Scandinavia and Baltics tour review, Allan and Jill 2015
We returned to Perth last week after 5 wonderful weeks in the Baltic and Scandinavia. Thank you very much for arranging a significant part of the experience. Everything went to plan, there were no hitches or concerns and people were very helpful and friendly in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. And they all spoke English. Best of all though was that we had fine sunny weather almost all of the time. There was only one morning in Trondheim where we had to wear raincoats and put up the umbrella. Everywhere we went the locals complained about the poor summer weather in June and July.
The hotels you booked were perfect for us, though different in their own ways. The Rival was especially interesting and set in a very pleasant area. Although it is a way from the centre of Stockholm it is a block from the Mariatorget T-banna. We were there for the midnight run around the streets of Soderholm. Also walking west took us to parks and delightful private allotments. The First hotel in Gothenberg is very modern and couldn’t be any closer to the railway station. It was about 20 minutes walk from the dock and we had a spacious room. The Folktheareret was an easy walk from the Oslo station and an interesting development of the theatre building. The decor is quite dark. The bonus there was that the hotel provided an evening meal for free. The hotel that I had arranged in Copenhagen was the Alexandra and I can recommend it. It is close to the station and city hall and was comfortable with quirky 1960s Danish design decor.
The Gota canal trip was wonderful, especially as we had such good weather. It helps to get on well with fellow passengers in such a small ship and travelling at such a slow pace. We loved the Swedish countryside and the director Ingmar was exceptional and kept us well informed about the history of the canal and the regions we passed through. At the oldest locks at Sjotorp a local christian group was there to play and sing hymns for us - apparently a tradition going back 200 years. We made friends with two Swedish couples from Gothenberg and the six of us monopolised the stern of the bridge deck. I don’t think we were prepared for how small the cabin was and how narrow and tight the bunks were. However, we managed and spent little time there. For people with a mild disability or being overweight, it could be a problem. For us though, the canal trip was definitely the highlight.
At the Folktheareret a charming receptionist gave us some directions for our one day of walking in Oslo. She emphasised the Opera House. This was a stunning building and we walked along the roof and had great views over the city and fjord. Then to our surprise and great fortune, we discovered that it was the one day a year open day at the opera house so we spent several hours there. We saw a ballet rehearsal, costume displays, watched makeup artists at work and listened to two opera singers. After that we went through the Akerhus castle and then the ferry to see the Viking museum. Later in the afternoon we caught a tram to Vigeland park with all the unusual sculptures . Quite a lot for one day.
It was easy to collect the Norway in a Nutshell tickets from the station and this section of our trip went smoothly. I was impressed with Norwegian trains. Again the weather was good for us in Flam and the ferry ride and subsequent bus trip to Voss were both well signposted. In Bergen, there was a little light drizzle but it did not stop us walking. The city was busy. We went around the Brygge, spent time in the mairtime museum and went up the funicular. A treat was the Naval band marching through the streets and playing in the central thoroughfare.
The Hurtigruten trip was also very good. Although passengers were stuck on board for long periods, the scenery made up for it. We only did one organised excursion which was at Tromso. For other stops of 2 or more hours we simply walked about the town and got a feel for places such as Alesund and Bod0. The best weather was at Honningsvag where the harbour was absolutely miirror-like, reflecting the blue sky and surrounding hills. It was Sunday and very quiet there.
A pleasant surprise was that free wifi was provided everywhere - in hotels, on ships, on trains and at airports. Unfortunately at least one location was not secure. My address list must have been stolen asl some friends haves since recieved email scams. On the other hand the wifi enabled me to upload photos to my photoblog as I travelled. The address for this blog is http://allcliff.wix.com/travel-blog and you like you can use any of the photos there.
Overall this was one of the best trips we have had. We would go back again tomorrow. How about cycling through Denmark??
Thank you again