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Nordic FAQ - 6 of 7 - NORWAY
Section - 6.4 Main tourist attractions

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Top Document: Nordic FAQ - 6 of 7 - NORWAY
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  6.4.1 Bergen
  
   Bergen located about 300 km west of Oslo, on a sheltered inlet of the
   North Sea, it is an important port and the country's second-largest
   city. Warm Historical landmarks include the King Haakon's Hall (1261),
   St. Mary's Church (12th century), the Rosencrantz Tower (1562) and the
   old wooden merchant's quarters (Bryggen) at the harbour. One of the
   Bryggen buildings (Finnegården) houses a Hansaetic Museum, another
   (modern one) houses a medieval museum (Bryggens museum). The city also
   has a university (1948) and National Theater (1850), and it was the
   birthplace of the composer Edvard Grieg and the violinist Ole Bull.
   Fantoft stave church (built 1150) and Grieg's home Troldhaugen are
   located a short distance to the south of the city.
   
   The city was founded in 1070 by King Olaf III; it became a leading
   trade center and Norway's capital during the 12th and 13th centuries.
   It joined the Hansaetic League in the 14th century, and German
   merchants from the league developed trade monopolies here that lasted
   into the 18th century. Occupied during World War II by the Germans,
   the city suffered heavy damage during Allied bombings.
   
   Bergen is surrounded by mountains low enough to be climbed on foot but
   sufficiently high to offer a great view. There are many good paths for
   hikers, but there are also a cable cars going to the highest peak,
   mount Ulriken (606m above sea), and to Fløyen (314m) which is a bit
   closer to the centre.
   
   <The following from an article by Daniel R. Juliano>
   
   I am not sure how you are getting from Bergen to Oslo, but I would
   suggest the beautiful scenic train that takes you between the two if
   you are not flying. It stops quite often and lets you get out in the
   mountains and look around. It is warm up there, yet there is tons of
   snow. At least there was when I was there two years ago this month.
   
   If you could get to Oystese and see the Hardanger fjord that is the
   most beautiful one I ever saw. But, you have to take a bus or drive
   there. When we were there the buses were on strike (of course) and we
   rented a car. Scary. You have to drive on these huge mountains with no
   guard rail where you are literally one foot from the edge and you have
   to go through huge tunnels. A police man actually pulled us over for
   going to slow. :)
   
   We did take a boat tour in Bergen of the fjords which we enjoyed. My
   family went to see Grieg's house. They enjoyed that. They also saw the
   stave church. I didn't go along to those so I don't know if I should
   recommend them.
   
   On most days in Bergen there is a fish market in the main part of town
   which is quite interesting. They sell fish that they have just caught,
   as well as fresh fruit, flowers, bread and handicrafts. It is closed
   on Sundays.
   
   Oh, we also went on a tour of some church and of the Hansa houses.
   That was neat. Ok, I'll stop. Again. If you have any more specific
   questions, just ask.
   
   <From: Jan Setnan>
   
   I always recommend taking the boat from Bergen to Balestrand in the
   evening. Then the express ferry from Balestrand to Flåm. The trip from
   Bergen to Flåm will give you an impressive view of the fjords. Then
   you take the nighttrain flom Flåm to Oslo, arriving the next morning.
   
   The boat from Bergen to Balestrand may be filled with tourists so you
   probably should reserve tickets. But the ferry from Balestrand to Flåm
   should give you no problems. The train tickets you should reserve
   beforehand. The luggage is another problem travelling from boat to
   boat to train. If you have several items, you could send most of it
   with the train from Bergen to Oslo, and only take the necessary
   minimum with you on the boats. The boat ticket from Bergen to Flåm is
   about $65.
   
   <From: Melvin Klasse>
   
   When I went to Bergen, in early-July 1988, the "Tourist Information
   Centre" (*very* close to the SAS Hotel in Bergen) had all sorts of
   accomodation available, from a "pension" (bed & shared bathroom &
   NO-breakfast) to "tourist-class" hotels.
   
     * Get an umbrella -- if it isn't raining, you're not in Bergen!!!
     * Walk around the Fish Market, of course.
     * The WW II "War Resistance" museum chronicles the time of the
       German presence.
     * Take the Fløybanen (train ride at 23 degrees "up" the hill).
     * See Edward Greig's summer-house "Troldhaugen".
     * Make reservations for dinner & entertainment with "Fana Folklore".
       
