Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Historic Stalheim and the trip to the hotel

We got up early again for our trip to Stalheim, a historic hotel built in 1885. The trip to the hotel was as exciting as the hotel itself. We stopped along hte way to view an historic stave church. This particular church was built around 1100AD if I remember correctly. All made of wood, it's quite amazing that these wooden buildings have withstood the test of time. Why? To build them, the Norwegians would strip the bark from growing trees, bore holes into the trees and let the juices seep out before cutting the trees down for lumber. The wood would be practially has hard as cement.  To preserve the buildings, they tar them every three years. It was fun to note how short the doorways were.

We then continued on to Stalheim located in Voss, Norway and overlooking the Nærøydalen valley.  The view was simply breathtaking.
The hotel boasted an open air museum, one that included several authentic log buildings to show what life might have been like a century past.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Onward to Hamer, Norway

We left Stockholm bright and early. I truly wanted to be alert to see the countryside as we drove, but alas, the bus lulled me into sleep. I did open my eyes on occasion but most of our journey to the Norwegian border is a blur. The first picture shows my mom with one foot in Sweden and the other in Norway.

We stopped in Karlstad en route and enjoyed a nice lunch before heading to Hamer. Most of the scenes I've scenes of the Norwegian countryside were taken from a moving bus through a window so while not the best, I was impressed by how well my camera did.

We spent the night at the First Victorian in Hamer which was okay but instead of a traditional Norwegian meal, they served us Chinese pepper steak. Good, but not what I would have expected.
The next day, we headed out early again. Our first stop was the sight of the 1994 Olympics. The ski jump was very impressive and I actually caught a skier in action. Check out the red dot at the top.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More on Stockholm

One of the things we did while in Stockholm was take a one hour water tour that took us from island to island. The water is very blue.  I also noted a lot of antique sailing ships along the way. As my husband is an avid sailor in the middle of restoring his boat, I took a lot of pictures of sailboats.

Prior to this excursion, we spent time in the bus letting our tour guide tell us all about the sights. We actually had two guides, our regular guide and a city guide. By law, we have to have a city guide tell us about particular places. Anyway, as we were driving about, we noticed these large trucks loaded with teens driving about. The teens were having quite the party. Our guide told us they book the trucks a year and advance and then drive around the city in celebration of graduation from school. What a fun tradition.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One more day in Stockholm and the Vassa

Here's where we ate in Old Town, a very quaint little alley way.

I forgot to tell you about our flight. Interesting. We flew on Lufthansa and our initial flight was delayed almost an hour because the runway was too hot. Then, when we got ready to land in Frankfurt, the plane touched down and imediately went back into the air again for a second approach. Pilot claimed windshear problems. Scary.Okay, so a little more on the hotel.  Security is very tight. We had to use our room key to make the elevator work. We also had to use the room key to make the electricity work. Now, that's a really novel idea, one our hotels in the states should adopt as it forces you to conserve energy. Can't leave without that key so naturally, the lights all get turned off when you're not in the room.

The next day, our guide Frits (I think I spelled it wrong in an earlier post - oops) took us to see Drottingholm Palace, a former Royal summer residence. It was supposedly built in a day for the queen's birthday, but it's very oriental in decor. 

Afterwards, Frits arranged to drop us off at Old Town again so we could take the ferry to another island to enjoy the Vassa Museum. I do believe that seeing the Vassa and the drive through Norway was my favorite part of the trip. The museum is home to a 17th century sailing vessel that sank shortly after her maiden voyage. The warship was incredibly ornate, designed to strike fear in the enemy. Too bad the designers failed to add enough ballast.

Mom and I walked the entire way back to the hotel, which turned out to be a bit longer than we expected but it really allowed us to see a lot of Stockholm.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Scandinavia was totally awesome!

But I'm so glad to be home.

So as promised, I'm going to post a chronological diary of our trip. Bear with me as my memory is already fading on some of the details.

After a ten our plane ride to Frankfurt and then to Stockholm, we arrived at the first leg of our trip. Our tour guide met us at the airport and bussed us to our hotel. (You can just see the doorway on the right.) His name was Fits and he was incredible.

A retired school professor, he regaled us with a lot of history when we were held captive on long bus rides. I loved his stories and her keen perspective.

We didn't go imediately to the hotel. Instead we enjoyed a siteseeing tour of the overall city of Stockholm before going to the hotel.  We checked in around 3:00 and mom and I were both bushed. We walked the block but did little else until dinner. The hotel fed us a very nice meal of Swedish meatballs and lingonberries. Desert was apple pie. Yummmm.

On June 2, we went to City Hall.  The building boasts over 18-million gilded mosaic tiles. We also went to Riddarholm Church, a 700-year-old monastery housing the tombs of Swedish kings.  We stopped for lunch at a very quaint little restaurant in Old Town. Stockholm is located on a lot of islands and Old Town is one of the islands that has retained some of its Medieval look.

It was fun exploring the cobblestone streets and looking at the old buildings.

We spent the rest of the afternnon taking a one hour sceneic boat tour. I'll post more later.