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What a difference a pandemic makes.  Having been to Bergen many many times (13??), NPS was pretty skeptical about the hotel situation.  But lo and behold, while we were trapped in the United States, a new hotel opened up and not only is it a good one, but it also houses the first Michelin star restaurant in Bergen.  A great combination!

We stayed in room 440 which was a “loft suite.”  I think in the future we would choose another type of suite, but we were in the hotel for just a few days before joining our friends at their house for the weekend.

Hotel Bergen Børs from the street

The hotel is situated in an ideal location in town.  Close to the touristy old town, a few hundred steps from the funicular, 8 minutes from the train station, and close to the museums.

Bed in the loft

The electricity situation in 440 is confusing (at best) and difficult to use.  Took me 2 days to figure it out.  This makes waking up to head down the steep stairs to the bathroom a challenge if you don’t want to awaken your partner.

The very steep stairs

 

Sitting area

The sitting area is interrupted by beams from the ceiling, which is kinda cool and kinda a pain in the ass.  Fortunately, we didn’t really spend all that much time in the hotel.

The bathroom is on the small side, but it has a great shower.

Glass, good pressure, and plenty of hot water. Just what NPS ordered.

 

All in all, the decor and the flooring is on the cheap side (a real problem in Bergen).  Still looking for a hotel with well-appointed design executed without a mind to expense.  This is not it.  I guess, like the stock exchange, it’s all ups and downs.

Breakfast was superb.  We enjoyed chatting with Delia each morning.  The breakfast area also serves as the Bare restaurant.

A visit to Bare took some doing as they are typically booked out many months.  NPS was able to secure a table with some persuasion.  The dinner was world class.  Read about the meal here.

Dinner at Bare is well worth the expense

We did Norway in a Nutshell on our first day in town.  See the entry here.  The weather was perfect and so was the timing.  Just wow.

Norway in a nutshell

We also visited KoreSee this entry about that.

Munch of course

Make sure to have a coffee and some cake at Det Lille Kaffe Kompaniet.  Really great.

Success cake

Since the funicular was closed for renovation, we walked up to the top insteadMore about that here.  Sadly, No Stress bar is no longer as cool as it once was.  But they still serve a mean Negroni.

On the last day in town, we took the new gondola up to the top of the TV mountain.  Gorgeous.  More about that trip here.

 

All in all, this visit to Bergen was tops.  Thanks to our good friends Gøran and Anne for hosting our last couple of nights.

Bergen is wonderful and the Børs hotel (the best yet) earns a high four showerheads.

 

Then again, maybe it wasn’t bergen?

Flip the Hytte

November 27, 2021

If you’re lucky, you will be greeted with love at the new hytte, which has become quite luxurious (now including things like hot showers, modern kitchens, floors, and a roof).  We spent 4 days and 3 nights in Tyinkrysset cooking, skiing, hiking, drinking, conversing, and reveling in a life well lived.

Brusebu is named after the sound the nearby creek makes.

We stocked up on Negroni fixings and wine in Oslo.  Then scooped Romey at the airport.  Her entry was smooth (unlike, say, mine).

 

Brusebu the hytte

 

Romey on her first skis (starting in Norway is the way to go).

 

The intrepid host Gøran

NPS tried using randonee skis (usually used to climb up mountains and ski back down).  This is a technology to explore further.

Anne the ski instructor and her star pupil

 

Gourmet cheese sandwiches were available for those on the tour.

 

 

The view from lunch

A quick trip to Øvre Årdal tested the snow tires and resulted in no purchases whatsoever.

Yule Nisse salmon

 

Crooked vimpel pole

 

Geared up for the walk

 

The walk behind the cabin.

Gin flower in the juniper

 

Over the bridge.

 

Face off one

 

Face off two

 

 

 

Roof repair

A visit to the Låve Museum (a locally curated collection of stuff from old fashioned Norwegian life).  The proprietor is a delight.

