Norway - The most beautiful voyage

Posted by ~Summer~ on 12.4.13
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Norway - a country that has the midnight sun, the northern lights and some of the most beautiful landscapes one can imagine.

I once read that National Geographic ranks Norway as the most beautiful destination in the world and although we had set foot in it in 2010, we only found time to visit its capital, Oslo, and did not cruise through the renowned fjords with steep walls and narrow waterways.

     Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity. Fjords are found along the whole coast of Norway and Iceland, the island of Greenland, west coast of North America from Puget Sound to Alaska, and the southwest coast of New Zealand.

So, during our final summer holiday in Scandinavia last year, it was not a surprise that we decided to embark on a 8D7N cruise around Norway.






For the first time, we had a balcony cabin! Yes, since we were going to cruise through the fjords, we wanted to admire the beauty of it right here instead of having to jostle with the crowd on the deck. It was also a bliss to be able to have breakfast in the comfort of our cabin while enjoying the morning sun rays and the cooling sea breeze.




Well, it's been over half a year but join us as we reminisce some fond moments from the trip and once again be wowed by the awe-inspiring beauty of Norway.  

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Oslo

Oslo is the capital of and the most populous city in Norway. It was ranked number one in terms of quality of life among European large cities in the European Cities of the Future 2012 report.




For several years, Oslo has been listed as one of the most expensive cities in the world along with such other global cities as Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen, Paris, and Tokyo. Oh yeah, tell me about it, I remembered we spent a bomb on food alone the last time we visited.





Since we had already explored Oslo previously and visited places like the Stortinget (Parliament House, above), Vigeland Sculpture Park, Holmenkollen Ski Jump and even crossed the Oslo Fjord, we decided to bring Angel somewhere which would delight her - The Oslo Reptile Park.



It took us quite awhile to get to this place because it was not on the spot indicated in the map and no one seemed to be able to point us in the right direction. Well, looking at how inconspicuous the main entrance was, we considered ourselves lucky to even make it to their door step.





We spent a couple of hours gazing at lizards, frogs, spiders and crocs. If it makes my girl happy, sure, I can do this all day long provided the reptiles are kept behind glass at all times. And, don't expect me to say "Look! The poisonous Dendrobates azureus!" instead of "See that blue frog? You touch you die."



One memorable incident from this trip was about Angel and her newfound friend. We were browsing in the souvenir shop when I took this monkey off the shelf and once Angel saw it, she fell in love with it. She doesn't usually plead with us to buy stuff but we also didn't want to give in to her request because well, this furry animal cost over a whopping S$80. Fine if you go by Norwegian standards, but for miserly Singaporeans, that is horrendous.

So the hubby thought he was clever by telling Angel "This monkey has no mouth, it doesn't smile. We go and buy one that smiles, ok?"

That said, we left and a look at our watch told us that we had to return to the ship immediately. After a few minutes, Angel started to harp on the question of "So we are going to find a smiley monkey, right right right?" And I knew it. Her heart was going to be shattered if she didn't get a monkey friend that day.

So, guess what? Yeah, we decided to buy that freaking expensive monkey for her. So the hubby dashed back to the store, hoping that he could still catch one of the two monkeys that were left. Angel and I eagerly waited for him on the streets and when he ran back to us, his arm was empty and he said "Sold finished already. No more." That was when I saw my girl break down into tears. Dejectedly. Devastatingly. Heart-brokenly.

Suddenly, the hubby took out his other arm and said "Got you! Daddy bluffed!" and put the monkey in her arms. At that moment, my girl gave a smile that was enough to light up the world. Well, at least it warmed my heart so much. She hugged the monkey like she would never let go and this lucky animal has travelled across the globe to become one of her best friends. 


Stavanger

Stavanger is the third largest urban zone and metropolitan area in Norway. With the oil industry as one of the key industries in the region, the city is widely referred to as the Oil Capital of Norway.








Since we had some free time in the morning, we took a leisure stroll along its Town Square. Its famous tourist spots also include the Stavanger Cathedral, which is the best preserved medieval cathedral in Norway, and the Stavanger Oil Museum.











In the afternoon, we boarded a sightseeing boat tour which took us around the Stavanger archipelago. Cruising on the Lysefjord, we were supposed to visit the so called impressive cliff of Pulpit Rock, which was one of Norway's natural wonders. Alas it was raining throughout the trip and the fjord became pretty foggy.

