Updated : February 8, 2013

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My mother's native Norway is a beautiful country with mountains, fjords and glaciers. It offers incredible wilderness hiking, year-round skiing, and some of the world's most scenic ferry, bus and train rides. The 'Land of the Midnight Sun' has delightfully long summer days, pleasantly low-key cities, unspoiled fishing villages and rich historic sites that include Viking ships and medieval stave churches.

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The first three photo's on this page were not taken by me, but by my father Jan Dekker during the 1950's when we used to spend our summer holidays with our family in Norway. This photo shows Bergen, my mother's native town, seen from mount Ulriken (642 meters a.m.s.l.).

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As a kid I was fascinated by the Steindalsfossen waterfall near Norheimsund in Hardanger, one of the most visited waterfalls in Norway. It was not it's height (approximately 50 meters) that impressed me, but the fact that it was possible to walk behind the waterfall without getting wet.

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The island Strøno, approximately 25 kilometers south of Bergen, where I as a kid used to stay with family during summer holidays. I like this photo because it prefectly reflects the calm and peaceful atmosphere I experienced while being there.

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Later, after leaving my parental home, Norway remained one of my favourite holiday destinations. On our way to Bergen, my mother's native town, the first overnight stop was usually this camping in Valle, Setesdal where this photo was taken in August 1972.

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In April 1997 I stayed a week in Bergen during a business trip. Shown here is the port of Bergen with two of the seven mountains surrounding the city. Left mount Fløyen (320 meters a.m.s.l.) and right, still covered with snow, mount Ulriken (642 meters a.m.s.l.), the highest of Bergens mountains.

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The centre of Bergen with one of the main tourist attractions in Bergen, mount Fløyen. The top of mount Fløyen offers spectacular views over the city and fjord and can be reached in 8 minutes by funicular Fløybanen.

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One glance at a map of Norway discloses why shipping is such an important means of transportation in Norway. Most coastal towns and villages are served by ferries, catamarans and hydrofoils.

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The harbour of Bergen with across the water "Bryggen" the old wharf area of Bergen and one of Scandinavia's most photographed sites.

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A closer look at "Bryggen" which was a major European trading centre as early as the 13th century. The German Hanseatic merchants exported stockfish which arrived on "Jekte" ships from Northern Norway. The other way came merchant ships carrying grain, textiles and luxury items from the great outside world.

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In June 2012 I made a short 4-day trip to Norway to revisit a few memorable places I've been to during my early years, almost half a century ago. My first destination was Oslo, the capital of Norway, with its distinctive City Hall. It is one of Oslo's most famous buildings where also the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held.

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I was very lucky with the weather. I arrived and departed in pouring rain, but the weather during the three days in between was great and contributed to a memorable 2-hours Oslo Fjord Cruise, departing from the City Hall quayside.

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Passing the Christian Radich, a Norwegian full rigged ship, built at Framnæs shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway, and was delivered on 17 June 1937. The vessel was built for training sailors for the Norwegian merchant navy, and did so for many years. From 1999 and on, the ship has been on the charter market as well as sailing with paying trainees to foreign ports on summer trips, participating in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Race and large sail events in various European ports.

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Sailing on the Oslofjord. On the hill in the backround is the Holmenkollen National Ski Arena, the most visited tourist attraction in Norway. It includes the Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Jump Tower, shops and a ski simulator.

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The fjords are not only a paradise for water sports enthusiasts but are also the reason that having a boat is a necessity for many Norwegians.

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Private yachts and the many ferries, like this one, are in many cases the most convenient and quickest way to get around in the fjords.

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Passing Bygdøy, a peninsula on the western side of Oslo. Bygdøy has several museums, including the Kon-Tiki Museum, which shows all year long the legendary expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum), the Viking Ship Museum, the Norwegian Maritime Museum and the ship Fram, used by Roald Amundsen.

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The ferry between the City Hall quayside and Bygdøy

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The Fram Museum on Bygdøy houses the world's most famour polar ship the Fram and honours Norwegian polar exploration in general and three great Norwegian polar explorers in particular: Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen. The museum also exhibits images of the fauna of the polar regions, such as polar bears and penguins.

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The Norwegian Royal Yacht "Norge" seen from Bygdøy. The Royal Yacht "Norge", launched in 1937, was the Norwegian people's gift to King Haakon VII in 1947.

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The view from Bygdøy towards the city.

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Jernbanetorget (station square) in Oslo while on my way to my next destination Kragerø, approximately halfway between Oslo and Kristiansand in the south of Norway.

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Kragerø was on my "must visit" list because I have been there several times during my early years. And I remembered Kragerø as a beautiful, cosy and colorful coastal town.

After a comfortable 3½ hour bus ride with the "Sørlandsexpressen" and subsequently a short trip in a local buss I arrived in Kragerø. This photo was taken during a 10 minutes intermediate stop of the express bus to allow the passengers and driver to stretch their legs.

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Before traveling to Norway I booked in advance a room for one night at the "Kragerø Sportell & Appartements". That turned out to an excellent choice. I stayed in a spacious apartment on the ground floor in the right (red/white) building closest to the water.

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While enjoying the nice view from the apartment and the terrace, it felt really good to be back in Kragerø approximately 40 years after my last visit.

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The center of Kragerø seen from a hill. Not much seems to have changed. Just as beautiful and colourful as I remembered from the past.

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Gunnarsholmen an old coastal fortress built on an island for the protection of the town. In 1808 the English frigate "Tartar" tried to take the town but was driven off by gunfire from the fort. The fort has been restored and is now connected to the mainland.

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View from Gunnarsholmen towards the centre of Kragerø. With well kept lawns, a salt water pool and a beach, Gunnarsholmen is also a recreational area.

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A marina with the beacon light on Gunnarsholmen in the background.

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My visit to Kragerø wouldn't have been complete without a boat trip to Jomfruland, a small elongated island bordering on the Skagerak. I made this trip, between the islands of the Kragerø archipelago, several times in the past and for me it was an unforgettable experience worth repeating.

I planned the trip with the newest ferry of the Kragerø Fjordbåtselskap AS, the M/F Kragerø, launched in 2005. The M/F Kragerø, shown here moored at the qay (left) in Kragerø, has a capacity of 250 passengers and 24 passenger cars.

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Boarding the M/F Kragerø the next morning on my last full day in Norway.

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The ship's route through the Kragerø archipelago to Jomfruland (right on the map).

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Leaving Kragerø on our way to Jomfruland.

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With an intermediate stop at one of the many other islands.

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Jomfruland with the lighthouse in sight while heading to Tårnbrygga, the first stop on the island.

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The second stop at Aasvik brygge. Unfortunately I couldn't go onshore because of my tight schedule.

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Instead, back to Oslo Central Station with the "Sørlandsexpressen" and from Oslo with the high speed train to Gardermoen airport for my return flight to Amsterdam early next morning. The end of a short but unforgettable visit to my mother's native country.

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