Scandic Holmenkollen Park: The Bachelorette Hotel

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Scandic Hallway

A couple of years ago, I was flipping channels and landed on “The Bachelorette,” who was heading to a dream date in Oslo, Norway.

Her limousine pulled up in front of an historic wooden hotel with a distinctive dragon style.

Scandic Outside

The setting was beautiful – high in the hills overlooking Oslo and the Oslofjord.

I was hooked.

They didn’t’ say the name of the hotel on the show, but I knew I wanted to stay there if I could.  I googled and searched until I finally ran across of picture of this amazing looking hotel – the Scandic Holmenkollen Park.

Scandic Stairs

Not only was this an iconic Norwegian hotel – dating back to 1894 – it was built next to the Holmenkollen Ski Lift from the 1952 Winter Olympics. (See our next blog for that.)


Our Suite

I booked us into a junior suite to celebrate our last 3 nights in Norway. AND – we got upgraded to what I think was the Bachelorette’s suite!

B Room 2

It was two levels, with a loft overlooking the bedroom

B Room

and a Jacuzzi on the veranda overlooking Oslo.

Scandic Terrace

They also have a fabulous formal restaurant, where we had oxtail ravioli and the best lamb either of us has ever had (which is saying something – Frank loves lamb).

Scandic Restaurant

So Frank and I had our own “dream date” as we said farewell to Norway.

Scandic View


Last Look at Bergen

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[Note: We are back in the States – I had a work trip to Seattle last week, so didn’t have a chance to finish up the blog.  So will be posting last few days . . . .]

F Front

Today is our final day in Bergen, so we decided to take in the views from the top – via the Floibanen funicular.

We have a fun family story about this funicular. When my parents were here 20 years ago, they boarded and then my mom heard how high it went (1,000 feet), panicked, and hopped off at the very last second into “no man’s land” on the wrong side of the car.  They had to stop the funicular and get her out.  They eventually did ride up, had a wonderful time, and even hiked back down.

F in tunnel

So we were excited to go.

The funicular was built 100 years ago and has been updated several times since then. It makes a few stops along the way to the top for folks who live up the mountain and carries both locals and tourists to the summit.

F up hill

The views from the top really are spectacular!

F View

And not only are their panoramic views, but shops, hiking trails, and even goats!  One is even named Obama.


I took this picture partly because this little girl reminded me a lot of my niece, Holly, at that age – I can see that Norwegian bloodline!

Goats 2

There is also an historic restaurant.

F Restaurant 2

We stopped in for a cocktail to bid Bergen a very fond farewell.

F Drinks

Next Up: On our way to the famous “Bachelorette” Hotel – really, I saw it on “The Bachelorette” and decided to stay there!

F Signpost

Favorite Bergen Restaurant: Cornelius

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Boat Bergen

There is a restaurant on the waters of the Bergen fjord where even the locals go to celebrate big days.  It is on an island, and you can only access by your own boat or their private launch.  It books up far in advance, so you have to plan ahead.

Thankfully, I had read about it in one of the many guidebooks we brought along (much to Frank’s chagrin) so booked our reservations weeks ago.  We thought this would be a fitting way to celebrate the almost-end of our trip.

There are only two sittings, so you have to catch the boat on time.  Otherwise, you have to hire a helicopter (really – this is what the website says!).  Our instructions were to meet at “Shed #8,” which was an adventure in itself to find.  The unmarked boat pulled up for 5 minutes, and we hopped onboard.

Cornelius Launch

It is a 25-minute ride out to the restaurant.

Cornelius Sail

We had a beautiful day sailing past ships, vacation cottages, and pleasure boats.

Cornelius Sail 2

And then here we were.

Cornelius Arrival

They greeted us with prosecco and showed us the saltwater pools where they keep the just-caught seafood.

Cornelius - Fresh Catch 2

Cornelius - Fresh Catch

Then led us to a table with a lovely view.

Cornelius - inside

The menu is set, so once you sit down, the waiters start bringing out courses.  The chef comes by to explain each one, and the sommelier matches it with wine.

Shellfish soup, ling fish – part of the cod family only from North Atlantic waters – and cake.  (I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot about the blog and didn’t take any pictures.)

We happily boarded the launch back to Bergen – knowing we are going to miss Norway. What a very cool place.

