Norway: May 17 – 23 2019
Hello from one of the happiest places on earth! According to the 2019 Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. (Iceland will be our only miss). Perhaps the connection is a good salary that a very high percentage of workers in these countries earn, as they belong to a labour union. In 2013 the union numbers were 88% in Iceland, 69% in Denmark, 67% in Sweden, 66% in Finland and 51% in Norway. You would have to make good money here to survive; it is very expensive, especially for Canadians – and more so than even Great Britain. We really had to watch our spending in Norway.
During our visit I read a horrible news item that algae killed an estimated 8 million salmon at Norwegian fish farms this week, wiping out more than half of this year’s expected sales growth. The algae spread rapidly around the coast of northern Norway. It sticks to the gills of the fish, suffocating them. Wild fish can swim away from the algae belt but farmed fish are trapped. Another devastation for farmed fish! This will surely effect the price of salmon around the world.
As we were flying into Bergen from Dublin, we were treated to one of the most stunning views from a plane window, EVER. A cloudless day over the towering fjords and crystal clear sapphire blue water below us, received oohhs and aahhss throughout the plane. Joe managed to get a few great shots but seeing is believing!
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and on average receives 231 days of rainfall. The city centre and northern neighbourhoods are on Byfjorden, ‘the city fjord’, and the city is surrounded by magestic mountains. Bergen is known as the ‘City of Seven Mountains’ and many of the suburbs are on islands. Bergen is marketed as the gateway city to the world-famous fjords of Norway, making it Norway’s largest – and one of Europe’s largest – cruise ship ports.
Unbeknownst to us, the day we arrived in Bergen, 17th of May, is Norway’s Constitution Day, and a national holiday. As our train from the airport made its way towards Bergen’s historic/downtown, hundreds of people, a lot of them high school aged, boarded the bus dressed in their traditional clothing. The women wore dresses depicting their home city and the young men were in suits. It was surreal to us and it was a fantastic day, watching thousands of people celebrate their national pride. We joked with people that they sure knew how to welcome Canadians to Bergen with a huge party including fireworks.
The breakfast buffet at our hotel was an amazing spread and more like a brunch. I don’t think I was the only happy person eating pickled herring for breakfast. We thought about how much my Dad would love this food – pannekakers too! The bar and restaurant on the top floor had lovely views!
The 3 hour fjord cruise we went on gave us a closer look at the spectacular fjords in the area.
The ship turned around right at a waterfall – so close you could touch it!
The funicular atop of Bergen’s Mount Floyen provided us with a panoramic view of Bergen. We never tire of red roof tops!
While we wondering around, we came across a small herd of goats and Joe made some new friends. These goats got up close and personal and then they all followed us (Joe) down a hill, single file! It was quite funny. I personally think they liked his new jacket!
We traveled by train for seven hours from Bergen to Oslo. What jaw dropping scenery! Steep sided fjords, glorious glaciers that snake down from some of Europes largest ice fields. It was like we were in the Arctic!
Drop a few houses here and these unbelievable landscapes serve as a backdrop for some impressive photos. We visually experienced all four seasons. As we climbed out of the high peaks, brilliant green forests on towering mountains followed us for a few hours. The seven hours flew by.
Oslo is the capital and most populated city in Norway. Did you know The Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony is held every year in Oslo City Hall? We didn’t either!
Oslo is experiencing some rapid growth in the downtown area as noted by construction everywhere we turned. When the white marble Oslo Opera House opened in 2008, it was an instant hit and won many awards. We climbed up, over and around on it.
However, the row of high rises and skyscrapers to follow as part of this regeneration project, sparked a petition where 79% of the population was against it. Still it went forward. BBC describe it as the country’s “biggest and most controversial makeover since the 17th century”. It’s a case of ‘build it and they (tourists and international companies) will come’. Certainly didn’t look like the Oslo we remembered.
Some old town and area pics
We stalked the King and Queen of Norway as they drove to an event 2 minutes down the hill. Lol
We stayed in an Airbnb in Oslo, in a multicultural area with plenty of restaurants and, oh joy, a washer. Nice hotel break and cool to hang out in a residential area.
The first morning hiked up to Ekebergparken (huffing and puffing) and found some interesting statues and sculptures.
We visited Frogner Park,the world’s largest sculpture park. andonce we arrived here, we clearly remembered it from our trip 30 years ago. The Monolith Plateau is a platform made of steps leading to the Monolith totem itself. Surrounding the Monolith are 36 figure groups representing a “circle of life”.
Painter Edvard Munch spent his life in the Oslo area and is also the subject of many souvenirs. The famous ‘Scream’ painting is in the Munch Museum.
Trolls are an important part of Norse mythology, and souvenir stores are filled with them in all shapes and sizes. Trolls are not friendly to humans, and are depicted as stupid and dangerous. The best way get rid of trolls is to ring church bells; they’ll go crazy and run away. Lightning kills them and they turn to stone when exposed sunlight. Now I am prepared for an encounter as our train is climbing through the mountains as I type, and that is where the trolls are hiding. ; )
We are on a 4 hour train now to Gothenburg, Sweden. Knew we were near the border when a police dog and 2 officers walked through the car, questioning only one passenger. See you in soon in Sweden!