This is part two of my hotel review for Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen on hotel rooms and gym. Public spaces and food for this #1 rated TripAdvisor hotel in Bergen, Norway in Part One of Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen is here.

The hotel is 16,000 Choice Privileges points per night. There were several room types available. I had one of the few rooms at the hotel with a balcony, but I never used the balcony. The windows across the way are offices in an interior courtyard. I would have preferred a different room at the hotel, but it was okay for the stay. Here are photos of three different room types on the sixth floor of Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen in 603, 610 and 617.

Room 617 (my room on top floor with balcony)

Havne beds

My reservation for the room was one double bed. I only used one of the beds during five nights. The bed was a little too soft for my liking.

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Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel for Bergen, Norway is where I stayed several nights this past week. The location is beside the Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site and across the street from the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Bergen. These two hotels are the last stop on  the Bergen Airport Express bus for 90 NOK door to door service.

Bergen at night

Bryggen, Norway is the old Hanseatic League wharf. Clarion Collection Havnekonteret is the large building on the left.

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Bergen bewitched me. All my fears about Bergen weather with 9 inches of rain on average for the month of September were cast away in a  summer spell of six straight sunshine filled days. I spent activity filled days in Norway’s second largest city where I biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen. A week in Bergen was one of my most relaxing international adventures in years.

Bergen sailing

Islands of Bergen in fjord country of Norway

One of my first activities was to hop on a bicycle and check out the landscape.

Bergen biker

Uphill cycling in Bergen

Around Bergen the road is generally going uphill or downhill. I could not sustain that for more than a couple hours.

Bergen Golden Gate

Bergen’s ‘Golden Gate Bridge’ to Askoy Island

California Dreamin’ in Bergen with a view that looks like San Francisco’s Golden Gate.

Bergen city park

Bergen city park on a sunny, warm summer day

Bergen is city parks and wilderness, museums and cruise ships, old traditions and new technologies.

Bergen ageless

Legs up in Bergen.

Bergen is ageless. Bergen is a vibrant city of young people and a city of healthy people living long.

Bergen bike park

Cycling up in the air.

There are the fish market, Bryggen and fjord cruises for tourists. The weather was too nice to be inside and the wilderness too close and available to spend the day confined with people on boat and bus rides.

Hiking around is my favorite activity and Bergen offered a playground of places to walk and different vantage points to see.

Floyen city view

Floyen view of Bergen from 320 meters view platform.

Floyen is a lovely park walk at 320 meters. Ulriken is a bit more of a mountain scramble to summit 643 meters if you do not ride the cable tram up to the top.

Ulriken hikers

Ulriken view of Bergen from 643 meters is a bit more challenging hike, although the trail map labels this hike “Easy’.

Seeing Norway and meeting Norwegians was easy on the trails. In the outdoors is where locals seemed to be more willing to take a moment to talk. Although, even on the mountains it seems people take pride in moving quickly and conquering the environment.

Mountain bikers

Norwegian mountain bikers take the quick route down Ulriken.

There are several ways to descend the 2,100 feet of Ulriken.

Ulriken parasailing

Soaring off Ulriken in Bergen.

Parasailing off Ulriken is something I had seen from the harbor. The view was even better from near the top.

Ulriken hiking women

Norwegian women rock.

Three days of hiking around Bergen revealed to me that women seem to outnumber men hikers by about 4 to 1. Interesting data point.

Bergen revealed Norway’s strength and beauty to me.

Norway flag on Ulriken

Norway flag on top of Ulriken, Bergen’s highest mountain at 643 meters or 2,110 feet.

Thanks for six days of sunshine Bergen. Thanks for the memories of Bergen outdoors.

There are two Clarion Collection hotels in Bergen, Norway. Clarion Collection Havnekontoretis ranked #1 on TripAdvisor this week with 84% favorable rating and Clarion Collection No 13 is ranked TripAdvisor #2 of 42 listed hotels for Bergen with an 80% favorable rating. I stayed at both hotels and I highly recommend either hotel. The better choice depends on your style with Havnekontoret being the larger hotel at the Bryggen in historic Bergen and a hotel with plenty of amenities and also plenty of tour groups. Clarion Collection No 13 is much smaller with a boutique, modern design. During my stay there were no encounters with other Americans or tour groups. Both Clarion Collection hotels are across the street from the two Bergen Radisson Blu hotels in the same general area of central Bergen about five minutes walk from each other.

