Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Norway in Nutshell

Good morning!  I hope everyone had a great weekend and is off to a good start this November week.  I can't believe next week is Thanksgiving?!

The Mr. and I just got back from our latest adventure to Norway.  We started in Oslo and trained across the country to the little town of Bergen. Norwegian people are quite friendly and their cities uber efficient.  (One might say, exactly the opposite of France).  I am especially interested in Scandinavia because of the strong likelihood that some of my family originated in this part of the world (my maiden name, Skelton immigrated to the US from Northern England where the name Skelton was most likely derived from Shelton under Scandinavian influence).  The whole viking thing would explain a lot....

Is anyone else fascinated by family history? So far I've got a lot of England, some Ireland, maybe a bit of Scandinavia and definitely some Native American (which unfortunately, is almost completely unnoticeable in my skin tone).

But I digress, November is the off-season in Norway because the beautiful green foliage has faded and the snow hasn't yet started.  It was beautiful nonetheless, but if you go, definitely try to go in the summer or after December.  Oh and one more little tip, Norway is the most expensive country in the entire world.  Get in and get out!

The adventure began in Oslo, aka Tiger City.

Home to Edvard Munch's The Scream.

And a very cool viking museum. 

With a few viking inspired tourists (?)

Loved the outdoor dining that came with furs and candles to help you keep warm.

Karl Johans Gate, the grand boulevard of the city.

Home to the seventeen dollar vodka soda.

And the first excuse to wear my fur ear muffs this year.

Oh and did I mention, major blond envy? All of the women look like this. (Remember Elin, Tiger Wood's former wife?).  I was missing my fake blond.

The next morning, we boarded a train (in which we were told by the conductor about an hour into the ride we had bought the tickets for the wrong day.  And they were non-refundable. And the price had doubled for the train we were now riding.  And we had to pay the double price or get off the train in the middle of the Norwegian countryside... so yeah, that was a bummer).  As you can guess, we repurchased the train tickets.  Well worth it though.   The railroad is an amazing engineering feat. Completed in 1909, it's 300 miles long and peaks at 4,266 feet.  It includes 18 miles of snow sheds, over 300 bridges, and 200 tunnels in just under seven hours.

Next, we got off the train in Myrdal and onto the polar express (one of my favorite parts of the trip).  The polar express is an old, small train that cuts through the mountains to get to the small port city of Flam.  (It's not really called the polar express, but it should be).  A few window shots...

We finally landed in Flam in time to board a boat to cruise down the famous Sognefjord, Norway's greatest claim to scenic fame.  

 Waiving goodbye to Flam, the real photo op began.

The sun started setting around 5:00 and it was truly beautiful. 

We all unloaded the boat (ourselves and the 6 other off-peak season tourists) in Gudvangen to board a bus to take us to Voss, where we caught our last and final mode of transportation for the day heading to Bergen.  Talk about planes, trains and automobiles. It was a long day. 

We spent the last night in Bergen before heading back home.  

Apparently New Orleans cuisine really is that international.  Who would have thought a Louisiana restaurant in Bergen, Norway??? 

Now that we've had a little taste of Scandinavia, we can't help but talk about going back.  Would love to do this trip some day... 

Rick Steve's suggested itinerary for a 3 week trip around Scandinavia 

That about sums it up.  What is everyone cooking for Thanksgiving? I think we are going to roast a duck, and I'm definitely making the salted caramel cheesecake pie.  Can't wait! 

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