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Destination-Report Fjord-Norway: Meetings and team building in an impressive setting {Review}

Meetings and in an urban infrastructure, but at the same time also action-packed team building events in wild nature - Bergen and Fjord Norway offer all of this.

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Second largest city in Norway with a UNESCO World Heritage Site

With 178.000 inhabitants, the Hanseatic city of Bergen is the second largest city in Norway - and a tourist magnet as the starting point for the Hurtigrouten and similar cruises. Nevertheless, it has a rather small-town charm with its small center that can be walked through in a few minutes - an unmistakable advantage, especially for larger events, where the participants can move from one location to another quickly and on foot. Microsoft or Ernst and Young, among others, have already used this.

Historically, Bergen is particularly famous for the historic district of Bryggen, the old Speicherstadt, the world cultural heritage of the Unesco. In the very good restaurant Bryggen Tracteursted is the oldest dining room in Norway, still being eaten, from the year 1709.

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Teambuilding Between mountains and fjords

But Bergen has much more to offer: What fascinated me most was the closeness to nature. Thus, the city is surrounded by seven mountains, of which two, the 643 meter high Ulriken and the city near Floyen by cable car or Funikular can be climbed. From the top you have in good weather a great view over the city of Bergen and the fjord landscapes, unfortunately, it rains in Bergen but often and it can sometimes happen that you can see nothing from the clouds.

The Floyen is a great location for group and teambuilding activities. Not only is the restaurant excellently suited for events, there are also very well developed, diverse and wide hiking trails, several sights, one of them with kayak rental or also wooden huts in the middle of the forest, which are suitable for common outdoor activities even in bad weather.

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Hiking tours and fjord cruise

The Ulriken is much more adventurous - it is definitely only suitable for more experienced outdoor activists. On the top there is a small restaurant with a viewpoint, the path winds down barely visible over stones and boulders in the valley. Even in fog many hikers and walkers are on the way, but the rough and inhospitable terrain for German conditions is not to be underestimated in its degree of difficulty.

If you want to explore the fjord landscape around Bergen in a rather cozy way, the boats of the company Rødne are recommended. They not only offer a cruise through the fjords twice a day, but also rent ships to groups for around 20.000 NOK in two hours, including crew, and catering is also possible on request. With these ships you can then control any destination.

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Most popular conference location in Norway

No wonder Bergen is one of the country's most popular conference locators. At the conference center, 2018 is currently being built diligently. Until now, the Group Hall has been used for major events, as well as numerous hotels with its own meeting locations.

However, the big hotel brands in Bergen are in vain, also genuine 5 star luxury hotels are the exception in the egalitarian Scandinavia and just in the mountains very much on cruise tourism and larger groups are the hotel on average rather simple.

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Hotels in mountains

Among the lower cost providers on the market is the Scandic Neptun with 10 meeting rooms for up to 120 people and a very generous and rich breakfast buffet. The prices start from approx. 100 Euro per room and night.

If you do not want to hold conferences in the hotel, but inexpensive rooms in the center of Bergen searches, be the basic hotel from about 76 Euro per night recommended. The name is program, after the front desk you have to ring the bell and otherwise you get a little like in a hostel.

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Starting point for further tours

But the partly rather small rooms are tastefully and stylishly furnished, even a water cooker, also a sufficiently large bathroom is available. The only downside is that there is a club in the adjoining house, the night rest a little more difficult.

Apart from such small drawbacks Bergen is however an excellent MICE-Location, which also scores with good accessibility (via Amsterdam). In addition to numerous outdoor opportunities, the city is also an excellent starting point for MICE trips to Fjordnorwegen or the Hurtigroute.

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Stalheim

For 25 years, until the summer of 1914, the German Emperor Wilhelm II was a guest in the fjords every summer: Our first stop is Stalheim, one of Wilhelm II's favorite places in Norway, where he has been staying almost every year since 1898.

A memorial still reminds him today. The Stalheim Hotel not only offers a fantastic view of the Stalheimskleiva gorge, one of the steepest gorges in Norway, but also 124 rooms and meeting rooms, such as the hotel manager Tryvge Dugstad, who looks just like the twin brother of Bismarck. The prices vary, a standard double room costs from 1880 NOK (204 €).

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 Flam

After the average good food, the gorge follows steep hairpin bends down to Flåm, which is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Norway due to the picturesque Flåm Valley Railway and as an investor in the Hurtig route - and unfortunately overrun accordingly.