What might be your deciding factor is Havnekonteret is 16,000 points per reward night and No 13 is only 12,000 Choice Privileges points.

Clarion No 13

Clarion Collection No 13, Bergen, Norway is on the main pedestrian walkway with shops and a 24-hour McDonald’s next door. 20 NOK for a McDouble sandwich is the cheapest sandwich I have seen in Norway, although the vegetable toppings of a Subway 25 NOK ham sandwich make a better deal in my opinion. The advantage of Clarion Collection hotels, besides free breakfast common for most hotels in Norway, is an evening meal too. There is more food to be found at Clarion Collection Havnekontoret (review to come), but I think Clarion Collection No 13 is higher food quality with the restaurant BARE pa 13 operating as a separate entity and serving an evening meal rather than the basic evening buffet at Havnekontoret.

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Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection is a 100-year old hotel in the historic whaling town on the southeast coast of Norway. Besides a visit to the whaling museum, two other reasons to find yourself in Sandefjord are the Sandefjord TORP airport 4 minutes by train north of town and the Color Line Sandefjord – Strømstad, Sweden ferry.

Hotel Atlantic

Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord

Hotel Atlantic opened in 1914 at a time when the Norwegian whaling industry had achieved global range and made Sandefjord one of the wealthiest towns in Norway. Hotel Atlantic is as much a whaling museum attraction as a hotel destination with its extensive whaling history artifacts and uniquely designed public spaces immersing the guest in Norway’s whaling culture.

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Seriously, I am not trying to wreck the Norwegian seafood industry with articles about whale kills and farmed salmon. When I travel I observe and learn. Today I checked to see if the large pens off the coast of Norway I observed from the Norwegian Air flight from Oslo Torp (TRF) to Bergen were actually Atlantic salmon farms. They are.

Click this link to see an image of a Norway coast Atlantic salmon farm similar to what I saw from the plane.

What I did not know until this morning is Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SeafoodWatch.org published several 2014 research reports with the conclusion that Norwegian farmed Atlantic Salmon is on their ‘Avoid’ list. Being from California, I normally buy fresh wild caught Pacific salmon, so I was unaware until today that there are several reasons why Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon is on the ‘avoid’ list.

Since I have been eating farmed Norwegian Atlantic salmon for the past ten days at every Nordic Choice Hotels complimentary breakfast, I’ll share what I learned are considered the problems with farmed Atlantic salmon.

Why Norwegian farmed Atlantic Salmon makes SeafoodWatch.org ‘Avoid’ list.

Norway is the world’s largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon with 366 million fish produced in about 1,000 large ocean pens off the coast. Norway has the largest population of wild Atlantic salmon, yet the number of farmed salmon is 250 to 700 times more than wild salmon. Farmed salmon require a diet rich in fish oil. Norway uses 25% of the world’s fish oil in salmon feed.

Norway farmed salmon avoid

There are three criteria where farmed salmon falls short in its environmental impact.

1. Chemicals – More than 6.5 million metric tons of pesticides are used in Norwegian Atlantic salmon farming, primarily to control sea lice. The use of pesticides has risen rapidly in the past few years due to ineffectiveness as sea lice become more resistant to treatments, thus requiring multiple treatments.

There is concern over the amount of antibiotics used in salmon farming potentially reducing the usefulness of these antibiotics for human medical purposes. The use of antibiotics is considered low in Norway, however, there was a 300% increase in the total amount of antibiotics used between 2011 and 2012 and 88% of these antibiotics are also used for human treatment.

2. Disease – the farmed population of Atlantic salmon vastly outnumbers wild salmon. Disease among farmed salmon is a great concern for its potential impact on wild salmon and sea trout. 

3. Escape – genetically different farmed salmon mixing with wild salmon populations has been documented. In 2011, there were an estimated 300,000 farmed salmon escaped from Norway’s pens. The Hardangerfjord is Norway’s largest fjord and a major tourist attraction for visitors to Bergen. Farmed salmon outnumber wild salmon 5000 to 1 in Hardangerfjord. In some years the number of escaped salmon from pens outnumbers the wild salmon population.

