Monday, November 8, 2010

Favorite Moments: Scandinavia, Part 3

Our second Europe post happened a month after our trip. This is our third (and last) post about our European adventures this past summer. FIVE months after our trip. I was 18 weeks pregnant then. Now I'm fully 40. Oh my, how little my belly was back then!

In case you're curious... here's post #1 and #2.

And here's Josh's recap:

These two places were our favorite stops on the trip. Copenhagen was our favorite city, and the “Norway-in-a-Nutshell” tour was the most beautiful experience of the trip. As they are so different, it’s hard to determine which one we liked better, so we’re not going to try. We’re just going to put them both here at the end.

Norway in a Nutshell

When we were planning our trip, we thought that it would be a crime to travel all the way to Norway and miss the fjords. We ended up adding a couple days onto the front of our trip before the cruise so that we could make it up to the west coast of Norway. We chose to do the fast-paced and popular “Norway-in-a-Nutshell” trip to make the most of our time. This train-boat-bus-train journey from Oslo to Bergen (both cities were featured earlier in this series if you can remember back that far) goes through the countryside and gives the traveler a glimpse at Norway’s diverse landscape. I’ve heard that this route can get packed with tourists in the late summer, but it honestly wasn’t too bad when we went in early June.

Leaving Oslo by train, we first went through a beautiful lakes district and climbed steadily in elevation as we traversed the mountain range that runs through the center of the country.

The next leg had us descending into the Flåm valley via the Flåmsbana train, one of the steepest train routes in the world. The valley itself was beautiful with numerous waterfalls trickling down the cliffs on their way to the Sognefjord. On the way down, we stopped to enjoy the Kjosfossen, a robust waterfall of over 700 feet that falls right next to the track.

After we reached the town of Flåm at the base of the train, we caught a boat that took us through two spectacular fingers of the fjord. At this point, there’s really not a lot that I can say that would add to the pictures, but suffice it to say that it was a highlight. The boat delivered us to Gudvangen, our next terminus.

From this point on, it was a somewhat more mundane bus and train ride, but maybe we were just too tired to take it all in. After a little sleep on the train, we were ready for the rest of the night in Bergen before hopping the night train back to Oslo.

We left from Oslo first thing Friday morning, and then the train dropped us off at 6:00 AM on Saturday. It’s crazy what you can see and do in a 24 hour period. While this trip cost us almost as much as the 7-day cruise we took later that week (in case you forgot, Norway is crazy expensive), it was completely worth it.

Norway Nutshell


We loved Copenhagen.

Unlike some of the cities that we’ve visited over the past few years, we didn’t come to Copenhagen with much of an itinerary. Let’s face it, there’s no Hagia Sophia, no Notre Dame, no Pantheon, no Hermitage, and no Tower of London in Copenhagen. As we effectively had less than 12 hours in Copenhagen (one of the major drawbacks of the cruise), it’s probably a good thing that there weren’t tons of sights to see. We were able to spend our time just walking around and experiencing the city.

From the pedestrian mall of the Strøget to the canals of Christianshavn, Copenhagen was one of the best walking cities that we’ve ever visited. Over the course of the day, we did see some “sights” such as Rosenborg Castle, Christiania, and the view from the top of the Church of our Savior, but we spent the vast majority of our time walking fairly aimlessly.

I must make a specific mention of the Nyhavn district. This “New Harbor” was actually built about 100 years before the United States came into existence and consists of a main canal surrounded by rows of multi-colored buildings. This bustling pedestrian area is lined with cafes and the wide sidewalks and numerous bridges allowed for easy navigation. It was a great place to relax and spend the last couple hours of our long day in Copenhagen.

We really didn’t have enough time here to take everything in, but we loved the time that we had. I hope that we can make it back someday.



Tom, Beth, and Ainsley said...

How fun! I love magnum bars! I ate them all the time when I was in Paris, why don't they have them here? Anyway, can't wait to hear when the baby comes!

Ali said...

I can't believe people actually live there. Wow, can you imagine waking up everyday to waterfalls and mountains? Wow, Wow, Wow!

Now go have a baby.