NAME Carmel and Stewart Liddell, Winston Hills, NSW
THE TRIP Holland America's Norwegian cruise plus train to Brussels and Paris
THE ITINERARY Last July we arrived in Amsterdam, three days before joining the cruise. Best time to wander? Sunday before 11am. Visited the train museum in Utrecht, a smaller, quieter version of Amsterdam, then boarded the Koningsdam.
At the first port of call Stavangar, we drove to an apple orchard in the mountains, sampled cider and admired the sweeping views down to the fjord. Cruising under moody skies in the Hardangerfjord was unforgettable. Beams of sunlight broke through the clouds, dotting the shoreline with pops of green and we sailed through what seemed to be the end of a rainbow. Spectacular!
Alesund's boat show was under way when we arrived and locals lining the canal were in party mode. Trondheim's Old Town and canals were picturesque. We sailed on past the North Cape, to the northern most city of Norway, Honningsvag. While there, two items were ticked off the bucket list – seeing herds of reindeer and thousands of puffins in the wild! Back down the coast and into the Geiranger Fjord. From the town of Geiranger we toured the Herdal mountain farm – lush, green and carpeted with wildflowers. The weather in Bergen was perfect and we continued to Flam, to ride the historic Flam Railway. Through more fjords, past tiny, productive farms and, all too soon, it was over. Back in Amsterdam.
Five days in Brussels, staying in a hotel room which overlooks The Grand Place, was noisy but exciting. Day trips to Bruge, Ghent and Schaerbeek, plus chocolate and waffles, enriched our Belgian experience! Another train trip to Paris and we lived the dream in a quiet location near the Notre Dame. In the evenings, we watched the setting sun from different bridges which cross the Seine. Aaah!
BEST BITS Fjords, Flam Railway, puffins and that glorious rainbow.
BEST TIPS Rail travellers? Limit luggage to what you can carry/lift onto a train.
WORST BITS Disconcerted by the number of armed soldiers in Brussels and Paris.
NEXT TRIP Thinking, thinking …