Scandinavia 18 Day Bus
Tour with Globus
11th July 2014
This is not a travel
log where the events of every day are detailed. Instead, I have
presented some of the highlights, lowlights, unusual, humorous
and embarrassing events of the trip along with relevant photos
and some opinions.
Others may have
seen things differently but this is the way I saw things.
Anything I say about anyone or anything is purely in fun. Some
information and photos I obtained from others on the trip. I may
have enhanced some of the information I gathered. Anything that
is blatantly incorrect please let me know. All photos used have
been converted to a smaller size for faster downloading.
Words, photos or
video can never convey the visual impact and "feeling"
of some of the places we visited. You have to be there.
There are lots of single and multiple photos to
view. Wherever you see any coloured text that is underlined such
as "this photo" or "these photos"
and you select it, another window or tab will open with a photo or the
first photo in a set of photos.
If there is more than one
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top left and right respectively. Select one of these to scroll
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thumbnails of all the photos and then select a thumbnail to see
the full photo. When you have finished looking at the photo(s),
close the window containing the photo(s).
A bus strip starting in Stockholm and travelling through Denmark and Norway
up to North Cape and back down through Finland to Helsinki.
Total bus distance of about 4,500km. There was also some ferry
trips and a plane flight.
35 people took part. Two dropped
off in Norway for medical reasons leaving 33 people to complete
Rick & Ann
Peter & Jannene
Nancy & Rus
Walter & Trudy
Mary & Eric
Terry & Bob
Alicia & Aimee
Wayne & Kerry
Kevin & Terry
Michael & Anne
Gordon & Judy
Elaine & Brook
Barbara & Patricia
Jose & Luz
Peter was our Tour
Director. A Norwegian, he could not have been a better tour
guide.. Passionate about
Scandinavia and in particular Norway.
That Did Not Particularly Excite Me
The "Littlest Mermaid" in
The two city hall tours we did in
Stockholm and Oslo. The buildings are very stark on the outside
and inside but there were some interesting features inside.
The funicular to Mt Floyen in Bergen. A train
pulled up the mountain by a cable. It was
raining at the time so maybe that made things seem depressing. Nice views of
Bergen at the top. See
of a sign on Mt Floyen. No idea what it means.
The new modern church in Alta. It looked like
a ships funnel. See
Finland. Nice scenery
for a while but then
lakes, more lakes, more forest and flat
The "Rock Church" in
The islands boat
cruise in Helsinki.
Things I Liked
North Cape, the most
Northern point of Europe. We were very lucky to have good
weather and able to get a great view. Not cold or windy. The
Tour Director told us that at times the fog has been so thick
you could only see a few metres. A nice visitors centre that went way underground.
Watched two films there. Just being there was exciting. See
This includes the fjords (we did a lovely two hour boat cruise
on one), snow covered mountains and waterfalls.
were our best.
Tapestries in the City hall in
Copenhagen. They were large, impressively intricate and each told an interesting
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm. It
was very interesting. A must see visit.
The Tivoli amusement park in
Copenhagen. Although we did not go in you could see the extent
of it through the fence by the main road. See
Folk Dancers in Skansen park in Stockholm.
They were very good.
Opera House in Oslo.
All the opera houses we passed in other cities looked very
ordinary on the outside but this one was very different. It is
meant to represent an iceberg on the water. After our dinner on
the waterfront in Oslo, we walked down to the Opera House and
walked around the top of the building which it is designed to
Stave wooden church in
Heddal and the interesting talk by a guide. Parts of it are over 1,000 years old. See
The Frogner Park in
Oslo, featuring Gustav Vigeland's sculptures. The sculptures are
family oriented and excellent.
A must see. Not sure if anyone else noticed, but the courtyard near the
fountain was a maze. See
Visit to Vemork, where
the "heavy water" incident took place in WWII. That evening, in
Telemark, we viewed the film "The Heroes of Telemark" which
followed the events of the time. See
this photo of the bridge we
went over in a small bus to visit Vemork.
Plane trip from Oslo
to Tromso. Magnificent views. See
this photo of a glacier taken from the plane.
The Arctic Church in
this photo. Reminded me of the Sydney Opera House.
Rock carvings at Alta.
Difficult to see in the bright sun but some had been overdrawn
with red paint.
The two hour boat
cruise up a fjord to the town of Flan. The scenery was
fantastic. Some interesting villages on the banks of the fjord.
Some with no road access.