Cornelius 2

Christy & Frank’s Restaurant Reviews: Best of Bergen

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[Editor’s Note: We are back in the States, but I have a few days left to blog.  We want to capture those memories, too.  Highlights include our favorite restaurant in Bergen, the “Bachelorette” hotel, and view from the top of an Olympic ski lift.]

Bergen CAT

We often get asked for restaurant recommendations in towns we visit.  And we want to remember the places we liked best.

So – to help us remember -here are some of our favorite spots – from super casual street food to fine dining.  All are within a few blocks of the Bryggen waterfront, so walking distance to most “tourist” hotels.

Fish Market

The Bergen Fish Market if famous, dating back to the 1500s.

Bergen Fish Mkt Paella

It is fun to just walk through the fishmongers sing-songing to beckon customers. And they have everything – whale, sea urchin, salmon, dried cod, crab . . . .Bergen Fish Mkt

You can take fish home or have the m fix a plate and eat on the covered picnic tables.  We got a platter of shrimp, whale, salmon (3 ways), stone crab, king crab and potato salad.  Super fresh and delicious.

Bergen Fish Mkt Lunch

Bar Barista

A very quirky place that our apartment greeter told us about – has the best waffles in town (they eat waffles here for every meal).

Bar Barista


A couple of blocks off the water in a neighborhood with a real Italian feel – complete with kids kicking soccer balls and locals doing their passeggiata.  We sat outside under the umbrellas with aperol spritzes and pumpkin almond taglietelle – fabulous.


Enhjorningen (The Unicorn)

The oldest seafood restaurant in Bergen, it is housed in one of the old wooden houses on the water.  Look for the unicorn statue on the front of the yellow house below.

Bryggen 3

We had the 4-course menu featuring carpaccio of whale and mussel soup, which were amazing.  And believe it or not the main entrée was . . .  baked catfish!

Unicorn - Frank

My granddaddy from Texas whose favorite restaurant was The Catfish Kitchen would have been proud!  Seriously, we aren’t sure, but we think it is a different fish than our home-grown variety – it was on the menu a lot and they were very proud of it.

Hans Haugesgate 1 [our address]

And best of all – our own balcony.  We love to go to the market and put together an antipasti plate with a bottle of wine.

Bergen Balcony Antipasto

Stay tuned for tomorrow for our VERY favorite.

Naturally, we had to take a boat to get there.

Boat Bergen

Chefs Christy & Frank Present . . . Salmon!

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Salmon - Frank

Understandably, salmon is EVERYWHERE in Norway – smoked, raw, marinated, baked, poached, grilled – you name it.

On the Hurtigruten, Frank and I took a class to learn how to cure salmon, which is just treating it with spices and some type of spirit.  It then “cooks” itself and is safe to eat.

First, they poured each student a small glass of aquavit, Norwegian’s favorite schnapps, made from potatoes.

Salmon - Aquavit 2

The story goes that an Arctic expedition filled their stores with potatoes.  After the Arctic, they headed south to Australia, where the potatoes all spoiled and fermented.  They tried the result – and discovered it was good.  They experimented and traditionally add anise and cinnamon.

To have a proper aquavit, it must be kept in barrels on a ship and cross the Equator twice (called Linie).  [NOTE: This  must be true.  Frank and I bought a cheaper bottle at the airport to sample, and it was terrible – but this version was excellent.]

Salmon - Aquavit

Then, on to the salmon.  The chef explained that there is a misconception that wild salmon is far superior to farm-raised salmon and while that is true in some places, Norway has a very high standard for its farms.  The salmon must be kept in open water and all is very regulated, so he would trust Norwegian farm-raised salmon, particularly where he knows the farmer.

Salmon - Chef

Here’s a picture of a salmon farm we passed:

Salmon Farm 2

In the old days, Norwegians cured the salmon in the sand (gravel), which is why it is called gravlaks.  We cured OUR salmon with a sugar/salt mixture, dill, and half the aquavit (we drank the other half).

Salmon - CAT

Then we carefully bagged and added our names.

Salmon - Take Home

The chef will store in the ship’s coolers and turn for us every 12 hours (must cure at least 48 hours).  When we leave, we can take our salmon with us.


We picked up our salmon on the way off the ship and carefully carried with us to our Bergen apartment for tonight’s dinner.

I decided to prepare it two ways.

I cut off a piece of each of our salmon steaks to leave “as is” – the traditional gravlaks so we could try each other’s concoction – served with honey mustard.

