Posts Tagged ‘norway’
We’ve stayed in some pretty darn stylish hotels this year, from urban city retreats to ultra modern design hotels, to charming B&B’s, sleek boutique luxury hotels, swanky 5-star chains, and countryside manor houses. Out of all of them, here are our top 5 choices from 2012:
Staying in an Irish manor house in Ireland is an absolute must if you’re exploring the Irish countryside. One of the quintessential Irish experiences, they can be found speckled throughout the countryside and offer little pockets of homey luxury. I can’t begin to describe how truly beautiful this place is!
Bergen is the gateway to Norway’s fjord country, and it’s also the second largest city in Norway. But unlike cosmopolitan Oslo with its glittering skyscrapers, Bergen manages to maintain a small-town vibe with its colorful old-style buildings and bustling seafront harbor.
I got up in the middle of the night and stepped out on the balcony. Balestrand was as dark as the sky was going to get for a summer night in Norway, with almost all of the light coming from the moon and the blue-tinged sky, rather than city lights. It was quiet and peaceful, perfect in fact.
Today I climbed a glacier!
Norway’s Nigardsbreen glacier in Jostedalen National Park to be exact. Yep, I actually strapped crampons to my hiking boots, grabbed a ice axe and harnessed myself to a team of fellow climbers before setting out to trek on the glacier, in rain none-the-less. It was a little more hard-core than I was prepared for, but was definitely an exhilarating experience! (Later on when I was thinking about the waiver I had to sign, it dawned on me that my travel insurance specifically excludes extreme sports. Their definition of extreme is pretty tame and includes kayaking and horseback riding, so this was definitely not covered. Good thing I didn’t think about that before the climb!)
Today’s scenery got even more spectacular as we headed up into the mountains and then back down a curvy road into fjord country. You should never come to Norway without visiting the fjords. I was spellbound by the scenery along the way. It went from woods dotted with red houses to barren mountain terrain filled with arctic mosses and chunks of compressed snow carved away where the road sliced through. Tendrils of turquoise streams snaked through the snow and ice.
Today’s route snaked further north taking us past more gorgeous countryside alongside a turquoise river. Lom is a small village filled with wood cabins at the foot of a mountain. A traditional wooden stave church anchors the town, and across from the church is Lom Bakery, giving off a heavenly scent of raisins, cinnamon and fresh baked bread. While waiting out the rain, I had a hot chocolate and a coconut-flake topped pastry with vanilla filling that had a slight hint of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Tubed meats and seafood are very popular in Norway. Here’s a selection of peppered bacon goodness, along with salmon, shrimp & prawns and caviar! Great for picnics, right?
Drove north from Oslo this morning, passing through an extensive labyrinth of underground car tunnels below the city that seemed to fork off endlessly in all directions. Back above ground, the cars grew fewer and fewer and the road saddled up alongside a lake. Here the countryside was dotted with houses the color of red barns, sparsely populating fields of green. Many of these fields were speckled with jumbo hay barrels wrapped in white plastic—from a distance they looked like giant marshmallows!