Open net pen farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway receive an “Avoid” due to high concerns regarding the use of chemicals, the impacts of escapes on wild salmon and sea trout, and the transfer of parasites to wild populations.

Source: Seafoodwatch.org – Farmed Atlantic Salmon in Norway

Kind of amazing what is inadvertently learned from travel and food choices. It would be nice if I could just relax on a trip and focus on the hotels and tourist board information, but I can’t. When I go to the Caribbean, I am struck by racism. When I go to Thailand I am abhorred by the sex tourism. In Norway, a beautiful country of fjords and forests, it is the minke whale meat and farmed Atlantic salmon issues I have come to face on this trip.

Fløyen offers great views of Bergen from a height of 320 meters. The Floibanen is a funicular that takes you from Bergen up the mountain in about 8 minutes for a round trip ticket price of 85 NOK ($14 USD). The child price is 43 NOK ($7 USD) and a family ticket for 2 adults + 2 children is available for 215 NOK ($35). This is considered one of the top 3 things to do in Bergen as ranked by TripAdvisor.

Feeling in need of a good hike, I decided to walk up Floyen in Bergen, Norway on a sunny day with the temperature in the mid- to upper-60s (20 C). After a few hundred stairs and steep inclines, I started thinking $14 is a pretty good deal. I did not have a map and I simply picked stairways and routes going uphill from the Bergen leprosy museum. This is one steep hike and all I kept asking myself, “How do these people get home to their houses on these hills in winter snow and ice?”

Mount Floyen

Fløyen on the left is reached by Floibanen funicular or by hiking as many local Norwegians do for exercise. At top is a viewing platform and historic 1925 restaurant.

I figured it would not be too difficult to find my way up the hillside. And it was not difficult to find my way. I only made one wrong turn which took me up some stairs to a private residence.

San Francisco is a city of hills, but Bergen has San Francisco beat for the steepness of the paths and roads going uphill. Seven mountains surrounding Bergen means traveling around town by foot will involve some uphill hiking. Read More…

There are currently five airlines operating at Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport (TRF) 120 km south of Oslo with Norwegian Air, RyanAir, WizzAir, Widerøe (SAS) and KLM. Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport low cost flights provided a great alternative for cheap and quick transportation to Bergen, Norway (BGO).

Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport (TRF) is one of two secondary airports for Oslo, Norway along with Moss Airport Rygge (RYG) about 70 km south. Sandefjord Torp is on the west side of Oslofjord and Moss Rygge is on the east side of the fjord. Oslo Gardermoen (OSL), the primary international airport for Oslo with all the major international carriers is north of Oslo city center, about 30 minutes by train.

My initial hotel stay outside of Oslo on this trip to Norway took me to Farris Bad Hotel, a member of Choice Hotels Ascend Collection in Larvik, Norway 22km south of Torp Airport. I traveled to Larvik on the train at a cost of 249 NOK ($41 USD) with a NSB minipris discount ticket. The full price ticket to Torp Airport is 252 NOK. The advantage of a full price train ticket is you can travel at any time on the date of your ticket and a passenger is allowed to get on and off the train on the day of travel if you want to stop somewhere along the way. On the 249 NOK minipris ticket to Larvik, my ticket was only valid for a specific train time and no on-off privileges.

I was surprised to see the train stop for Torp Airport is basically a stop in the countryside with no town or facilities at the station platform. There is a small parking lot and an NSB bus meets the train for complimentary transportation from the train stop to Torp Airport a few kilometers away.

I did not even have time to snap a photo of the Sandefjord Torp train stop as the airport bus was waiting for me and took off as soon as I boarded.

The price to fly Norwegian Air Torp-Bergen was $33 USD and I paid $17 for the online price to check one bag. The  price to fly from Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) to Bergen (BGO) was $97 on Norwegian Air.

Torp Sandefjord Airport

Oslo Torp Sandefjord Airport

For train travel from Larvik to Bergen, Norway the journey is about 8.5 hours and the full ticket price is 913 NOK ($152 USD). Minipris tickets reduce the fare to as low as 249 NOK, however the fare rises as minipris tickets are sold and the minipris ticket was 459 NOK ($76.50 USD) when I wanted to travel.

