piny sandy glades, vast moors and multiple lakes. 

Øvre Anarjohka National Park, Finnmark, Norway

The National Park does not offer much for active leisure, still there are some opportunities for tourism and fishing – just do not forget about a license. Local rivers are abundant with fish, and you can hunt there white grouse, hare, fox and mink. 

The western part of the Park is located higher than the eastern, that is why its landscape is more mountainous and rocky, here you will find more heather and moors. Many moors of Øvre Anarjohka are several km wide and are real heavy-goings. 

National Park,Norway

The Park contains 700 big and small water reservoirs, many rivers start their flow from the Plateau. 

The climate of Øvre Anarjohka is typical continental with dry summers and cold winters. 

FLORA 

Because of the cold climate pines grow there slowly, trees are mostly bushy, with many boughs. Fir is particularly rare and is considered vulnerable. Birches are bushy and curved. The ground is covered with lichen, that makes the region an extremely important food source for deer in winter. 

Øvre Anarjohka National Park

In the moors that cover the majority of the Park's territory, you may find ling and cotton grass, bayberries and osieries. 

Along rivers and streams there are the plants that need less nutrition, like northern willow, downy willow, globeflower, pedicularis, and wood geranium. 

Øvre Anarjohka National Park

In the National Park you will find plenty of Siberian species of plants, like clump speedwell, Siberian lettuce, meadow rue, and Jacob's ladder. 

FAUNA 

In Øvre Anarjohka you will find many birds, including rare Eastern species. In the pine forest you may see redstart, willow tit, and Siberian tit. The National Park is the home for three-toed woodpecker and Siberian jay, as well as roughleg, golden eagle, and gyrfalcon. The moors are densely populated with wood sandpiper, redshank, whimbrel, bar-tailed godwit, and common snipe. 

Øvre Anarjohka National Park

Along the riverbanks, you may notice dipper, Temminck's stint, and plover. If you are lucky, you will see black-throated loon, green-winged teal, common goldeneye, long-tailed duck, scoter, or whooper swan gracefully wallowing on the waves. The Park is home to passerines that are rare in other parts of Norway. You may find rock ptarmigan and white grouse, however wood grouse is quite rare as well. 

Øvre Anarjohka National Park

The largest mammals of Øvre Anarjohka are moose who often migrate in winter beyond the Park's boundaries in timberland. From November until April, the territory becomes the domain of wild deer. Bears' areal is within the National Park, and wolverine is a rare guest here. 

Øvre Anarjohka, Norway

The water reservoirs of the park are full of fish. The typical species are salmon, trout, loach, three-spined stickleback, grayling, cisco, pickerel, river perch, burbot, and minnow. 


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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

7 Things to Do in Oslo

You found yourself in Oslo. Here is the list of what to do in the city to enjoy it to the fullest!. 

Oslo, Norway

1. Wake up early on Saturday and get by 10 am to a flea market next to the stadium (Dalsbergstien, 19). Search in the heaps of old things, find a vintage suitcase, a plastic lamp from the 60ies and a trolley, but buy a couple of badges – three crones each.

2. Get on the rapid train going to the north to a quiet Saint Hansaugen quarter, look through the windows at pedestrians. Get off at Damstredet and take a walk among the buildings dating from the 18th century to feel like you are in good old Christiania – it was Oslo's name before 1924. 

Oslo, Norway

3. Rise up Holmenkollen. Pop into the Ski Museum and then to the viewpoint – to see Oslo as a skier sees it before jumping into the abyss. 

4. Walk on the roof. Oslo is a unique place where you can walk on the roof of the Opera House! The building is considered one of the most beautiful in the capital. Thanks to its specific design, it seems that it stands in the water. The Opera offers an amazing view to the bay. Many locals like to hang out on the roof. The place is worth visiting even if you are not a fan of opera. 

Oslo, Norway

5. Pop into the music shop Platekompaniet just for a couple of minutes and stay there for the whole hour listening in headphones the full range of CDs – from Scandinavian electronic to jazz. Be confused by the attention of sellers bringing you more CDs to listen to, and by the sound at least of a dozen of songs at once – and buy definitely not what you initially planned, like a CD of Kaizers Orchestra – a rock band known only in Norway. 

