Tuesday, July 28, 1992 - Buffalo, New York /

Wednesday, July 29 - Stockholm, Sweden

We arose early, in anticipation of the coming trip. I stopped at Como Park, at 7 a.m., and Akron Falls thereafter, to leave last instructions before taking an early quit. We finished packing and took a cab to Buffalo Airport ($18). There, we boarded a Continental flight to Newark Airport. The SAS/Continental terminal in Newark is spacious and airy. We waited for 2 hours before boarding SAS flight #904 for Stockholm, Sweden. The trip would take us seven hours flying time, at 600 mph. The food was good and alcohol was plentiful, as were small children. We got no sleep. We arrived Wed., 9:30 a.m. (local time) at Arlanda Airport, in Stockholm, Sweden It was sunny, cool and 68°.

     We retrieved our luggage, with no problem, and caught an SAS bus to the city terminal, 26 miles away, (100 kronors.) We only had to walk two blocks over to check into the Stockholm Sheraton. ($140 per night using the Entertainment Card discount) After a quick change, we strolled over the causeway, to the Royal Palace, for the changing of the guard ceremony at noon. A marching band, in police uniforms, led the parade and performed for an hour.(yawn) It was hot , the courtyard was very crowded and we were tired.

We then hiked over to the King Gustav II Torg, in front of the opera, where we purchased tickets for the 3 hour city tour at 2 p.m., for 400K. We had cafe au lait, in the outdoor cafe behind the opera, (38K) while we waited for the bus.

The bus tour stopped at the Royal Palace to view the crown jewels. Gold, diamonds, emeralds and an array of Royal treasures are artfully displayed in secure, glass enclosed exhibits. Then, we took a brief overview of the harbor area and central city (Nobel prize site), before heading out to Djurgarden. There, we toured the Wasa Museum. The Wasa is an enormous, elaborately carved warship that had sunk in Stockholm harbor in the 1700's. The vessel was top heavy. She rolled over and sunk on her maiden voyage. Reputedly, the king had authorized the extra level of cannons whose added weight sank the boat, so no official blame was ever attached. Impressive carvings and scale of size made it an interesting stop. Photos taken inside the museum did not turn out well, in that it is very dark, to prevent further deterioration of the vessel.

Later, we walked through Kungstradgarden. It is a very large central square that is flanked by cafes and food vendors. Inside the square, a stage had been erected for performers and protesters. There were chess games with outsized pieces, bocce, game tables, fountains and benches in the small square. It was very crowded at almost any time of day. The square was vibrant and interesting, but of course attracted the requisite number of hustlers. It is interesting during the day, forget it at night. We had smorebords (open faced sandwiches) in an outdoor cafe for 35 K each. It was sunny, 71 and beautiful.

We walked by the palace again and through Gamla Stan (Old Town), checking out restaurants and shopping. This section of town is quaint, with narrow pedestrian streets and lots of shops. It is very picturesque. There are many small restaurants and cafes throughout the area. We kept going until 7:30 p.m., before we retired, exhausted with the day's travel.

Thursday, July 30 - Stockholm, Sweden

     We arose late and at 9 A.M. , breakfasted at the large buffet in the hotel. It seemed like everyone ate like a horse. There were several types of of fish, breads, cereals, eggs, meats and cheeses.  Juice and coffee were served in unlimited quantities.

We walked over and through the nearby Stadhus (old city hall) and admired this venerable structure. Then, a ten minute walk to Riddarsholmkirken, in Gamla Stan. In this old and elaborately carved Church, a score or so of Swedish monarchs are buried.  It has an impressive array of Royal tombs and vaults.

We caught the Djurgarden ferry (60 K for 2 round trip tickets) and docked at the GronaLund amusement park. Djurgarden (deer park) is a large island in Stockholm harbor. Located upon it, are several large museums, an amusement park, a few  restaurants and a large "cultural park" called Skansen. Skansen houses a few score of historical buildings from the 1700's. Zoo exhibits are interspersed throughout. It is very well attended. We enjoyed seeing 'reindeer" close up, with their fuzzy antlers. A few rough hewn Lapland, tent-like structures were interesting. They are similar to Mongolian yurts and Indian teepees. Admission to Skansen is 35 K each and was enjoyable.

Next, we walked down the central  boulevard to a magnificent,  turreted edifice called the Nordic Museet (30 K each). It was loaded with kids, but  the exhibits weren't very good. It looked like the building must have housed a much more impressive collection that had then  moved on to better quarters.

We walked back to GronaLund for a coke (10K) and watched a bungee jumper plummet off of a crane. They must be crazy! The ferry, back to Gamla Stan, was crowded with strollers. The locals take their kids everywhere and cart food and beverages underneath the strollers, for a family picnic. Gamla Stan, with its cobblestone streets and narrow alleys, was very crowded with tourists. It was overcast, cool  and in the 60's. We repaired to the hotel for a nap.

At 6:30, we again walked to Gamla Stan, for dinner at Kristina's.  It is an old and comfortable restaurant. Salad, entree and mineral water were 270K. After dinner, we walked up to Kungstradgarden to watch the frenetic activity. The Chess games, speakers and other activities were entertaining. We walked further through the downtown area and listened to music in yet another shopping square. It was cool and nice. Loads of tourists were about. Footsore, we retired at 9 p.m. It was still very light out due to the northern latitude.

