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Tag-Archive for "Norway"

Trip report from Svalbard in Norway! Feb 06

Gard_Nikki_snowmobile_SvalbardNikki and I had the pleasure of visiting the Arctic in the end of December! We spent New Year’s Eve in Longyearbyen on Svalbard far north of the coast of Norway. Check out the Svalbard trip report on my homepage and get in touch if you have any questions. We got to visit an old coal mine, drove on snowmobiles and went hiking in the cold – and we got to see northern lights! Here you can see more photos from Longyearbyen and I have also made this Svalbard Google map! If you want to get in touch you can reach me on gardkarlsen (at)


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Hotell Geiranger–great views but room is not impressive Aug 09

We stayed at Hotell Geiranger for a night in August 2016 and we booked the hotel using We arrived in the afternoon and check in was quite fast. We got room 818 which was a room with a fjord view. I was told that I could park for free outside the hotel but there were no available spaces there so I had to go down to the waterfront and even there it was tricky to find a place to park. But it is easy to walk back to the hotel.

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Once we walked into the hotel room the first thing we noticed was the beautiful fjord view – the hotel has a prime location for that. But the second impression was that this was an old school room. The room had wooden floor, light yellow walls and had the standard furniture that you would expect in a room. We had booked a kingsize bed but this was not the case – it was just two single beds pushed together. The comfort was good and the duvet was good. Apart from that we had a small sofa and chair around a table and a tiny flat screen TV on the wall. I know you are not in Geiranger to watch TV but it would have been good with a larger TV and a better selection of channels. Outside the room we had a small balcony with two chairs and a table. There was a desk and chair but the small fridge under the desk was both empty and unplugged. There were not that many points in the room for charging our various devices. The wardrobe contained an ironing board and iron but there was no safe.

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The bathroom was small with light tiles, a small basin and a bathtub with a shower option. The shower curtain was the type I dislike – the kind that sticks to you once you get close to it. The only amenities were two small bottles of shampoo, a small bar of soap and two glasses. I think the bathroom is in need for an upgrade as it had a stale smell to it.

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When we walked out of the room we passed by the lounge and at night it seemed like there was coffee and tea that was served here. It would have been great if we had gotten information about this when we were checking in. There was a free wifi at the hotel but I didn’t use it much as I have a Norwegian 4G cellphone. But we got little printouts with wifi username and password and there were different nets to use in the room and in public areas. The internet was not very good I’m afraid and having different nets with different password is confusing.

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I was not totally impressed by breakfast. This is one of the regions of Norway with long traditions and usually you will have very good breakfast buffet at Norwegian hotels. On this trip we stayed at hotels in Molde, Ålesund and Kristiansund and Geiranger hotel offered the least impressive breakfast. There was a very limited selection of fruit, no oats, the brown goat cheese was the pre-sliced version from Tine, there was no bacon to go with the scrambled eggs etc. If you want to put together a take-away lunch you will have to pay 100 Norwegian kroner.

As many of the other reviewers I have mixed feelings about this hotel. Yes, the view from the hotel room is amazing and you can easily reach some epic scenic places. If this review seems harsh it is because I think the price should be linked to the hotel standard. The room we had at Hotel Geiranger was 1900 Norwegian Kroner (or about 225 USD). This made it the most expensive hotel on our trip and the most outdated hotel on our trip. Geiranger is a small community with a limited number of hotel rooms and in my mind I get a feeling that they charge this much just because they can. We expected an old and charming hotel but after staying there for a night the conclusion was that it is just old. The next time I go to Geiranger I will probably see if there are other hotel alternatives.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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A hike to Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) outside Stavanger in Norway Jul 11

I have been to Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock a few times as I live in Stavanger and it is located a short boat trip and drive away. I did an afternoon hike to Preikestolen on a Friday afternoon and here is a short video that shows a bit of the experience. You can check out this page to read more about the hike to Preikestolen:


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Tours of the Stavanger area–Outdoorlife Norway Feb 19

outdoorlife-norway-logo-transIf you are coming to Stavanger in the middle of the tourist season (from April/May to August/September) it is quite easy to check out most of the attractions here – like Kjerag, Preikestolen and even Trolltunga (located in the Hardanger area) But if you come earlier in the season or later it has been tricky to get to some of these places by public transportation. But now there is a new tour operator in town: Outdoorlife Norway! You can get them to take you to e.g. Preikestolen in the middle of winter on snowshoes or hike to various other places in the area. I hope this will make it easier for tourists that visits Stavanger in the future. Note that it is tricky to get to Kjerag in the winter as the road into Lysebotn is normally closed for the winter and it is only opened again in early to mid May!

Gard – trip reports and pictures




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Fleischer’s hotel Vossevangen–overpriced and basic! Aug 05

My wife and I stayed at Fleischer’s hotel in Vossevangen in August 2013. We were on a short weekend trip and decided to stay in Voss as we were covering parts of Hardanger and parts of Sognefjord. I booked the hotel online on the hotel homepage and I guess I booked it quite late as I was only able to get it for the rate of 2090 Norwegian Kroner (about 350 USD).