The Bergen "Old Town"
buildings. We did a tour through there and it was very
The monument to the
Finnish composer Sibelius in Helsinki. It consists of hundreds
of tubes welded together, superficially representing organ
pipes. I just liked it. They could have made the surroundings
better though. It didn't seem to fit in where it was. See
The Arctic museum in
Oslo. In particular, being able to walk around inside the boat used by Roald Admunsen on his
expeditions (the Flam). It was very
Visit to the Sami
village near Rovaniemi in Finland including the ceremony in the
Sami teepee like building which was very entertaining, the reindeer encounter and evening
meal in another Sami building.
The market square in
Tallinn (Estonia). We were there on a Sunday so it was buzzing.
It had much more character than any of the other markets we
The Kaffegillet restaurant in
Stockholm where we went for dinner one evening. Set in an
underground vault. Traditional
Swedish meal and good service. See
The Kobenhavner restaurant in
Copenhagen where we had dinner one evening. A bit squishy
the food was excellent with very fast service. In particular,
the crackling was delicious. See
A restaurant in Bergen where we had
Reindeer soup was a meal in itself and the rest was excellent.
We stopped for lunch at a place
before Alta. The meal was OK but the setting was lovely
overlooking a lake with snow on the mountains in the distance.
On the overnight ferry between
Denmark and Oslo we had dinner in the "7 Seas" restaurant. A
buffet, it had a very large selection and was very good.
In the City Hall building in
Copenhagen. Seated at least 50 people. See
The Best and Worst
The best by far was our guide in Tallinn, the capital of
Estonia. The guide in Copenhagen was very good and others were
Breakfasts were always buffets and
there was usually plenty to choose from. The location of things
always seemed confusing or was it just me? People darted between
tables of food not taking much notice of anyone else.
Having good toasting
facilities for breakfast does not seem important in Scandinavia.
Most hotels had a crappy toasters. One did not even have a
toaster and the hotel in Invalo had two toasters (but in
Lunch at Flan. We choose
a place away from the crowds. Had a roll which was stale and dry
with little filling and expensive.
In the Louise
restaurant in Oslo on the waterfront where we went for dinner
one evening. Food portions were sparse and service slow. Even
after we had to select our main meals days in advance.
Strangely, when we
entered the dining room and seated ourselves, all the
Australians were sitting at the same table which was very
In Helsinki, at a
restaurant, the meal was good but the venue was in an
underground area and it was VERY hot. No fans, no ventilation
and when someone mentioned about getting air-conditioning they did not
seem that interested.
At the hotel in Rovaniemi, we were supposed to have dinner in the main restaurant but it
was full. We were shunted upstairs and given poor portions. It
was a bit embarrassing for our Tour Director who had no control
Is There Wine With
Became a joke with us because of the cost of alcohol. If
beer/wine was part of the meal deal then that was a good thing.
The highest price paid for a glass of wine was in Norway at
The "Arctic Circle"
As our tour director called it. At the place where people
cross the Artic Circle, Finland has created a collection of
activities related to the North Pole
You can take a photo
of someone straddling the imaginary Arctic Circle line. Like in
You can have your
photo taken with Father Xmas. We lined up to do this but
discovered we could not find out the cost until after the photo
was taken. Luckily, we overheard that the price was
decided to leave. Franklin had his photo taken with Santa.
You can send a
Xmas postcard immediately or have it delayed until Xmas. Post the
card in one of the two mailboxes shown in
You can have your
passport stamped with the "Artic Circle" stamp.
You can select
souvenirs and Xmas decorations from the largest selection in
We all received a
signed certificate of our "Arctic Circle" crossing complete with
a passport stamp. It was so exciting to receive this. Norway has not
capitalised like Finland but they apparently have some
activities at the Artic Circle crossing. Bit disappointed with
the sign in
this photo. It had no reference to anywhere in Australia.
were having a heatwave in Scandinavia so it was unusually hot.
Even at North Cape it was not very cold. It rained in Bergen and
somewhere else but
did not stop us doing anything. The weather in Scandinavia is
affected by the Gulf Stream which is a warm sea current.
this photo of an outdoor setting
we saw in Telemark
I took at Telemark, where we stayed one night in the mountains
between Oslo and Bergen. I asked everyone on our trip but nobody
would own up to owing them.
Embarrassing and Mistakes
On the Royal Reception
Rooms tour in Oslo, we had to wear these blue plastic covers over our shoes.
Ann forgot to take hers off and was nearly out the front door
before she realised. See
Many hotels used
magnetic cards in the door locks and for the lifts. We had many
problems with them not working and having to be reprogrammed.
The hotel in Bergen was the worst.
We entered the lift
using someone else's card. Got to our room and the card would
not work. Back to the lift but card would not work. Out of lift
and tried stairs door. It was locked. Back to the lift lobby and
luckily it was exposed and we could see the service desk. One of
our bus colleagues was just walking in and we yelled out to her
to help us. She used her card to get us to the service desk.
