2014 Nordic Bridge Holiday



  • NORWAY

  • SWEDEN

  • DENMARK

    plus

  • ICELAND





Join Fred Theurkauf, on June 19, 2014 for our sixth sightseeing and bridge-playing holiday to the Viking homelands. This wonderful tour of Scandinavia begins with eight nights in Norway, continues with four nights in Denmark and finishes with seven nights in Sweden.

Prepare to experience the spectacular beauty of Norwegian fjords, delight in alpine scenery beyond your imagination, enjoy an evening at Tivoli Gardens, see Viking ships and ancient armaments reminiscent of a warlike past, cruise the spectacular Göta Canal built in the early 19th century, and much, much more. On this 20-day journey we will be staying in Bergen, Balestrand, Lofthus & Oslo in Norway, Copenhagen & Helsinger in Denmark & finally Gothenburg, on the M/S Wilhelm Tham on the Göta Canal, and Stockholm in Sweden.

Scandinavia has enormous bridge-playing populations and, we’ll be the honored guests of the Norwegians, Danes and Swedes for dinner and bridge evenings everywhere. We'll also be hosted for an evening of dinner, conversation and bridge by the Icelandic players in Reykjavik on our optional 3-night Icelandic Stop-Over on our way home.



Dates: June 19 to July 8, 2014 - 20 days
Cost: $9,543.00 USD from JFK, IAD, MSP & SEA


Tour Schedule
Day 1 Depart USA
 


Depart from your US gateway city via Icelandair for Scandinavia this evening - destination - Bergen, Norway
Hotel: In Flight
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 2 Arrive Bergen
 

Ride the Floyen Finicular to the top of
the Bergen Fjord for spectacular views.
Arrive in Bergen, Norway’s gateway city to the famous west coast and its breathtaking fjord region. You'll be met by Fred Theurkauf at Bergen Int'l Airport and transfer to our hotel. This evening join Fred for a special “Welcome to Scandinavia” cocktail party and dinner, where you'll meet the rest of the Finesse West Tours group.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): , Dinner
Day 3 Bergen
 

Bergen's charming 13th c. Hanseatic Wharf
Nestled in evergreen mountains, ancient Bergen looms large in Viking sagas, reigning as the capital of the medieval kingdom of Norway until the 14th century. Today we’ll visit the Hansa Museum & Troldhaugen, home of the famed Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg. Later we'll ride the Floyen funicular to the top of the Bergen Fjord for spectacular views.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 We’re invited to our first bridge event in Scandinavia tonight. Harald Bastiansen, of the Åsne Bridge Club has organized a social evening of dinner and duplicate bridge with local Bergen players.
Day 4 Bergen - Balerstrand
  Spectacular mountain and fjord scenery awaits. We’ll head north to the small ski town of Voss. We now board the Bergen-Oslo Railway for a ride to Myrdal - station at the 'Top of the World.'

Next we’ll board the famous Flåm Railway on an incredible train journey. This train is ranked as one of the top 10 train rides in the world. As the train descends, we take in breathtaking views and thundering waterfalls as we drop close to 3,000 feet in 13 miles to the township of Flåm at the base of the Aurland Fjord. After lunch at the Fretheim Hotel here, we'll take a ferry cruise through the mighty Sognefjord to the village of Balerstrand. We'll enjoy dinner here and overnight at the historic Kvikne's Hotel.
Hotel: Kvikne's Hotel
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 Balestrand - Lofthus
  This morning we ferry from Hella to Vangsnes. Then we drive to Vik where we'll visit the 12th century Hopperstad Stave Church. Now it's on to Hardanger, the heart of Norway's cherry, apple and pear orchards. We'll visit the Hardangervidda Nature Center reflecting the Norwegian's love & respect for nature. We'll enjoy a panoramic movie of Western Norway's mountains, fjords & waterfalls. We'll drive through the wild Mabodal Canyon to view the mighty Voring Waterfall plunging 600 feet to a narrow rock basin. Time to relax in our motor coach as we drive on to Lofthus, where dinner awaits us.
Hotel: Ullensvang Hotel
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 Lofthus
 

