Whew … After a lot of research, I have finalized the itinerary for my Scandinavian trip w.r.t. Norway. Some of my original assumptions/plans had to be scrapped due to lack of convenience or lack of convenient transportation mode. Reputedly, Scandinavia has the some of the best hostels in the world. Since I will be doing this leg of our Summer Vacation alone, I can afford to try the Hostels. In case you are curious as to why my family is not joining me on this leg, there are two reasons: (a) Among the other choices we considered, e.g. Turkey/Greece, Eastern Europe etc. Rosemary is least interested in this area, but at the same time, Jul-Aug is the best time to visit this area (b) With two small kids, this leg of the trip might be a bit too hectic (the reason I decided to fit in St.Petersburg (also) into this trip).
Note: If you like travel like I do, then you must also be reading up on the countries/cities you visit. If not, please do so. It makes the whole experience worthwhile. I use sources like Guidebooks, Travel Shows, Blogs, Magazines, Brochures, Visitor Information Centers, Government sources etc. to prepare me for the journey.
Overview (Dont want to bore people with all the other data I have collected, which probably only a few (like me) will find interesting): Norway is a part of a very progressive and prosperous region of the world, with a very high standard of living. Norway is a part of NATO. The government plays a big role and the Norway government-provided perks sounds awesome 🙂 Good for Norwegians!. It is quite rainy and cold throughout the year, except for the golden months of Jul-Aug (see below). Its famed Viking past makes it an intriguing place to visit. I also noticed that Norway is a really looooong country (geographically). The map has to be split into two sections 🙂 Norway has borders with Sweden/Finland/Russia (yes, even Russia! It gives a feel for the length of the country). Norway and Fjords go together. The longest/deepest one is Sognefjord (see below). Oslo itself is a part of OsloFjord. Bergen (see below) is a World Heritage City.
Day1 (July 9th (Fri), 2010):
Take SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) from London/Heathrow (LHR) to Oslo/Gardermoen (OSL). Arrive in Oslo around 13:30. Take the Airport Express to the city (airport is 47 Km away from the city center).
Agenda for the rest of the day:
(a) Visit the Oslo Cathedral, Grand Café, Wergeland Statue, City Hall and Harbor, by doing a Walking Tour.
(b) Akershus Fortress Complex: Akershus Castle and Norwegian Resistance Museum.
(c) City Hall, including the free tour.
(d) Nobel Peace Center
It may not be possible to do all during a half-day. I am keeping (d) at lowest priority, and if anything is not possible this day, I will try it out the 2nd day, if possible.
My philosophy on any trip is: Have a general plan for a day. Dont leave it all open. But then, be flexible for issues like “not feeling well”, “weather”, “transportation delay” etc. But, by nature, I need some kind of planning 🙂 Yeah, yeah, I know that even the “best laid plans” can go haywire. But then, isnt it better than having no plans whatsoever?
Spent the night at Anker Hostel.
Day2 (July 10th (Sat), 2010):
(a) Frogner Park. Vigeland sculptures. Tower of Bodies sculpture. Monolith of Life sculpture.
(b) Holmenkollen Ski Jump.
(a) Norwegian Folk Museum. [Bygdoy] – Needs most time.
(b) Viking Ship Museum. [Bygdoy]
(c) Fram Museum. [Bygdoy]
(d) Kon-Tiki Museum. [Bygdoy]
Tour harborfront, Aker Brygge Mall.
Spent the night at Anker Hostel.
Day3 (July 11th (Sun), 2010):
Check out from Anker Hostel and check in for the Norway in a Nutshell Tour through Sognefjord. Really looking forward for this one. The tour is a mix of train, bus and boat sub-tours and the pictures in the brochures and guidebooks are spectacular. I hope the weather gods will smile on me this day. Reach Bergen in the evening.
Spend the evening strolling through the historic harbor. Check in at YMCA Hostel.
Day4 (July 12th (Mon), 2010):
I have the whole day to spent at Bergen. I plan to take a couple of walking tours to get a truly local feel of the place. I will visit the Tourist Information center and take their tips on how to spend the day. One thing I will do for sure is to use the Floibanen Funicular and go up to Mt. Floyen. I hear that the views are spectacular.
After dinner, I will go to the airport and take the Norwegian Airlines flight to Stockholm Arlanda Airport (Sweden), reaching there by around 23:00.
Folks, please note that I have also made detailed plans on what cuisine (snacks, dessert, beverages etc.) to try in each city. I am leaving out those details here. I have also made a short-list of restaurants (which has good reviews) to try. Depending upon how my day is going (and also my location at any point of time), I will pick the restaurant. I also have notes on what to expect at each sight. For e.g. which display to look for, within a particular museum.