6. In the evening, take a walk along the Aker Brygge. Buy a sandwich with the most fresh fish you have ever eaten, sit on the boardwalk next to the water and watch impudent sea-gulls nipping shrimps from stalls. 

Oslo, Norway

7. When it gets dark, rise in the lift to the last floor of Radisson SAS Plaza and, having ordered a cocktail in the bar, watch how thousands of lights of Oslo reflect in the waters of Oslofjord. 


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Sunday, 8 May 2016

From North to South in 7 Days: Tromsø – Bergen by Motorhome

The flying distance from Tromsø to Bergen is 1206 km. The driving distance is more than 1800 km. No matter how daunting, but it was my dream to drive this route. And it was totally worth it! It was a unique experience with exceptional sceneries in places. 

Tromsø by night

This time we – me and my wife – completely skipped Oslo, however, we have been there already. We would love to visit it again, but – alas – other parts of the country awaited us! 

Initially we planned to rent a car, but when calculated costs of hostels/camps and meals, my wife suggested to rent a motorhome. Small motorhome for two was a great option, we always head a roof over heads, a kitchen, and nice beds. We dined out a couple of times, and usually we just bought some meat and vegetables – and cooked ourselves. Hot tea was always at hand. 

Motorhome Norway

I can say that motorhome is an optimal variant for Norway. Most of the roads there have stops for motorhomes with tables and even toilets. Almost every gas station offers fresh water. If it is of interest, we booked a motorhome from Tromsø to Bergen at Motorhome Norway. The roads (mainly E6, E39, E8) up to Bergen were in good condition. 

DAY 1 

We arrived in a small airport in Tromsø, collected our luggage and found our transfer to the rental's office. There we got our motorhome, received all instructions and started our journey

First, we drove to the town, parked and looked around. Tromsø is called Norway's gateway to the Arctic – and for a reason. We saw the port from which famous explorers have set forth to new discoveries. Popped in to a café to have a cup of coffee and some snack. Took the cable car to Fjellheisen, it raised us at the height of 420 meters above the sea level. The view was fantastic! We saw the Arctic Cathedral, but did not have time to get in. 

The Arctic Cathedral, Tromsø

We bought some food and set for a journey. Our next destination was Narvik. We took Grønnegata and Rv862 to reach E8, and via E8 got to our goal in around 4 hours. 

Here we found a nice camping, parked and prepared our first Norwegian dinner – my wife fried some vegetables, and I grilled some meat. Disposable grill is a very convenient thing when you travel! It was still possible to walk around, but we were so tired that went to bed early. 

DAY 2 

That we planned to get from Narvik to Mo I Rana. 

We took E10, and started. We passed surprisingly quite a lot of tunnels. Having travelled around Germany by train we were used to them, so, no claustrophobia. We took our first Bognes-Skaberget ferry as well. We ate in the afternoon at the open nature in a picturesque place nearby Fauske. Comparatively soon we arrived in Bodø

The Nordland Cathedral

The major attraction in Bodø is the famous Saltstraumen, one of the most powerful in the world. The whirlwind was really impressive. We saw the Nordland Cathedral as well. 

From Bodø we drove about 150 km to Polarsirkelsenteret – how could we miss the Arctic Circle Center?! The Centre is situated roughly 680 meters above sea level. We really liked its weird architecture. Moreover, the sun shone, and for the first time we were able to leave our coats in the motorhome and walk in T-shirts. It was possible to get certificates that we crossed the Arctic Circle, but we considered it a bit out of place. 

The Arctic Circle Center, Norway

We had a nice lunch under the sun (though the wind started to blow) and then drove directly to Mo i Rana where we parked for a night. During our nice dinner with a disposable grill, 

DAY 3 

Today we woke up early – we had to drive a lot, from Mo i Rana to Trondheim. Obviously, most of the day we spent on the highway, looking at the scenery through the windows, going the E6. The way from Mo i Rana was impressive with its towering mountains, stark glaciers, and rugged coastline. 

