Bergen is located on the western coast of Norway at 60º 23′ N – the same as the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. The city is centered on the mainland seaside surrounded by mountains, but includes several islands as well. Established before 1070 and was the capital of Norway from the early 1300s, but given over to Oslo a century later. However, it remained the most populated city until the 1830s, when Oslo surpassed. Current population is 278, 121.
Bergen has an oceanic climate with winter temps at 40 (high) and 32 (low) and summer temps 69 (high) and 56 (low). Definitely rainy, averaging 202 days of rain with annual accumulation of 89 inches. Compare annual sunshine hours of Kansas City of 2810 to Bergen’s 1187.
Our first tour was decidedly the highlight. As per our custom, we try to stop in at the info center first where we found out that in a few hours an English speaking tour was to begin at the Info center from where we boarded a motorcoach and traveled to the Edvard Grieg residence and museum. Jessica knew of Edvard Grieg, because one of his pieces (Solveig’s Song) was her recital selection to earn a vocal scholarship to Central Methodist University, but neither of us knew that he was from Bergen or that he and his wife spent the last 22 years of their lives here. Included in the ticket was a 30 minute piano recital – Wow!
The flight on SAS from Stockholm to Helsinki involved a smaller jet and would allow carry on luggage weighing only 8 kg (18 lbs)! Mine was slightly over, so i put my computer in a handbag and transferred a few items (toiletries) to Jessica’s bag and checked it at a cost of about $50!
Helsinki, the capital of Finland is a city still trying to find its own identity after nearly 100 years of independence. Currently, the main parts are under massive renovation and updating in preparation for 2017 Finland centennial of independence as well as celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door. With Finlanders identifying as 73% Lutheran this is certainly appropriate. Having been under Russian rule for several years, the architecture and ‘feel’ of the city still has that look and feel. Their history, however, reveals a tug of war between Russia and Sweden, and occasionally the Danes jumped in.
More recent history tidbits include:
From 1906 Finnish women were also allowed to vote. Finland was the first European country and the third in the world, after New Zealand and Australia to allow women to vote in national elections. Furthermore in 1907 Finnish women became the first in the world to win seats in a national parliament.
Before the Second World War the main occupation in Finland was agriculture. Since 1945 metalworking, engineering and electronics industries have grown but Finland is still less industrialized than the other Scandinavian countries. The main resource of Finland is timber.
In 1995 Finland joined the EU. In 1999 Finland joined the Euro. Finland suffered badly in the recession of 2009 but eventually recovered.
Meanwhile in 2000 Tarja Halonen was elected the first woman President of Finland. In the same year Helsinki celebrated its 450th anniversary. Today the population of Finland is 5.4 million.
Finland is known for its number of lakes and lays very flat.
What a lovely city – third largest in Norway and the surrounding area known as the breadbasket of the country since most of the food crops are produced around this area. Not counting coffee of course, though Norway is the second largest consumer of coffee!
We arrived via Kong Harald Hurtigruten ferry boat from Bergen (yeah, these are totally out of order, but just lazy) about 9am, found our Airbnb guest house just a 13 minute walk from the harbour. Got settled in, then headed for the Nidaros Cathedral, The Archbishop’s Palace Museum, The Crown Regalia, and The Armoury. We managed to arrive at such time to watch a filming of an upcoming local show, view the Crown Regalia, then attend the 25 minute English speaking tour of the Cathedral at noon, then enjoy a 25 minute organ recital played on the 1739 Wagner organ at 1pm, climbed the tower at 1:30 tour, then off for the 2pm tour of the Archbishop’s Palace. Worked out very well. We have no inside photos since they are not allowed.
After a short rest, we were ready for the evening adventure. We walked along the very popular harbour which was abuzz with bar hoppers and masses of people enjoying great food in the many restaurants. We continued on, however, to Kristiansten Fortress which was only 1.8 kilometers from our apartment. Many of the area attractions are close in to within walking distance of the harbour.
We certainly could have used at least one more day here in Trondheim. Especially with mid August being shoulder season and some of the attractions open late and/or close early. There were a couple attractions that would require grabbing the bus and going out of town that i would have liked to have included.
We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have clear skies and warm temperatures here. The high yesterday was 62 and today is forecasted 72! Alas, we are headed for the train station about 9a to catch our flight back to Oslo for another short visit.
Kristiansten Fortress – An absolute must visit – we went in the evening and stay until past sunset, but photos taken in the morning from here would yield stunning vistas of the town and harbour. History: It was built after the city fire of Trondheimin 1681 to protect the city against attack from the east. Construction was finished in 1685. It fulfilled its purpose in 1718 when Swedish forces laid siege against Trondheim. The fortress was decommissioned in 1816 by king Charles XIV John.
Fairly early we left our fine Airbnb accommodation in Copenhagen for the train station located near Tivoli Gardens. We took the SJ200 Tilting train through Malmo. Awesome – 125 mph and very posh even at our cheap rate. AFter 5 hours 15 minutes we arrived in Stockholm and walked from the train station to Lady Hamilton hotel in Gamla Stan (Old Town) of Stockholm. What a beautiful city is the old part of Stockholm.
Since there was a long line for currency exchange at the train station, we went on – ran a bit tight. But everywhere accepts Visa anyway, but it’s nice to have a bit of cash for small purchases. Saw an ad for a recital at the Royal Opera House, tried to get tickets, but it was already sold out for that evening. No more scheduled for while we were in town.
Took a canal boat tour this afternoon followed by a guided walking tour of Gamla Stan later. Ending the lovely evening by enjoying coffee and sweet at the oldest bakery in Stockholm.
Next day we hop on the public ferry to the Vasa Museum – boy had it changed since i visited 36 years ago!
A bumpy start to be sure of this holiday in Scandinavia. My flight was delayed a bit, but daughter Jessica’s flight was so delayed, that her flight from Istanbul to Copenhagen had left without her. She was able to secure a seat, but not until much later, arriving nearly 7 hours later than scheduled in Copenhagen. Thankfully, technology today had allowed her to let me know once i found a place to receive Wi-Fi (stood outside the SAS lounge near customs in Copenhagen and found out why she was not already there. This was more delays, and by the time i received the information and directions to our accommodation, rode the Metro to Kongons Nytorv, and found our Airbnb located above the Cafe Zalt on Kompagnistræde , our hostess had had to leave for a meeting, so, i hung out, dragging my suitcase around Copenhagen for all that time without knowing actually when or if Jessica would arrive that day! Thankfully, the weather was decent and by evening we were finally together and ready to explore. In just a couple of days, we have accomplished a lot! Here are a few highlights