 

Self

 

Regional costumes

 

 

The infamous hat

 

 

Also see Art in the Corner for one of these farm implements.

Just like art in the corner

 

Stories of the war

 

Bubbles

 

To the hytte

Sharing pictures of construction (Romey buys a building).  The hytte has been basically reconstructed from scratch with a new roof (expanded roof line) and a new floor (including joists and subfloor).  Now it is a luxury hytte.

Table scene

 

Hytte life

 

The new shower (5 showerheads for this mechanism)

 

The all important hot water mechanism

What a pleasure.  Can’t wait to return.

Oslo is a beautiful city, but whatever you do, don’t try to drive in it. Even people who grew up here can’t do it. In particular, trying to get to the Hotel Christiania Teater from Lillehammer is, well, “interesting” in that Chinese curse kind of way.

As a creature of habit who has found a great property in Oslo, NPS is happy to stay at the Hotel Christiania Teater again. The only wrinkle is that someone else has booked 620 for Wednesday night. Scooped!

That meant we were relegated to room 510, which is a nice room with an inner courtyard facing “view.” 510 is very nice, but is not at all a 620!

510 is dominated by this comfortable bed

The suite sitting area is in the same room as the bed (which in our view makes it less of a suite and more of a room)

bathroom alcove

the shower is set apart by a huge heavy door

Sadly the plumbing seems to wake up early and make insane amounts of noise. An alarm clock of sorts.

The glass shower compartment, this shower is OK

One of the best parts of Hotel Christiania Teater is the bar downstairs which is top notch and always nice to visit.

Negroni with Norwegian gin

Excellent Indian food can be found at Jaipur.

Delicious

And of course a visit to Himkok is pretty much mandatory.

Experimental aquavit cocktail

Experimental Aquavit Cocktail
2cl aquavit
2cl tequila
4 cl beech water kefie
10 ml ambrato (bison grass)
10 ml Italicus
stir down. serve up.

After a one day delay, room 620 became available. An excellent, interesting, quirky space with a great shower.

The supermodels show off 630

bedroom is all bed

walk in shower with tub

One of two great alcoves with windows

All in all 620 has tons of room to hang out, exercise (which is important since the hotel has no gym of its own), blog, read, etc, in comfort.

Some time in Oslo, included a visit to Gøran’s cousin’s excellent art gallery PURenkel.

I added a painting to the art collection.

starfish

There was also Indian street food, beer, and espresso.

A talk.

Visiting Miles

Dinner at Hanami was very good. Excellent sushi and great service.

Just skip the bar at the thief. These people have forgotten what hospitality is.

Five showerheads for Hotel Christiania Teater, one of NPS’ favorite hotels on the planet.

It’s conference time at NPS, and you know what that means…conference hotel time.

The grounds of the Lillehammer Scandic are very nice

The Scandic chain seems to be one of those hotel chains that focuses lots of attention on its common areas and not so much on its rooms. This is a common hotel failure condition that older properties seem to suffer from more often than newer ones do.

That said, the staff is professional, courteous and helpful. Also the bar has Zacapa 23…so there’s that.

But you can have hamster cage 542. Good thing there is the back lawn to relax and hang out in and an excellent balcony for late night fun!

Welcome fruit and a personal note. Very nice.

Veneer abounds

The good news is that in the tiny bathroom, there is a glass shower.

The bad news is there is hardly room to turn around in the tiny bathroom.

Then again, the grounds.

Vietnamese food in Lillehammer is pretty not bad (at B&T Kafe og Mat), especially after a glass of wine by the river.

Two showerheads and a sincere wish that the rooms lived up to the rest of the property.

In the mountains, there is always a remarkable difference between the seasons. Our first visit to the cabin in Skarvheimem was in the Fall. We did some great hiking. This time we visited at the tail end of winter, just before Easter. Here is a short montage about our visit.

We arrived in Bergen…well maybe it was Bergen just in time to pee.

Bergen airport bathroom

Nobody in Bergen is sure about anything

After 20 hours or so of travel, sunset was a welcome sight.