   
   
  6.4.2 Oslo
  
   Oslo lies at the head of Oslo Fjord, about 97 km from the open sea.
   The city first occupied the small Åkershus Peninsula, where a fortress
   was built in 1300. Oslo was founded about 1050 to the east of the
   present city. Early in the 17th century fire destroyed the town,
   mostly built of wood. King Christian IV ordered the city to be rebuilt
   on the Åkershus Peninsula below the fortress, which could protect it.
   The new city was laid out on a square plan and was named Christiania
   after its founder (the name Oslo was readopted in 1925).
   
   The city remained small until the 19th century; in 1814, it's
   population was only 11,200. That year, Norway was separated from
   Denmark and was joined into Sweden by a personal union. Christiania
   became the national capital and started to grow. The Royal Palace was
   built, and the Storting (Parliament) and government offices were
   established. By 1910, the population had already reached 225,000.
   
   Today Oslo is a well-planned city with wide, straight streets.
   Government offices and the central business district are focused on
   Karl Johansgate, which is the main street in Oslo. By the harbour is
   the two-towered City Hall (completed 1950), the city's most famous
   landmark, facing the fjord and the downtown area.
   
   Oslo is also the cultural heart of Norway. The university, which was
   founded in 1811, is the largest in the country. The city also contains
   the National Theater, the Bygdøy folk museum with a large collection
   of traditional buildings, and a museum of excavated Viking ships. On
   Holmenkollen, a mountain overlooking the city, is a famous ski jump,
   the site of many winter sports competitions. Frogner Park contains the
   statuary of Gustav Vigeland.
   
   <From: Ken Ewing>
   
   I spent a week in Oslo in July, 1989. I don't know what you might be
   interested in, but here's a rundown of stuff that I did (please
   forgive any misspellings...I don't have my travel info in front of me.
   :-)
     * City Hall. Called "Rådhuset" in Norwegian. This is a large,
       twin-towered building right on the waterfront. The ground floor is
       the national tourist office. Here you can arrange for tours, find
       out interesting things to see, buy guidebooks, etc.
     * Akershus Fortress. Easy to find. It's a genuine medieval fort
       right on the waterfront. It's something of a symbol for Oslo in
       that having been under siege nine times since its construction in
       the 1300's, it has never fallen to an enemy. Guided tours are
       available. In or near the Akershus Fortress are many museums,
       including:
          + Resistance Museum. A "must-see" for WWII enthusiasts. It
            looks very small from outside the door, but it's quite large
            inside. It documents the German occupation and TONS of
            artifacts, photos, etc.
          + Christiania Exhibit (I think it's called that). This is a
            model and show about the history of Oslo. Oslo was originally
            located a but further south, and the current site of Oslo
            used to be called Christiania, named after King Christian IV.
     * Take a water taxi across the bay to Bygdøy. There are several
       museums over there, including:
          + Maritime Museum. Pretty big place. If you're into maritime
            topics (which I am) you can spend a few hours here.
          + Fram Museum. The Fram is a sailing ship built around 1897. It
            was basically designed to be a wooden-hulled icebreaker. The
            designer had a theory that the Arctic ice cap flowed with
            "currents" matching those of the ocean underneath, and that
            if a ship could lodge itself in the ice, it could ride these
            currents across the North Pole. He built this ship, lodged it
            into the ice, and proved his theory (coming with five degrees
            of the North Pole). The ship is now housed within this
            museum.
          + Kon-Tiki museum. Contains Thor Heyerdahl's ships Kon-Tiki and
            Ra II. You might remember Ra II from the movie made in 1973
            (I think). There is also a life-size copy of a statue from
            Easter Island, and also a genuine, taxidermed, 30-foot whale
            shark suspended underneath the Kon Tiki.
       All three of these museums are right next to one another. A little
       farther down the road (easy walking distance) you'll find:
          + Viking Ship Museum. This building looks like a church from
            the outside, and is not marked very well with signs. It
            contains three actual Viking ships dug up from the ground,
            plus a bunch of artifacts from the Viking era.
          + Folk Museum. This is a large park that contains exhibits of
            the inland culture of Norway (as opposed to the maritime
            culture, as the other museums in this area display). The
            creators of this park went all over Norway and collect farm
            houses (whole houses!), stave churches (pronounced "stahv" --
            some of these structures date back to the 1200s and are still
            in active use), etc. to show how Norwegian people lived.
            There are tours available. Employees wear authentic cultural
            dress.
       