Friday, July 31 - Stockholm, Sweden

We breakfasted early, at the hotel, and walked to the nearby Stadhus plaza. There, we bought 2 tickets for the Drottningholm Palace cruise, at 60K each. It is a pleasant one hour cruise, south along the Riddar River. As we approached the pale yellow Royal palace, with green spires, it reminded us of Versailles. For 25K each, we toured this 18th century masterpiece. The furnishings are ornate and well preserved. It is a good snapshot of Sweden in the 1700's. The current king and his family live at Drottningholm a great deal of the time. Their quarters are closed to tourists. Afterward, we strolled the length of a large formal garden, with a central fountain. Next, we toured the Chinese Pavilion, on the grounds, for 25K each. It had been a summer tea house, and was laden with oriental art. On our way back, we saw another "changing of the guard." The king was in residence. The boat ride, back along the river,  was pleasant and took 45 minutes. A bus ride to Drottningham is quicker, but not as scenic.

From the jetty, we walked through the waterfront to the Nyboplan Area, hoping to catch the last ferry to Millesgarden. We were too late. We shifted gears and took a subway to Ropsten, for 24K and a bus to the island of Lindigo. Finally, we walked the last 1/2 mile to Millesgarden. It is the home and sculpture court of Carl Milles. Perched on a cliff, high above the river, it is beautiful. Huge renditions of his statues, which adorn fountains throughout Europe, were placed atop columns and in various nooks throughout. It is beautiful and a must stop. The bus and train back to Gamla Stan took us only 20 minutes.

We stopped off at the Cattelin restaurant, in Gamla Stan, for fish, fries and a Tuborg beer. (350K.) We were still unsure of the tipping procedure. Thirty percent is already included in the bill for tax and service. When questioned, the waitress seemed to indicate that her tip was not included. It can be  confusing.

We again walked up to Kungstradgarden to view the colorful elements at play. It is a great people show,  if you are careful. It was in the 60's and sunny, in the early evening. We were pretty tired and footsore, so we took a slow walk, back along the river, to the hotel. It was 7:30 P.M.. We were ready to watch some TV and retire. CNN was a favorite with us, or the English SkyeNews. It is interesting what a lifeline an English language station becomes. All day long, the usual verbal cues are unintelligible. This breeds a sense of isolation.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and we enjoyed the scenery. Food and beer prices were very expensive. The subway and busses were clean, efficient and cheap.

Saturday, August 1 - Stockholm, Sweden

We got up at 5 a.m. and watched CNN. After an early breakfast, we walked through the downtown area. We caught the 9:03 A.M. train, for the 50 minute ride to Uppsala (120K round trip for 2). There, we toured the Uppsala cathedral. It is enormous, airy, light and ornate. Several monarchs and Botanist Karl Linnaeus are buried there.

Then, on to Uppsala Slot  (castle). The view is beautiful but the tour was not worth 40K each. (it is like the two headed pig exhibit  at the fair). After walking to the bus station, we took bus #29 to Gamla Uppsala. (34K) We almost ended up in god knows where, because the old town was not immediately recognizable from the bus. It is a series of small mounds with an old wooden church and a small farm. Vikings of long ago had held sacrificial rites here and wove a legend of sorcery and mysticism around the place.          However, the skies were  a beautiful bright blue  and it was warm and sunny. We wandered around the area for an hour or so. There is a charming restaurant there called Mattsgarden. We stopped on the patio and had some mineral water. (30K) The old church was also picturesque. Gamla Uppsala is  an old sacrificial ground for the early Norsemen. As a modern tourist attraction,  it leaves something to be desired. We caught the 2:10 bus back to Uppsala and the 3:13 train to Stockholm. It was S.R.O. for an hour, with hundreds of backpackers riding the rails. Most of them looked tired and disheveled. We stopped at the hotel for a nap and to freshen up.

At 6 p.m., we walked over to Gamla Stan and had a pretty good dinner, with wine, at Rubino's Italian restaurant  (230K). It was a charming place, with an outdoor cafe for drinkers and diners. Later, we walked past the palace and under the bridge, to "Stromgarterran" , an outdoor cafe on the river. It has a great view of the harbor. We had a glass of draft beer for $7 each.

We strolled across the stroget for a last walk and enjoyed the evening, before turning in early to pack for the trip to Gothenburg. We had a nice stay in Stockholm. It is interesting, if expensive. Two to three days here are enough. Carpe diem.

Sunday, August 2 - Stockholm to Gothenburg, Sweden

We arose early, had a quick breakfast and walked the two blocks to the bus station.  There, we boarded the 7:15 A.M. airport bus for the forty minute ride to Arlanda Airport.  (100K). We then had a pleasant one hour flight, on SAS #154, to Landvetter Airport in Gothenburg, Sweden. Another airport bus took us the 12 miles to the train station, in town, for 100K. The Sheraton was across the street from the train station. It is a new hotel and we checked in to opulence. The Interior looks like the hanging gardens of Babylon.

We unpacked and set out for the day. We ambled up Kungsport Ave. to the canal, where we took the famous "Padden Boats" for an interesting canal and harbor tour. (110K)  The Harbor area has massive ship building facilities, with huge floating dry docks. The canal bridges are low, with 4-5' clearance from the water. Going under the last bridge, we had to hunker down in the boat. The day was cool and chilly.

