This trip was my and my friend’s way to celebrate High School graduation. Unfortunately, we only had about 8 days before her last exam and our prom, so we had to try to squeeze as much as possible into quite a short period of time.
The planning of the trip was brought to life by my friend Liz, and in the result the trip was full of impressions and memories.
The summary of our route:
– Flying out from London to Bergen
– Staying 4 days in Bergen (we were supposed to stay 3 days but a mistake was made)
– A train from Bergen to Fläm, where we did a fiord cruise and kayaking in the fiord. We stayed in Fläm for a night.
– Train from Fläm to Oslo. The Fläm railway is a sightseeing itself, as it is full of the most stunning views and waterfalls along the journey.
– We stayed 3 days in Oslo then and flew back to London.
In Bergen we stayed in a hostel called Montana Youth, which is located on the side of the mountain Ulriken and has a gorgeous view. We payed 245 NOK (25 Euro) for a bed for a night. You might say it’s expensive for a hostel, but don’t forget that Norway is known as one of the world’s most expensive countries. The hostel is very conveniently located, as it has a bus stop 5 minutes away by feet towards the city centre and a lot of hiking trails to the top of Ulriken are also easily accessible.
Our stay in Montana Youth was especially pleasant because of the new friends we made there and with whom we played Jenga every night until late night or sometimes even dawn and had too much fun.
The must-dos in Bergen according to me and Liz (or the ones we actually managed to visit)
- Bryggen (obviously) – one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Bergen, built out of wood, including streets. Nice spot to walk around and get some souvenirs, if you want.
- Bryggens Museum – tells you about history of Bryggen and contains even older building fundaments. You can find information on it here
- THE FISHMARKET – I think it was our favourite spot in Bergen, offering the freshest seafood possible. Ruined my diet completely though. If you are interested in tasting diverse dishes here definitely go for a sea urchin and whale meat, but not, I repeat, NOT, caviar (for that go to Russia;))
- The already mentioned mountain Ulriken is a must as well, providing you with a nice workout after another visit to the Fishmarket. Ulriken is in my heart forever (well, the whole of Norway is actually), because it was there where I accidentally crashed into a paragliding pilot, who agreed to give me a ride (or a flight, or a lift, or a slide, I don’t know) and so one of my oldest dreams came true.
- Ole Bull’s Villa and Lysoen Island – don’t know who is Ole Bull? Well, time to find out and expand your music education if you don’t have one. He is one of Norway’s most famous composers and violinists, an inspiration for Charlie Siem, Liz’s future husband. This is not located in Bergen, you have to take a tram out of the city first, then change to a bus and then take a little boat to the island (my favourite part). The trip is definitely worth time and money, pleasant, beautiful, enriching and somewhat therapeutical.
Unfortunately, me and Liz could not stay more and do more stuff in Bergen, but you can see what else you can do here.
Our next stop was a tiny city called Flam, located in the Aurlandsfjord. We got there by bus from Voss (it’s where the posh water comes from) and before that by train from Bergen.
The programme in Flåm was not too packed, but definitely full of impressions.
We went on a cruise tour in the fiord, the name of which I struggle to spell/pronounce. Now this is what you come to Norway for first of all. The views you get to see in fiords are breathtaking. You peacefully move through the fiord, looking onto various waterfalls, almost each of which has it’s own name, and, most importantly, its own legend.
After that we had a trip on kayaks which lasted in total about 2 or 3 hours. Again, never did it before, so this was a new experience for me. Norway is definitely a place to go if you are a fan of active lifestyle and sports, and surely its a place to try kayaking, because the impressions and feelings you get from it are hard to describe.
We spent a night in Flåm, in one of the coziest little hotels I have ever seen, which, however, got locked for the night and so my plan to go on a night walk was totally disrupted.
Half of the next day was a sightseeing itself as we took a train to Oslo, our final destination (sadly), via the Flåm railway. The construction of the line started in 1924, and it opened in 1940 and has been functioning ever since. But come on, it’s not about history. It’s about views, views, views and, you guessed it, views. Unfortunately, I messed my pictures up, so I am sorry for the quality. But here you are !
Ah, Oslo. The city which is in my heart forever. Can’t explain this, but I feel a connection with it, fell safe and happy here. It has so much to offer! I am ready to come back to Oslo for an infinite number of times.
The points where we left our footprint:
- National gallery (duh) – Oslo’s most famous attraction containing the not less famous “Scream” by Edward Munch
- The Munch Museum – reminded me of the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and at the time when I happened to be in the Munch Museum it also had an exhibition on the parallels between the lives of Munch and Van Gogh. It’s incredible, how similar their destinies were, despite the fact that they never crossed.
- Oslo Opera House – Ah! I am not an expert on architecture and design, but only a blind person would not be able to appreciate the greatness of this building. Also, I happened to be there at 3 am, the factor that guaranteed me, Liz and our friend Catalin a total absence of other people and tourists. We did not go to an opera concert, but I hope to do so next time.
- Homelkollen Ski Museum&Tower – we went there primarily for the tower, because of the view and because none of us has ever been to a real jump tower, but I found the museum fascinating and interactive and I would certainly recommend to have it on your list when visiting Oslo.
- Oslo port – a nice promenade zone, full of restaurants with deliscious seafood (my memories hurt me). A peaceful area to find yourself in. I loved the design of the docks. It looked generally Scandinavian, but somehow still particularly Oslo-ish, not Helsinki or Stockholm. Oslo Port is connected to the Tjuvholmen – a neighbourhood of Oslo which has gone through the urban renewal since 2005 and is very aesthetically pleasing, even has a small beach (shoutouts to cold water lovers). Architecture, art and design students will appreciate, I guess.
- Nobel Peace centre – I hear a lot about Nobel Peace, awards given to various people for various achievements, but I never really learned about it, what is it and why did it appear. Up until visiting the Nobel Peace centre. Yeah, you can go on Wikipedia and so on, but live exhibition is way more fascinating and revealing and is also annualy renewed, dedicated to the relevan’t year’s winner. This time is was Malala.
I’d like also to mention where me and Liz stayed and a couple of tips on what to look for when walking around, and some other travel information.
- We stayed in Comfort Hotel Xpress Youngstortet. Not cheap, but well located and is a good place for young people. Has a rooftop, which is probably the biggest perk.
- Strolling around Oslo, don’t miss the sculptures of people natural size. They are everywhere. I even saw a bronze couple of lovers sitting at the table in the restaurant. These sculptures are part of the crowd, they are citizens too. And even though they were perfectly static I still had a feeling that the were alive (not the creepy way).
- You want to pop into Fiskeriet and try whatever you see on the menu.
- GIRLS: okay, so what you definitely don’t want to miss out is the norwegian men. I have not spotted a single guy there who would not at least be good looking. It’s either good-looking, handsome or plain hot. If you don’t find that guy over there hot, he is not Norwegian.
- Both in Bergen and Oslo it is very convenient to get a Bergen/Oslo card (available at any tourist centre). Allows easier access anywhere and has public transport included.
- We used one of the most popular tours – Norway in a nutshell. And here you can find more information about visiting Norway, in case you are thinking of visiting.
- And the last thing: drinking age in Norway is 18 years. BUT: they won’t let you into a club or bar if there is liquor on sale. You have to be 21 to be allowed to drink liquors. So the poor teenagers of Oslo have to spend there time in karaoke bars, which are so bad that they turned out to be really funny in the end. Maybe also we just didnt manage to find the right places.
I hope that if you go to Norway you will enjoy it and love it just as much as I did. It takes your breath away and steals a piece of your soul (it did so with me). Here you are just a final video from Oslo.