A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Geiranger Fjord, the unforgettable Experience

Driving up Trollstigen and doing the Fjord cruise - Andrew Fernando

We left Trondheim on July 15th morning to visit Geiranger the most anticipated part of our trip. This is one place we had to visit during our trip. We were told by our friends, that our Norway visit would not be complete if we do not visit Geiranger.

Clkarion Collection Hotel Bakeriet in Trondheim

Clkarion Collection Hotel Bakeriet in Trondheim

We have now passed the halfway mark of our trip. So far we have enjoyed everything we visited. We stayed in small towns and a few big towns. We passed many small villages, had lunch in tiny restaurants on the road, made our lunch in some places and had them in rest areas on the side of the roads. We have seen countless snow capped mountains and water falls every day. We talked to local people whom we met, when we stopped to eat or have coffee.

There are two or three different routes to drive from Trondheim to Geiranger. We talked to some of the local people and the receptionists of our hotel to find the best scenic route to Geiranger. We found the best route was via Dombas and Andalsnes. The stretch from Andalsnes to Geiranger is considered part of the golden route. We did not realise what a golden route it would become.
The initial stretch from Trondheim to Dombas was comparatively easy to drive. The road was beautiful with many mountains, winding roads, water falls and tunnels. We have got used to seeing them every day and there was nothing unusual about them. The second part of the drive from Dombas to Andalsnes was also easy though the roads were winding and we had to drive at a lower speed. After Andalsnes, Mala took over driving. We stopped at a souvenir shop and bought a few items. We were in no hurry and drove leisurely.

Andrew and Mala near Trollshop

Andrew and Mala near Trollshop

Suddenly the landscape changed. The road became narrow and we were climbing a steep mountain.
We have driven up steep mountains before, in Nuwara Eliya, in North Italy and Alps in Europe. But this was different. We could see the winding road far above our heads, four or five levels higher. There were vehicles climbing up closer to the top of the mountain and a string of vehicles moving down in the opposite direction. The worst part of the climb was the narrow road. There were places where there was no room for two vehicles to cross,. Our vehicle that was climbing and closer to the edge of the road had to stop and allow the descending vehicles to pass. It was not a job for the faint hearted. Mala was driving and I was thinking why I got her to drive. She was cool headed and proved she was capable of handling any difficult situation. I had the camera with me, but I was not thinking of taking any photos. We thought of taking a photo only after arriving at the top of the mountain and the road became flat.
We later read about this road stretch and found the following facts:
This is called the Trollstigen or the “Troll Ladder:”. Driving up or down this road is a dramatic and exciting experience. The road twists through eleven hair pin bends as it climbs up to a height of 858 metres. In some places, it is cut into the rocks of the mountain and in some places it is built on stone walls. There is a bridge across Stigfossen waterfall. At the top there is a view point and a restaurant.It is said that his majesty King Haakon VII opened this road in 1936. This road is closed in Winter and normally open from late May to early November. Building the road was considered an engineering achievement. It was broadened from time to time in some places to accommodate the many long coaches and caravans that uses this route.

Buying Strawberries from two children near Geiranger

Buying Strawberries from two children near Geiranger

Andrew eating Strawberries

Andrew eating Strawberries

We then drove along a fairly flat road for some time. There were fruit stalls on the road selling cherries and strawberries,. We stopped at one place and bought strawberries from two young children who were selling them. Strawberries were really sweet and tasty unlike the tasteless sour ones we get in Australia. We later stopped at another stall and bought more strawberries.

Mala buying more strawberries

Mala buying more strawberries

We were now getting closer to our destination Geiranger. At one place, we saw many vehicles parked on the road and people getting down. We stopped the car to find that place is a great viewing point .We could see the Geiranger fjord down below in all it’s glory. We could see the surrounding hotels and the caravan parks. We could also see a cruise ship majestically sailing in the Fjord waters.

Geiranger town below from the viewing point

Geiranger town below from the viewing point

Geiranger Fjord seen from the viewing point-1

Geiranger Fjord seen from the viewing point-1

Cruise ship in Geiranger Fjord seen from the viewing point

Cruise ship in Geiranger Fjord seen from the viewing point

When we arrived at our hotel Geiranger Fjord Grande hotel it was time for dinner. Our hotel was right at the edge of the Fjord facing the water. We got a good room with a clear view of the fjord. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and relaxed in our room.

Statue near Geiranger boat ramp

Statue near Geiranger boat ramp

Our Geiranger Grande Fjord hotel from the cruise boat

Our Geiranger Grande Fjord hotel from the cruise boat

We have already booked a Fjord cruise, on line, next morning at 9:00 AM. The cruise was on a small vessel enough for about 50 people. The cruise lasted nearly 90 minutes. There is no doubt that Geiranger fjord is the best and the most beautiful fjord in the world or at least the best one we have seen in our life. There are no words to describe it’s natural beauty. It is a spectacular and unique creation of nature that cannot be duplicated by human beings.

