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9/12 Two weeks in Scandinavia

After we visited Mom, we headed off to Scandinavia to visit some friends and see a few new cities.  Miraculously, the flight from DC to Munich to Copenhagen to Bergen went flawlessly and our luggage even showed up at the end in Bergen, Norway, second largest city in the country. Bergen is a nice city right on the water and on every Scandinavian Cruise itinerary, we think.

Panorama of Bergen from the castle at the top of the hill.

We made Bergen the starting point for an all-day excursion “Norway in a Nutshell” – gorgeous scenery on a rail, bus, boat, and the steepest railway in the world trip.  Yes, Dave, we rode the Flam Railroad and found a Norwegian brewery along the way.

This was the view from the bus on the road from Voss to Gudvangen.

I took the picture from the bus. Yes, the road was really 18%  grade  Needless to say, the scenery was spectacular.

The next few pictures are taken when we rode a boat for 2 hours on the Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord between Gudvangen and Flamm. No pictures can do the scenery justice. Spectacular doesn’t come close to doing it justice.

This was some scenery from the train between Myrdal and Bergen after we rode the Flam RR.

After 4 days in Bergen, we headed via train to Tonsberg, Norway (Oldest city in Norway) for a weekend with Per and Lise. We met them on the Pacific cruise earlier in the year and they were kind enough to show us Tonsberg , feed us EXTREMELY well, and take us on a daylong boat ride along the Norwegian coast. Yes, the sun was out for the entire weekend.  If you’ve heard rumors about Norway being expensive, you heard right! Just bring your CC and vow not to drink much (or any) beer or wine.

Per and Lise swear they’ll come to FC next Fall so we’re taking suggestions for uniquely Colorado things to do – Bruce’s Bar???

Strawberry Cheesecake

Lise made this cheesecake from scratch. It was beautiful and tasted even better.

Stockholm was our next destination, this time via plane.  Another 4 days of sunshine and a visit to the Vasa Museum was the highlight of the week.  We enjoyed finding out about life in the 1600’s aboard a boat but the story of how the ship was raised and preserved was even more fascinating.  Stockholm looked affordable after Norway.  We stayed in an AirBnb and bought food at the little Thai food cart down the street.  It was yummy and only cost about $8.50 per meal.

Cans of Fat Tire beer

Made in Ft. Collins! Found in Stockholm at the liquor store in the middle of the city.

Boat from 1628 in Vasa Museum

This boat sank in 1628 on its maiden voyage of 1500 meters. It was recovered in about 1970 and preserved. Great museum!

In Stockholm, besides the Hard Rock, we also went to a cash free coffee shop.  Payment is only done with a card. We saw more cards used in Scandinavia that we saw cash exchanged.

When we visited the Seychelles last November, we met Noora and Juhis from Helsinki, Finland, on a trek from hell across an island.  They invited us to come for the weekend in Helsinki. As one friend said, “Never invite Susan and Mark unless you mean it because they WILL show up!”  We did show up and had a marvelous weekend with them and Lilly, the poodle.

In Helsinki yoghurt is sold in what looks like American milk cartons. This makes it easy to store in the fridge.

shelf full of wine in a box

Box wine is very popular in both Helsinki and Stockholm. This was the selection in one Helsinki wine store.

We had dinner in Helsinki at a Lapland restaurant and ate Rudolph. We told one niece that Christmas is cancelled this year since we ate Santa’s deer.

Gin and grapefruit juice long drink in a can

Gin and grapefruit Long drink was created in Helsinki for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. We want to make one with ice and fresh grapefruit juice next summer.

We saw lots of houses in Helsinki with these useful boot brushes in front of them.

Observations about Scandinavia …

  • Norway is expensive!
  • Norway, Sweden and Finland have a monopoly of wine, spirits and strong beer. You can only buy them at state monopoly shops. The name of the shops has what looks like “monopoly” in it.
  • Finland is WAY less expensive than Norway.
  • Many (most?) people in Norway, Sweden, and Finland speak English as well as, if not better than, our fellow Americans. We had a lovely discussion with a 14-year-old Norwegian girl in English and she wasn’t at all shy about speaking to us.
  • I cannot pronounce Norwegian, Swedish, nor Finnish language correctly… but I make people laugh when I try!