Nordic land of the midnight sun

SMALL-TOWN CHARM: Bergen is famous for its fish market - within walkable distance from the city centre - which offers a mouth-watering variety of fresh seafood.
Nordic land of the midnight sun

SEAFOOD PARADISE: Stalls inside Bergen's fish market offer customers the option to have their seafood selection - from fresh salmon and lobster to smoked cod and whale meat - cooked on the spot.
Nordic land of the midnight sun

NATURAL BEAUTY: To enjoy the breathtaking views of fjords - valleys cut by glaciers - on a boat ride in Ersfjorden, tourists can fly first to Norway's capital of Oslo and then to Tromso.
Nordic land of the midnight sun

CATCH OF THE DAY: The writer caught her first cod on board fishing boat Vulkana, and later ate it as fresh sashimi.
Nordic land of the midnight sun

VIKING LUXURY: The Vulkana is an old fishing vessel kitted out with facilities like a sauna and a hot tub. Enjoying the boat's hot tub are Mr Gottfried Gundersen (left), the boat's general manager and head chef, and Mr Christian Chramer, the Norwegian Seafood Council's regional director for South-east Asia.


    Aug 07, 2013

    Nordic land of the midnight sun

    FROM fjords to fish, vikings to the Northern Lights, there are plenty of things that Norway has to offer in terms of its rich history and breathtaking natural landscapes.

    And one need not look only towards its well-known capital, Oslo, to enjoy the Scandinavian country.

    On a recent media trip hosted by the Norwegian Seafood Council to check out its salmon-farming industry, I became completely smitten with Bergen, on the western coast, and Tromso, in the north.

    And, though we may not have been able to experience the spectacular aurora borealis - also known as the Northern Lights, which are visible in the Arctic parts of the country in the winter months - visiting in summer meant we got our fill of the midnight sun.

    The natural phenomenon means that, given fair weather, it is bright round the clock.

    Here's what our group got up to on our four-day (not including flights) Nordic trip.


    Lovers of seafood, rejoice, for there are lots of it in this scenic trade city, which is less than an hour by plane, and around seven hours by train, from Oslo.

    There's a certain small-town charm about the place despite its population of almost 300,000, and most attractions - including Bergen's extensive fish market - are walkable from the city centre.

    At the market, I marvelled at the mouth-watering variety of quality seafood, from fresh salmon, lobster and oysters to smoked cod and whale meat. (I could not resist trying the latter, a Norwegian staple I found a tad gamey, later on in Tromso.)

    Choose to have your selection of food cooked on the spot, or pick up some local goods like jams or caviar to take home.

    Later, stuffed from our seafood lunch, we traipsed just 150m to the Floibanen, a funicular railway tram similar to the one in Hong Kong that takes visitors to the famous Victoria Peak.

    After a seven-minute ride (a round-trip adult ticket costs 80 krone, or S$17), we found ourselves 320m above sea level, drinking in awe-inspiring, panoramic views on Mount Floyen.

    It was at this point that Norway had me truly hooked.


    Flying first to Oslo and then to Tromso - the home of electronic duo Royksopp, who happened to be on our flight - took over three hours, but it was well worth it.

    Though we arrived past 10pm, the weather was fine (read: it was still bright), and the views surrounding the seafront Radisson Blu Hotel where we were staying enticed us so much we could not resist a near-midnight stroll.

    From our water-side vantage point, we admired the majestic Arctic Cathedral, where we'd take in a late-night classical concert the following night.

    The highlight of my trip, however, would definitely be the three-hour tour on board the Vulkana, an old fishing vessel kitted out with a sauna and a hot tub, among other goodies, for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

    Put it this way, there's nothing quite like catching your first cod, and then, minutes later, nibbling on it as uber-fresh sashimi.

    The next day, I stared slack-jawed at the beautiful fjords during a boat ride in Ersfjorden, cheeks hurting not from the wind chill, but from smiling at the sheer knowledge that I was witnessing one of nature's greatest creations.

    Needless to say, I made my voyage back home with a heavy heart after such an unforgettable whirlwind of a trip.

    Norway, I'll be back.