Water fall Seven Sisters in the background

Water fall Seven Sisters in the background

During our cruise, we saw the tall vertical rock walls and the numerous waterfalls springing from those rocks. The rock walls rise up to a height of 1400 metres above water and reach a depth of up to 500 metres below the sea level.

Water Fall - the Suiter

Water Fall - the Suiter

We saw the Seven sisters waterfalls and the Suitors waterfall. The legend of the seven sisters is that they were dancing playfully drawing the attention of the Suitor. The suitor was flirting with them on the opposite side, but never succeeded in getting any of them. He continues to remain on the opposite side of the Fjord.

There were several abandoned farms within the fjord area. They would have lived there with very little contact with outside world.
After the short cruise, we came back to the hotel and checked out to start our next adventure.

Posted by fernando65 01:50 Tagged fjord suitor trollstigen geiranger "seven sisters" Comments (3)

Sogndal and Bergen

Bryggen and Fish Market in Bergen - Andrew Fernando

We had only one night in Geiranger. The main attraction in Geiranger was the Fjord and the Fjord cruise. It was nice to stay in the hotel and relax and also watch the huge cruise ships and the smaller ferry vessels passing by. The most interesting part of the visit was the drive to Geiranger and drive out of Geiranger along the golden route. We did the Fjord cruise in the morning and left our hotel around 11:30 AM. Our next destination was Sogndal. Our first part of the route to Sogndal was through the golden route.

Straight stretch of road through snow fields

Straight stretch of road through snow fields

We climbed a steep mountain and drove through some beautiful snow fields. It was Summer, but Summer in this part of the world is like Winter in Sydney. People are still visiting Ski fields. We saw people stopping their cars and playing on snow. In one place there was a family with a Husky dog. The dog was running on snow and playing with the children.

Dogs love snow - man playing with his husky

Dogs love snow - man playing with his husky

Leaving Geiranger - Snow and mist

Leaving Geiranger - Snow and mist

After passing the snow area, we descended to a fairly flat ground and drove through some beautiful villages. We stopped at a bakery and bought some muffins and cinnamon buns. That was the first good bakery we came across during our trip.

People having coffee outside the bakery

People having coffee outside the bakery

We then stopped at a nice rest area to take a short break. Mala has bought some long hot dog buns in a shop previously. At the same place, there was a man outside the shops, selling long sticks of Salami. We bought a stick of pork salami. When we stopped at the rest area, Mala made lunch using these ingredients.

Mala making lunch at the way side rest area

Mala making lunch at the way side rest area

Sogndal is a small town near a beautiful fjord. We have been driving along Fjord banks to reach this small but beautiful town. There were not many hotels in the area. We have booked the Best Western hotel, which was probably the biggest hotel in the area.We parked our car in the parking area outside the hotel yard and walked into the hotel. The receptionist, a man, was very nice and welcoming. He told us that we have to use meter parking and put money to buy a parking ticket. He also told us the trick of putting less money. It was already close to 5:00 PM and parking is free after 5:00PM till 8:00 AM next morning. What we needed to do was to leave the car there and in the morning, just before 8:00 AM come down and get a parking ticket for two hours. That would be enough till we have breakfast and check out of the hotel.

Having dinner at Chinese Restaurant Malin

Having dinner at Chinese Restaurant Malin

There was no restaurant in the hotel and we had to go out for dinner. There were only two good restaurants in the area. One was an Italian restaurant where they serve mainly Pizza and the other one a Chinese restaurant. We opted to have dinner in the Chinese restaurant. The food at the Chinese restaurant, Malin was exceptionally good. The restaurant was full of people, being the only one in the area. They added chili and made the lamb dish really spicy to suit our taste. We ordered fried rice and also some noodles. They served big portions and we could not finish all the food.

Entering the 24.5 kilometre long tunnel

Entering the 24.5 kilometre long tunnel

Lit in Bright Blue colour inside the tunnel

Lit in Bright Blue colour inside the tunnel

We had breakfast in our hotel restaurant and left the town around 10:00AM. Our next destination was the famous town Bergen. On our way we came across the world’s longest tunnel. The Laerdal tunnel connecting Laerdal and Aurland is 24.51 km long. Construction of this tunnel started in 1995 and the tunnel was opened in 2000. While driving through this long tunnel, there are three places where the tunnel has been lit in bright blue colour. I think it is just to get the attention of the driver and keep him or her awake.