Mo i Rana, Norway

We drove, passed many tunnels again. It was so weird to realize that it was only our third day in Norway. We plunged into this new life determined by the road and the weather, full of new problems like where to eat, where to get fresh water, where to empty the loo. All our usual problems at work or with traffic jams, house committees seemed so trivial and far away. 

We dined on the coast of a beautiful lake. It was again sunny and windy. By the evening, we arrived in Trondheim and parked. 

DAY 4 

As planned, we spent the whole day in Trondheim. First, we visited Scandinavia's grandest cathedral, Nidaros Domkirke, dating from the 11th century. Visited the wooden building of the Royal Residence. Walked in an open-air Trøndelag Folk Museum. 

Trondheim, Norway

We dined out that day at a very nice Baklandet Skydsstation. The ambience was really cozy, it felt more like being invited to the Norwegian friends than sitting in a public catering. We tasted deer and local beer. My wife tried its flagship cocoa as a dessert. Everything was fine. To my opinion, the prices were a bit too high, but the evening was definitely worth it. 

DAY 5 

Our plan for that day: Trondheim – Kristansund – Bud – Ålesund

Driving on the Atlantic road has never been as pleasant. Blue sky, blinding sun, breathtaking landscapes, the ocean, and my wife screaming happily that she saw a whale! 

We drove in Kristansund and walked a bit, even popped in in a café to have some coffee and pastry. 

Kristansund, Norway

Our next stop was Bud and its picturesque fishing village. We dined, made some photos and continued our way to Ålesund. 

And finally, here it is. The town burned down in the beginning the 20th century and was rebuilt in an art nouveau style. Curiously enough, it is located on the archipelago, with buildings standing on several islands. 

Ålesund, Norway

We walked in the center, saw Dronning Sonjasplass and the County hall. Walked along the pedestrian street Kongensgt. Bought some fish steaks and cooked them for dinner. It was delicious! 

DAY 6 

Ålesund – Bergen We drove to Geiranger. 

Finally, we reached the country of fjords! Majestic Geirangerfjord flew slowly between high mountain ridges. We got to the famous viewpoint Dalsnibba. We could see the whole Geirangerfjord from there! However, there were already tour buses, and we had to wait in a queue. 

Dalsnibba, Geirangerfjorden

We passed through Styrn and Loen. Having the fjord on our right practically all the way was amazing! From Olden we went to the Nordfjord and then through Førde via Rv615 until Lavik where we crossed Sognefjord on a ferry and arrived in Oppedal. 

Geiranger, ferry, Norway

The weather finally spoiled, it was cloudy and rainy. Still, it did not prevent us from admiring the landscapes. Sognefjord was fantastic! Blue waters reflected steep ridges ad grey skies. It was magnificent! 

In just a couple of hours we arrived in Bergen. 

DAY 7 

We drank morning tea and drove to return our motorhome that became a real "home" for us for the last week. 

Bergen, Norway

Bergen is a world-famous town with rich history and peculiar charm. Our flight was in the afternoon, so we left our bags in the baggage locker, and we walked along Bryggen, admiring the curious wooden buildings. Popped in the fish market. Ate in a café – and went to the airport. 


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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Budget Norway: Oslo-Bergen

DAY 1 

We landed in Oslo, picked up our luggage and already at 4 pm were ready to leave Oslo Airport. We took a special train – Flytoget – that shuttles between the airport and the city center every 20 minutes. It costs 50 crones per person. In 15 minutes we found ourselves in Oslo Sentralstasjon, from where it was easy to get practically everywhere. 

Royal Palace, Oslo, Norway

We walked a bit around Oslo, started with the Royal Palace, went down Karl Johans Gate street with shops, restaurants, cafes and other amusements. To the right of the Palace there is Akker brygge, the most expensive part of the city. We bought ice-cream, sat on the stairs of the quay and looked at Oslofjord and Akershus Fortress

Town Hall, Oslo, Norway

Next to the Central Station you will find a glass tower of Radisson SAS and Oslo Spektrum concert hall. The former is worth visiting in the evening, it offers fantastic views on Oslofjord. 