Then it was off to the cabin.

Our now familiar pass

This is where the talk about photography began in earnest. It is not where it ended.

The “path” to the cabin was a little snowy

Home for Easter week.

The living room and bar area

Heat turned out to be kind of important

Outdoor fire

This is us lazing around doing nothing. Note that we were not relaxing (right Gøran?)

Panorama by Anne

The cross country ski area

Way down there is the entire crew

Did I mention there was some talk of photography?

Picture by Amy Barley

The two most important things at the cabin are both liquids.

First, there is water.

Then there is rum

Downhill day

My downhill morning companions

Moon over ice (by Anne)

The view at dinner

Music was a thing again even though the violin was left in Virginia.

Fernet anyone?

More skiing

Pretending to fly the planet

Boo!

Another fire

Two fisted Anne

Somebody is very happy

The visitor

Pancakes and ice cream

Some biathalon

Spring in Norway

Another magical visit to Norway with great friends.

Of course the shower itself was not plastic, since it was nonexistent.

The moonlit view

Imagine that you blog about showers all over the world and that you have intentionally not had a shower for 3 days during which intense hiking has occurred. You know, like camping, but slightly more civilized since a well-supplied cabin is involved. But definitely “ripe.”

The hiking happened here

Then imagine you decide to stay up way late to catch the 2:23am train to Oslo which gets you to the airport in plenty of time to take a shower. I mean even if the train is delayed by 45 minutes (it was), there will still be time for a long hot shower.

The airport flytoget is fast at least.

Now imagine that there is no hot water at the Radisson Blu. None. And management’s “solutions” are ridiculous. And there you have it!

Showering was like boy scout camp. Cold and awful.

And then when you are crossing the Atlantic after a stop off in Germany the Radisson Blu twitter bot awakens. Good for a LOL.

Fortunately, when offered a 50% discount, NPS requested a 100% discount which was granted. Its as if we never set foot on the property—our precise future intentions.

Do not stay at the Oslo Airport Radisson Blu for any reason. Zero cold shower heads.

The view from the bus

First you take a bus from Oslo. The views along the way are incredible. As the altitude gains, the temperature droops.

Oslo Bus Station

Then you arrive and are met by a good friend who whisks you off to the cabin in the middle of nowhere. Rustic. Beautiful. Warm. And Perfect.

The cabin

The hours spent eating, talking, playing music, drinking rum and wine, and sleeping go by fast!

Morning view

Ready to hike?

The 13.8 mile hike on day one was incredible. One of the best hikes ever.

(Read more and see more pictures about the day one hike here.)

Day two summit attempt was beautiful in its own way on a cloudy, rainy, blustery day.

(Read more about hike 2 here.)

But what made it all particularly amazing was the friends.

(Oh, and the shower was not plastic, because there was no shower!)

When you start your trip at the Mondrian in London, swing through the Golden Well in Prague, upgrade yourself at the Hotel Teatro Christiana in Oslo, it is not really the right context or set of expectations for arrival at Klosterhagen Hotell. For sure the staff is super friendly and the place is clean and nice, but it is a budget hotel and not really what we’re looking for here at NPS.

Norway in a Nutshell Fjord

Norway in a Nutshell Fjord

On the positive side, we spent a day cram packed with travel on the Norway in a Nutshell tour. We were joined on the second half of the tour by some great friends and spent the entire trip talking and laughing. We were stymied by the fact that beer was not served on the fjord boat until May 1st (a very ridiculous and slightly too Norwegian thing). But we had a great time anyway watching the Japanese tourists feed the flying rats.

After dropping our bags from the Leaf at the hotel, we had a very nice dinner indeed at Bryggeloftet & Stuene Restaurant right on the waterfront and serving dinner since 1910. Excellent Norwegian cuisine.