Cherry Tree from our room window

Cherry Tree from our room window

He was selling fresh Raspberries from his farm

He was selling fresh Raspberries from his farm

We drove along highway E16 which is a very scenic route. There were numerous waterfalls and mountain ranges on the way. We found a few fruit stalls and bought fresh raspberries straight from the farm. The seasonal cherries and blue berries would come in late July.

We stopped at a small town to have lunch and then drove to Bergen. It was raining when we arrived at our hotel Radisson Blu. We checked in and went into our room to find that the view from our window was not what we expected. We were looking on a roof top and a wooden arch.
Mala called the reception and said she was not happy with the room and needed one with a good view. The receptionist was very apologetic, but could not help us. She said that all the rooms in the hotel were very similar and they all had the same view. I would have left it at that. But Mala wanted to pursue the issue. She called the reception again and asked her to put her on to the General manager of the hotel. There was a poster in our room that we could call him if we were not happy with anything in the hotel. The GM explained the situation to us. The hotel has been built in a major tourist area around the historical buildings. There are very few rooms in the hotel which are not facing these historical buildings. All the rooms were fully booked on that day. He would try his best and get us a room with a view the next day. We were happy that he at least listened to us.

Wooden Houses in Briggen, listed as a World Heritage site

Wooden Houses in Briggen, listed as a World Heritage site

After a change and a short rest in our room, I went down to the reception and asked the girl for more information about tourist attractions in the area. I have read that Bryggen area and the Fish Market were supposed to be two of the main tourist attractions in Bergen.
I asked the girl “ Can you tell me where Bryggen is “. I felt somewhat stupid when she said “ Sir, this is Bryggen. Our hotel is in Bryggen “
The point was that we researched the area on the web and then checked the hotel using hotel reviews, but never tried to connect the hotel to the historical area Bryggen.

A Narrow alley between wooden houses

A Narrow alley between wooden houses

Mala in historic Bryggen, outside our hotel room, between two wooden houses

Mala in historic Bryggen, outside our hotel room, between two wooden houses

We walked out of the hotel to see what Bryggen looked like. Bryggen consists of a series of historical wooden buildings built several hundred years ago. The entire area has been listed as a World Heritage site. A few hundred metres along the road, you can see the fish market. It was a rainy day, but the entire area was teeming with tourists. Tour buses and the Cruise ships bring thousands of tourists daily.

Fruit stalls at Bergen Fish Market

Fruit stalls at Bergen Fish Market

Fish Stall at Bergen Fish Market

Fish Stall at Bergen Fish Market

We walked long he narrow passages between the buildings and then briefly visited the fish market. The Fish Market is a small open area near the harbour front, where you could find not only fish stalls, but all kind of food stalls, fruit stalls and stalls selling souvenirs. Food is not cheap, but many tourists prefer to sit at a small table and eat something from these stalls. Mala bought a mixed fish plate. We decided to sit at a table and taste it. Just then a sea gull swooped in and picked one of the pieces from our plate. I was in no mood to eat the food after that. She had to eat everything on her own.
We could now understand why our hotel rooms could not have a good view. The hotel is in a prime location.
We have planned to spend two days in Bergen. The next day, true to his word, the GM has assigned a better room for us. We moved into the new room. We had a small window through which we could see the Fjord waters between two historical buildings. It was a good view.
Then we found something very interesting and amusing at the same time. Through the window, we could see the passing tourists. They were taking photographs of our building including our room thinking it was part of the historical buildings. Mala was standing near the window and telling me
“Look, they are taking my photograph.They think our room makes part of the historical buildings “

Our room window, Mala's green file visible from outside

Our room window, Mala's green file visible from outside

We also went out and took a photo of our building and the room. We could see the small window and Mala’s green file near the window.
We had a good time roaming around Bryggen and doing some shopping for souvenirs. We had one umbrella with us and we bought a second one. Each of us needed an umbrella to cope with the big crowds on the road.

Posted by fernando65 23:29 Comments (0)

Ardalstangen, Lillehammer and Oslo

Oslo the Capital of Norway - Andrew Fernando

Bergen was a busy tourist town, where the streets were full of tourists even when it was raining. . We left Bergen and started focusing on our next busy destination Oslo. We wanted to visit Lillehammer the former Winter Olympic town before going to Oslo. On our way, we would spend one night in Ardalstangen and then go to Lillehammer. Otherwise the drive would be too long. Ardalstangen was a very mall town situated near a Fjord. Part of our drive was through the same route we took when we were going to Bergen. We were coming back on the same road. When we came to Flam, we took a break. Flam is a small beautiful town. It is a major port for Cruise ships and this town is always full of tourists. We had coffee in small restaurant and visited some tourist shops. Mala bought some souvenirs. We talked to some of the tourists who came in a big cruise ship. On our way we had to drive through the world’s longest tunnel for the second time. This time I was driving the car and it felt like driving for a very long time to emerge from the other end. Mala had enough of tunnels and getting sick of driving through long tunnels.