Nonetheless, while the hubby was looking after Angel in the sheltered cabin, the adventurous and somewhat willful me decided to put on a poncho, armed myself with my DSLR and went onto the deck. I stood there for a couple of hours trying to take some scenic shots while the rain drops splattered on my face incessantly and the cold winds made me shiver. Weirdly, I actually enjoyed that feeling.

On board the ship

You know, part of the reason why we love cruises is the endless array of activities we could participate in and all the fun facilities that we could use.









We loved the pool and the jacuzzis but cruising along a cold country like Norway meant that it got too chilly on some days to even lie on the deck chairs. So when the sun was out, you bet we made full use of it.





One of our favourite hangouts was the Japanese restaurant on board. For the first time, we could choose not to feast on the Italian food during the buffet lunches but instead lay our hands on sushi, temakis, sashimi and tempura udon! We were pleasantly surprised by how fresh the sashimi was!

All dolled up for the grand formal night

Can you tell that I was 4 months pregnant?


Angel: I don't want to take picture!          The hubby: I think I just got slapped!


Another fun part about cruises had to be dressing up for the formal nights and enjoying the ambience when you see the decorations on board, get photographed by 'paparazzi' or mingle with fellow guests who were dressed in evening gowns, suits and even tuxedos. We had our friends with us on this trip and well, we gathered around every night and ate like kings and queens! Even though I was preggie and did not sip any wine or champagne, I guess I was in a naturally high mood every night. Just thinking back about all the yummylicious food is making my mouth water.





Since Angel loved to dance from young, she thoroughly enjoyed the theatre shows we watched every night. Her eyes would be glued to the stage, she would applause with all her might, and even start to boogie when the music came. The hubby and I also loved to attend the dance classes and party sessions, so when it was my girl's turn to take the stage, you bet she impressed the crowd. Why, she even had ground moves (aka 地板动作) and some ass-spanking moves which nope, she didn't learn them from me, probably from watching all the J.Lo music videos.













Sunsets. Never get tired of watching them, right? To be able to breathe in the beauty of them all with my loved ones by my side, this had to be my idea of a perfect vacation.

Bergen

Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and the most popular gateway to the fjords of West Norway. With its city surrounded by the Seven Mountains, it is renowned for its beautiful nature and is a famous spot for tourists and hikers.













In wanting to make full use of time, we decided to go on a tour which was called "Norway in a nutshell" and lasted eight hours. Although a large part of it was spent travelling on the bus, it was still worthwhile because let's face it, you simply do not get the chance to witness beautiful landscapes like these every day.





Upon reaching the village of Voss, we visited one of its most popular tourist spot - Tvindefosse, or the Tvinde Waterfall. The many-stranded waterfall is formed by a stream tumbling over a receding cliff and is said to be 152 metres high.

Interestingly, in the late 1990s, the water at Tvindefossen had acquired a reputation for rejuvenation and revival of sexual potency, thus making it an important natural tourist attractions in western Norway with as many as 200,000 people who came to visit and fill up containers with the water every year.








Next up, we travelled up Stalheimskleiva road, which was said to be Northen Europe's steepest road. The 1.5-km-long stretch of road wind its way up the mountainside and it was a joy, and relief, to admire that spectacular view of the valley and mountains when we got to the summit. 








My most anticipated part of the tour was that we were going to board the Flåm Railway - a train journey from the mountain station at Myrdal down to Flåm station nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandfjord. As one of Norway's major and most famous tourist attractions, this stretch of railway attracts people from all corners of the world every year. 



On the 20-kilometer train ride, despite it being crowded, we were able to come up close with Norwegian nature, including rivers that cut through deep ravines, waterfalls that plunged from steep cliffs, snow-capped mountains and farms that clung onto steep slopes.



The Flåm Railway is one of the world's steepest railway lines on normal gauge tracks. Nearly 80 percent of the route is on a 55‰ gradient, that is, a rise of one metre per 18. 


Halfway through the ride, we were able to get off the train and witness the beauty of the majestic waterfall - Kjosfossen, which has an impressive total fall of 225 metres.




What we found fascinating was that there was an actress dressed as a legendary Huldra (a seductive forest creature in Scandinavian folklore) who danced and sang in front of the waterfall. Yeah, how touristy. Nonetheless, this had to be one of the most awe-inspiring waterfalls we had ever seen in Europe.

Geiranger

Our last stop in Norway was Geiranger, a village which has one of the most beautiful mainland fjords. It is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and has been named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet.










Even though only 250 people live here permanently, several hundred thousand of people pass through every summer and it is no wonder that tourism is the main business here.