RyanAir

RyanAir operates out of Oslo Sandefjord Torp and Moss Rygge airports.

I had also seen flights as low as $69 to Malaga, Spain on Norwegian or $24 to Gdansk, Poland on WizzAir as I looked for next day flights out of Torp when I thought about leaving Norway during my 3-day hotel stay at a spa resort over a persistently rainy weekend.

WizzAir Torp

Wizz Air operates out of Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport.

Torp Airport offers free Wifi while you wait for your flight.

The Norwegian Air flight was not crowded on a large 737-800 aircraft where I had the 3-seat section to myself.

I even had the opportunity to snap some photos.

Oslofjord

View of Oslofjord from Norwegian Air flight.

The quick flight tool me from Norway’s farmlands near Oslofjord in the east to the glaciated landscape of mountainous western Norway.

glaciated Norway

Norway’s mountain glaciers and lakes in summer seen through a break in the clouds.

The clouds cleared as we flew over the west coast of Norway with views of large ocean salmon farms and hundreds of islands off the mountainous coastline. Unfortunately, the call had already been announced to turn off electronics as we flew over the west coast into Bergen BGO.

The irony is I initially booked my trip to visit sunny southeast Norway before venturing to rainy Bergen. September is traditionally one of the rainiest months in Norway with Bergen averaging 9 inches of rain and southeast Norway about 3 inches. During my four days in Larvik and Sandefjord there was about one inch of rain while this week in Bergen has not had any rainfall with temperatures near 70F.

Floyen

View from Floyen at 320 meters above Bergen on a clear summer day September 12, 2014.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

There are quite a number of Americans in Bergen, Norway. I did not come across any Americans during four days in the southeast Norway coastal towns of Larvik and Sandefjord. So I guess it is not surprising to discover USA branded Bergen. Think Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King, 7-Eleven. And of course there is the ubiquitous Subway sandwich shops I have seen all over Bergen, Oslo, Sandefjord and even Larvik, Norway.

Yet, these USA branded Bergen businesses have a distinctive character you are unlikely to recognize in the USA.

Take a look at these USA brands in Bergen.

Starbucks

Starbucks Bergen, Norway

Starbucks Coffee next to the Hanseatic League Museum.

Across the street from Starbucks is McDonalds.

McDonald's

McDonald’s Bergen, Norway

I wonder if they serve Coke Zero at this Middle Eastern café?

Coca-Cola

CocaCola Coke Zero at Ali Baba Bergen, Norway

I recall 7-Eleven stores all over Singapore, so not too surprised to find them in Bergen, Norway too.

7-Eleven Bergen

7-Eleven Bergen, Norway

Then there is Subway, the home of the 25 Norwegian kroner ($4.25) six-inch skinke (ham) sandwich. They metric size the small sub as 15 centimeters here.

Subway

Subway Larvik, Norway featuring the 15-cm skinke sub at the bargain price of 25 NOK ($4.25 USD).

All the Subway shops I have seen look like normal Subway.

Of course you can go uniquely Norwegian with seafood you won’t find anywhere in the USA.

Whale hamburger

Whale Hamburger is distinctively minke and Norwegian.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

When the SAS Hotel in Bergen, now the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Bergen, was constructed in the late 1970s beside the Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site, local groundwater began leaking into the hotel construction site. Groundwater beneath historic Bryggen maintained foundational strength and a waterlogged oxygen-poor soil environment preserving cultural artifacts from the thousand year old trading center.

Bryggen UNESCO

Iconic Bryggen buildings of Bergen, Norway are UNESCO World Heritage Site

The effect on historic Bryggen and the iconic row of wooden merchant warehouses was two-fold. As the soil moisture content fell with the groundwater table declining by as much as 2.5 meters along the waterfront, oxygen infiltrated the vacated space and allowed microorganisms to move in and accelerate the decay of cultural artifacts underground. A millennium of wooden timbers and artifacts buried underground from Bryggen’s past faced rapid deterioration. An even more noticeable effect from the loss of groundwater is the famous Bryggen skyline and 61 world heritage site listed buildings alongside the Vågen waterfront began to settle and sink.

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