Norwegians love their mountains, water falls, Fjords and their steep roads. There is no doubt that the country’s natural beauty puts it ahead of most other countries in the world. There is another thing they love. They love their tunnels. We passed hundreds of tunnels when we traveled on their highways. They have the longest tunnel in the world. They also have the steepest tunnel in the world. Closer to Ardalstangen, they built the Ofredalstunnel part of which has a steep inclination of 15%. When building the tunnel, they made a mistake and for the two sides to meet in the middle, they had to make part of it very steep.

Ardalstangen is a very quiet small town. The only big hotel in the town was the Best Western Hotel. We booked the hotel on line long ago, but when we came there, the receptionist could not trace our booking. Luckily, there were enough rooms in the hotel and we got one with a good view.
It was a good resting place for us. We walked along the Fjord bank, saw some people fishing, visited the only shop that was open at that time.
Next morning we drove to Lillehammer.

Cows on the road

Cows on the road

The road to Lillehammer was still very scenic. Up to this point, we did not see many animals. On our way to Lillehammer, we saw more farming areas and some cows and sheep. We also saw a few places where they sold fruits.

Mala buying Strawberries from a fruit stall

Mala buying Strawberries from a fruit stall

Lillehammer is a moderately big town with a population of about 26000 people. Most of the streets were one way streets making driving complicated. There was one street lined up with tourist shops and restaurants. There were a few plaques and monuments to show the city held Winter Olympics in 1994 and Winter Youth Olympics in February 2016. We parked the car in the hotel car park and walked along the shopping street. It was hard to find parking in the shopping area. We visited a few shops, but came back to the hotel for dinner.
We saw the Ski slopes built for Olympics, but in Summer, their appearance did not make any impression on us. We spent one night in Clarion Collection hotel and in the morning, left for Oslo which was our next big destination.

Grand Hotel from Outside

Grand Hotel from Outside

Oslo is the capital of Norway. It has a population of about 650,000 people. Compared to other big cities and capitals, the population is small. But it is growing at a very high rate and has the highest growth rate in Europe. We have booked the Grand Hotel which is in the city centre close to all the tourist attractions. Not many cars come to the city centre. When we arrived at the hotel, the street was full of people and there was no parking area near the hotel. I asked Mala to stay in the car and went to the reception to find where to park. They had their parking station under the hotel at the back of the building. We drove into an underground parking area which had no room to park. A man who was in charge of the park, came to us and asked us to leave the car and the keys with him. He would find a place and park the car. We can come back when we want to take the car out.

Oslo restaurants with outdoor eating areas

Oslo restaurants with outdoor eating areas

Grand hotel is the best located hotel in Oslo. Most of the dignitaries from other countries stay in this hotel when they come to Oslo. We saw pictures of some famous people including Obama who have stayed in this hotel. It also seems to be popular among musicians who visit Oslo. We saw pictures of Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones among the famous musicians.
We got one of the best rooms in the hotel directly looking into the busy street and the park opposite.
On our left side, we could see the Norwegian parliament. We came out of the hotel and walked along the busy street and the beautiful adjoining park. The park is a good resting place for visitors. Water fountains, beautiful flowers, shady trees and the numerous statues are the main features of the park.

Street performer posing like a statue

Street performer posing like a statue

You had to be careful when you walk in the cemented area of the park. There were cyclists using the pedestrians pavement to ride their bicycles. If you are not watchful, suddenly you could see a cyclist whisk past you. I was surprised to see how these cyclists navigate safely through the crowd. In the paved area of the park, there were young people on roller boards moving up and down.

Street performer - Girl playing with her hooplas

Street performer - Girl playing with her hooplas

Oslo city centre is a very live place. There was a line of restaurants with their outdoor tables serving dinner and drinks to people. We wanted to sit there and have a drink, watching the people passing by, but getting a table was not easy. Oslo has many tourist attractions. The city centre is close to the Oslofjord. The royal palace is where the present king and the royal family live. In Summer they go out to occupy their Summer holiday house and the palace is opened to the public. We wanted to pay a visit to the palace. Our hotel booked tickets for us to visit the palace the next day. We were lucky, because when we went there, the tickets have been sold out and only the people who already had bought tickets were allowed to go inside. The tour guide who spoke English took us through the palace describing all the rooms and halls in the palace. We were not allowed to take photos inside the palace. This royal palace has 173 rooms which is small compared to the Buckingham palace in London and the royal palace in St Petersburg. From outside, the palace looks like a very modest building. It does not have any intricate carvings or artwork. However, the royal banquet hall and the meeting halls are very beautifully decorated.

