I got to go to IETF 87 and the RPKI Deployment Strategies Workshop in Berlin for work. Then I took advantage of the great opportunity and used some vacation to see Scandinavia. It was a rather amazing trip overall.
2013-07-25 – 2013-07-26
The flights from BOS to TXL were pretty uneventful. The ring layout of TXL’s Terminal A was interesting.
I then headed over to Hauptbahnhof to get my EuRail pass activated and to buy some train seat reservations for the vacation portion of the trip. Berlin’s public transit is the best I’ve ever seen. Throughout the week, I rode the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Regionalbahn, and a bus. All of them were fast, on time, clean, and easy to navigate. Hauptbahnhof was huge, with lots of connections going all over the place, both in the Berlin area and to other parts of Europe. Stations felt safe at night.
Breakfast at the InterContinental was delicious. I had liver sausage, smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, a sprat, scrambled eggs, pancakes with nutella, waffles, fresh fruit, a pretzel, a few types of cheese, feta and leek salad, and fruit juice.
I got to Freie Universität Berlin early, so I looked at their collection of interesting old computers:
(just some work stuff this day)
I walked to Wittenbergplatz for dinner, then walked around looking for a music store. In the process, I ended up in the enormous department store KaDeWe. They had an amazing selection of Legos, Fischertechnik, and lots of other cool toys, but not the music I was looking for.
The social at the Deutsches Technikmuseum was great. The trains exhibit was beautiful from an engineering perspective, although some of the history was unsettling (but handled well by the museum). The replica of Zuse’s Z1 was both pretty and fun to talk about with the other IETFers.
(just some work stuff this day)
I had dinner with coworkers at Käfer on the roof of the Bundestag. There was a really good view from the dome of both the city and the parliament below. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel through the very pretty Tiergarten.
I went to a biergarten with a coworker. My König Ludwig beer, pretzel, and pizza with mozzarella, basil, and tomato were very tasty. I finally found a city that has pretzels on par with or better than Philadelphia.
I also had a chance to walk around and take pictures:
Vacation! I got on the train from Berlin to København. After a few minutes, we were going about 190 km/h and I didn’t even realize it until I read the sign. We passed forests and fields of corn, grass, wind turbines, and solar cells. The train took a ferry between Germany and Denmark. It was nice to get out and walk around on the ferry.
I took the train from København to Göteborg and from Göteborg to Mellerud. On the bridge between København and Malmö, I saw an offshore wind farm! I really don’t get aesthetic complaints about wind power. Wind turbines are pretty. On the first train, somebody was blasting a remix of Only Teardrops. I was amused. On arriving in Mellerud, I walked until I found a place to sleep:
I understood intellectually that the night is shorter closer to the poles in the summer, but I didn’t realize just how little sleep I’d get. I decided to sleep inside the remaining nights.
Mellerud is a nice small town surrounded by beautiful countryside. It’s near Vänern, the largest lake in the European Union. I have a few photos:
When I got back to town, I asked a man near the train station if he knew if Kil has hostels. He didn’t speak English very well. He offered to lead me somewhere, but I couldn’t understand where or why. After about a kilometer, we were in what appeared to be the town center, with a tourist information center. I thanked him, and the people at the tourist info center were very helpful.
I took the train to Kil and found their tourist info center to get directions to the nearest hostel. It was farther than I felt like walking after hiking and walking around all day, so I gave in and stayed at the Kils Hotell. The room was simple, but very nice. The person working there was very nice.
I watched some TV in the hotel. I really liked the supermarket ads. They had spoken words, written words, and pictures for various types of food, which came in handy throughout the rest of the week. There was also a show with some good music.
I took the train from Kil to Oslo. In Oslo, I found a small cluster of antiques and second-hand stores. They had some really interesting things, including a butter churn, old skis, some manual SLRs and lenses, and a lot of furniture.
In the hostel, I shared a room with three South Koreans on vacation around Europe and two Italians on their way to Svalbard. I may or may not be seriously considering visiting Seoul and Milan now.
Another train, this time Oslo to Finse. I had a good time talking with a retired Canadian couple and a young Norwegian. The hostel in Finse had a bed, so I decided to stay there.
The glacier was beautiful and the air was a pleasant 10 °C. I ate lunch outside watching the lake and glacier. Then I decided to take a walk around the lake, which turned into a hike much of the way up to the glacier. The mountains, rocks, ponds, and snow were some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen, and my pictures don’t do it justice:
I woke up in Finse to a beautiful cloudy day. I walked around the Rallarmuseet and saw the biggest snow blowers I’d ever seen.
I took the train from Finse to Myrdal, then the Flåm railway to Flåm. On the Flåm railway, there was a photo stop at a waterfall with a wonderful surprise that I won’t ruin.
I got lucky again and got the last bed in the hostel in Flåm, then I walked around. The mountains, valley, and fjord were just as stunning as Finse the day before, but in a different way. As before, my pictures don’t do it justice:
I woke up to another beautiful day in Flåm, then took the train back to Myrdal and on to Bergen.
Bergen is a wonderful city. I took a walk on a cobbled street and through a large park. The variety of colors of old houses was pretty. The park had public xylophones, glockenspiels, and a slack line. A few (presumably) locals asked me to play a glockenspiel for them, so I made something up. They applauded when I finished.
The open air fish market at the docks had stalls selling all sorts of delicious-looking fish, both for immediate consumption and for later preparation. I saw salmon, whale, monkfish, live giant crabs, live lobsters, shrimp, mussels, and many other things. I tried some free samples at various booths, then settled on a delicious fish curry for dinner.
I woke up early and flew home, meeting some interesting people in the process. The Oslo–Newark flight had a really good view of southern Greenland. I hope I can see those snowy fjords at ground level some day. It’s good to be back in the land of the free (gratis bathrooms and water fountains, that is) and contra dancing.
That was some breakfast you ate at the Continentel Hotel, David–wow.
Yours is the first blog I truly enjoyed. Glad you detailed so much of your trip and your reactions. Because we had been on the Flam railway recently, it was neat to have it described from your perspective.
So, what was the surprise?
Bashful3 (aka Granny)
David Mandelberg says
Here’s a description (see the section ) and a video of the surprise on the Flåm railway. I thought you saw the same thing when you went?
Aha. We did see the spectacular waterfall, but no one mentioned any myths of dancing there as a surprise, and in any case, our train did not stop, and there were no dancers to be seen!
We also did not experience the entire ride from Flam to Myrdal, as the ship had arranged for the ride to end at a hotel where waffles, whipped cream and jam were served. We would have preferred the entire train ride, and wished we had just booked it separately.
However, cruise stops, the train is reserved entirely, except for the first trip, so those who tried to book on the spot were disappointed.