Another colleague got
stuck in the lift when her card would not work. She was starting
to panic when the doors opened and someone entered the lift.
When we arrived in Tromso about
lunchtime, Mary's luggage was missing. They found it and it was
delivered that evening.
Robbie left his jacket
somewhere (cannot remember) in Oslo but managed to get it back.
Judy left her camera a
few times. Once she remembered herself, another time Ann found
it and gave it to her.
Ann left a bag of souvenirs in our
hotel in Alta. Luckily, we were able to go back and it was still
there. In any case, going back to the hotel was useful because a
few others had forgot to hand in their keys.
Peter (Our Tour Director) left his
iPad on the seat at Vemork, Ann noticed it and gave it to him.
Some hotels did not have fridges in
the rooms, so Ann would leave her insulin in the hotel fridge.
In Tromso, we asked for the insulin back in the morning but they initially could not
find it. Took about 15 mins to locate it.
In Jyvaskla (Finland), when we arrived
at our hotel, there was a fence around the entrance in
preparation for some event. The hotel
staff had to lift our cases over the fence. See
In Bergen, the mannequins like to display everything. See
I did not stay up or get up to see it but I believe
some of the others did. I could not get used to it being
daylight all night which was the case north of the Artic Circle.
Even though most hotels had good blocking curtains the light
always leaked through somewhere.
Trudy (88)/Brook (16).
Did You Photograph
The Flam train is a great journey with beautiful landscapes.
The problem is the tunnels and there were lots of them. Whenever
the train came out of a tunnel there was a beautiful landscape
but by the time you got your camera out and battled everyone
else to get a window shot the train entered another tunnel. We
did have a reserved carriage but that did not stop others coming
into our carriage for photos. The train did stop at a beautiful
waterfall and everyone got out for a look. See
these photos including the two "sirens" that came out near the
top of the waterfall and danced and sang.
I Should Have Saluted
In Oslo, we passed near the royal houses. There were cattle
grazing and were informed they were "Royal Cattle". Not sure if
I should have saluted. See
In general, Globus was good. However, a few things annoyed
The "New" name tags
could be pulled off very easily.
They should supply a
map of where we were going.
booklet advised you to take some Danish currency. I could not
see the purpose of doing this and queried it with Globus. I got
a half baked answer. It turned out was was not necessary. I took
some Swedish currency with us which was useful.
gratuities for the Bus Driver and Tour Director were prepaid
(although we did not ask for it or know about it till later).
However, we changed buses (and driver) at Trumso. How to give
each driver a gratuity? Again, I queried Globus and got a half
baked answer. As a couple we were lucky because we had two
driver gratuities and gave one to each driver. In the future I
would not prepay gratuities. Prepaying assumes that their
services were good. How do I know that in advance?.
The Globus information
booklet needs to be urgently changed to explain better how the
airport transfers work and Travel Agents need to advise their
clients better. We arrived late at Stockholm airport and
the booklet implied that we could take a taxi to our hotel and
be reimbursed for the cost later. However, this is only the case
for prepaid transfers. This was poorly explained and we were not
the only ones that got confused.
Trudy had a medical problem and had to leave the trip with
Flowers in gumboots.
Norway does not offer
personalised number plates for vehicles. Missing out on some
Worlds smallest instant
portrait studio In Trumso (or so it said on the window). See
In a toilet at one of
our arvo tea stops they had a huge roll of hand towel. See
photo. Good idea.
A sign that seems to
indicate no cars. See
Another confusing road
In Copenhagen see
this photo of a man taking his children for a bike ride.
In Copenhagen, in a
lego shop, there were walls full of trays of lego bits. See
see this photo of a sign where you can get your feet cleaned
Trudy told me she paid
US$5,500 for travel insurance and Margaret paid AUS$1,200.
In most large
supermarkets the cashier does not give you change. It is
dispensed via a machine chute into a tray and you have to get it
out. Also, have to pack your own bags.
We did see a few
beggars. A couple I noticed were smoking profusely.
This photo of an embarrassed model.
There are very few
beaches in Scandinavia. At least not like what we have in
Australia. I told our Tour Director about the pristine "90 Mile
Beach" in Victoria, Australia where we have a holiday house and
how you can walk for kilometres along the beach and not see
They have these "Ski
Jumps" in many locations in Scandinavia. Large structures that
allow people to be lifted up to a huge height and then go
hurtling down a narrow slope. Used all year round by lots of
Saw many grass roofs.
Even stood on one. See
We passed through the
town of Rjukan, where they
have installed mirrors on a mountain to direct winter sun onto
the market square.
On the way to the
North Cape, we stopped briefly at the town of Skasvag, Europe's
most Northern inhabited town. I have to admire the people living
there. Not bad in Summer, but terrible in Winter. No sun all
day, often isolated by bad weather.