Oslo Royal Palace from a distance

Oslo Royal Palace from a distance

Oslo is well known for it’s statues. You will find beautiful statues erected in public parks and near famous buildings. Some of the very famous and well known sculptures are found in Vigeland sculpture park located inside Frogner park. We were not able to visit this park. Some of the statues we saw are shown below:

Piper in Pipervika by Dyre Vaa in Oslo

Piper in Pipervika by Dyre Vaa in Oslo

Piper in Pipervika : In Swedish language this is called “Piperen in Pipervika”. This is a bronze statue created by the Norwegian artist Dyre Vaa in 1972. Pipervika is the area where the statue is located. It means "Piping Bay". The statue depicts a musician in military uniform playing a flute. It appears there were Flute playing military personnel or Pipers who frequented or lived in this area.

Statue of Franklin D Roosevelt in Oslo

Statue of Franklin D Roosevelt in Oslo

Franklin D Roosevelt’s statue: I saw the statue of Franklin D Roosevelt near the harbour area in Oslo. Franklin Roosevelt was the president of United States during the second world war II. When Germans invaded and occupied Oslo, the Norwegians just waited offering no resistance. Some journalists, wrote badly about this incident giving a bad reputation to the people of Norway. President Roosevelt gave a rousing speech known as “Look to Norway” which helped to repair the damage. In honour of this, the city erected this monument of Roosevelt in Oslo.

Statue near Oslo City Hall

Statue near Oslo City Hall

Statue of a woman and children near Oslo City Hall

Statue of a woman and children near Oslo City Hall

Statues near City Hall: There are several statues near Oslo City Hall. The picture shows the Oslo City Hall in the background.
The second picture shows the statue of a woman and her two children next to her. Most of the sculptures are created as nude figures with little or no clothes which is the norm.

Water Fountain near Oslo city centre

Water Fountain near Oslo city centre

Water fountain in Oslo city

Water fountain in Oslo city

Most public parks have decorative fountains. Visitors and children love them. On hot days you can find young people getting under them and getting wet.

We had dinner in two different restaurants. One is a very popular restaurant called Cafe Skansen that serves local seafood.

Cafe Scansen

Cafe Scansen

Norway is a rich country, but Oslo is one city where you see different types of people from different backgrounds. You will see street performers everywhere. We were warned to be careful as there were pickpockets operating in busy areas. Then there were beggars, something not very common in other cities. We also saw a girl opening a bin and taking food remnants discarded by some one. In the night, we could see the park from our room window. There was day light till about 11:00 PM. We saw so a woman coming there with a small bag and changing her clothes. She put the clothes she was wearing on a shrub to dry up and sat on a near by bench and waited for about one hour. Then she put them back into her bag and went away.
We experienced real Summer weather in Oslo for the first time. On both days, it was sunny and the day time temperature went up to about 25 C. The hotel staff were very happy to see a good sunny day. We found the room to be too hot and had to keep the windows open. When that did not work, we asked for a fan. There was no air conditioning in the hotel.

Posted by fernando65 14:32 Comments (0)

From Oslo to Copenhagen via Gothenberg

July 21 to 24 - Andrew Fernando

We were now coming to the last stages of our trip. There would be only two more entries before we take the flight back to Sydney. We had a fantastic time in Oslo. Grand hotel was one of the best hotels and we had good sunny weather during the two days we were in Oslo.
We knew that our trip would not be complete if we did not make a brief visit to Denmark. We have planned to spend two days in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. On our way, we would spend one night in Gothenberg. The road from Oslo to Gothenberg was very good. We could drive at speeds of 120 km per hour and cover the distance in a little over three hours. Near Svinesund, we crossed the border between Norway and Sweden and entered Sweden. There was no immigration office or customs office The only difference was that we had to use Swedish Kroner instead of Norwegian Kroner in our money dealings. We bought some small items when we were in Norway and we were advised by the shops that we could claim tax refunds when we cross over to Sweden. They gave us forms to fill and hand over at the border. We were looking for the tax office and found a small board on the freeway to an exit directing us to a place. It was just a tourist shop. They were the people who process tax refunds.
We came to Gothenberg a little earlier than expected and checked into Clarion Collection Hotel Odin.

Clarion Collection Hotel Receptioin  in Gothenberg

Clarion Collection Hotel Receptioin in Gothenberg

Gothenberg or Goteborg in Swedish language is the second largest city in Sweden only second to Stockholm. Gothenberg was sizzling in summer and the temperature was around 28 C when we arrived in the hotel. The hotel was giving us free dinner. We decided to take a rest and stay in the hotel.