After changing into warmer clothes, the sun perversely came out for a nice afternoon. We walked along the harborfront and stopped for coffee at a kiosk. (20K) Then,  we walked along the canal to Kungsport Ave. From here, we walked to the Opera, Theatre and music hall complex. They  are all located in a U shaped court at the head of Kungsport Ave.. In the center, lies  a large Milles statue and fountain. Kungsport Ave. is a broad boulevard of cafes, restaurants and trendy small hotels. It reminded me of the Champs Elysee, in Paris.

We stopped at the La Gondola Restaurant for a very good dinner with wine, for 300K. It's a good thing Italian food is a favorite of ours. It is far more affordable than Scandinavian fare.

Light raindrops chased us back to the hotel. We were tired with the day from travelling on  busses and planes. After readying for the next day's trip to Copenhagen, we settled in with Needful Things by Stephen King and As the Crow Flies by Jeffrey Archer.

Gothenburg has a very large amusement park, Lisaberg, but we were too tired to take it in. This city was included on our trip because it is near where Mary had spent the summer of 1968. She had tried to make contact with the Davidson's, the Swedish family she stayed with, but to no avail.

Monday, August 3 - Gothenburg, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark

We got up very early, had breakfast at 6:30 A.M. and checked out. We walked across the street and caught the 8:10 train to Copenhagen. It was a 4 1/2 hour ride in relative comfort. We had first class seats. They cost a little more, but allowed us to  avoid the cattle car feeling in 2nd class. The scenery was bucolic. Wheat fields, sea coast and gentle rolling plains passed beneath our window. We arrived at Helsinborg, Sweden, where two of the rail  cars were detached and loaded onto a large ferry. After a brief ferry ride across the Baltic, passing Elsinore castle (the setting for Hamlet), we arrived in Helsingor, Denmark.

Another short 30 minute ride took us into the Copenhagen train station. We lugged our bags a few blocks to the Sheraton and checked in. Throngs of people were everywhere about. Most of our clothes needed washing. The hotel charged about $10 per shirt, so we looked up a nearby laundromat, on Istedegade, and walked over. The laundromat operated quite differently from American coin operated versions. The posted written directions aren't too useful when they are in a foreign language. If it weren't for a helpful Danish girl, we would have had real trouble. For 50K, we did most of our clothes and got an eyeful. Live sex shows, gay bath houses, porno shops, pimps, pushers, hookers and all manner of interesting characters abounded on this street.

We returned to the hotel, unpacked and caught a one hour nap. At 6 p.m. , we walked a few blocks to the Tivoli Amusement Park (33K each) It has been in existence since 1870 and is a local favorite. There are several nice restaurants, cafes and many amusement rides and carnival attractions. In addition, they have nightly performances by musical groups, dance and theater companies. Several small lagoons and tasteful floral settings enhance the omnipresent neon outlines on all of the buildings. We picked the Groften cafe for dinner and had a 'snack' for 230K. The food here is very expensive. A pilsner beer for 20K was the only bargain. Eat elsewhere and snack here.

A pretty good downpour chased us back to the hotel, where we settled in to read. Again,  tired with trains, buses and travelling.

This city is alive. It is genteelly shabby and crowded, but alive.

Tuesday, August 4 - Copenhagen, Denmark

We arose late and had breakfast at the hotel. Again, a good selection of pickled herring, smoked whitefish and plenty of everything else.

We walked over to the Stroget. This is a completely pedestrian street, lined with shops, that stretches about 3/4 of a mile from Radhus Plaza (city hall) to Nyhavn, where a number of old sailing vessels are moored. There are also several tributaries to the main pedestrian artery. People stroll, shop and have coffee or beer, in outdoor cafes. You can  generally experience a daily " happening". Jugglers, musicians, singers and actors regularly perform, for coins, on an impromptu basis. One 'play' that we saw, called "Omelet", was a takeoff on Hamlet. It involved three members of the audience. It was very funny and the actor got well over 300K for his performance.

About halfway up the Stroget was the Rundtarn, or round tower. It is about 6 stories high and 300-400 years old. Inside, a cobbled roadway leads upwards, in an ascending spiral, to the top. Supposedly, a horse and carriage could ride its length. It is attached to an old church and is interesting.

Continuing on through the university section, we walked through the grounds of Rosenborg Castle. It is a delightful 3 story, turreted castle , that is the repository of the Danish crown jewels and a hoard of other antiquities.

We walked on and past the grounds of Amalienborg Palace, where the royal family resides, to the beautiful waterfront. There, we saw the  famous statue of Hans Christian Andersen's, "Little Mermaid." Large crowds of tourists surrounded it. She sits there quietly, about 5 feet off shore, on a pedestal, serene and impressive. We took several photos, with her in the background.

We walked back through the palace, to see the changing of the guard. It was crowded and tourists do not act their best in these situations.

Strolling through Nyhavn, or new harbor, we admired the large wooden fishing vessels berthed along the quay. We had a Tuborg beer, in an outdoor cafe for 50K, and watched the considerable tourist traffic flow by. People watching is fascinating.

From Nyhavn, we retraced our steps along the Stroget, which was very crowded, to the hotel for a brief respite. We were footsore and tired.

