Scandanavia Trip Report

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RyanC
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Scandanavia Trip Report

#1 Post by RyanC » July 26th, 2018, 9:04 am

Just got back from an outrageously fun 10-day trip with my wife and kids (5yo and 3yo) to Scandanavia, where none of us had previously traveled. A number of WB folks offered very helpful recommendations, so to pay y'all back, here are some quick-hit stream-of-consciousness impressions. (If you want to see some pics, you can add my on FB or instagram.)

Overall Impression

We had an ambitious itinerary: we spent a few days in Copenhagen in an Airbnb. Then we flew to Bergen and took an expressboat up the western coast and through the Sognefjord to Balestrand, where we stayed for a night at the Kviknes Hotel. We then took a boat to Flam, did a cruise through the Nærøyfjord, took the Flam Railway and then train to Oslo. We then flew to Stockholm, were we stayed for a few days before flying back.

The whole thing exceeded expectations across nearly every dimension. Copenhagen is awesome. Stockholm is awesome. But it was really the Norwegian fjords that blew me away. We lucked out with sun-filled, cloudless skies, and the experience was life-affirming. If you haven't been, go. Now. I'm already scheming for how to return and do more of Norway's western coast. The stay at the Kviknes Hotel on the Sognefjord also vastly exceeded expectations. While the rooms are nothing special, the location is unparalleled and the public spaces are special. The excellent--and pretty cheap--wine list with deep Leflaive verticals was an added bonus. We had a sublime bottle of 2002 Leflaive Batard-Montrachet. (List: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... -05-07.pdf). Balestrand is also quite charming.

Food and Wine

The food and wine (and beer) everywhere were superb. We had the kids with us for every meal, so we didn't do Michelin-starred places, but we chose restaurants carefully and the advance planning paid dividends. The dining highlight of Copenhagen, and of the whole trip, was Barr. Noma's casual, beer-focused sibling--situated in Noma's old space on the water--Barr is a near-perfect restaurant. I've dined at loads of ***/**-star type spots in Europe/Asia/US and I'm often skeptical about (and disappointed by) casual offshoots of famous places. But no worries here. Barr was one of my favorite restaurants I've visited, ever. Super cool atmosphere, perfect and extremely friendly service, and impeccably conceived and executed cuisine in a casual setting. The glazed cod tail with whey sauce and radish salad was a pantheon-level dish, and the schnitzel was comfort food of the highest order. The Drie Fonteinen Hommage we drank was excellent.

In Copenhagen we also dined at Fiskebaren, a cool fish-focused spot with pristine seafood and a good wine list (we drank Vouette et Sorbee), and at Baest, Christian Puglisi's casual pizza spot where the make everything (cheese, charcuterie, etc.) in-house. Both were very good.

The Norway portion wasn't focused on food and wine, but as mentioned we ate and drank well at the Kviknes. We opted to order from the bar menu in the lounge overlooking the fjord. That was far more attractive than the very expensive buffet. In Bergen, we ate at Enhjorningen in Bryggen. Atmosphere was unique and food was good, but this was a struggle with the kids. Awkwardly silent and stuffy, although on balance I'm glad we went.

Other than Barr, our best meals were in Stockholm. The second best meal of the trip was at Sturehof, which served beautiful oysters, cod, and turbot, in a lively setting with one of the best, and best-priced, wine lists I've ever seen (https://www.sturehof.com/wp-content/upl ... a-Juli.pdf). Despite the seafood focus, we drank 2010 Jamet Cote Rote 'Cote Brune', which was reference-quality syrah. If I could do it again, I would have considered eating at Sturehof all three nights. That's no knock on the other restaurants, though. We enjoyed Tranan--Stockholm's version of a charming French Bistro--and its top-notch version of Swedish meatballs. It didn't hurt that Tranan had 2010 Arnaud Ente Meursault 'Clos de Ambres' on the list for cheap. On our last night, we ate at Flying Elk, the casual restaurant of Frantzen (Stockholm's top restaurant these days). Flying Elk is trying to be Barr--a beer-focused, well-executed, stylish, casual spot. It's no Barr, but it's very good and our kids especially enjoyed it.