Beautiful views of the Hardanger Fjord.
View the mighty Hardanger Fjord from our charming hotel. Take a boat-ride or perhaps a thrilling flight-seeing adventure to the glacier beds on top of the fjords. Your day is free to explore this area of orchards, isolated hamlets, small stone churches, beautiful farmland and snow-capped mountains, a setting that has inspired great works of art, literature, and music, including many of Grieg’s melodies. Dinner is included at our cozy hotel tonight.

Hotel: Ullensvang Hotel
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Join Fred for relaxing bridge tournament this afternoon at our hotel.
Day 7 Lofthus - Oslo
 

Heddal's 12th century Stave Church
After breakfast, we leave Lofthus behind driving along the Sœr Fjord toward the Hardangervidda Mountain Plateau, with views of lakes, mountain peaks and reindeer pasturelands. We'll stop at Laatefoss for photos of the waterfall.

The highlight of the day is our visit to Heddal’s famous 12th century Stave Church. It is the largest surviving stave church in Norway. Without several restorations, this stave church would have disappeared centuries ago. We'll dine together tonight, after checking into our Oslo hotel.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 Oslo
 

Oslo's Holmenkollen Ski Jump
Explore Norway’s cosmopolitan capital, including the sculptures of Gustav Vigeland at Frogner Park, views from atop Oslo’s Holmenkollen Ski Jump, plus a visit to the Fram Museum, commemorating Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole. We'll also visit the Kon-Tiki Museum in memory of Norwegian scientist, Thor Heyerdahl's adventures in the South Pacific.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Tonight, we'll be hosted in the Oslo suburbs to a most social evening of dining and bridge by members of the Blommenholm Bridge Club and their charming organizer - Ms. Hege Falster.
Day 9 Depart Oslo
 

The mammoth D.F.D.S. Seaways Ferry
Spend your day at leisure in Oslo. There are many museums still to explore on your own, besides strolling "Karl Johangate," the city's main avenue. You might enjoy a steaming seafood lunch at one of the many harbor-front restaurants. This afternoon, we depart for Copenhagen, Denmark on a mammoth overnight ferry. You'll have your own stateroom. Out on deck, enjoy our sailing out of the Oslo Fjord before partaking of a sensational buffet dinner with our whole group. If you rise very early tomorrow morning, you'll be able to see the narrow straight that separates Sweden from Denmark, as well as Shakespeare's Krongborg Castle.
Hotel: DFDS Seaways Ferry
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 After our superb Norwegian buffet, enjoy an evening's short duplicate session with Fred directing.
Day 10 Arrive Copenhagen
 

Charming Tivoli Gardens
After disembarking our overnight ferry, we hope to arrive at the official winter residence of Danish Queen Margrethe II, Amalienborg Palace, in time to see the changing of the guard. It's a short drive to where Hans Christian Andersen's 'Little Mermaid' sits tall at the harbor's edge. We'll stop at Rosenborg Castle for a short tour and the opportunity to see the Danish Crown Jewels. Next we'll view the fabulous display of artistic treasures from Europen antiquity at the Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum. After checking in at our hotel, you'll have time to wander Copenhagen's famous "Stroget" with it's historic structures & shopping galore.

