The Incomparable Beauty Of Scandinavia

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A Long Train Ride to the Incomparable Beauty of Scandinavia: Copenhagen and Oslo

I went to Copenhagen Scandinavia by train from Bologna, some 19 hours on trains and in train stations in Milan and Basil. Walking out of the Basil train station, I was flanked by a Burger King on my left and a Starbucks on my right––disappointing. The beauty of the Swiss Alps made up for it, and once past the Americana, Basil seemed like a charming city, where American dollars exchanged for Swiss Francs didn’t buy much.

After four weeks in the warmth of summer in beautiful but economically depressed Italy, Copenhagen was a shock. It was cold and rainy, and the prices for everything were double or triple those of Italy, but it was sparkling clean with beautiful canals, sky blue when the sun shone between the clouds. The older buildings had the architecture unique to Scandinavia, so unlike that of southern Europe. In summer the gardens were beautiful. It seemed like everyone, commercial and family, was competing for the most colorful and elaborate garden. Oslo, the first stop on my Cruise of Norway was similar in its floral extravaganza and was surrounded by even more water than Copenhagen.

Copenhagen was not as crowded with tourists as I had found other European destinations in the summer, a pleasant surprise. The tourists that were there included many American baby boomers and seniors, probably attracted by the pristine cities and friendly, English speaking natives.

My favorite part of Copenhagen was Tivoli Gardens, a Disneyland with gardens. It had everything that Disneyland had, but fewer rides, more restaurants and much more open space with great splotches of colorful flowers, green lawn, ponds bordered by more flowers and trees and plants that outdid Disneyland.

It is one of the most efficient cities in Europe for getting around, quite walkable for the most part, but efficient subway and bus service and trains that go everywhere in Europe. The hop-on-hop-off busses are an efficient way to see the city.

Oslo is blessed with fascinating museums that display its long history and art. The Viking Ship Museum, which displays Viking Ships from the Middle Ages; the Folk Museum that in addition to artifacts from the Fifteenth Century, has a village of old homes and shops that were moved there from their original locations in Norway; and the Kontiki Museum. My traveling companion and I especially enjoyed the Folk Museum. Seventeenth century homes and shops had been moved to the picturesque hilly grounds that displayed artifacts and traditional Nordic dancing by Oslo’s youth. Oslo’s architecture, like that of Copenhagen is colorful and unique and has modern skyscrapers next to four hundred year old beautifully maintained buildings. The City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prizeis presented each year is a modern building full of art, old and new. You can enjoy the beauty of the city by boat, bus or foot. The food, especially native fish, is delicious, though expensive. Be prepared to pay the equivalent of six to seven dollars for a cup of coffee and thirty to forty for lunch. Oslo is a pleasant city for Americans to visit because most everyone speaks English.