Other Stream-of-Consciousness Thoughts

* The Grand Hotel in Stockholm really lives up to its billing. We stayed in a nice suite and everything was pitch perfect. Beautiful room, perfect service, and they were wonderful with the kids. I couldn't recommend it more.
* Some of the friendliest people on earth and everyone speaks perfect English.
* We rented a goboat in Copenhagen to do our own tour of the canals/waterways and it was awesome. Stockholm does not allow boat rentals without a license, which is too bad because I would have loved to spend an afternoon cruising around the archipelago.
* While Copenhagen is more immediately appealing than Stockholm (partly because Copenhagen seems smaller and more walkable), I'm more eager to return to Stockholm to explore the archipelago and the food/wine scene. Stockholm reminded me a bit of Paris.
* The food in Copenhagen was shockingly good across the board. Even the random cafes, bakeries, coffee shops, tourist spots in Nyhavn etc were generally very good.
* The kids adored Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, which is charming and not completely overrun with people. Frankly so did my wife and I--I enjoyed it about 100x more than the Disney resorts. Kids also liked Skansen in Stockholm.
* We should have spent even more time in the fjords.
* Except for some wine list deals, Scandanavia is frighteningly expensive across the board. Like traveling to Japan or London.
* Traveling with kids always seems more daunting that it actually is. They were shockingly great despite early mornings and countless boat rides, bus trips, and flights. I'm already plotting a trip for next year.
Last edited by RyanC on July 26th, 2018, 11:01 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Randall McFarlane
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Scandanavia Trip Report

#2 Post by Randall McFarlane » July 26th, 2018, 10:53 am

Thanks for posting this. We recently were in Scandinavia for a cruise around the Svalbard archipelago, at the end of which we spent a thoroughly enjoyable week in Stockholm. Like you, we had a suite at the Grand Hotel, and just loved the place. We also ate two meals at Sturehof and completely agree with your assessment of that restaurant.
Last edited by Randall McFarlane on July 28th, 2018, 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

Magnus Solhjell
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Scandanavia Trip Report

#3 Post by Magnus Solhjell » July 26th, 2018, 11:18 am

I'm glad you enjoyed it. The next time you're in the fjord region, make sure to make a pit stop at Park Hotell Vossevangen, their wine cellar is INSANE! http://parkvoss.no/en/fasiliteter/vinkjeller/

Since you mention the Drie Founteinen, I hope for your sake you visited Akkurat in Stockholm. If you missed it, it is a pretty good reason to return..
http://www.akkurat.se

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RyanC
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Scandanavia Trip Report

#4 Post by RyanC » July 26th, 2018, 11:24 am

Magnus Solhjell wrote:I'm glad you enjoyed it. The next time you're in the fjord region, make sure to make a pit stop at Park Hotell Vossevangen, their wine cellar is INSANE! http://parkvoss.no/en/fasiliteter/vinkjeller/

Since you mention the Drie Founteinen, I hope for your sake you visited Akkurat in Stockholm. If you missed it, it is a pretty good reason to return..
http://www.akkurat.se
I was trying to find a way to slot in a visit to Akkurat, but with the kids and itinerary, it didn't happen. It is indeed a good incentive to return.
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Jeff Bloom
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Scandanavia Trip Report

#5 Post by Jeff Bloom » July 26th, 2018, 12:01 pm

Thanks for posting. Scandanavia is indeed a beautiful part of the world with, as you note, incredibly friendly people. We're heading back to Norway and Copenhagen next year.

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George Hejna
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Scandanavia Trip Report

#6 Post by George Hejna » July 27th, 2018, 6:23 am

Heading to Stockholm/Copenhagen in about a week. Thanks for the post!

George

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Mark Y
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Re: Scandanavia Trip Report

#7 Post by Mark Y » June 1st, 2019, 4:37 pm

Bumping this. Going with 6 and 4 yr old next year for 12 days. How did you fit all that in 10 days?!??
Y.e.

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