Charming Norway: Viking ship, rugged fjords, friendly people

Travels with Rex – Part 2

Let me start with a refrain from Part 1, a reminder to enjoy this post only as a travel memoir. Don’t use it for current travel advice.

We have plenty of time on hand and few places to go in this Year of COVID-19. It is a good chance to take a good look at the old travel photos once more.

Ah, Europe! That was more than 10 years ago. One of the benefits of travel is that we can always bring back the fond memories and relive our priceless experience.

Fellow Raimondians have expressed interest in seeing the photos and hearing about our adventures. While it is great to share, I should remind everyone that what I write here is all done from memory, with no research to update the information from years ago. Enjoy the pictures and have a chuckle over my stories, but do not use this as travel advice as it is likely to be out of date.

Bergen, Norway

The Bergen waterfront, busy with tourists, is a 15-minute walk from the cruise terminal.

To budget travellers, Norway could be the most expensive country on mainland Europe. A visit still makes sense, though, as there is so much to see.

Most tourists flock to Oslo but Bergen, on the west coast, is equally attractive. Bergen is at the end of a fjord. It used to be the capital of Norway, before Oslo took its place.

Bryggen, the dock in Bergen, has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979.

Tourists like to roam the streets near the Bergen waterfront.
The station for a funicular ride to view Bergen from the top.

Our B & B is behind the funicular station, before the trees. It is a strenuous climb from the bus stop near the waterfront, with luggage in tow.

From up there, you can see the harbour on a fine day.

Not a bad way to start the day with a hearty breakfast.
Black cod on display.

Black cod can be regarded as the national fish of Norway.

From Hanseatic times starting around the 12th Century, black cod has been eaten as a snack and used to barter for other farm produce from the rest of Europe. Some of us may remember the very fishy taste of cod liver oil when we were kids; it came from Norway.

A popular tourist attraction is the “Norway In A Nutshell” tour between Bergen and Oslo. It involves riding a tour bus, a fjord ferry and two trains – an old narrow-gauge train and then a slick and fast modern train.

Scenery on the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour.

Fjords are no strangers to those of us who live on the West Coast of North America, but they can be quite a spectacular sight for travellers from elsewhere.

Scenery in a Norwegian fjord before stopping in the town of Fram.

We enjoyed the trip anyway. The bonus for us was that the tour ended at the Oslo Central train station, which was just two minutes from our comfortable hotel.


Oslo has one of the earliest pedestrians-only malls in Europe.

Oslo is not a big city but there is plenty to see. To do it justice, give yourself at least three nights and four days to explore the city.

Girl in yellow handing out Ricola herb candy on an Oslo street. I got two.

We went to Kaffistova, established since 1901, reputedly the place to eat in Oslo at one time.

Turns out we were in for a small surprise. There was a discreet sign on the table with advice to be mindful of our belongings.

Watch your pocket!

The meal was self-served, inexpensive and filling, but it could not be considered gourmet quality.

From left: Server with a warm smile welcomes Rex’s wife Cynthia at Kaffistova.
Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo.

Most tourists visit the Nobel Peace Centre situated in an inviting square by the waterfront.

Do not mistake this place as the venue for the annual awards ceremonies. The main display inside is a collection of historical records and photographs of past Nobel Prize recipients.

Pictures and descriptions of past recipient are displayed in frames.

The Nobel Prizes are normally handed out in the City Hall of Oslo. The murals in the photo below depict the history of the city.

Inside Oslo City Hall.

The day we were there, a police academy was holding its graduation ceremony at city hall.

A new police graduate with pearl earrings. I don’t mind getting a ticket from her!
This soon-to-be policewoman is adjusting her uniform for the occasion.

Norway and Vikings often go together in people’s minds. Tourists in Oslo almost always go to the Maritime Museum to learn about the country’s seafaring past.

Viking boat at the Maritime Museum in Oslo.

To my surprise, I learned here that this kind of Viking boat was used for burial of the dead.

The Arctic exploration ship Fram.

Another museum in town displays the Arctic exploration ship Fram. Tourists can get a combo ticket to visit both the Fram Museum and the Maritime Museum in Oslo.

Credits: Photographs and story by Rex Yau, editing by Paul Loong.