At 6 p.m., we hailed a cab (40K) to the  Bachullus restaurant in the university district. Until recently, it had been Green's, a vegetarian restaurant, at 12-14 Gronnegade. We had a pretty good meal for 225K. After dinner, we walked through Kong's Nytorv (King's Square) and again strolled through picturesque Nyhavn. It was crowded with diners. Many people were  sitting along the quay's edge, with beers they had brought with them . From here, we walked along the Stroget and watched the aforementioned street play "Omelet."

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped in at the Old English Pub, but it was too crowded for us. We returned to the Sheraton and had a beer in the Red Lion Pub, for 50K, before retiring footsore and tired from the day. We had walked between 6 and 8 miles almost every day. The bartender was an Irishman from Wicklow. He said none of the local folks drank much in the pubs because they couldn't afford it.


Wednesday, August 5 - Copenhagen, Denmark

We breakfasted early and walked over to Christianborg Palace, before proceeding across the bridge to Christianhavn. This is  a supposedly " bohemian community". We looked into a few old churches and sat along the canal admiring the wooden vessels. It appeared to be a monstrous collection of unimpressive brick housing projects.  It was a long 5 mile walk there and back. In between, we sat in several squares, had coffee and watched the surroundings. Increasingly, this people watching became a source of entertainment and interest.

Later in the morning, we visited the Danish National Museum. (40K) It is an interesting collection of Danish history, Vikings and local lore. It is worth a stop. We again stopped in the Old English Pub for a quiet afternoon beer.(49K) We bought pita sandwiches, chips, and sodas for 100K and then had a picnic, for dinner. It was a nice day , sunny, windy and cool.

At 8 p.m., we walked across the Stroget to Nyhavn, again enjoying the crowds, the street entertainers and the lively night life. Returning along the Stroget , we stopped and sat in the Radhus Plaza. It was a beautiful evening and the plaza was ablaze in corporate neon insignias. Many, many people were out and about. We stopped in to the Red Lion Pub, in our hotel, for a late beer. (55K)  We then retired, once again, footsore and tired.

Thursday, August 6 - Copenhagen,  Denmark

After breakfast, we walked over to the Radhus Plaza and caught the #30 bus to Dragor, a fishing village 10 miles south. (27K each/round trip) It is a large marina for sailing vessels and a ferry stop to Malmo, Sweden. Most of the cottages are cobblestoned, with thatched roofs. It is very picturesque. The day was sunny and beautiful. Outside of town, we walked onto what appeared to be a large fishing, swimming pier, with secluded sections for sunbathing. It was a clothing optional, swimming place. We tried to be inconspicuous and left after a short time.

We caught the 1 p.m. bus, for the 35 minute ride back to Copenhagen. Then, we walked through town to the Rosenborg Castle, previously mentioned (30K each). Inside, is a fabulous collection of furniture, china and assorted wealth. The Danish Crown Jewels, in the cellar vault,  are truly impressive, rivaling England's or France's. It is a great stop. It was starting to cloud up, so we headed back to the Stroget area. We stopped at the Ristorante Italiano and had a great dinner, with wine, for 200K. After dinner, we sat again in the Radhus Plaza and watched the throngs mill about.

Tired & footsore, we returned to the hotel to pack and ready for the flight to Oslo, Norway. Copenhagen is a charming, bustling old town with a lot to see and do. You should, however, have your wits about you when venturing forth.

Friday, August 7 - Copenhagen , Denmark to Oslo, Norway

We arose very early (5:30 A.M.), had breakfast at 7:00. Then, we  took a 7:45 cab to Kastrup Airport.(110K ) The place was mobbed. SAS crews had begun a wildcat strike, cancelling scores of flights. Luckily, our flight had a Swedish crew who weren't striking. We lifted off an hour late and flew one hour to Fornebu Airport in Oslo, Norway. On the approach to Oslo, we could see the many lakes and relatively flat terrain of western Sweden. The seacoast was dotted with hundreds of islands.

We got a cab to the Ambassadeur Hotel, on Camilla, near Uranienborg St. It is old and comfortable, resembling a small brothel. We unpacked and walked over to Frogner Park. It was sunny, warm and a beautiful day. The park is a beautiful green expanse, but it is more a living monument to Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. A good sized bridge is lined on both sides with 3/4 sized figures of men, women and children in various poses. Then,  a forecourt with a large central fountain is surrounded by sculptures of various nymphs. Finally, you walk up a broad staircase to the central sculpture court. A large obelisk shaped monument, composed of hundreds of human figures,  climbing on top of one another, dominates the area. Surrounding the obelisk, are a score or so of paired sculptures, depicting the various ages of man from childhood to death. It is truly impressive.

On our way out of the Park, we had a mineral water (40K). The waitress was Finnish and she spoke English, Norwegian and was studying Russian.      

We hopped aboard the trolley (like San Francisco) for 36K and rode downtown. We walked over to Ackerhus Castle and, for 20K each, toured this massive coastal fortification. It is a  good stop with a great vista of the harbor.

Later, we walked along the waterfront, past a large statue of FDR and took a one hour Oslo Fjord tour for 100K. It was scenic and enjoyable.