Tonight is a very special event. We'll dress up a bit and dine together alfresco at famous & elegant Nimb Restaurant in Tivoli Gardens - Europe's most charming & delightful theme park. You'll have time to explore the beautiful gardens as well as taking a "ride" on one of Tivoli's exciting amusement activities as the Nordic sun is long from setting.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 Copenhagen
 
.
Roskilde Cathedral's interior!
This morning we depart for the medieval city of Roskilde, second largest city in Zealand, for a visit to its historic cathedral and the final resting place for 38 Danish monarchs. Construction was started in 1170, when Absalon was Bishop of Roskilde. Our guide will tell us about the cathedral's history. Afterwards we'll visit the Viking Ship Museum, before taking time for lunch in Roskilde.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Lars Blakset owner of the Blakset Bridge Centre, in Copenhagen's suburb of Gladsaxevej has invited us to join local Danes for our first feast followed by a bridge tournament in Denmark.
Day 12 Copenhagen - Helsinger
 

King Christain IV's magnificent Fredericksborg Castle
Today we drive north along the eastern coast of Zealand. We'll turn in and arrive at Denmark's most dramatic and breathtaking royal residence in Dutch Renaissance style, Fredericksborg Castle, built by King Christain IV in the 1560's. We'll enjoy an enlightening guided tour of the castle. Your visit to this remarkable citadel is a highlight of our journey. We'll take time for lunch here in the township of Hillerød. We'll head back to the coast for a short visit to Kronborg Castle of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" fame. We can see across the channel to Sweden from here.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Tonight Soren Christiansen, owner of the North Zealand Bridge Club, has invited us to join with local Danes for dinner followed by friendly duplicate.
Day 13 Helsinger - Gothenburg
 

Stroll the beautiful flowered gardens of Sofiero Palace
This morning, we cross by ferry from Denmark to Sweden, the narrowest channel between the two countries (3 miles), where monarchies of past centuries controlling the straight extracted taxes from passing ships. Upon completion of our short crossing at Helsingborg, Sweden, we immediately start up the western coast. We'll soon stop & visit the Royal Summer Palace of Sofiero, known for its summer art exhibitions and spectacular gardens. The Palace was built by King Oscar II in 1865. We'll enjoy a lunch break here at the Castle's restaurant. On to Gothenburg.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14 Gothenburg
  After spending our morning touring the architectural wonders of Gothenburg, ferry to the picturesque fishing port on the island of Marstrand with its winding cobblestone streets and colorful wooden houses. Visit Sweden’s ancient Carlsten Fortress this afternoon.
Hotel: TBD
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Bertil Thorén, of the Salamandern/Wasa Bridge Club, invites us this evening for dinner and bridge. We’ll dine, Swedish style & compete with our gracious Swedish bridge hosts.
Day 15 Gothenburg - Motala - Göta Canal
 

Cruising on the peaceful Göta Canal
Drive north today along Lake Vattern to Granna, an idyllic town rich in prehistoric lore. Continue through lush forests to Vadstena for a break and short visit to the Fortress. Vadstena is the only castle in Sweden with an active moat (filled from adjacent Lake Vattern). Now we're off for Motala and the Göta Canal. This enchanting waterway, built in the early 19th century, links Gothenburg on the west coast with Stockholm to the east. These days the canal is only used by pleasure vessels. Cruise past brooding fortress ruins, medieval cloisters, elegant royal palaces, twelfth century churches and picturesque hamlets.

Here in the village of Motala, we’ll board the M/S Wilhelm Tham to begin our relaxing overnight canal cruise. Lunch awaits us. And after bridge you'll have time to walk alongside our ship as we descend through tiny locks along the way. You can help if you like!
Hotel: M/S Wilhelm Tham
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 Afternoon shipboard duplicate with Fred and our group as we watch small villages pass by.
Day 16 Göta Canal - Söderköping - Stockholm
 

King Vasa's Gripsholm Castle on Lake Mälaren
After breakfast on the M/S Wilhelm Tham, we'll enjoy a relaxing duplicate session, as we drop through more locks in route to the quaint village of Söderköping. Following disembarkation and a wave good-bye, we'll stroll through the village before we re-board our motor coach and drive on through the lush green Swedish countryside. We'll stop for a brief view of breathtaking Gripsholm Castle on Lake Mälaren built by King Gustav Vasa in 1537. King Vasa was a theatrical fanatic, and the castle has an amazing theater & stage far ahead of it's time. It is still periodically used for special royal events. Now we're off for a short drive to exciting Stockholm.
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch

