Planning visits to the Norwegian cities of Oslo and Bergen? Here are some recommendations*. To view all the photographs (with the captions in full) of each city, click on any image and navigate using the left and right keys.
1. Oslo, Norway.
2. Unless you are a passionate royalist the royal castle should not interest you too much (or maybe this is castle-fatigue, after spending too much time in the other European castles). Tours must be booked beforehand. It is nonetheless a nice park to saunter in the morning, before breakfast or assistance at the nearby tourist information office.
3. The Nobel Peace Centre was a disappointment for me. The feature on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was good (albeit small), yet the multimedia exhibits – from wallpaper to interactive books – could not conceal the lack of overall depth (even if a temporary exhibition was under construction). Rather than briefly listing the laureates and their achievements the permanent exhibitions could include more sections modelled after the one on OPCW.
4. Breakfast of a lemon cake, lunch of a gluten-free beef sandwich (my first time), and dinner of cheeseburger and potato wedges.
5. Waiting for the ferry – considered to be public transportation in the city – to the island of Bygdøy. If you intend to see the different museums (and, like me, do not enjoy lingering around the same location for too long), the Oslo Pass is a good investment: free public transportation, and free entry to the major locations.
6. On the island of Bygdøy there are four maritime museums (all of them are worth your time). Clockwise from top-left: the Fram Museum, which tells of the perilous polar and arctic exhibitions (the film is a must); the Kon-Tiki Museum, about Thor Heyerdahl (who introduced the concept of maritime experimental archaeology) and how he sailed in balsa-wood rafts and reed boats; the Viking Ship Museum, which has well-preserved Viking ships and artefacts; as well as the Norwegian Maritime Museum (check out the 2200-year-old dugout boat, and enjoy the film of beautiful shots and clips of Norwegian coasts and cities).
7. Used today for state events, the Akershus Castle was once a fortified castle in the defence of Oslo. The audio guide is very useful, bottom from left to right: the altar of the castle church; the Romerike Hall, reserved for official banquets; and the Hall of King Christian IV. You could also walk around the fortress grounds of the castle, and visit the Norwegian Resistance Museum, housed at a spot where patriots were executed by the Nazis during the war.
8. If you are – like me – blind to the nuances of art and sculptures, the Vigeland Museum might seem like an odd place to visit. Gustav Vigeland is held in high esteem amongst sculptors and his contemporaries, and designed the medal for the Nobel Peace Prize. I did feel out of place amidst the collections of the Norwegian sculptor, but surprisingly it made the trip to the Frogner Park more exciting. Besides spotting the more well-known sculptures I learnt, for instance, more about the transformation from draft to a plaster model to the final product.
9. The Vigeland installation at Frogner Park is a delight. Filled nicely with families and couples too. Perfect way to end the day.
10. Do the Norway in a Nutshell tour. It is pricey, but worth every kroner: no stress, no hassle, and just a day packed with travel and incredible sights.
11. From Oslo to Myrdal via the Bergen Railway, be on the left side of a carriage. The train ascends across the four hour journey, so the scenery changes accordingly.
12. The Flåm Railway will take you from Myrdal to Flåm, from 866 metres to 20 metres above sea level. The train will stop at a magnificent foundation, and after an hour you will be in the innermost corner of the Aurlandsfjord. Stay on the left side of a carriage.
13. Nærøyfjorden has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and seeing is believing. Pay close attention to the announcements on the ferry, which tells tourists more about specific towns, waterfalls, or natural phenomena. Prime sightseeing locations depend on the time of the ferry (the direction of the sun for instance), though the right side on the top deck was nice. I roamed around nonetheless.
14. The town of Aurland. Took my breath away.
15. From Gudvangen to Voss the bus makes a steep descent. From the left of the vehicle you will see more waterfalls, and on the right the slopes of the fjords, but after a day of non-stop sightseeing it matters little (I fell asleep, haha).
16. Bergen, Norway.
17. Meal with @ReporterPhoenix (whom I had met through Twitter): asparagus with parma ham, whale steak (my first time) with gratinated potatoes, and chocolate mousse with a passion fruit coulis.
18. The Bryggen area, an archaeological excavation which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pretty area. Visit the Bryggens Museum first and pick up a brochure which gives you more information about the area and landmarks.
19. Bergenhus Festning (Castle) is worth a stroll in the morning. Buildings and grounds are not the most spectacular, though with the Bergen Card you could probably spend some time in the different museums. Popped by the castle and fortress for some pictures, before heading back to the Bryggens neighbourhood.
20. Museums (bottom, from left to right): the Bergenhus Fortress Museum (not the most interesting); the Bryggens Museum (with exhibitions on the Middle Ages and archaeological investigations this is a good starting point before walking around Bryggens); Håkon’s Hall (the political centre of Norway in the thirteenth century, worth a quick visit); and VilVite, the Bergen Science Museum. The four art museums in the city are also great.
21. View of Bergen from Fløyen, after an eight minute ride up the Fløibanen Funicular.
22. Fish soup, and fish cakes made with haddock and catfish respectively (curiously similar to the fish cakes we have in Singapore).
* Not an advertisement, and also not sponsored (unfortunately).
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