Embark your ship and settle into your stateroom. Bergen is home to the Hanseatic League's only kontor (trading enclave) still in existence. Bryggen wharf, a row of timbered Hanseatic warehouses along a quaint quay, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Narrow wooden walkways are flanked by parallel rows of small, vibrantly painted buildings overlooking the picturesque Vågen Harbor.
This is perhaps the most charming district of Bergen and a delight to explore, from its tight-knit community of workshops where artisans sell their wares to its cafés where freshly prepared smørbrød, or open-faced sandwiches, are on the menu.
Enjoy scenic sailing as we head toward our next destination. Oslo is one of Scandinavia's most vibrant cities, set on a splendid bay amid stunning fjords and hills. It was founded by a Norseman, King Harald III, and has grown over the centuries around the cherished Akershus Fortress. The city not only has a rich Viking past with its close ties to the sea, it also boasts an impressive artistic heritage.
Perhaps its most famous painter is Edvard Munch, whose work The Scream is known the world over. But Gustav Vigeland's 200 or so sculptures are the most prominent works in the city, on full display throughout Vigeland Park.
After a decades-long postwar rift both between Berlin and the world and within the city itself, Germany's capital has been reunified and undergone a remarkable rebirth as a center of art, culture and great architecture. It is still riding the wave of its newfound energy, and exploring its streets feels akin to browsing a newly opened museum.
Risen from the ashes of war, many of its buildings that once stood for division now embrace unity. Among them, the Reichstag parliament building embodies a new transparency with its glass dome, and the city's Museum Island celebrates self-expression and creativity.
Stockholm is an open book for those interested in Swedish culture and history; the city has one of the highest concentrations of museums in the world. The most prominent is the maritime Vasa Museum, which houses the restored 17th-century ship Vasa.
Other homestead reconstructions are spread across the Skansen open air museum on the isle of Djurgården, providing a glimpse of life before the Industrial Age. Art lovers may also linger among the thousands of paintings and handicraft pieces at the National Museum or admire works by Picasso and Dalí at the Moderna Museet. After breakfast, disembark your ship and journey home.
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