Further along the harborfront, is Akker Brygge, a restored shopping area, adjacent to a large quay. It has a number of sailing vessels and picturesque restaurants. We found The RorBua pub, a quaint nautical type restaurant. We had a large beer and very good seafood dinner for 300K. We had the waiter take our picture.  

It was getting late and cooling off, so we walked through town and on up, through Queen's Park,  to the hotel. It was a full day and we again walked 6-8 miles. The skies were blue, it was sunny and the city was clean and picturesque. We had a good first impression of Norway.

Saturday, August 8 - Oslo, Norway

We arose later than usual and breakfasted at the Ambassadeur. Then, we again walked through Queen's Park and downtown, to the train station. There, for 630K, we bought 2 first class tickets to Lillehammer,  leaving on Monday. We stopped in to look over the nearby Alte Kirke (old church) and perused Johan's Gate, Oslo's version of the Stroget.

Later, we boarded a ferry (30K each) , for a trip to the BygDoy peninsula, with its attractions. A brisk walk to the Viking Ship Museum was worth the trouble. For 20K each,  we viewed the remains of 3 Viking longboats that had served as funerary biers. They are impressive, with massive iron-studded frames upon an oaken keel. The rudder was side mounted. Other carved funerary artifacts were also interesting. Another brisk walk downhill to the KonTiki Museum , featuring the Ra I and II , was only moderately interesting. (30K)

We boarded the return ferry (30K) to the Radhus Plad (City Hall Plaza) and walked through neighboring Akker Brygge. Along the way, we had passed the Christianna Row Club. This was the City's name prior to 1929. We had ice cream cones, for 36K and sat and watched the tourists mill about. It was a gorgeous day , sunny and cool, with blue skies. We walked into the city center and sat in one of the squares, enjoying the day.

We walked back, through Queen's Park, to the hotel for a short break. At 6 p.m., we walked into town and had dinner at D.S Louise, a very nautical type restaurant, in Akker Brygge. The food was good, but the prices were outrageous. It cost 275K for a light meal with a glass of wine.

We had an ice cream and walked into town, to stroll Johan's Gate and watch the crowds. Except for Akker Brygge on a weekend, Oslo never really seemed to be crowded. It also closes at 6 p.m. There were artists and vendors along the stroget and in the public areas. We stopped in the Studenten Johan's Gate Cafe for a beer. (76K) They must be pretty rich students!

The day was waning and we were tired with the day, so we retired to the hotel via cab (45K).

Sunday, August 9 - Oslo, Norway

It was rainy, cool and in the 60's. We slept in and had a late breakfast , at 10 a.m. A few blocks over, we hopped on the trolley (30K)  and rode to the Edward Munch Museum, near the university. Admission was 40K each. We passed through the botanical gardens complex, with its large arboretum.

Munch's earlier works (1880-90's) remind one of Degas or Manet, his works after 1900 appear to be fed from a cocaine induced mania. Most of his works did not appeal to me.

We walked back into the city center and stopped at the Scotsmen's Pub, on Karl Johan's Gate, for coffee (36K). The light rain was intermittent, so we walked through and sat in several squares, at a leisurely pace. Again, we strolled through Akker Brygge and sat and people watched. We picked up several small baguette sandwiches (80K) and mineral water (40K) for a picnic supper.

It began to rain again, so we walked through town and Queen's Park to the hotel. We packed and readied for the trip to Lillehammer.

Monday, August 10 - Oslo to Lillehammer, Norway

We got up very early (4:30) and took a 7 a.m. taxi to the train station, for 45K. The station was busy with commuters and travelers. Every train station we stopped in, was loaded with dozens of backpackers, of all nationalities. They were mostly students, who  had purchased a Europass for approximately $350. This allowed them to travel anywhere in Europe, for one month. We grabbed  coffee and danish at the station and boarded the 8:10 train for Lillehammer. The ride took a pleasant 2 hours & 20 minutes. We rode in first class comfort. The countryside was changing gradually to mountains, clear streams and cooler temperatures. At Lillehammer, we lugged our bags about 1/4 mile up the hill, to the Rica Victoria  Hotel. There, we stored our bags in the luggage room. We were too early to check into our room. We strolled along the Storgata, a pedestrian shopping  mall, that runs through most of the downtown center. It has the aura of Lake Placid and other ski centers. The town was crowded with day trippers from Oslo, buying Olympic '94 souvenirs. Pins were $5-6 and tee shirts about $22. It was a charming town, but all roads  were undergoing massive renovation in preparation for the Olympics.

We had lunch in the Bonderuehus Fossekroa, for about 150K. It was cafeteria style, but still pretty good. After lunch, we walked about a mile out to Maihaugen, a Norwegian cultural park, featuring 18th century wooden structures, in a rugged natural setting. Park employees performed maintenance chores garbed in period costumes.

It was high on a hill, with rugged pathways. It had been left in as natural a state as possible. There were wooden stockade type buildings, a stave church and other structures dating from the 1700's. The employees did maintenance using 18th century implements. It is very picturesque and worth a visit. (60K)

We walked back to town, checked in and unpacked, tired and footsore. Mary located a laundry and did two loads of wash for 120K (over $10 a load!). It was the only laundromat in town and we needed some clean clothes . At 7 p.m., we again walked through town and stopped at Giovanni's Pizza for pretty good pizza and Ringnes beer, for 211K. Later, we sat in town. A horse and dray, with driver and peasants, in native felt costumes and capes, rode through town. They were from the Oppland Hotel , a ski resort. We wandered over to the Bryggerskjellern, a cozy pub and restaurant in an old brewery. It is a cobblestoned grotto, built into a hillside, with a fire blazing . It had a stuffed bear and moose in the corner. It is cozy and picturesque. (56 K for 2 beers).

