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Home > Member Reviews > prudence passenger's Port Reviews of Bergen, Flam, Oslo, Amsterdam

prudence passenger's Port Reviews of Bergen, Flam, Oslo, Amsterdam
Celebrity Constellation cruise in June 2013
Member Name: prudence passenger
Cruise Date: June 2013
Embarkation: Amsterdam
Destination: Baltic & Northern Europe
Member Review: prudence passenger's Celebrity Constellation Review
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

First stop Bergen. We had been advised to go up the Floibanen funicular, which we did and had a great view and it was fun. 80 NOK per ticket. We had a few rain sprinkles, but brought our umbrellas, so no bother at all. Visited Bryggen  the Hanseatic Wharf, oldest medieval settlements in Norway, and walked in and out of a few art galleries. We wandered over to the fish market and had some very tasty treats, like whale, eel, and salmon. This port had a bus ride back and forth to the ship which dropped us off at the main park square, Lille Lungegards-vann, with a small lake and fountain. Cute park with young kids playing music and breakdancing.

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Flam Railway Rating: 4.0 out of 5+

Home of the famous Flamsbana Railway line. Thank you to cruise critic for allowing our cruise to set up maybe six different groups for this tour. We needed a minimum of 10 guests to make a reservation, extremely easily done with email. We had one group leader for each party of 10 or more. This person was required to set up the group by email or phone or skype and collect the funds in cash before the day of the tour. Then this person also had to be at the railway office to stand in line and pick up the tickets. Ah, therein lies the rub. The office did not open until 8:15am and people began lining up before 7am. Many tourists were trying to buy seats that morning and many trains were sold out because of the cruise line tours. Our tickets were substantially less than the cruise price, at $60/pp which included our group discount. We were told there was a special line for prepaid tickets and we would not have to wait on the regular line. There were no staff out before 8:15am and no indication where the prepaid line was. I am only 5 ft 1 inch tall and got swamped! Once the doors opened there was one cashier for the prepaid tickets and a few big guys pushed in front of me. Not sure why if our tickets were prepaid? Our group met outside and waited for our special car with our group name taped to the window with our reserved seats which was great. Beautiful ride up from Flam to Myrdal. Nowhere in the world is there an adhesion-type railway on normal tracks with a steeper climb. Almost 80% of the railway line has a gradient of 55% or 1:18 with many tunnels. Work began in 1923, opened for electric trains in 1944. There are 20 tunnels on the hour long journey, with 18 excavated by hand. Each metre took a month. The train stops at Kjosfossen for a brief photo op of the thundering falls complete with mythical water sprites and music. There are stops both going up and coming back so plenty of opportunities for a picture. Not much to do at Myrdal, so we only waited maybe 10 -15 minutes for the return train down. After we returned to Flam the weather got rainy again and we were tired from being up and out so early ( we are not the proverbial early birds) so we went back to the ship to rest. Others took boat rides out on the fjord or found other pursuits.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

Capital of Norway and a big city, we headed into town to catch the tram to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Beautiful day with lots of families picnicking in the park. We were amazed and loved seeing these 212 bronze and granite sculptures. I think we could have easily taken 212 photos as one was more wonderful than the next. This park is a great place to relax with many paths, ponds and a snackbar/souvenir shop and clean bathrooms. Great ice cream too. We got back on the tram heading for the center of town and the museums. We went to the National Gallery with a surprisingly beautiful impressionist room with gorgeous works. We saw a special exhibit for the 150th birthday of Edvard Munch including The Scream and I got my cultural fix. Afterwards we mosied down to the Spikersuppa for a bit of lunch and people watching at an outdoor cafe. Luckily it was under a tent as the skies opened up for a brief rain shower. We then walked past the Palace on to the Akershus Fortress and took a tour of Akershus Castle. We saw a bride and her military officer groom taking photos in the garden. The castle was originally built as a medieval fortified castle around 1300. It's primary function was to defend Oslo. It was rebuilt in the renaissance style in the 17th century. It's primary function today is to house the representation rooms of the Norwegian government. I always enjoy seeing the furnishings and artwork in situ. The tapestries were magnificent.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

We continued our trip for another 10 days staying at a fabulous bed and breakfast, the huis t Schaep ( house of the sheep) in Bruges Belgium and back to Amsterdam staying at the boutique hotel The Canal House. This hotel had only 28 rooms and the largest backyard enclosed garden in Amsterdam. If you have a chance, we would definitely recommend Bruges, a city older than Amsterdam by almost two centuries, with romantic cobblestone streets and canals. Take a bike ride to Damme along the waterway and enjoy lunch or coffee at Tante Marie's garden out back before returning to town. It is also an easy train ride to visit Brussels for the day. There is a great cafe at the top of the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) with especially good gazpacho and tuna nicoise and nice views. We were lucky to fall into a group of traveling college choir students singing on the streets of Brussels, and walked with them to the cathedral where they were having a concert. Sometimes the best things happen serendipitously. Have dinner at the Michelin one star restaurant Den Gouden Harynck, in Bruges, our best meal during our entire trip. We also enjoyed a great meal at Reliva on Goezepustraat, and a great new tapas and wine bar, El Rincon on Katelijnestraat. We also recommend staying in Bruges, as it is so much nicer after the crowds of day trippers leave at 5pm or so, and don't forget to eat chocolate, try the Chocolate Line on Simon Stevinplein. The Church of our Lady has the only Michaelangelo statue taken outside of Italy during his lifetime. Don't forget to watch the film In Bruges although it is bloody and violent, it does make you want to visit the city.

Amsterdam is a city we have visited before and a wonderful mix of the old and the new. This is also a great city to rent a bike for the day, a little more challenging to dodge traffic, although there are many bike lanes and lots and lots of other riders. We biked to the Vondelpark, with many beautiful paths and lakes, lots of places to stop and sit and enjoy the day, with a few outdoor restaurants for lunch or coffee, with not so clean bathrooms. We went to the newly reopened Rijksmuseum after not seeing it for 10 years, and it was wonderful. We recommend trying to get tickets beforehand to avoid some of the long lines. We also went to one of my favorite museums, the Van Gogh. Just so happened that an outdoor sculpture exhibit was going on around town, and we took our bikes to see it, lots of fun. This is also a great place to just wander up and down the beautiful canals, and take a boat trip if you have not done it before, and sit and have a beer or coffee and watch the world go by. We took a day trip by train to Delft to see the home and workplace of Vermeer. Be warned his paintings are not here. Great place to stop at the fish market and eat herring like the natives. We went to the Museum Het Prinsenhof and also a very small 19th century home owned by Paul Tetar VanElven. Ran out of time but there are a few delft ceramic factories to see delftware being made today. Other great restaurants in Amsterdam, Der Kas for farm to table in a beautiful greenhouse, Blauw for authentic Indonesian rice table, and Izakaya, for a hip Asian fusion kitchen and bar. Don't bother with Vinkeles, a Michelin star at the Dylan hotel, overrated, and we were also not impressed with dVijff Vlieghen 5 Flies although it has gotten great reviews elsewhere. We were lucky enough to be in Amsterdam for just the right time to have the specialty Hollandse Nieuwe herring, which is available from mid May to mid July. Don't be scared, just try it! Like sushi. Hold the fish by its tail with your thumb and forefinger and let it slide right down.
Make sure the fishman does the final cleaning in front of you so it is definitely fresh. For a nostalgic trip back to the sixties walk into the Bulldog and check out the menu. Hope you can spend more than a day here before or after your cruise.

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