Serene joined me in Copenhagen after my conference in Aarhus and we spent two weeks on a whirlwind trip around Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
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These are our favourite photos from Scandinavia.
Aarhus and Moesgaard
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My conference was in Aarhus (Denmark), a three hour train ride from Copenhagen. During a free afternoon, I walked to the Moesgaard museum --- a ten mile round trip. Lonely Planet got this wrong and said it was a five mile round trip; no wonder the hotel receptionist looked surprised when we said we were walking there. The highlight of the museum is the Graubelle Man, a 2000 year old corpse preserved amazingly well in a bog. I also went walking around Den Gamle By (reconstructed old town) in Aarhus but that was pretty disappointing. Fortunately, I went after closing hours when there was no entrance fee to walk around.
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We spent the first and last day of our trip in Copenhagen. On the first day, we spent half a day on the walking tour described by Lonely Planet (excellent) and then visited the National Museum. The Viking exhibit in the National Museum is well worth the visit. On the last day, we went to the Statens Museum for Kunst to see their collection of paintings; we didn't enjoy the art collection in this museum very much but at least it was free on the Wednesday that we visited. We also went to the Royal Library but there wasn't very much to see or do there. As usual, Lonely Planet was wrong with a bunch of museum times and prices, and we learnt to always pick up the latest tourist brochures from the tourist office as soon as we arrived at a new place.
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After Copenhagen, we moved on to Stockholm where we spent three nights. Of the three capitals we visited, Stockholm was the most interesting. We tried our best to see as much as we could in our time there but didn't manage to see everything that we wanted to. Although we visited a lot of museums and galleries in Scandinavia, we never found it worthwhile to buy the full access tourist cards; student price admission is typically a lot less and the tourist cards don't have student discounts. Also, transport passes are not needed for any of the capitals because most interesting places are within walking distance. Stockholm is the exception if you want visit Millesgaarden because it's in a suburb, which requires a short train and bus ride.
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We spent a day in Oslo and visited the National Gallery, Historical Museum, Viking Ship Museum, Vigeland Park, and Akershus Festning. The National Gallery, though small, is very well organized and was the best of the galleries that we visited on this trip. The highlights of the day were the Viking Ship museum and Vigeland park with its remarkable bronze and stone sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.
Norway in a Nutshell Tour
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Like most tourists in Norway, we went on the Norway in a Nutshell tour that involves a train ride from Oslo to Myrdal, then down to Flaam via the Flaambanen train, ferry from Flaam to Gudvangen, bus from Gudvangen to Voss, and finally train from Voss to Bergen. I was underwhelmed by this tour because my expectations were very high after reading and hearing so much about how spectacular the scenery is. In retrospect, the scenery is nice especially through Naeroyfjord (where we saw dolphins) but it wasn't as good as the other fjords that we visited later. I later realised that the Nutshell tour is ideal for tourists who don't have much time to spend in the fjords (not us) and want to see a nice fjord before moving on. Given the benefit of hindsight, a better itinerary for us would be to skip the Nutshell tour and instead take a train to Stavanger from Oslo to see Preikestolen, take a ferry ride up and down Lysefjord, and then another ferry up to Bergen and continue the trip as we did.
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We made a last minute decision to visit Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) on Lysefjord after seeing it listed as a highlight of Norway in Lonely Planet. We weren't sure if it was going to be worth the rather long and involved journey back and forth from Bergen but I'm glad to say that it was well worth the time and cost. The morning after arriving from Bergen, we took the first ferry from Bergen to Stavanger (half price because we had Scanrail passes), then caught a 40 minute ferry from Stavanger to Tau, then a hour and a half bus ride from Tau to Preikestolhytta where we checked into the hostel. We dropped our bags at our beds and then set off on the hour and a half hike up to Preikestolen. The hostel has an amazing view and we even managed to catch alpenglow on the surrounding mountains at sunset. Early next morning, we had to get a taxi to take us to the bus stop at Jorpeland because bus services were limited on Saturdays and not catching the bus would mean missing the only ferry out of Stavanger to Tau. The short 10 minute taxi ride cost 170 Kroners or about 30 US dollars; I was shocked at how fast the meter ran while in the taxi. We then took the bus back to Tau, caught the return ferry to Stavanger, and then another ferry back to Bergen, taking a total of 6 hours or so.
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We arrived at Bergen from Stavanger around 1430, dropped our bags at the hostel, and then walked around the fish market and also Bryggen. It was nice to just stroll around but I didn't find Bergen very exciting. I was glad to move on the next morning when we caught a bus from Bergen to Hellesylt.
Hellesylt and Geiranger
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We left on the first bus from Bergen to Hellesylt and then caught a ferry to Geiranger through the spectacular Geirangerfjord. The bus ride from Bergen to Hellesylt is pretty spectacular and I enjoyed it a lot more than the Nutshell tour. We stayed at a nice guest house in Geiranger for a night. The next morning, we went for a hike to Storseterfossen waterfall. The hike was interesting because the trail leads directly behind the waterfall but I didn't enjoy it much because the trail was full of sheep dung. After the hike, we took the return ferry to Hellesylt and then a bus to Aalesund. We were hoping to catch a bus to Aandalsnes from Geiranger through the supposedly spectacular Trollstigen road (Troll Ladder) but the buses don't start running till June 15.
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From Geiranger, we spent a night at Aalesund. We walked around Aalesund the next morning and enjoyed the Art Nouveau architecture for half a day before catching the train back to Oslo.
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We passed through Aandalsnes on the way back to Oslo from Aalesund. We were originally going to spend a night at Aandalsnes and hike around the area but we decided against it for several reasons. The highly recommended train from Aandalsnes to Dombas (and then to Oslo) passes by the spectacular 5950 feet high Trollveggen (Troll Wall).