A light rain fell at 9:30, so we returned to the room to read. We inquired about a Fjord Pass and, having purchased one for 50K,  managed to get the 1050K room for 680K. By the end of the trip we saved 2800K on this 50K investment. It was not something we were aware of before we left , but is definitely worth asking about.

That night, there was a massive thunderstorm echoing through the hills with very heavy rain.

Tuesday, August 11 - Lillehammer, Norway

We got up late and had breakfast at the hotel. I wasn't feeling very well. We stopped at the bank to exchange dollars for kronors, the post office for Olympic stamps, the town information center and finally the Olympic information center. Lastly, we stopped by the Oppland Kommune (county hall) and exchanged Erie County pins for theirs.

Not feeling well, I repaired to the room for a nap. Mary went shopping.  She was able to catch the tee shirt auction. Each day at 1 p.m. in the town square, an original Olympic tee shirt is auctioned off. This event began 1000 days before the Olympics and  continued until they began, in 1994. Each shirt is a unique design and therefore a collector's item. On this particular day,  the shirt went for 2500K,  between $450-500! There was a hotel mixup and our two night reservation turned out to be a one night booking. The hotel was full, but the clerk made reservations for us down the street, at the Hammer Home Hotel. This turned out to be a bonus. The hotel is brand new and the accommodations are great. They put out the fixings for homemade waffles, tea, coffee or hot chocolate every afternoon, from 3-6 p.m. At 6 , they laid out a sandwich buffet. Both of these were available at no cost. The sauna/recreation room also had beer on tap for the guests. All this for the same price , 680K with the Fjord Pass.

I called Buffalo to check in with the office. A 15-20 minute conversation cost $70. The best advice here is, if you must call long distance, use your calling card and dial unassisted.

At 5 p.m. , for 80K each, we took a 2 hour  tour of the '94 Olympic facilities. Everything was under construction. Roads, ice rinks and bob sled runs. It looked impressive. They were making plans to house 20,000 press, workers and athletes. We stopped at the top of the ski jump and the view was beautiful. We bought pins for 25K each. There is a massive infrastructural investment for the games. It will be interesting to watch the games in '94 knowing that we were at these sites.

After the tour, I went to bed early , sick.

Wednesday, August 12 - Lillehammer to Aaelsund, Norway

We were up early and had a very good breakfast, at the hotel. We took a cab to the train station. (30K) We had a two hour train ride into the mountains, to Dombas. The snowcapped mountains presented a Swiss mountainside visage. We had an hour layover so we walked into town and shopped in The Trollstua, for trinkets. We got an applejuice for 15K and enjoyed the village. It is postcard pretty.

I should mention the Norwegian fascination with trolls. The mists in the high peaks and large forests are Tolkienesque. They engender visions of hobgoblins. The trolls are everywhere about,  serving as vassals to lords of thunder  and lightning. They believe that the mountains are the broken bodies of trolls, who were caught in the daylight. Consequently, you see troll dolls everywhere.

From Dombas, we boarded a late train for the 1 1/2 hour ride to Andalnes. It is a thrilling rollercoaster ride through gorges with cascading streams gushing from the mountains in every direction.  It is  a 3,000 foot drop to the valley floor. It is beautiful and worthy of a Disney attraction.

The day was getting long. We arrived in Andalnes and caught the 4 p.m bus, for a 2 1/2 hour ride, to the coastal village of Aalesund.

The scenery again was inspiring. Mountains and fjords surrounded us. 'God chiseled upon a granite canvas , with the fevered imagination of a JRR Tolkien and wrought a land of majestic mountains and impossibly deep fjords, whose dark jade reflections captured the visage of lords of thunder and lightning, as they stormed through the valleys, trolls and imps in thrall.'

At 6:30 p.m., travel weary, we arrived in the scenic fishing village of Aalesund. We checked into the Scandic Hotel, which is very nice, and got a room with a great view of the harbor.

We had a good dinner of catfish and steak, at the hotel, for 350K .After a  short stroll through the town, we crashed, tired with the day. The town reminded me of Gloucester, Massachusetts. It has statues of fishermen, fish mongers and women waiting apprehensively for their men to come home from sea. It is very picturesque. It closes, however, at 6 p.m. and I do mean closes. In fact most of Norway closes after 6 p.m., except for the tourist hotels.

Thursday, August 13 - Aalesund,Norway

We arose later (8:30) and breakfasted at the hotel. We walked through the harbor section of town. The mountains across the water were wreathed in mist. It was cool and in the 60's. At the bus station, we bought 2 round trip tickets to tour the Geiranger Fjord area for 492K. The first 2 hours on a bus and ferry took us to Hellesylt. There , we boarded a ferry for the 70 minute ride up the picturesque Geiranger fjord. The seven sisters and other major waterfalls were down to a trickle. In the spring, they are roaring. We looked in wonder at the towering walls of granite and dark jade green beneath us. It is an impressive 70 minute ride. We had a 90 minute layover in the town of Geiranger, so we browsed and stopped for coffee and french fries (70K). The town is really a ferry stop with a small hotel, a few shops and houses on the edge of this arm of the fjord. While it is scenic,  a 90 minute stop is more than enough. Had we taken the earlier trip, we would have had about 4 hours to kill here. That is three hours more than needed. The attraction is the trip to this area. We again saw the "Sons of Norway", Americans from the mid-west in search of their roots.

