Reading the reviews on here and knowing we were a five minute walk from the departure in Skien we decided to "go all the way!" It was the first trip of the season and a band played at our departure. The weather was bright and sunny and the scenery was from a fairy book. The locks were very interesting and believe it or not manually operated. Funny but it wasn't till the third lock we realized it was the same crew from lock to lock operating the gates! When we got to Lunde all but two passengers and us got off. From there to Dalen it was like a private ship and the Steward gave us blankets so we could sit outside and enjoy the scenery. It wasn't cold but the wind was nippy. Ronny and his assistant in the Food and Beverage department were great and had all kinds of tips for our future travel. There were more bands and speeches from mayors at more stops along the way and upon arriving in Dalen the band played and everyone was given flowers by girls in native costume as we exited the ramp to our awaiting car to the hotel.
The hotel was all that we read and more. Food of a five star restaurant with great service and a chef who came out and made himself known and shared travel stories. That was a new experience for us and we took a long walk after to ease some of the guilt about indulging in such a large dinner. Village is quaint and picturesque. If you are game and have daylight hike up to where the sisters lived who are pictured on the tourist office door. It isn't far but quite steep so you will need sturdy shoes or hiking boots. The bus ride back to Skien the next day was promptly ontime and picked us up at the hotel door. The switchbacks in the beginning on a bus were not what one is accustomed to when they are from a land below sea level. Bus driver enlightened us with the correct pronunciation of Skien which sounds like "schan."
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