Belgium, Netherlands, and Norway: Bryggen, in Bergen, Norway
Bryggen, on the waterfront in Bergen

When I started dreaming of a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands, I thought I would combine it with travels through eastern France. But as the plans developed, I decided instead to visit Norway. A friend suggested I call this trip “Beltherway” — for BELgium, neTHERlands, and norWAY.

I planned the trip for the month of May 2016, and this turned out to be a perfect time to make this trip. The weather wasn’t hot, there were just a few days of rain, and the crowds weren’t as bad as they would likely be during the summer.

I flew Icelandair via Reykjavik to Brussels and spent the first five nights in Belgium, three nights in Ghent and two nights in Antwerp. I also spent some time seeing Brussels and Bruges. Then I went to Delft for two nights, with a stop in Rotterdam and a day trip to The Hague. Next I took the train to Amsterdam, stopping in Leiden for a few hours on the way.

I stayed in Amsterdam for five nights. While I was there I made some day trips, one to a couple of smaller cities north of Amsterdam, and one to Haarlem.

Then I flew to Oslo. I stayed there four nights, including a day trip to Fredrikstad, before departing on the “Sognefjord in a Nutshell” itinerary, with two nights in Balestrand en route to Bergen. After two nights in Bergen, I flew to Trondheim for two final nights before flying home.

I blogged a lot on this trip. I also took a ton of pictures.

Photo Albums


Brussels (111 photos)
Bruges and Damme (63 photos)
Ghent (131 photos)
Antwerp (76 photos)
Rotterdam (107 photos)
The Hague (27 photos)
Delft (104 photos)
Leiden (77 photos)
Hoorn and Edam (74 photos)
Haarlem (68 photos)
Amsterdam (230 photos)
Oslo (275 photos)
Fredrikstad (63 photos)
Norway Fjords (356 photos)
Bergen (192 photos)
Trondheim (114 photos)

I made a few “highlights” albums too, in case you prefer just a small sampling from some of the bigger albums.

Best of Amsterdam (55 photos)
Best of Oslo (34 photos)
Best of Norway Fjords (26 photos)

