As our journey begins, let me explain a few things about the way we will travel on this trip. Bill and I will spend two to three days in each city. Our schedule isn’t overcrowded with trying to see everything. Off-season travel allows us to avoid the crowds and long lines. We research to find places that appeal to us, usually at the rate of one or two sights a day. In the country, we like to eat and move around like the locals. We plan to experience the culture. We ask the locals about places to visit too. Each post will highlight an area along the route. Details will include hints, cost comparisons and things to avoid. I hope you find the information useful.
My current view looks out the train window at a frozen river on our journey from Oslo to Stockholm. The sun sinks low over the tall pines as I savor the beauty of God’s creation. Snow-laden fields sparkle in the setting sun. I loved Norway. Oslo served as a backdrop to the breathtaking setting created by the Fjords. The warmth of the people makes up for the crispness in the air. Most locals spoke some English. We quickly learned the art of leisurely soaking up the sun and people watching from outdoor patios throughout the town. Oslo offers a slower pace of life as families promenaded along the waterfront.
The beauty of the North Sea and it’s bounty provides ample resources to the area. The city is easy to traverse on the public tram and bus system at a reasonable cost. Walking along shop laden streets was a great alternative to riding. To learn about the culture, we visited the Viking Ship Museum and the Fram Museum (Norway Arctic exploration ship). A replicated period boat sailed us across the majestic fjord of Oslo offering us incredible views. And after a recommendation from one of our waitresses, we visited the Viegelind Sculpture Park. A great walking trail around the harbor provided the chance to see the Opera house and the Oslo Fort. Local markets are another great place to visit and usually offer great food. The Mathallen market should be on your list to see. I highly recommend each of these activities if you have the time.
Anker Hotel (not Hostel) cost just over $100 per night and included a buffet breakfast. The room was small with a small private bath, but it served our purposes perfectly. To save money, we filled up in the morning and only had snacks for lunch. Dinner cost us about $100 per night because we had sit-down meals with a glass of wine and dessert. Taxis and Uber were available but at a very high cost. The 30-mile trip from the airport to the hotel showed a price of $300 for a taxi so we road public transportation instead. A day-long tram pass cost about $25 per person. Beer, wine, and drinks also appear very pricy. We did not buy souvenirs due to limited space. To help gauge the cost of living in each city, I will provide the price for a few necessities (converted from metric). In Oslo, gas cost $6.75 per gallon, milk cost $8.35 per gallon, and a loaf of bread cost $4.20. Well worth visiting but be aware that Oslo is expensive.
The city of Stockholm offered a very different vibe than Oslo. The city is more extensive than Olso, and the transit system appears more complicated to use. I think I can sum up the differences this way: Oslo city offers stunning vistas with a town built around them; Stockholm provides old world charm in its buildings and Old Town area. The scenic countrysides that are flying past my window show rural life in Sweden which appears similar to Norway. Some snow remains in the fields, and some lakes still show signs of ice. We caught our first glimpse of the Baltic Sea as we arrived in the city by train. But, Stockholm is a large city which appeals to many of the younger generations.
The Swedes appeared friendly but always scurrying about and that made interaction slightly more difficult. With a late arrival into town, we only had one full day to enjoy the sights. We walked around the Old Town section, up and down the narrow cobbled stone streets. Cafes with outdoor seating are not as common here. A ferry shuttled us over to see the Vasa Museum. And, we ended our tour at the market area called Ostermalms Saluhall. All of these attractions allowed us to learn about Sweden and her culture. Each was well worth the visit.
We stayed in a private room at the Generator Stockholm Hotel costing about $80 per night. The place drew a large crowd of young people staying in the hostel section of the hotel. We bought breakfast in the hotel at a reduced rate and enjoyed a snack of french fries for lunch. We found a local pub for a dinner of burgers and fish & chips. Overall, the food seemed less expensive, but we also opted for more ordinary fare. We bought metro passes for the day for about $15 and used Uber a few times at a more reasonable cost. The trip from our hotel to the train station cost about $10 and took 5 minutes. Alcohol prices felt more like what we pay in America. Gas cost $5.61 per gallon, milk cost $8.53 per gallon and bread cost $2.16 per loaf. I enjoyed our visit to Stockholm and everything appeared less expensive but visiting the city was not as relaxed as our visit to Oslo.
I sit in our spacious room in Berlin writing about the next leg of this fantastic trip. We are using today as a rest day so not much going on especially since there are protest occurring in the city. I give a thumbs up for Copenhagen. We did not have as much time to explore because of the train schedule. We arrived in Copenhagen at 11 PM so only had one full day to explore. But, we found it to be an incredible city. We stayed at a cute little hotel right across the street from the train station. The location offered us so much convenience for exploring the city. Copenhagen felt more quaint and visitor friendly than Stockholm. The transit system felt more complicated because they had no streetcars and many stations were under repairs. But once we got where we were going, the tourist areas were picturesque.
The area around the waterways felt warm and inviting. We took a one-hour canal tour that took us into parts of the Baltic Sea, and I ended up taking hundreds of photos of all the magnificent architecture and natural beauty. Another visit was to the Little Mermaid statue in the harbor, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s book. We wandered through the pedestrian area and visited several old churches. We did not go to any markets like in Oslo and Stockholm. I wished we had more time to explore. Once again, we found many cafes with outdoor seating areas (and lap blankets) to enjoy the sun and watch the world go by us.
We felt like we stepped back in time at the Copenhagen Plaza Hotel. Large warm and inviting rooms with great views awaited us. The place felt like a bargain at $100 per night. For breakfast, we paid for a big, buffet at the hotel instead of lunch. We sampled German food for dinner the first night and then at the hotel the second night. We spent $75 and $100 respectively. Our daily metro pass ran just over $20. We bought a bottle of wine in the local grocery store for $14 and had drinks in an outdoor cafe in the early afternoon. The prices seem more reasonable in Copenhagen. Uber is not available in Denmark. I think this might be my favorite city so far, but it is neck and neck with Oslo. Gas cost $6.18 a gallon, milk cost $4.69 per gallon and bread cost $2.70.
The Scandinavian area provided us with so much enjoyment. We loved our visit. All the buildings and hotels are smoke-free although we did not see many smokers at all. Credit cards are accepted everywhere and the most used form of payment. We never used any local currencies, only cards. The weather felt a little cold but most days were sunny and pleasant. So far, no rain to ruin our sightseeing. If you are looking for relaxation in peaceful surroundings, I would recommend Oslo or Copenhagen. Stockholm is still worth a visit but lots more hustle and bustle. Join me next week as we tour Germany and the Czech Republic.
Yvonne – #blogger, #speaker, and #author
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
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