Salmon - Gravlax

And then I seared the rest of the steaks in a little olive oil – again cutting in half so we could try each other’s recipes.  Very simple.

Salmon Steaks

Delicious!  Frank declared it the best salmon he has ever had – and also the best meal so far in Norway.

Salmon Dinner

Here’s the recipe to cure salmon:

Salmon Cert

To sear it:

Salt and pepper both sides (unless already cured)

Heat a small amount of olive oil in nonstick pan on medium-high.

Add salmon skin side up and cook – without touching – for 4 minutes or until nice crispy sear on bottom side

Flip and lower heat to medium

Cook 4 minutes without touching

(If have heavy pan, may need to sear longer or at higher heat.)

Salmon - CAT Chef

Hope & Kindness

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It is Sunday, and we decided to go to our neighborhood church.

I have felt a little adrift after all the American news of politics and divisiveness.  Sometimes I am shocked (and embarrassed) by some of our policies and the hatefulness of people.  Then, we had the shooting in Annapolis, and all the hate hit home even more.

So – I have felt a little lost this last week or two and not sure what to make of this world.

We walk by this beautiful church every time we go to the harbor.  It is the oldest building in Bergen, dating to the medieval 12th century.  So it one of the starred items in the guidebook, and there is always a tour group around it.

Church 2

And my parents visited this same church on their trip to Bergen 20 years ago (page from their scrapbook below).

Daddy Church

So we decided to check it out and noticed a small sign out front that announced a service in English on Sundays at 11. It seemed that God put that sign there for me.

The church itself is beautiful inside (picture taken from Internet – no pictures allowed).

Mariakirken 3

But it was the congregation who welcomed us so warmly.  It turns there are several regulars and lots of visitors like us, even some crew from the cruise ships in port.  And believe it or not, the minister is from Tennessee and married to a Norwegian.

Church Program

We prayed for our world leaders – that they might have compassion. And as I sat there, I thought, “Think of all the tumult this building has seen in the last 900 years.”  Whole kingdoms have been conquered, wars have been fought, leaders have risen and fallen.  And yet this church endures – and we will, too.

After the service, the congregation invited us for coffee in the fellowship hall. We had coffee, tea, strawberries, and biscuits.  It was wonderful.

  • Frank hit it off with a retired physician from Hungary who volunteers his time in Bergen for the summers – they bring in extra doctors who speak other languages since they have so many visitors and many of the local doctors go on vacation themselves.

Church Friend

  • We met a man who was developmentally disabled (he was in charge of handing out the programs).  He was super excited and told me he was going to the Hurtigruten. His mother explained that the Big Brothers Big Sisters program takes him each week to greet the Hurtigruten as it arrives in port.  He loves the Hurtigruten and they all know him and let him go aboard on Sunday afternoons for a cup of coffee.


  • And the ladies told me all about their cookbook, which raises money for the church. They each showed me the recipes they had contributed, and one lady told me how she had drawn the artwork on the front based on designs in the church. (I bought 3 – Mommy and Cindy – you will get for Christmas!!)


I left inspired and hopeful. The world is a big place full of personal stories of love and joy.

Thank you to this little church – dating all the way back to medieval times – for restoring my faith.

Peace be with you.

Church 3


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Our trip is winding down, but we have a few adventures left.

We are in Bergen this week, a very charming city on the water – filled with cobblestoned streets, hidden alleys, and wooden houses.

Bergen Streets

And lots of hills.

Bergen Hills

Also lots of boats. They even have their own version of “Ego Alley” where all the sailors tie up – just like Annapolis.  So popular that they raft three or four across.

Bergen Boats

We’re back on our own with a one-bedroom apartment – up the hill about 5 minutes from the water.  A bit of a workout to get there, but with splendid views across the city.

Bergen Apt 2

The apartment is run by two sisters – To Sostre – who also have a guesthouse with single rooms.

Bergen Apt

Bergen Apt 3

We have a great balcony on a quiet street right by a market, pizza place, and soup café. Very handy.

Bergen Balcony

(You can see the local 7-11 down the street in the picture below!)

Bergen Apt View

And the views when the midnight sun hits the hillside are spectacular.

Bergen View Midnight Sun 2

After the mailboat schedule, we are looking forward to a low-key week and just seeing what unfolds.  (Also our salmon that we prepared on the Hurtigruten – join us to see how it turns out!)

Bergen View Midnight Sun