By Marion Bunnik
We are now part-way through this wonderful tour of Scandinavia, tomorrow we head to the North Cape and it is promising to be another fantastic day! Every day has been a highlight so far, starting with Denmark, which is a rather flat country like the Netherlands.
Our Discovery Tour of Scandinavia began in Copenhagen, and our hotel was located right in the middle of the city, walking distance to shops, restaurants and the Tivoli Gardens. Our guide, Milenta, was great, very knowledgeable and we saw all of the most important Government buildings. Our tour included a cruise along the river and canals of Copenhagen, we even passed an area that was modelled on Amsterdam. The Royal Family is very well respected in Denmark and we saw the residences of the Royal Family – of course that includes where Princess Mary lives with her family! In the afternoon we took the optional tour to Frederiksborg Castle and the Museum of Natural History. The Museum has a large collection of artwork and is currently hosting an exhibition of paintings by Bob Dylan. I didn’t know he was also a painter as well as a singer!
We left Copenhagen the next day and travelled north to Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. Here we visited his museum; it was really interesting to see how he lived. Odense is a small town with a cosy main street, and a bakery that had the best sandwiches and yummy biscuits!
We continued to Aalborg for our overnight stay, and arrived in time for the Summer Solstice celebrations. The harbour close to our hotel was full of tall ships. There was such a good atmosphere, with a food market, outdoor terraces and live music. Most of the group went out to visit the market and at midnight there was the biggest fireworks display I have seen – it took at least a half hour!
The next morning we left Denmark and travelled to Norway by ferry; the ferry was large and we, along with our coach, were transported on the 2.5 hour journey to Kristiansand. It was pleasant and the weather was good, but the wind made the journey a bit choppy. The landscape changed immediately to green hills, such a vast difference to the attractive but flat landscape in Denmark. Scandinavia is full of contrasts!
Our destination was Vrådal – the gateway to Lake Nisser. The hotel and its location is just perfect, we arrived mid-afternoon and some of the group rented the bikes to explore the area, most of us went for a walk to the lake near the hotel. Frank went swimming and he said the water was not as cold as at home, mind you it is now winter in South Australia and summer in Vrådal! The water of the lake is crystal clear and the word ‘pollution’ is not listed in the local dictionary. The hotel has a long history and our room was in the oldest part, over the years there have been many additions; it is clearly a popular spot, and not just for the tourists that are passing through on their way to Bergen. We had our first included dinner here, which was delicious.
Talking about food, I have to say that in Scandinavia so far the breakfasts have been outstanding in every hotel, many different kinds of bread, including the dark bread they call the black bread (or dark rye), but also white, wholemeal and seeded breads and croissants. There is a large variety of jams, cheese, salmon and mackerel – both often smoked and absolutely delicious, eggs boiled and scrambled, tomatoes, cucumber, plus cereals with milk, yoghurt and juices, coffee and tea.
Stay tuned for the next instalment as Marion continues her journey through Scandinavia! To explore this incredible part of the world for yourself, check out our 26-day Scandinavia Discovery Tour here.