Hotel Flåmbryggen has 41 rooms and a conference room for 60 people. The highlight, however, is the internationally successful Aegir Microbrewery, which is located in a former stave church. It offers a picturesque fire place for group activities such as beer tasting. The beer also fits perfectly to the presented Viking dinner.

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Balestrand

The ferry continues to Balestrand on the famous Sognefjord. Here Wilhelm II repeatedly visited the painter Hans Dahl - and here the emperor was also, when he learned in July 1914 news of the outbreak of war between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Hotel manager Sigurd Kvikne of the 1877 built Kviknes Hotel proudly shows us the chair on which Wilhelm allegedly sat at the time. It is not far from the modern meeting venues for 450 people today. This old-fashioned hotel on the fjord offers 190 rooms and a generous breakfast and evening buffet. Price from 1750 NOK.

On Gaularfjell National Tourist Road, a road of superlatives, head up to a spectacular viewpoint over the Sunnfjord. A road of superlatives: Not only do we count 29 waterfalls in total, the vantage point was also built for 21 million Norwegian kroner.

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Vassenden and Nikolai Astrup

From here you can go to Vassenden to the Nikolai Astrup Museum Astruptunet. Today, Astrup is considered to be one of the most important Norwegian painters whose works today bring millions. At the beginning of 20. It was here, with his ten-headed family, that he lived here in the small huts that now house the museum. The directly on the fjord is still relatively undeveloped and therefore radiates a very own magic.

In the near future, meeting rooms will be created, so far groups can use the nearby Thon Hotel Jølster (16 meeting rooms, meeting capacity for up to 360 persons, 129 rooms) in Skei.

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Geiranger fjord

We are approaching the peak of the journey, the famous Geiranger Fjord, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 1476 high-altitude Dalsnibba offers scenic views across the fjord and the cruise ship below. Geiranger has only 200 inhabitants, but in the summer every year 800.000 visitors come, of which 350.000 of cruise ships.

Wilhelm II visited Geiranger between 1890 and 1908 whole 11 times, a monument reminiscent of the visit. The Hotel Union is for the highlight of the tour: Not only does it offer 197 rooms, very nice meeting rooms and an excellent buffet, but also a fantastic pool right on the fjord. Prices are NOK 1230 (134 €). The Geiranger fjord service also offers numerous outdoor and team-building activities on-site - such as the Electric Car Tours with a Renault Twizy, small, eco-friendly eMobile with 80 KM range, which recharge when rolling down, from 800 NOK (87 € / Hour). In addition, you can also do sea kayaking, eBiking or hiking.

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Eye

From Geiranger, the ferry continues via Hellesylt and through the Norangsdalen valley to Øye. In addition to Wilhelm II, the Hotel Union Øye has also hosted numerous other prominent figures, such as Queen Silvia of Sweden or Queen Sofia of Spain. It is completely furnished in Swiss style and has 81 rooms decorated in original style.

While the food is good, it is a little exhausting that visitors are constantly walking through the house. The also very nicely furnished meeting rooms are in the basement, but have daylight. The prices vary, a double room costs from NOK 1790 (195 €), a double room with sky bed or balcony from NOK 2250 (245 €).

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Ålesund

The last stop is Ålesund. The 1904 completely destroyed in a fire and then reconstructed in a youthful style has eight hotels, with the Scandic Park having the largest event rooms for up to 1.000 participants. Very nice and centrally located at the harbor with a view is also the modern First Hotel Atlantica with 73 rooms and meeting rooms.

Ålesund also offers a variety of activities, such as hiking (eg to the Aksla viewpoint), a visit to the modern art nouveau center or kayaking through the city. For example, Ålesund Airport is served by KLM from Amsterdam. From Ålesund it goes on by bus, ferry or Hurtigroute to the various destinations.

A very exciting meeting location is the lighthouse Alnes, which is located outside the airport on the island of Godøy. Clearly better food than the name suggests, in addition with great view, can be in the XL diner. Ålesund also visited Kaiser Wilhelm, after he had already sent 48 hours after the fire aid.

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Conclusion: The perfect setting for conferences and team building

Overall, the picturesque landscape of Fjordnorwegen represents an extraordinary backdrop for meetings and meetings. If you do not want to travel by bus or ferry, the longer trip by Hurtigroute is recommended, where you can also hold meetings - I already reported about two years ago.

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