The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel and started early to drive towards Copenhagen. We were now going to Denmark for the first time. There were two routes to go to Copenhagen. One was to take a ferry. The other was to drive on the long bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark. We decided to drive on the long bridge. We expected some kind of Immigration check point before or after entering Denmark. There was nothing like that. The only thing was an automatic toll station where they charged a substantial amount as the toll to use the bridge.

Driving on the long Copenhagen bridge

Driving on the long Copenhagen bridge

The bridge was one of the longest bridges we have seen. At the end of the bridge, we entered a tunnel that came out in Copenhagen. Our hotel Crown Plaza was in a business park, outside the city. We selected this hotel for two reasons. It was one of the best hotels in Copenhagen according to Trip Advisor reviews. It was close to a Metro station from where you could take the Metro to the city centre.
That way, we could park our car in the hotel and use the Metro to see the city attractions.

Crown Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen

Crown Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen

When we came to the hotel, there was a huge crowd in the hotel attending a conference. We have asked for an executive room with club access. We wanted to spend the last few days in shear luxury. Club access meant unlimited drinks at any time of the day and free morning and evening meals. This was in addition to the extra large room with extra furniture.
There was a big shopping centre called Fields, only a few hundred metres from the hotel. We spent a few hours in the shopping centre. We also bought a few items though the prices were very high compared to the prices in Australia. We had the evening meal and a cool beer in the hotel club lounge. We checked with he hotel staff and decided to do a city tour which was the easiest way to see the city attractions in a short period of time.
Th next morning when we were getting ready to go down to the hotel restaurant fro breakfast, we heard a loud announcement. The hotel was experiencing a critical situation and all the customers should leave their rooms immediately and come down to the lobby. We left everything except our passports and the phone and came out of the room. The hotel has 25 floors and we were on the 20th floor. We could see the Copenhagen bridge far away from our room window. Any way, when we came out, there was a girl directing the people on our floor to go down. She said it was safe to use the lift, but we knew she was wrong. It is normally the last thing you should do when there is a fire. We found the emergency exit and walked down twenty floors to reach the ground level. The fire brigade was already there. They took over and checked all the floors. In the end, it was found to be a false alarm, but we got some exercise walking down the staircase.

Tour Guide introducing herself and explaining the tour

Tour Guide introducing herself and explaining the tour

We had breakfast in the hotel and walked out to catch the Metro to go to the city centre. The metro station Orestad was on the opposite side of the shopping mall. We had to take the M1 line and get down from Kongens Nytorv to buy tickets for city tours. It was another warm sunny day. The temperature was already over 25C. We bought tickets which were valid for both boat trips and hop on hop off buses. The boats had no roof. We knew it was going to be very hot and sunny. We had no protection against the strong sun. Before getting into the boat, we walked to a near by tourist shop and bought two hats. That way, we could at least protect our heads from the sun. The hotel staff advised us not to miss the boat trip. We got into the boat that was leaving in the next ten minutes. It was a great tour. The boat went through narrow canals and under some very low bridges. I understood the reason for not having a roof on the boat. The girl who acted as the tour guide kept on advising people to keep their heads low and sit when we arrive at bridges. At one place she had to shout at a person who was trying to get up and take a photo. He was a foolish tourist who would have lost his head. After passing the bridge, the girl calmed down and explained why it was important to sit down and wait when passing low bridges.

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

We passed some of the major attractions in Copenhagen. We got into the boat in an area called Nyhavn. Nyhavn is an important historical area with some historical buildings on either side of the canal. On the banks, you find a long line of restaurants with outdoor seating. We passed these restaurants and came to an open area to see two importan t buildings.

The Opera House of Copenhagen

The Opera House of Copenhagen

One was the Kronberg castle that became world famous due to Shakespere’s Hamlet. The other one was the Copenhagen Opera House. It is supposed to be one of the most modern opera houses in the world and also very expensive to build. Several people were responsible for its design. They were the architect Henning Larsen, engineers Ramboll and Buro Happold and theatre consultant Theatreplan . The Opera house is located on the Holmen island in central Copenhagen.

The statue of Little Mermaid

The statue of Little Mermaid

The next important attraction was the world famous Little Mermaid. It is the fictional character from Hans Christian Anderson and visited by millions of tourists. We could see the back of the small sculpture from the boat. It is just a bronze statue sitting on a small rock, but now has become a Copenhagen icon.
The statue itself has a fascinating history, many times becoming a victim of vandalism. It was defaced, head and arms cut, paint thrown at it etc. Each time the statue was restored and placed in the same place. There are many replicas of the statue in many countries. The original statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobson in 1909. He has asked the ballerina Ellen Price to model for the statue. The bronze statue was created by the sculptor Edvard Eriksen. The story is that Ellen Price refused to model in nude and only the head of the statue was modeled after her. The Sculptor’s wife Eline Erikson was used for the body.

