Bergen

a photograph of the Norwegian coast
The coast between Alesund & Norway is dotted with tiny islands

We returned to Ålesund just long enough to board the Hurtigruten bound for Bergen. This was the one part of the trip when I felt that Fjord Tours sort of dropped the ball–at no point during booking do you realize that you can’t get on this boat until after midnight! That left us hanging out at the port in Ålesund, which, for the record, has no waiting room of any kind. Since we had children in tow, hanging out in a bar wasn’t an option either, so we ended up in the Radisson Blu. I suspect it wasn’t the first time that people bound for Bergen crashed in their lobby, and they do have an assortment of snacks and drinks, as well as comfy couches, to make the late hour a bit more comfortable.

The accommodations on the Hurtigruten are typical of larger cruise ships–single bunk beds and a bathroom that is clean and functional, but barely large enough to turn around in. We were not able to figure out any sort of family room, so we booked two doubles and split up–one adult with each child (another reason I’m glad we opted for only one night on the boat!). Read more

Ålesund and Beyond!

photograph of Ålesund
Ålesund is a lovely harbor town, rebuilt in 1904 in Art Nouveau style...

We left Oslo via train and headed north to Dombås and then on to Åndalsnes on what ended up being quite a scenic ride on the Rauma Railway. While the first leg of the journey cuts up the middle of Norway and takes you past Lillehammer and the home of Peer Gynt, the second leg winds slowly down into the Rauma River Valley across amazing bridges and towering cliffs typically named after trolls! Read more

Oslo with Children

photo of a statue outside Oslo's National Theater
A statue outside the National Theater in Oslo

We began our carefully planned trip to Norway in its capital city, Oslo. While some friends and even some guidebooks had suggested skipping Oslo in favor of seeing more of the beautiful fjords, I’m glad we spent three days there. It was probably the easiest of our stops in Norway in terms traveling with children, and also gave us the historial and cultural backdrop we needed to fully appreciate what we saw later on.

Like Helsinki, Oslo is a surprisingly small capital city of around 600,000 people. The city center, bisected by two parallel roads–Karl Johans Gate and Stortingsgata–with park and historic buildings in between, is easily traveled by foot. However, it should be noted that even in July the weather in Norway is unpredictable. If getting wet is a problem, or if your stay and children’s temperament allows seeing a lot of museums, consider the Oslo Pass which offers not only unlimited public transportation and discount parking, but free admission to many of the museums and attractions in and around Oslo. Read more

Adventures in Norway

a photograph of Naerofjorden, Norway
Naerofjorden

You don’t have to see many pictures like this one before you become fixated with the idea of going to see the fjords in Norway. We never made it to Norway when we lived in the UK ten years ago, so it topped my list of summer vacation ideas when we decided to move to Finland.

This spring, I borrowed a Lonely Planet Norway from a friend, read through it, took notes, and was ready to book something for Matt’s two week holiday in July. So I marched down the local travel agency and tried to put something together. Their first recommendation was to take the Hurtigruten up and down the coast (13 days round-trip with the opportunity for lots of trips to shore). Although that certainly would have let us see the largest cross-section of Norway in the least amount of time, the idea of being trapped on a boat, however large and luxurious, with the children for 13 days really put me off.

Instead, I asked for a quote to do something that would hit the highlights of south-western Norway: Oslo – Ålesund – Bergen – Stavanger – Oslo, with a few cruises up the various fjords on the way. Like Finland, Norway is a very long country from north to south, but not terribly wide, so I thought this tour would be very doable in the time allotted. Read more