We caught a bus to Eidsdal, then a ferry to Linge and a bus to Aalesund. The bus ride is not for the faint of heart. In a series of 8 switchbacks, the road rose 3,000 feet in a short space. Each turn risked a head on collision and swung outward, with a view guaranteed to terrify an acrophobic. It was another Disney, and we were going up! The ride back down is not to be contemplated. We stopped for a photo opportunity at the top. This road, Eagle's Road, has incredible panoramic vistas.

It took us 8 1/2 hours to complete the circuit. It was a beautiful trip. We were on our own, unencumbered by a tour. This is really the best way to see the fjords.

At 7:30 P.M., we arrived back in Aalesund and found McWilliam's, a cute McDonald's take off. We had a pretty good meal for 140K.

Somewhat tired with the day, we returned to the hotel to pack and ready for tomorrow's flight. It was light until after 10 p.m., because of our northern latitude. We were on the 5th floor, facing the harbor . The view,  from our room, was that of a  beautiful seacoast village. The Pale gold of the late setting sun  colored the harbor.

Friday, August 14 - Aalesund to Bergen, Norway

We were up early and had  a quick breakfast at the hotel. We took a cab to Aalesund Airport ( 200K). We drove through one of four, mile long subterranean tunnels, that connect the 4 major islands that make up Aalesund. It is four lanes wide and is submurged 30 feet beneth the floor of the Ocean. It is an amazing engineering feat.

Our 9 a.m.  Braethens commuter, to Bergen, took 35 minutes. We caught a Flybussen to the Hotel Norge (72K) and a cab to the Victoria Hotel (39K) When we went to check in, the clerk informed us that they wouldn't honor the Fjord Pass because we didn't inform them of it when the reservations were made. This was the only hotel to do this and the difference was 270K per night. We decided to investigate some alternatives, but after a few phone calls from a nearby bakery, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor . We checked in for the night at 1050K. We phoned around and secured a better and cheaper room (680K), at the Augustin Hotel, for the succeeding three nights. Again, more for the principle of refusing to be a docile plucked tourist.

We walked through the harbor area and stopped at the huge open air fish market. Then, we nosed around the circa 1702 buildings,  from the Hanseatic league era, on the wharf. We stopped by the Brygge Museum (20K), a so/so collection of historical runes and artwork. After checking out prices in the market area, as well as tourist shops, Mary purchased a Norwegian sweater from a woman in the market. It is hand knitted and cost 600K. We then walked through the Radhus Plad and looked in the Alte Kirke (13th century) .It has a Dutch mini cannonball embedded in the front wall.

After a brief r & r at the hotel, we had pizza at Jeppe's Pizza, in the late afternoon. (184K) It was cool, cloudy, windy and in the 50's. After lunch, we walked to Hotel Norge and took a 90 minute bus tour of Bergen (100K). It provided us with a bit of interesting history of Bergen and an overview of the town. Afterward, we stopped for a pint at the Bullseye Pub, in the Hotel Norge. It is a portrait in Red velvet , plush and of course, expensive. (78K)

Evening was upon us . It was cooling off and we were tired. We walked back to the hotel and settled in to read. (Grisham - A Time to Kill)

Bergen is an old seacoast city, nestled against the mountains. Its traditions are commercial fishing and trade. The Hanseatic League of Baltic merchants was headquartered here. Many large ferries and ocean packets dock here. Some run to Newcastle and Iceland. The North Seal oil industry now dominates the area commercially.

Saturday, August 15 - Bergen, Norway

The day started with a light rain . It was  muggy and a cool 60 degrees. Breakfast at The Victoria hotel was very crowded. We checked out and cabbed over to the Hotel Augustin, on Sundtsgate,  for 45K . We left our bags in storage.

We walked along the wharf and through the very crowded fish market. All manner of ocean fish were on sale. Vegetables, handknit sweaters, reindeer and wolf pelts  were all for sale. It is colorful and interesting. Walking further, we explored the Hakkon Hall/Rosencrantz Tower complex. Retracing our steps, we had coffee at the 2nd floor Lido restaurant, overlooking the fish market.

We stopped at the Tourist Information Center, in Radhus Plaza, and walked on up to the rail station. There, we purchased two "Norway in a Nutshell" roundtrip train/bus/ferry tickets, for 800K.

Walking back to the hotel, we were advised the room still wasn't ready. The hotel paid for coffee and danish in the adjacent Augustin Konfitori. They had great pastries.

We walked again along the wharf and through the market, to the Funicular station . There, for 26K each, we rode 2,000 feet up to Mt. Floien. The train or tram is on a 28° incline and rose very quickly. At the top, is a restaurant with  a terrific view of the harbor area and surrounding coastline. A small forest/park also crowns the mountain. We followed the paths upward, stopping at a small mountain lake, to watch the ducks and appreciate the scenery. Continuing upward by winding roads, we reached the top. It is  about 1000 feet above the rest area. The view is a magnificent panorama, over a 270° vista  of mountains , ocean, fjords and greater Bergen. We sat on a bench for a while and just appreciated the view.