Spire of the Church of Our Saviour

Spire of the Church of Our Saviour

Another important landmark in Copenhagen is the Church of Our Saviour and it’s Spire. The tall Spire consists of a spiral winding staircase right to the top. There are four hundred steps and it is open for the public to climb this staircase to get a view of the city. The church was built in 1696. At the very top, there is a golden globe and a flag bearing statue of Jesus Christ. We only had a look at it from the boat. I managed to take a picture of the Spire which is possible only at one place. The adjoining buildings block its view, but at one point in the canal, you get a view of the Spire of the church. You have to be quick enough to take a picture of the spire. If you look at the picture carefully you may see people climbing the staircase. You can also see a tree next to the Spire in the picture. People say that tree is the most photographed tree in Copenhagen because every time some one takes a picture of the spire from a boat, automatically the tree gets into the picture.

Circle Bridge in Copenhagen from a distance

Circle Bridge in Copenhagen from a distance

Circular portion of the Circle Bridge in Copenhagen

Circular portion of the Circle Bridge in Copenhagen

During our boat ride, we went under a bridge called the Circle Bridge. It is very different to other bridges. It consists of five circles of different sizes joined in a Zigzag manner. It was designed by Olafur Eliasson and built in 2015. They call it the bridge with no corners. It is a 50 metre long, cycle and pedestrian only bridge.

Stock Exchange building in Copenhagen

Stock Exchange building in Copenhagen

We saw a few other important buildings while doing the boat trip. One was the Royal palace. Another building was the Stock exchange building in Copenhagen.

Our boat approaching the marblke bridge

Our boat approaching the marblke bridge

Our boat drove under another important landmark in Copenhagen. That is the Marble Bridge. The Marble bridge was built from 1739 to 1745. It was very elegantly decorated and the top was paved with Norwegian marble which gave the name to the bridge.
We also moved under several other well known bridges. One was the Circle bridge. Another was the newest bridge in Copenhagen which was opened only a few weeks ago.

Mala having lunch in Nyhavn restaurant

Mala having lunch in Nyhavn restaurant

After the boat trip, we were not keen to go in the hop-on-hop-off bus. We have seen most of the attractions in our boat trip. We stopped at a restaurantr in Nyhavn area and had lunch. Eating a local dish and having a local beer sitting in a Nyhavn outdoor restaurant is the wish of every tourist who comes to Copenhagen.

Posted by fernando65 13:16 Comments (0)

Last Entry, Stockholm via Vaxjo and Glasriket

Returning to Sydney - Andrew Fernando

This would be the last entry in our Scandinavian trip. We have almost finished our trip. We only had to return to Stockholm to take the flight back to Sydney. We could have driven straight from Copenhagen to Stockholm, but we had one more thing to accomplish before returning.
Sweden is world famous for their crystal glass factories and we wanted to visit them on our way to Stockholm. The area known as Glasriket is where you find the glass factories. There are nearly fourteen glass factories distributed over an area of about hundred kilometres. You could visit them and see for yourself how the master craftsman design and blow their hand crafted products. The information given in the web sites were not very helpful, but we managed to get the addresses of all the glass manufacturing factories and the outlets where they sell the products.
We left Copenhagen after very early breakfast to cover as many outlets as possible. Our fist stop was at Nybro. We found the factory was not in operation. Then we drove to Pukeberg. There was hardly any activity and the factory doors were closed. There was a small outlet where we made inquiries, but the people there had no idea where the major outlets were. One person advised us to go to Kosta where they definitely would have an outlet. We were not happy with the information we received, but there was no option but to drive to Kosta.

Having a break - near a lake

Having a break - near a lake

On our way, we arrived at a small village called Gullaskruv. We found directions on the road to a small outlet. We went there expecting nothing but found some amazing designs and creations done by an artist called Carlos R Pebaque. Carlos was not there, but his brother a very modest gentleman was running the place. We were very impressed by the designs and wanted to buy one of them. At the same time, we wanted to see how they create or craft these glass artworks. These products were not cheap. We wanted to buy an item that can be proudly displayed, something of value and at the same time something truly beautiful. Carlos’s brother told us that Carlos is now working for another glass factory. We could see him in action if we go there which is only a ten minute drive from the village. We already had our eye on a pair of glass statues hand crafted by Carlos. We decided to meet Carlos and see him in action before coming back and buying the statues. Carlos’s brother said their outlet would be open till 6:00PM and we had enough time to come back and buy the statues if we decided to go ahead.