Akavit from Bergen

Akavit from Bergen

Bergen turns out to be a very hard place to find an upscale boutique. We know, because we have been here multiple times, usually landing at the Scandic for some conference or other. So we were up for a change of venue at the Klosterhagen Hotell and it is a good time to experiment we hear because there is some kind of mysterious hotel workers strike escalating in town mostly in the chains like Radisson. That did mean we only got one room instead of two (the town is packed), but really the room was so tiny that adding another body was no big deal. Yes, we’re spoiled and we intend to stay that way.

We were assigned tiny room 209. The room numbering system is inventive and quirky.

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The bed in 209 with inches to spare on either side

The bed in 209 with inches to spare on either side

A nice non-plastic shower

A nice non-plastic shower

The rest of the tiny bathroom

The rest of the tiny bathroom

Spartan breakfast room

Spartan breakfast room

Things to fix:
cold eggs in the morning
super flaky net that requires re-authentication way too often
very thin towels that add to two and not three
thin veneer of flooring in rooms and common areas
an espresso machine that has seen better days
that mysterious plastic thing in the shower

What IS this thing?

What IS this thing?

Checkin desk

Checkin desk

Things to keep as they are
super friendly Bergen people
color scheme
location
very nice shower (needs a bigger bathroom to live in)

To add to the fun, Tuesday is garbage day, and that starts around 7am. Yays.

Anyway three showerheads for the Klosterhagen Hotell which is very nice, but not in the big leagues.

Yes, it snowed today in Oslo, which is apparently quite normal for April 24th. We had lunch outside in the snow with lots of others.

Teatro lobby

Teatro lobby

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We’re staying at the Hotel Christiana Teater which looks like a boutique and acts like a boutique but is actually part of the Choice Hotels chain.

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Lots of hip and sass, even from the front desk staff (which is quite charming).

A quick lunch at Olivia (decent Italian, though definitely in Norway) was followed by some time at the Viking Boat Museum and the Munch Museum. About that Maplethorpe, Munch and Viking Ships.

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Then it was back to see what our rooms were like. We were originally assigned 618 which looked like this with all our stuff.

618 is small with a fantastic shower though

618 is small with a fantastic shower though

A quick look at the map on the door revealed the room we wanted—620. That’s where we are now. A corner suite with quirky alcoves, a nice big bathroom, and multiple rooms.

620 bedroom

620 bedroom

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620 sitting room (with extra alcove)

620 sitting room (with extra alcove)

620 hallway

620 hallway

Desk alcove

Desk alcove

Reading and Philosophy Alcove

Reading and Philosophy Alcove

The bathroom gets a big thumbs up. Heated floors, lots of marble, cool sinks.

620 bathroom

620 bathroom

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nice shower

nice shower

View from one of the many windows

View from one of the many windows

I’m not sure where Gjøvik is either to tell you the truth. You fly to Oslo and then take a bus for 90 minutes. Middle of nowhere seems accurate.

The Quality Hotel is pretty much the only game in town. Walkable from the bus and train station.

This hotel gets by on cheap glitz more than anything else. Hamster cages dressed up in flashy. Like a hooker.

Lobby at Quality Hotel

Lobby at Quality Hotel

Even the hallway seems glitzy until you really look at its construction, architecture, fabric choice, carpet pad, sink material, and so on.

Hallway.

Hallway.

Room 536 is just like every other room. Functional, spartan, and all dolled up.

Nice first impression. But small really.

Nice first impression. But small really.

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The shower is not plastic. And it is weird. So plus ten for that. But no soap dish? I am not using the generic soap/shampoo/dishwasher detergent/toothpaste stuff!

THis shower pod is going to flood the floor!

THis shower pod is going to flood the floor!

Like everything else.  Surface glitz that gives way to reality.

Like everything else. Surface glitz that gives way to reality.

Some advice about Gjøvik. Do not eat at Salt and Pepper. And do not drink at Cafe Pi. There has to be somewhere in this town to hang, we just haven’t discovered it yet.

Three showerheads that at first glance would have seemed much higher. Then reality set in. Quality is just in the name.