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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.

Bergen is a beautiful city of 250,000 surrounded by mountains and water. It’s a fantastic place to visit.

Bergen in the morning

Bergen in the morning

Unlike Bergen, the Scandic hotel in the city (there is one at the airport too) is a bit generic for our tastes on this blog. I suppose Scandic is the Marriott of Scandenavia. Marriotts are something we avoid.

The bed has strange Norwegian bed fittings.  Fun.

The bed has strange Norwegian bed fittings. Fun.

I am in 757, which according to the map on the door seems to be a representative room. The room is clean and nice, but worn. Think beautiful lines with pockmarks and cracks. There are some nice features, including free decent wifi and power by the bed. But there are things that need repair and/or replacement. For example there is a broken tile in the bathroom on the tub and a lingering mildew smell in the air.

Work pod with plenty of power.

Work pod with plenty of power.

A candy welcome amenity falls squarely in the Marriott category. It’s nice that they stopped by 7-11 so you don’t have to. But candy bar? OK.

Amentity?

Amentity?

Euro-shower = non-plastic. The most interesting feature is the security disaster that is generic shared soap dispensers. Nair? Poison? Ink? Norwegians just don’t think that way.

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However, such a trusting nature does lead to real hangers (of which we approve).

The hangers trust you.

The hangers trust you.

All in all a very low four showerheads for the Scandic. I’ve been here before mostly because it is a conference hotel in the city. There have got to be better places to stay in Bergen though.

Then again, the barman at the Scandic introduced us to Tesseron Extreme Cognac, a pricey but delicious elixer whose oldest components hail from 1906–>1858 range.

A late dinner at Sumo was workaday. Fine sushi, but nothing to write home about.

We will throw in an absolute gem in Bergen to round things out and end on a high note. The No Stress bar is super fantastic. Expert bartender Tessa Ostervold caused us to have a delightful evening after the noisy conference dinner. Thanks Tessa. Among other shenanigans, we concocted the OK Glass Cocktail as follows:
5 cl Blanton’s bourbon
2 cl Dolin’s red
1 sugarcube soaked in Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters
2 t of fernet branca
Shake. Serve up. Garnish with an orange peel expressed.

Tessa

Tessa

There was pappy 20.

Pappy van Winkle 20 bourbon

Pappy van Winkle 20 bourbon

Did I say super fantastic? I’ll be back. (And rumor has it that Tessa may open her own place in Bergen one day.)