Blog Posts

Name the Trip (9/29/2015) - I don’t know what to call this trip. My last three trips to Europe were easier: Italy, my Nordic Adventure, and the Balkans. But what do I call this trip? I was thinking “Northern Europe,” but that doesn’t feel nearly specific enough. Do I just call it “Belgium, Netherlands, and Norway”? It doesn’t exactly come more…
My Beltherway Itinerary (10/26/2015) - Yes, Beltherway (for BELgium, neTHERlands, norWAY). Thanks to Troy Aker for the brilliant portmanteau. This past weekend I went up to Rick Steves’ Travel Center in Edmonds for a trip consult with Lisa, and with her help I was able to firm up my itinerary, and I’ve finished booking all my accommodations, mostly through Airbnb. more…
Day tripping around Balestrand (3/1/2016) - My next big trip is just over two months away, so I’ve been putting a lot of energy into making final plans. One of the big questions I had for myself is how to spend my day in Balestrand. On the way between Oslo and Bergen, I have two nights in Balestrand. I depart Oslo more…
Beltherway Itinerary Update (3/3/2016) - I decided that I really want to stay in Amsterdam and not in Haarlem. Because it’s Amsterdam, and I like being in the heart of things. Because I won’t have to take a train back home every evening when I spend the day in Amsterdam. Because if I need to take a break in the more…
Follow along! (5/4/2016) - I leave in three days! I will be doing my best to blog daily while I’m gone, but full, exhausting days sometimes interfere, and frankly, full, exhausting days are more important than blogging. Here’s my travel plan, so you can check back for updates on the days that look most interesting. Saturday 7 May Depart more…
Traveling is not so fun… (5/8/2016) - … but getting where you’re going is nice. Consider this: Yesterday, noon, I walked to the bus stop, got on the bus, rode to the light rail station, took the light rail to the airport, walked to the terminal, went through security, walked to the shuttle train to take me to the south satellite, got more…
The movie was better (5/9/2016) - I made a day trip to Bruges today. It was very nice. But I liked the movie better. There was nothing wrong with Bruges.  It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be: postcard pretty,  cobblestoned,  with charming bridges crossing charming canals, and with all kinds of shops that are expert at appealing to the throngs of more…
Everything’s better after a good night’s sleep (5/10/2016) - Today was good. It might actually have nothing to do with getting a full six hours of sleep last night,  but that certainly didn’t hurt.  (And six hours sleep is close to normal for me. Even so,  I had a nice nap this evening before going out for dinner.) It was overcast and drizzly and more…
In which I am asked about Trump (5/11/2016) - It’s my third full day in Belgium, and today for the first time I was asked my opinion of Trump. But first I had to finish my Ghent experiences and sit on a train for nearly two hours to get to Antwerp. I started the day with more art at the MSK (Museum voor Schone more…
Keeping Kosher (5/12/2016) - I like to be a food tourist, which usually means looking for foods that are traditional to the place I’m visiting. After three days in Ghent, I decided on Plan B. (That’s B for Belgium.) Yesterday was Italian food, and it was maybe the best lasagna I ever had. Today I went Kosher. I went more…
Out of the frying pan… (5/13/2016) - … and into the freezer. Or so it seems tonight. The temperatures have dropped about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, from the upper 70s to the lower 50s, which, as those who know me are aware, is a good thing! And it’s supposed to stay chilly through next week. The downside is that there is rain in more…
Ten things there is nothing better than (5/14/2016) - Breakfast that includes fresh‐baked bread, cheese, fresh‐squeezed orange juice, fresh fruit, and a fried egg from a local farm. Saturday market in a delightful town that’s laced with canals.  Walking through parts of the town that are normally mobbed with tourists early in the morning before there is a soul around. Visiting one of the more…
Too much pressure, part one (5/16/2016) - I missed blogging yesterday because I was too tired, and now I’m a day behind, and the pressure is too great, so this post will probably be boring. Plus I probably don’t remember everything that happened yesterday. My original plan for yesterday was to go to Leiden and spend the afternoon there before continuing on more…
Too much pressure, part two (5/16/2016) - Now I’m really paying for being too tired to blog last night,  because I’m too tired to blog tonight, and I already had to blog about yesterday,  and now if I don’t blog I’ll still be a day behind. So here it is. I had nothing scheduled for today, and I was thinking I’d take more…
Being a tourist (5/18/2016) - I like to travel as a temporary local. I’m not big on tours, I hate walking around with my nose in a guidebook, and I like eating in restaurants that locals go to, not ones that cater largely to tourists. Staying in a apartment in a residential neighborhood far from the center, I can mostly more…
But what is the extra A for? (5/18/2016) - Today was my Haarlem day. It’s a short train ride to Haarlem, about 15 minutes. In fact,  when I was first planning this trip, I was going to stay in Haarlem. It would have been a nice place to stay, I guess, pleasant to go back to after a day in Amsterdam. But I’m glad more…
Danger! Museum saturation possible! Proceed with caution! (5/19/2016) - I think I knew I was biting off more than I could chew, but this is Amsterdam, home of some of the world’s greatest museums and rich with history. I actually only went to four museums, but it feels like it was much more. And it didn’t help that I never stopped to take a more…
Out of practice (5/21/2016) - Last time I blogged I was in a completely different country where they speak a different language and use a different currency and where you didn’t have to say “It’s only money” every time you spent the equivalent of $5 for an ice cream cone. I’ve been taking notes because I’ve been doing so much more…
Concertgebouw (5/22/2016) - I meant to blog about the concert I attended at the Concertgebouw last Thursday, but with all I’ve been busy doing, I somehow forgot. The concert was, in a word,  sublime. The program was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Prokofiev’s Sixth Symphony. They don’t provide a printed program unless you buy it,  which I didn’t. Seats more…
Just like home (5/23/2016) - Yesterday in Oslo was like so many winter and spring and fall days in Seattle: grey and rainy. Fortunately I got most of my outdoor sightseeing done on Saturday, when it was beautiful (until late afternoon). The day started with an outing to Bigdøy, a neighborhood on a peninsula best reached by ferry. There are more…
If Rick Steves writes about this place… (5/23/2016) - … it’ll be the next Cinque Terre. It is surprising to me, given his Norwegian heritage, that Rick Steves gives short shrift to this country. His Scandinavia guidebook includes Oslo, Bergen, and the fjord region, and that’s it. Fredrikstad is exactly the kind of place he likes to discover and reveal to Americans. It has more…
Backup battery (5/24/2016) - I am on the balcony of my room at the Balestrand Hotell, trying to focus on what I’m typing but distracted by the view of the Sognefjord in front of me. There’s a bit of evening chill as we’re in the shadow of the mountains behind us,  but the sun is still shining brightly onto more…
A contest (and some other stuff) (5/25/2016) - There’s a contest in this blog post. Keep reading to see what it is and how you can win.I drove around today, probably less than 300 kilometers, starting at 8:30 this morning and getting back to Balestrand at 19:00. I’ve taken some great road trips. Last year in the southwest, a good portion of my more…
Sunny (5/26/2016) - I’m overloaded on sun. After the gloom and grey skies in Oslo, I’ve enjoyed the last few days, but it’s also taking a toll. Being out in the sun all day, now three days in a row, has me worn down. Unlike the first two weeks of the trip, there have been no museums. It’s more…
Weather vane and troll hill (5/28/2016) - One of the lessons that’s hard for me to learn when traveling is to pace myself. As one loyal blog reader pointed out, I may have set a record for museum visits, and yet all I can think about is the museums I didn’t have time for. Bergen has some museums that are highly recommended more…
Final Destination (5/29/2016) - I spent a good portion of the day yesterday at the airport in Bergen. Since I had to check out of my apartment by noon, and my flight to Trondheim wasn’t until 15:45, and I didn’t want to haul my luggage around, I just went to the airport early. But I made up for it more…