P1040335Finding the hotel was not that difficult as Voss is not such a large place and the hotel stands out as it is built in Swiss style. The entrance to the hotel is a bit weird as you enter the reception from the back (towards the railway). We got room number 36 located on the same floor as the reception. The room was not very impressive upon entry – I was assuming that as I booked late and ended up paying quite a lot for the room, we would get a better room but I guess that was not the case. The room had light walls with a few pieces of rather boring art work and it had a wooden floor. P1040325The bed was two single beds pushed together which is not great when traveling as a couple and the bed was not very comfortable. There was a two seat sofa by the window and a table and the view was not bad at all – we looked at Voss Kulturhus and the lake. There was also a small desk and a chair – and the desk included and old school and small TV. There was a wardrobe as well but no safe and no iron/ironing board. The small fridge has a few cold drinks and there were a couple of wine glasses. The lighting of the room was really bad and it a good thing that Norwegian summers are light so that you can get natural light into the room.

P1040330The bathroom was small and tiled in white tiles and included a bathtub with a shower option, a toilet and a sink. There were no amenities apart from a shower cap! There was a soap dispenser for washing the hands and it seems like there was a similar one in the shower – so no shampoo, no conditioner etc. The shower head did not seem to work properly and it would spray water in various directions. There was also a wall mounted hair dryer. We were not that impressed by the bathroom standard as there seemed to be hair left from the previous guest and the floor appeared dirty when we started to shower and water was splashing everywhere. P1040327There was not that much ventilation so it got pretty damp in the little bathroom. I don’t think there is much focus on details at this hotel – even the trash can in the corner of the hotel room was not working. The towels were thin and worn out. It did not seem like there was any ventilation in the room so we had to keep the window open at night to get some fresh air – this means that you also hear the traffic better on the road outside.
Breakfast at the hotel was not bad – they could offer some eggs, bacon, cereal, fruit, bread etc. At first it seemed like they only had standard jam etc but when looking closer it seemed like they had more local stuff as well (e.g. strawberry jam, brunost (the Norwegian brown goat cheese) and apple juice). When we came to the breakfast restaurant there was a sign saying that we had to wait to be seated (well, it was not spelled correctly) – but as we were standing there waiting a waitress told us that we could sit anywhere.

Location of the hotel is not bad – but then again Voss is a small place and you can basically walk anywhere from any location in town. I was afraid that we would hear the trains as the railway is right next door but that was not a problem.

P1040331I travel a bit for pleasure and business so I think I know a bit about hotel standards and qualities. I don’t mind paying a lot for a hotel room as long as I feel that I get something back for the money. In that respect I have to say that I’m shocked by the value for money at Fleischer’s hotel. I paid 2090 Norwegian kroner (about 350 USD) for the room and the room was one of the most basic rooms I have stayed at in a long time. Not only was it basic but it also seems to be neglected in terms of cleaning and maintenance. The bed was uncomfortable, towels thin and worn out, basically no amenities in the bathroom etc. Fleischer’s hotel is a part of De Historiske – an organization that promotes charming and historic hotels. Fleischer’s hotel might be a historic hotel with many famous guests in the past but today it is a worn down hotel that is absolutely not worth the room rate.

Gard – trip reports and photos



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Hotel Ullensvang: breathtaking views to fjord and mountains Aug 20

P1000981For many years I have heard stories about Ullensvang hotel from colleagues and they have been raving about it like it was most amazing place in the world. In August 2012 I decided to take my wife on a surprise trip to Hardanger and I saw that Ullensvang hotel is located here so I decided to stay at the hotel to check it out. We drove from Stavanger on a Friday afternoon and when reaching Odda and Hardanger fjord you get a spectacular viewDisplay of Hardanger bunad in the lobby. The fjord stretches out from Odda and on both sides there are majestic mountains with waterfalls and on the one side you can also get a glimpse of the Folgefonna glacier. On both sides apple trees are clinging on in the slopes leading down to the fjord. When we parked at the hotel a young boy came over to help with the luggage – he was a poster boy for the typical Norwegian with his bunad inspired work outfit and blond hair sticking out under the hat. Once you get into the lobby there is a display of the Hardanger bunad (the traditional Norwegian costume from this area). But if you walk a few more steps you also get a beautiful view of the fjord in front of the hotel!

IMG_3427We got room 628 and after traveling a lot and staying at pretty nice hotels around the world I have to be honest to say that I was not expecting much as Norwegian hotels normally don’t have that much to offer. But I was pleasantly surprise when walking into the room. The room was not that big but it had light walls, two beds pushed together to form a double bed, a dark purple/greyish carpet, dark wooden furniture with purple colors in the fabric, a small IMG_3429TV on a small fridge, a desk with a chair and a mirror. There was also a dark wooden wardrobe by the entrance to the bathroom. We got a room with a view towards the apple tree garden and the mountains but I’m sure that you can get an amazing fjord view if you pay a bit extra. The bathroom seemed to be brand new and was tiled in large, light tiles and the bathroom furniture seemed modern and new. The shower option was in the bathtub and a glass panel prevented water splashing everywhere and it worked pretty well. There were not that many bathroom amenities…only a body and hair shower gel and small bars of soap.