 Morning shipboard session with Fred and our group.
Day 17 Stockholm
 

Stockholm's "old town" or Gamla Stan"
City of islands and bridges, of towers and steeples, of cobbled squares and broad boulevards, of Renaissance splendor and steel skyscrapers, Stockholm is often called the “Venice of the North.” The medieval walls of the old town (Gamla Stan) no longer stand but the twisting streets & buildings of the Middle Ages remain. This morning, explore the city starting with a canal sightseeing cruise. We won't miss a visit to the world-famous City Hall site of the annual Nobel Prize formal banquet and ceremonies. From there we'll continue to visit the Wasa Museum, home of the recently discovered 17th century Royal Warship Vasa. This spectacular vessel is the most visited attraction in all of Scandinavia. With our guide we'll now head for the Gamla Stan for lunch and time for shopping and meandering the "old town."
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 For our final evening of bridge in Scandinavia, we've been invited by local Swedish players for dinner and duplicate.
Day 18 Stockholm
 

Uppsala's striking cathedral
After breakfast we head to the countryside to Uppsala, once the religious capital and now the academic center of Sweden. Enjoy a visit to the stunning Gothic cathedral, University Greens and the 16th century castle. We'll stop at ancient Odinsborg for an included country-style lunch. Next, it's on to the ancient village of Sigtuna, one of Sweden's oldest towns founded around 980. We'll have time to walk the narrow cobblestone streets of the Stora Gatan.
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 19 Stockholm
 

Sweden's Royal Drottningham Palace
After a relaxing morning we visit Sweden's Royal Palace of Drottningholm, built on the island of Lovon. It is known as the "Versailles of the North," and is now the permanent residence of the Royal Family - His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf & Her Majesty Queen Silvia. This evening we'll enjoy Farewell Cocktails followed by dinner at our hotel. We'll all toast to many new friends and recount the events of our Nordic holiday.
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 20 Stockholm - USA
 

Ask us about Icelandair's Special
Comfort Class & Saga Class upgrades!
After a leisurely breakfast with the Finesse West group, there will still be time to shop at famous N.K.s Department Store for last minute Swedish specialty items. Around mid-day, we'll transfer to Stockholm's Arlanda International Airport for our IcelandAir flight home, or our optional adventure continues to Iceland for three more exciting days.
Hotel: Hotel
Meal(s): Breakfast


Your 20-Day Package Includes

 Round-trip air transportation via IcelandAir from U.S. gateway cities of Seattle, Denver, Boston, New York, Dulles (Washington D.C.) or Minneapolis-St. Paul.

 All rail, ferry, cruise ship and deluxe motor coach transportation.

 Twin or double-bedded first-class hotel accommodations with private bath.

 18 Breakfasts (B), 5 Lunches (L) and 17 Dinners (D).


 Professionally guided sightseeing throughout; all entry fees included.

 Airport transfers, porterage, hotel service charges and taxes.

 All bridge expenses including card fees, exciting quizzes & "huge" prizes.





Traditional Icelandic girl
3-Night Optional Iceland Stop-Over

Dates: July 8 to 11, 2014
Cost: from $1,400.00 USD



Your 4-Day Extension Package Includes

 3 Nights accommodation at the
Hilton Nordica Hotel in the heart of "old" Reykjavik.

 Afternoon relaxation at Iceland's world famous geothermal Blue Lagoon.

 Guided sightseeing of Reykjavik's Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, Hofdi House and the Arbaer Museum.

 Hilarious and historic evening of entertainment at "Let's Talk Iceland!"


 Full-day guided tour of Iceland's Golden Circle including Thingvellir National Park, Althing (National Parliament), Geysir & Gullfoss Falls.

 Social evening of dinner and duplicate as the invited guests of local Icelandic bridge players.

 Breakfast & dinner daily plus lunch at the famous Hotel Geysir.


Click here for a full-color brochure.