DAY 2 

We took bus 30 to Bygdøy, the museum island. It went from Central Station and National Theatre. You can get to the island by boat from pier 3 as well. We visited Viking Museum, Folk Museum with multiple small houses, saw a church that dated back to the 12th century. We were especially impressed by Fram that exhibits authentic papyrus boat Ra, basalt float Kon-Tiki and Nansen's ship Fram. 

The Fram Museum, Oslo

We had to rush as all museums closed at 4 pm, and we wanted to see Holmenkollen ski jump. We took underground train 1 to Frognerseteren and get out at Holmenkollen station. The ski jump is seen from almost every point in Oslo. 

Tip: bus tickets are valid for an hour. Train tickets are sold separately; their validity is limited as well. 

DAY 3 

Bergen, a region of fjords and mountain peaks, waited for us. You may get to Bergen by train, plane and bus. Speaking about a budget option, I recommend a special bus. Unfortunately, the website is fully in Norwegian, still it is pretty easy to understand how to order a ticket. We booked tickets to a bus that started at 10 am. The trip itself was an amazing tour through Norway. First couple of hours were picturesque, but as soon as the mountains appeared, the landscape became stunning! 

There was a half-an-hour stop at Hemsedal, one of the famous Norwegian ski-resorts. Then the bus went up to the ridge. The mountains were beautiful and covered with snow, although we travelled in the end of May. After that the bus went down to a green valley with flowers and flourishing apple-trees. 

Norway, Borgund

The bus passed more than 35 tunnels, including Lærdal

Closer to Bergen, the bus passed lakes, mountain rivers and fjords. It was fantastic, even though the weather changed and it started to rain. It rains almost every day in Bergen, so do not forget waterproof shoes and an umbrella. At 6 pm, we arrived in Bergen. Concerning hostels, I can recommend P-hotel in Vest Torge 9. 

Bergen, Norway

We spent the whole evening walking around the town. The center was small, and easy to walk on foot. We visited the famous Hansa Bryggen, went up the funicular on the mountain and had dinner in a restaurant in the quay. The latter was not budget but definitely worth it! 

DAY 4 AND 5

At 8.40 am started our tour to the fjords. The tours are multiple, and up to the mid-July you may buy them directly in the cashier at the day of the trip. I recommend "Norge i et nøtteskall", in my opinion, it gives the fullest understanding of the beauties of Norway, its mountains and fjords. It includes the most interesting things in the Bergen area. 

As I said, the train started at 8.40 from Bergen and went up to the mountain station Myrdal. All the way was up! After Voss, we saw mountain peaks covered with snow. Myrdal is situated at the height of 867 meters above the sea level. Here starts the famous Flåmsbana. We had to wait just several minutes for a transfer train and took some photos. 

Flåmsbana, Norway

It took 20 years to build Flåmsbana, its length is 20 km, and it passes through 20 tunnels. The train stopped at famous Kjosfossen waterfall, went to the Flåm valley, passed mighty Rjoandefossen 140 meters high, passed by a Flåm church built in 1667, and stopped on the coast of Aurlandsfjorden. 

Then we boarded a boat and swam along the two fjords: Aurlandsfjorden and Nærøyfjord, arms of the famous Sognefjord. Nærøyfjord is the narrowest one, at some point, its width became just 250 meters, and there were mountain peaks more than 1800 meters high above it! 

Nærøyfjord, Norway

After the two hours' journey, we made a 45 minutes' stop at a small village of Gundvagen. Just enough to drink tea in a nearby café! 

Then we boarded the bus and went to a peak. If you have problems with heights, do not get a seat by the window: sometimes it seemed that the bus was just hanging in the air! High in the mountains we saw two waterfalls, 140 and 160 meters high, the view on Stalhjemkleva ravine was unforgettable. At the Stalhjem hotel  the bus made a 15 minutes' stop at a viewpoint. 

Stalhjem Hotel, Norway

Finally, the bus got us to Voss, and we returned to Bergen by train. The tour lasted from 8.40 until 20.35 – practically, the whole day. 

In the evening, we took a night bus that started at 11 pm and arrived in Oslo at 7 am. We had a lovely lazy day in Oslo and did some shopping. The next morning was our flight back home! 


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