At Lake Djupvatnet, we were thrilled to actually see snow again despite it being summer time. Well, it might be the last time for many years to come because going back to Singapore means bidding farewell to snowballs and snowmen for the time being.

Posing for a shampoo commercial?

More happy poses

Saying byebye to the snow



Stacking up rocks to leave our mark and wish for a safe journey

The cold winds are freezing our smiles!
We learnt something interesting from our tour guide - An annual event takes place in June in Geiranger, which is called the From Fjord to Summit event. It comprises a half marathon run and a bicycle race, both starting from the sea level at the fjord and ending at the 1,497 metres summit of Mount Dalsnibba, near the lake Djupvatnet. Since there is still a lot of snow left in the mountains at that time of year, the race could also be called From Summer to Winter. I would love to take part though I seriously doubt I could even finish half the race. Ok, who am I kidding, probably not even one-quarter. 

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All in all, we loved how we were able to get close to nature during our trip to Norway. From fjords, rivers, lakes to mountains, valleys and waterfalls, these were picturesque landscapes which would be etched in our minds for a long time to come. 






With this trip, we bade farewell to Europe and are thankful for all the memories we had from every holiday. For now, I am looking forward to writing my next Travelogue post which will probably revolve around the continent I call home - Asia.

To see more of the world, visit my Travelogue page here.   

14 comments:

  1. Summer... the pictures gave me goosebumps! Gorgeous! I would so love to visit Norway some day. Really.

    And that monkey story? Sometimes to see a child's smile, we can't put a value to it. :) I would have done the same, too.

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    1. Hi Reg, yeah, absolutely gorgeous. I hope you can see it for yourself too!

      You actually read the post and the monkey story! *touched* Yeah I don't regret it a bit, just hope it occurs once in a very very blue moon if not we will be broke! Hehe.

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  2. Wah super long post took me a while to get through it haha!

    Love the pictures, so scenic. Wish I have a chance to travel there one day :)

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    1. Oh yeah Made, super long. All my travel posts like that, lol, more for my memories than anything. I hope you get to visit Norway one day too, it's prettyyy!

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  3. Hi Summer every pictures of nature were breath-taking, so nice. Angel is so fortunate to have travel to so many countries/cities at such a young age.

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    1. Thanks Melissa. Indeed, she is very blessed. I'm just glad I have lotsa pics to show her even if she doesn't remember where she's been!

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  4. Norway is so gorgeous! We only managed to visit some bits of Oslo for our short trip, the rest of Norway certainly looks amazing! And wow, at 4 months preggy you were looking good!

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    1. Oh yeah, Oslo is nothing like the rest, Jus. That was why I was so glad we managed to make it to Norway a second time and visit the more scenic cities. Keke. The pic of me in the dress was the one that 'announced' to pple that I was preggie though it wasn't intended!

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  5. Wow awesome photos!as always! My dad worked for Bergen Bank when I was a child, and I remember him and mum visiting Norway without me in the 80s. They have not stopped talking about it and I can understand why!

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  6. Btw your black dress! Wolf whistles!!

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    1. Muahaha. =) That's something I love about being preggie and bfing. =) Anyway yeah Norway is gorgeous, I hope you get to go there someday and then you can join in the talk! =)

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  7. I know that you love your children, and want them to have marvelous experiences, but the sad truth is that they will in all likelihood not remember any of these trips. My own parents brought myself and my siblings on a large number of holidays, but as we were so young (though older than your own) all of us are unable to remember majority of our vacationing, as much as we enjoyed ourselves. Your blog and what I've seen of your parenting appear to be fantastic, don't get me wrong, but perhaps saving up the money and taking them on more trips later in life would be a better idea. Simple excursions might be preferable while they're young.

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    1. Hi there, thanks for your comment and advice. Just to let you know, we stayed in Sweden for over four years and that was when we travelled a lot in Europe. I mean, just driving takes you to places like Norway, Denmark and Germany, places we might not have the chance to visit when we are back in Singapore because just flying there costs a bomb. So, we were glad to have the opportunity to visit those places. Even if my girl does not remember them, at least the hubby and I had the chance to see the world and capture those moments on film, which I definitely will make into albums and be able to show my kids all these places when they grow up. =) We are back in Singapore now, and have not travelled since. Yes, definitely simpler excursions within Asia now. Thanks!

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  8. Loved this post. You have me really wanting travel to Norway , lol Thanks for sharing your amazing pictures.

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