Scandinavia 2010 Adventure

The 2010 Scandinavia adventure began May 15th. This was a Trafalgar tour, the 'Scenic Scandinavia & its Fjords' tour. We booked it through the Minneapolis AAA travel office. We had booked the first tour of the season, to start 2 weeks earlier, but it was canceled. That was probably just as well, because a key mountain pass in Norway only reopened 2 days before we needed it. Not all the optional activities were available, but we signed up for all 10 that were available.

There were 48 of us, a full load. Most of us had been on other Trafalgar tours. The other members of our group were from the US, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and even Singapore. We had a good group. No one was chronically late or really obnoxious. On the final night, one of the Aussies said it best, "There wasn't really anyone in the group that I wanted to kill by the end of the tour."

Our tour guide was Catrin Griffiths. She nurtured us and read to us. Peter, our driver was skilled at mountain driving and conscientious.

Our weather was probably better than average. Because of the Gulf Stream, the air is often humid, and rain is common. I brought thermal underwear and an umbrella, but never used either. I used the hood of my rain jacket several times because of rain or wind. Still, we had many days with periods of sun.

The Danish currency is Krone (DKK), Norsk currency is Krone (NOK), and Swedish currency is Krona (SEK). The exchange rates are all about 6 Kroner to the USD. For the most part, merchants in each country will only accept their own currency. Before our departure, we bought a few hundred Kroner of each currency from the currency exchange at our local bank. Credit cards are a hassle. Most US cards are 'swipe and sign'. Many merchants in Europe and Asia will only accept the newer 'chip and password' cards.

Denmark has 444 named islands. Most are inhabited. The highest point is about 568 ft. There are 5.5 million people. Land area is 42,430 sq. km., of which 53% is arable. The Danes pronounce Copenhagen something like 'Coeh-bin-hah-vin'.

Norway has as many as 50,000 islands. The highest point is about 8100 ft. There are 4.7 million people. Land area is 304,000 sq. km., of which 2.7% is arable.

Sweden has thousands of islands. Stockholm alone has 14 islands. The highest point is about 6926 ft. There are 9 million people. Land area is 410,000 sq. km., of which 5.9% is arable.

In all 3 countries, they drive on the correct side of the road. ;-)

We whine about $3 gasoline(2010). In Scandinavia, it was more like $8 per gallon. While there is emphasis on 'greenness' and conservation, conservation practices vary widely. Denmark has a lot of windmills.

We found Scandinavian people to be mostly friendly and helpful, and English speaking.

Food and water were expensive. Water was generally $4 per bottle.