Walking back was much easier. We boarded the Funicular tram with no trouble. We walked back to the hotel and checked in. The room was small, but very nice. We unpacked for the last time. The late afternoon/early evening sun was nice, so we ambled over to a Rema 1000 store, where we bought some beer, mineral water and snacks for 100K. Later, we stopped at the Kavistova Kafe in the harbor, for a good, inexpensive dinner. (120K) Tired from the day, we crashed, read and watched CNN.


Sunday, August 16 - Bergen, Norway

Breakfast at the Augustin was very good. A light rain was falling.  It was 60 degrees, cool and damp. We walked up to the train station and at 10:30 A.M., departed for a 2 hour train to Myrdal, up in the mountains. The train  was about 40 minutes late, waiting for the tracks to clear. About 1/3 of the ride was through their amazing tunnels. At Myrdal, they had held the connecting train. This would take us on a 50 minute roller coaster ride, to the base of the Stavanger Fjord, at Flam. Cascading waterfalls, steep and precipitous drops characterized the trip. It is just beautiful, but the ride was somewhat spoiled for us by a couple of camera jerks. They literally ran from side to side of the train, trying to take pictures out of the windows. It was extremely annoying. Ordinarily, the train makes a few stops to allow passengers to fully appreciate the awesome sights, but because the train was 40 minutes behind, there were no stops on this run. At Flam, we shopped a little and boarded a ferry for the 2 hour ride up the fjord to Gudvagen. It was chilly, with a light rain. The mist wreathed the mountains like garlands and gave it an eerie effect. The scenery was beautiful. We were chilled by the time we reached Gudvagen though.

At Gudvagen, we scrambled for the buses like a last lifeboat, that would take us to Voss, with a 15 minute stop at scenic Stahlheim Hotel, in the mountains. It was another "eagle's road", with a series of switchbacks and hairpin turns . The clouds did lessen the view. It was raining and cold.

At Voss, we waited briefly before boarding the train for the 1  1/4 hour ride back to Bergen. The trip is scenic and interesting, though we were chilled with the rain and cold. The trip may be better taken on a weekday in the off season . Hopefully, on a sunny day,  You would better appreciate the tour. The Geiranger trip was much nicer.

We stopped at the bus station, next door to the train station and bought some sandwiches and chips for dinner. It was a 9 1/2 hour trip and we were tired. We returned to the hotel, to picnic on baguettes and beer, read and watch CNN.

Monday, August 17 - Bergen, Norway

We arose early and had a 7:30 A.M. breakfast at the hotel. We walked along the wharf and market areas, shopping for souvenirs. We covered the Galleriet mall as well. After spending 700K on small souvenirs, we stopped back back at the hotel. It was sunny, cool and 60.

Later, we sat in the sun on the wharf and had coffee in the Brunbaker Cafe', for 30K. We boarded a 1 hour harbor cruise, aboard the White Lady, for 60K each. The tour was only moderately interesting, because the guide was having a private conversation with a passenger and seemed to forget his narrating duties.

Upon our return to the market area, we walked through the old Hanseatic buildings complex and stopped at the Tracteursted, a 300 year old tavern  on Bryggen wharf,  for a beer. (60K) A wonderful family, with 2 darling children,  drove every body out of the place.

It was cloudy , with a light rain . I wasn't feeling very well, so we returned to the hotel. For dinner, we ate at the hotel's Augustin Bistro. Salmon, chicken and wine  were very good. (440K) After 21 days, we were ready to go home. We packed and watched CNN.

Tuesday, August 18 - Bergen, Norway to Buffalo, New York

We arose early, finished packing and checked out at 7 a.m. We had a light breakfast, at the hotel, and caught a cab to the airport  (100K). The driver was interesting. His English was very good. He had spent a few months  in California and Florida . Among the things he told us, were that he was a sky diver, jumped at 150 feet and he thought the French were assholes. He concurred with us that food and drink, in a local restaurant,  is exorbitant. This was probably the longest conversation we had with a native Norwegian.

We arrived at the airport early, checked our bags into the Braethen Airlines counter, for the 50 minute flight to Oslo and had coffee in the terminal. The short flight to Oslo and the brief layover, gave us a few minutes to spend our remaining coins, before leaving. We filed the tax forms and received a refund of 50K. A fellow passenger couldn't take the pressure and stressed out with the forms. We were highly amused.

The eight hour flight to Newark was uneventful, if long. SAS feeds you very well. We read, watched the movie and chafed at the time. At Newark Airport, we cleared customs and caught a bus to the Continental terminal. It wasn't very well organized. It was hot and muggy and we were very tired. By this point, we had been travelling for over 15 hours and were tiring fast.

The  2 1/2 hour layover was very long for us. We walked the terminal, had coffee and got more tired. Finally, we boarded a Continental flight, for the 1 1/2 hour jaunt to Buffalo. A cab, for $18 to our house, completed the trip. We unpacked, read the mail and papers and slept fitfully. We were glad to be home.


                           J. X. M

                             (8357 words)