Master Blower Carlos working on his creation-Trophy

Master Blower Carlos working on his creation-Trophy

We drove to another small village called Maleras and found the glass factory where Carlos was working. It was not a big factory, but they had a small factory outlet and a glass blowing workshop. They also had a display area where we could see the works of famous craftsmen, specially Carlos and Mats Jonnason. There were some designs which have won major awards, but they were not for sale. Some of the items which were for sale were not within our budget. They were very beautiful and valuable, probably deserved to be in the collections of very rich people.

Arftworks in Maleras Display Area

Arftworks in Maleras Display Area

We had to find something beautiful and at the same time something within our reach. Out of all the designs, we still found Carlo’s statues which we saw earlier were the best. We went to the Glass blowing workshop and found Carlos working. He was blowing a glass object to create a trophy for a major match to be played in Europe. Strangely, the object was a bigger version of the statue we were planning to buy. It was five times bigger than the one we had in mind, but we knew that he would have created it the same way he was creating this trophy. We watched him creating it in stages. He dipped the glass in a furnace for a short time, took it out red hot and then made a small change. Then he put it back in the furnace. This process went on for some time, each time making a small change. We could see the object slowly changing from a piece of glass to an artwork. We were watching a master blower, an artist in the true sense of the word, creating a masterpiece of art. It was like watching Michael Angelo crafting his masterpiece statues. The way they worked, the instruments that were used and the material used are different. But hand crafted glass objects are true pieces of art.

Carlos with his Trophy, posing with Mala

Carlos with his Trophy, posing with Mala

We took some photos while Carlos was working and waited patiently till he finished creating the artwork. The crowd who were watching it joined us in applauding him on his achievement. We waited till the crowd move away and then talked to him. We told him that we already visited his small outlet and talked to his brother. We would be returning to that workshop to buy a pair small glass statues which were hand crafted by him. Carlos was very happy that we admired his work. He was finishing work at 4:00PM and would be back at his outlet if we can come there at 4:15PM. We were planning to visit other factories in the area, but we preferred to visit Carlos’s outlet when he was there. We spent another one and half hours having lunch at the restaurant in Maleras and then went back to Carlos’s outlet. We bought a pair of small statues at a discounted price. We would be proudly displaying them in our glass cupboard in the living area.

Our hotel in Vaxjo

Our hotel in Vaxjo

We have booked a hotel in Vaxjo to spend the night. We spent the night and then decided to visit one more factory before driving back to Stockholm. This time, we went to another village called Kosta.

Kosta Boda outlet in Kosta

Kosta Boda outlet in Kosta

There were two or three glass factory outlets in Kosta selling products directly to the public. We saw the world famous products like Kosta Boda and Orrafors . We just went through the factory looking at all the products and then bought a few small items, nothing expensive. We had no time to visit other factories. We drove to Stockholm and to our last hotel Raddison Blu near the Stockholm Arlanda airport.

Radisson Blu hotel at the Arlanda airport

Radisson Blu hotel at the Arlanda airport

It was very convenient for us because we rented our car from Hertz and the returning office was next door to our hotel. We left our luggage in the hotel and returned the car to Hertz. The airport shuttle comes to the hotel every ten minutes and it would take less than ten minutes to get to the airport terminal on the following morning.

Dinner at Radisson Blu -Signature Dish-Meat Balls

Dinner at Radisson Blu -Signature Dish-Meat Balls

This could have been the logical end to our story. But there was one more act to be played. We flew from Stockholm to Dohas without any incidents. At Dohas we were informed that our connection flight to Adelaide would be delayed by 90 minutes. We had only two hours in Adelaide to catch the flight to Sydney. A 90 minute delay meant that we would miss that flight. There was nothing we could do. When we came to Adelaide, we had to collect our bags and meet the ground staff specially assigned to look after the passengers who missed the connecting flights due to the delay. There was no connecting flight that day. We were put in Stamford hotel in Adelaide and asked to take the 6:00AM flight next morning. We are back in Sydney now.

Pair of Statues we purchased from Carlos

Pair of Statues we purchased from Carlos



We have visited cities of five countries during this trip. The countries were Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
We now have a good understanding about the places to visit in Scandinavea. If we decide to do another trip, it would be Norway only. It is a country of unsurpassed beauty. We can go there again and again. Most of the major roads are open through out the year. But some beautiful routes like Strollstigen are closed in Winter. It would be interesting to visit Norway in Winter.
Thank you for reading our blog.

Posted by fernando65 15:47 Comments (2)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 15) « Page 1 2 [3]