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P1000999We also had breakfast included in our stay and they have a pretty good breakfast indeed – breakfast is usually good in Norwegian hotel and Ullensvang could also offer a great selection of bread, cereal, locally produced apple juice, cheese, cold cuts etc. There was also a bit of egg and bacon but as usual Norwegian hotels are better on the cold food compared to warm food for breakfast. The hotel also had a dinner buffet at night which was very good. Gammalost - a traditional Norwegian cheeseAt night they had a wide variety of cold cuts including some typical Norwegian stuff such as rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge), fenalår (salted and dried leg of lamb), smoked whale meat etc. But they also served various fish (salmon and trout), crab, roe and various meat (pork, reindeer, beef etc). The dessert selection was also outstanding serving cheese, a selection of cakes and again typical Norwegian favorites such as karamellpudding (flan) and tilslørte bondepiker (apple jam and cream). The dinner buffet is about 500 Norwegian kroner per person (about 85 USD).

P1010098 Smoked, raw whale meat

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Dinner at the a la carte restaurantThe hotel also has an a la carte restaurant which we checked out on Friday night. They had a small but good menu and to start with we got some cold cut with a strawberry jam which sounds like a weird combination but it was actually a pretty good combination. I continued with the duck confit starter and had rack of lamb with roasted vegetables which was excellent. Together with a good bottle of Italian wine we really had an excellent meal at the Zanoni restaurant. In the end we had some dessert made from local products and I also got a small glass of dessert wine to round it off.

P1000977The hotel is large and provides lots of activities. If you move outside there is a beautiful garden leading down to the fjord. You can rent a pedal boat or a rowing boat if you want to get away from the hotel, you can rent a fishing rod if you want to try to catch a fish for dinner…or you can head over to the activity part of the hotel where you can play squash, tennis, table tennis, work on your swing in the golf simulator etc. There is also an indoor/outdoor pool and it seems like they are working on expanding the pool area where the water will be heated (of course).

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P1000982The room cost about 2000 Norwegian kroner per night (including taxes and breakfast) which is about 340 USD per night and hence it is quite expensive. We did get free wifi included but I’m a bit annoyed to see that you have to pay extra to get access to e.g. the fitness room. Maybe stuff like that should be included when you pay that much for the hotel room itself. I would also have liked to see more amenities in the bathroom (shampoo, conditioner etc). But all in all I was very impressed with the hotel. The hotel is filled with items that tell a story about Norway, the history and the location. I’m glad to see that they are also serving some traditional Norwegian dished for breakfast and dinner to let the tourists get a taste of Norway. But the best of all is of course the location of the hotel…located just a step away from the beautiful Hardanger fjord gives the hotel a breathtaking view. Once you step out of the hotel you get an amazing view of the fjord and the mountains that surrounds the fjord. If you are going to the area I can really recommend a stay at this hotel.

Read more about the hotel on

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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May 17th–Constitution day in Norway May 06

Norwegian_flagIf you come to Norway in May and you happen to be there on May 17th, you will notice that there is something special going on. There will be parades, there are people wearing strange outfits, teenagers running around in blue and red overalls etc. 17th of May if Norway’s Constitution Day and it is one of the most important holidays. The special outfits that people are wearing on this day is called Bunad and it is a traditional Norwegian dress and it comes in different versions depending on where in the country you are from. Stavanger Expats has written this article about May 17th and the “russ” – the “russ” are the kids running around in red and blue overalls and this marks the end of 13 years of schooling.  You can also find an article here about the history, the outfits, the parades etc.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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My Stavanger restaurant blog Mar 10

interior2I have a Stavanger restaurant blog and you can find it on . I write a bit about the restaurants and bars in Stavanger and I have just updated it with reviews of Bølgen & Mor and the new Renaa: Xpress. Hope that you can find the information useful if you are living in Stavanger or coming here to visit Winking smile. What is your favorite restaurant in Stavanger? And is there a signature dish that you would recommend others to try out? Feel free to share it in the comment field below!

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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My hometown Stavanger and the surrounding area Sep 18

Here is a nice video that I found focusing on Stavanger and the surrounding area. It is a pretty accurate presentation…but the weather is not always that nice Winking smileYou can find more information about Stavanger and the area on

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Video from the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) Sep 04

As I live in Stavanger, I have had the pleasure of visiting the amazing Pulpit Rock (or Preikestolen as it is called in Norwegian) many times. I went there in June 2011 and the weather was perfect for trekking. Here is a short video showing you what you can expect if you do this trek in the summer time. You can also read more about it in this trip report.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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