Itinerary

5/15 Depart MSP at 3:20 pm.
5/16 Arrived in Amsterdam, Netherlands about 7 AM, and Copenhagen, Denmark at 11 AM, after 9 hours on the planes, and 7 time zones. The connection at Shiphol airport was an ordeal. Stayed 2 nights in Copenhagen.
5/17 Copenhagen sightseeing.
5/18 Copenhagen-Odense-Aalborg
5/19 Aalborg-Stavenger, Norway.
5/20 Stavenger-Bergen (Bryggen).
5/21 Bergen.
5/22 Bergen-Flam Railway-Sognefjord (Leikanger).
5/23 Sognefjord-Geiranger.
5/24 Geiranger.
5/25 Geiranger-Lom-Lillehammer.
5/26 Lillehammer-Hamar-Oslo.
5/27 Oslo, Norway-Stockholm, Sweden.
5/28 Stockholm.
5/29 Departed Stockholm for Amsterdam, and then home. The grass was tall. We slept well in our own bed. Managed to stay awake until 8 PM local. It was nice to make toast without standing in line.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhavn, the old waterfront, where goods were traded.
Copenhagen, Denmark Nyhavn
The Little Mermaid, a symbol of Denmark from Hans Christian Andersen's story. The original is on loan to China now. This copy is in Tivoli Gardens and was created at the same time as the official one. The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
Historic buildings of the Hanseatic League, Bergen, Norway. The Hanseatic League, Bergen, Norway.
West of Bergen near Telavag. The new, modern house on the top of the hill has a grass roof. Grass roof
Statues, statues, more green statues. Green statues
Mirror image reflection in the fjord.
'Fjords used to connect people; now they separate people.'
Fjord reflection
Planes, buses, ferries, trains. Planes, buses, ferries, trains.
There are many tunnels through the mountains for cars, trucks, and trains. Tunnels have WiFi service. Many tunnels through the mountains
Slides cost less in Norway. Slides cost less in Norway.
Electric fence. Goats require multiple wires. Electric fence for goats.
Homemade lefse and apple cider. Home made lefse and apple cider.
This dining room table is a solid 6 inches thick. Dining room table is a solid 6 inches thick.
Dr. Seuss fireplace at a glacier stop. Dr. Seuss fireplace.
The fine glacial grindings color the water of glacial lakes. The fine glacial grindings
Grass roof on the glacier visitor center. Grass roof on the glacier visitor center.
Up through the pass. Up through the pass.
Hairpin turns down the other side. We had the front seat today. Hairpin turns down the other side.
Scenic view at the second farm we visited. View from the farm
The new and the old:
Note the satellite dish and the grass roof on a farm building. The smoke is from a small wood stove being used to reduce goat milk for brown cheese.
Grass roof on a farm building.
Gas prices per liter in Kroner. This is more than $8 per gallon. Note there is no piddly 87 octane. Gas prices per liter in Kroner.
Hotel phones at Geiranger still have dials. Dial telephone.
All towels have loops for hanging. Most bathrooms have a hot pipe to dry towels or clothes. Many bathrooms have heated floors that could also be used for drying clothes. Towel loops for hanging.
Hoar frost on the way out of Geiranger. Hoar frost.
Stave church at Lom. Stave church at Lom.
Norwegian parkering. Norwegian parkering.
Lillihammer Olympic ski jumps, from 1994. Lillihammer Olympic ski jumps.
Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway. Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway.
Vigeland Fountain and walking maze. The tour guide told me it takes 2 hours to walk the maze. Vigeland Fountain and walking maze.
Viking Longboat Museum. The 3 boats on display here were recovered from the Oslo Fjord. Viking longboat museum.
Thor Heyredahl's Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo, with the original Kon Tiki and Ra II rafts, and a model of the Tigris. He burned the original Tigris in a fit of anger off Somalia. Thor Heyredahl's Kon Tiki Museum with the origina Kon Tiki and Ra II rafts, and a model of the Tigris.
A street car turn in Stockholm, Sweden, through a fountain. A street car turn in Stockholm, Sweden, through a fountain.
Viking rune stone in Stockholm Old Town, with an old cannon in the ground for corner protection. Viking rune stone in Stockholm Old Town
Swedish mail boxes. Swedish mail boxes.
Changing of the guard at the Stockholm Palace. We also saw guards or changing of the guards at palaces in Denmark and Norway. Changing of the guard at the Stockholm palace.
Wall design in Stockholm's Ice Bar, where we enjoyed a beverage in an ice glass. Wall design in Stockholm's Ice Bar
Ulysses Club logo of one of our Aussie friends. Ulysses Club logo of one of our Aussie friends.
Inside Stockholm's City Hall, where Nobel Prize banquets are held. We enjoyed our farewell dinner in this building. Stockholm's City Hall, where Nobel Prize banquets are held.
Drottningholm, home of the Swedish royal family. We went inside. Afterward, we rode a ferry back to Stockholm. Drottingholm, home of the Swedish royal family.
A Stockholm vehicle. A Stockholm vehicle.
The Wasa, a galleon recovered from the sea after 300 years. The Wasa sank the first day it was sailed, probably because of inadequate ballast. It rolled over and sank in 100 meters of water. The Wasa, a galleon recovered from the sea after 300 years.
Mermaid art from the Wasa. Mermaid art from the Wasa.
Restored cannon from the Wasa. Restored cannon from the Wasa.
Model of the Wasa with original colors. Model of the Wasa with original colors.

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