   Back in Oslo:
     * Vigeland Statue Park. This is a 20-acre or so park with 250
       statues by Mr. Vigeland, a famous Norwegian sculptor. It's best to
       get a guidebook of some kind, as the park has a theme to its
       organization. As I understand it, Vigeland statues are not found
       outside of Norway.
     * Historical churches. Olso has been around for a long time, and
       there are interesting old churches all over town.
     * The Royal Palace. Norway has a royal family, although the
       parliament is the governing body. The palace has a military guard
       that changes regularly.
     * Downtown shopping. The downtown area of Oslo is really quite small
       and easily explored by walking. The main street, Karl Johansgate,
       starts right in front of the Royal Palace and proceeds straight
       into the downtown area. About halfway or so the street becomes
       closed to traffic, and thus turns into a large walking mall. The
       street life is fascinating, with the usual contingent of street
       musicians and other entertainers. In the harbour is the new
       shopping complex, Akersbryggen; gleaming modern architecture,
       restaurants, etc.
       
   Other general tips:
     * In Norway (as well as other Scandinavian countries) you can obtain
       a "Tourist Card". You can get them for one, two, or three days,
       and you buy them at the city hall (Rådhuset). This card gives you:
          + Free transport on busses, trams, and subways.
          + Discount admission to most museums.
          + Discounts at some restaurants.
       Among other advantages. I considered it worth the expense. With
       the three-day card, you can get discounts on railroad fare to
       other places in Norway, but you have to purchase tickets *before
       coming to Norway* (which apparently means that you can obtain a
       tourist card through a travel agency or perhaps through a
       Norwegian consulate).
     * Restaurants seem to be rather rare around Oslo. I like eating out,
       and I had a rather hard time finding restaurants around town.
     * Alcohol is strictly controlled. Beer costs $6-$7 for a pint glass.
       Drunk driving laws are strictly enforced with heavy penalties, and
       foreigners cannot claim ignorance as an excuse.
     * Oslo seems to be a safe place. I never felt in danger of physical
       harm at any time. Virtually everyone there (natives, that is)
       speaks English (it is a requirement in the school system).
       
   
   
  6.4.3 Trondheim
  
   Trondheim, a city on the west central coast of Norway, is situated
   about 400 km north of Oslo. The city is the site of the Technical
   University of Norway (1900) and the Royal Norwegian Society of
   Sciences (1760). Histoical landmarks include the impressive Nidaros
   Cathedral (started in 1075, finished c. 1320, burned badly six times,
   restauration started in 1869), where several Norse kings and Kings of
   independent Norway have been crowned. The cathedral, built from
   Norwegian blue soapstone and white marble, contains the tomb of St.
   King Olaf II (Saint Olaf), which made it an important centre of
   pilgrimage in the middle ages.
   
   Founded as Kaupangr by King Olav Tryggvason in 997, Trondheim was an
   archbishopric from 1152 until the Reformation (1537). The city was an
   important administrative and commercial center during the 12th and
   13th centuries, but its importance later diminished.
   
   Erkebispegården, the archbishop's house by the cathedral survives from
   the middle ages. Stiftsgården is a long wooden building with a rococo
   interior. Folkemuseum has a collection of traditional houses and a
   stave church. The fortified island of Munkholmen just off the city can
   be reached by a boat.
   
   
   
  6.4.4 Hurtigruta
  
   Anne Lise Falck <falck@cs.odu.edu> wrote:
   
   I have one particular thing in mind: you should take the time to
   travel with `Hurtigruta` or Coastal Line as they say in English. It is
   a beautiful boatride from Bergen to Kirkenes by the Russian border in
   the north. You have the possibility of stopping in different cities
   along the coast if you want to, and I believe that the whole trip
   takes about a week or two.
   
   Mike Jittlov adds:
   
   IMHO, it's the finest boat cruise in the world. You might consider a
   variety of travel (it seems to invite adventure and wonderful
   meetings): take the train from Oslo toward Bergen, but just before
   that switch trains at Myrdal, winding down the steep gorge to Flåm,
   and take the ferry through the spectacular fjord (either to Bergen, or
   a bus to the city); treat yourself to a day or two in Bergen
   (wonderful fish & rolls at the harborside market), then board the
   Hurtigruten northbound; the route through the Lofoten Islands is
   breathtaking, and incredibly healing for spirit and body (weather
   permitting, the steamer takes a sidetrip into the Trollfjord, and
   plays Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" over loudspeakers); continue
   to Tromsø, then to Nordkapp (incredibly touristy at the northernmost
   point of Europe - but the contrast can be wild), every village and
   stop along the way enticing you to stop and explore and learn and
   enjoy; take the plane to Trondheim, and then the train back to Oslo
   (with a sidetrip to Hell, a beautiful fjord-town with a unique stamp
   for your passport ;) -- check out postcards and the free tourist
   brochures for places that excite your interest. Ask for directions and
   advice -- everyone is helpful, gracious, and honest; most speak
   English, and will help you with your Norwegian.
   
   The Hurtigruta has also a home page on WWW (both in English and
   Norwegian): <http://www.monet.no/hr/>.


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