The writers of the
computer applications Skype and Angry Birds were from Estonia
and Finland respectively. In Finland in the town of
discovered an Angry Birds children's playground. See
Alcohol in Scandinavia
has a massive tax on it so people go over on the ferry from
Tallinn (Estonia), buy cheap alcohol, and bring bit back to
this photo. Saw many people with huge caches.
The "Zander" store in
Bergen. Our grandson's name. See
We had a few birthdays
along the way. Patricia, Trudy and Terry.
At the hotel in Ivalo
(Finland), the wakeup alarm was on the television.
In Helsinki, in the
people sit outside restaurants drinking with the seats all
facing towards the street. See
We tried to buy
sunscreen in a few supermarkets in Helsinki but they don't stock
it. Did not try any chemists.
We passed close by a
town in Finland called "ii". You can find it on Google or Sygic.
Finnish is a very
complicated language. Our Tour Director could speak many
languages but was not fluent in Finnish. For example, the number
987 (Nine hundred and eighty seven) is written as
this photo of a restaurant in Helsinki. Would you eat a meal
In Helsinki, saw a
group of older guys riding (driving?) these cars (bikes?). See
"No such thing as bad
weather, only bad clothes".
"I am not from Norway,
I am from Bergen".
"Nine months of Winter
and three months of road construction".
In Norway, lots of tunnels, even on the railway and under a
fjord. The one under the fjord was on the way to North Cape and
cost a fortune to build.. One tunnel amused me because they were
building it in the open air. See
this photo. Norway has the
longest vehicle tunnel in the world at 22km.
The Biggest Troll
Reception and WiFi
Very good in most places. Every hotel
had free WiFi. Even the buses had WiFi.
Do not see many cats,
This photo was taken in a shop in Bergen.
Lots of dogs and they were very well controlled.
Toilets & Bathrooms
this photo of an
outside toilet in Stockholm.
Many bathrooms had a
shower in the bath and the bath was not sealed against the wall.
this photo. I lost my soap down one of the gaps even
though I was very aware of the gap..
Most bathrooms had
mechanisms for directing water to the shower or bath and
controlling the temperature and flow of the water. The problem
was that every mechanism was different and not always logical. It always took a few
minutes to work out what to do.
The hotel in
HonningsVag had no soap holder in the shower and the toilet roll
holder was in such a position that the toilet paper got wet from
In Tallinn, I took
this photo of an old toilet built on the outside of a building.
Centuries ago, the bottom was open and everything went straight
out onto the footpath.
these photos of men an women signs outside the toilet in a
We went to a few markets.
The fish market in Bergen was a
disappointment. It has been hijacked by multiculturals and was
not what I expected. It once traded in fish but now seems mainly
setup to sell fish meals to the tourists. We had fish & chips
there one night and it was just average and expensive. They
offer whale meat which I did not like. They claim to speak all
languages and accept any method of payment. See
In Oulu (Finland), we
stopped for a break at lunchtime near a market and a large food court
(where we had lunch). Wandered around
the market but it was just average.
In Helsinki, we went
to the market a few times. Even had lunch there once. There was
a few interesting stalls but it was very hot.
All hotels were
adequate. Some did not have air-conditioning but we were warned
about that. Our air-conditioning worked in the
hotels that had it but others had problems with it not working.
In Trumso, we were
able to fully open the window (which was rare) and this helped
to dry our washing.
The further North we
went, the standard of the hotels diminished and were not the
quality that some people expected.
The hotel in
Honningsvag had set tines for meals, no toaster for breakfast
The "Glo Art" hotel
in Helsinki where we stayed for two nights was strange. Our room
had seductive lighting which seemed a bit kinky. There was a
cube light between our beds which I could not turn off. The
staff were no help so I found where it plugged in a pulled it
out. Margaret's room was so dark she had to use a torch. She
complained and they moved her. Pat pulled a cord in the bathroom
which set off an alarm.
The Price of
Much more than Australia for most things. As an
example, we went to a Pizza restaurant on Trumso one evening.
For a medium Pizza (with not much topping), two beers and two
banana splits the cost was AUS $88. In Australia, the same would
be no mare than $30.
What We Did
Not Need or See
Any Moose except for
one lady on the bus who saw one in the bush as we were driving
Visit to the house of
Edvard Greg, the famous Norwegian composer. It was an optional
excursion but not
people enough wanted to go.
Occasionally, we felt
like a nice cup of chips (like at the footy in Australia). Could
not find any at our lunch stops or the markets. They seem to
like small fried potatoes.
Could not find any
everyone on the trip for your fantastic company. All the guides and helpers along the trip.
The trip was better than expected. My
rating of this trip is 8/10.