It’s that time again! Time for another blog post of my most recent travel adventure. This time it’s about me and my boyfriend Cody’s vacation to Norway!
I decided to split my travel diaries for Norway into 3-4 posts. Two for the city adventures we had in Bergen and Oslo, and one for the hiking adventure we had in Flåm/Aurland.
Why Norway? – you may be wondering. Well, visiting this country has actually been on mine and Cody’s bucket list for a long time now. We know friends who live over there, which is one reason we wanted to go. Also, we knew the country was known for its mountains and incredible natural beauty, which obviously draws me towards it. I wanted to go see it for myself, and Cody was really excited to see friends and experience a new culture. All around, it was a dream come true for us to go on this trip, and I’m really excited to share the highlights from it!
Beautiful, Sunny Bergen
First we flew from Atlanta to Orlando. Then from Orlando to Oslo. Then finally we flew from Oslo to Bergen. All to get to our first city! It was 2 loooooong days of flights and travel, with some really long overlays, but it was worth it to fly out of Orlando because of the deal that airport has. I don’t know why this exists, but for some reason the Norwegian airline has a special deal with the Orlando, Florida airport to get cheap round-trip tickets in and out of it. So we flew round-trip to Norway for only a couple hundred bucks. Not bad!
We arrived in Bergen and soon met up with our friend Erik. We dropped off our bags at the apartment we were staying at (Erik and Emily knew someone in Bergen that let us stay at their place for free – it was so kind of them!) and took a train into the city. Now, there are a few things to know about Bergen. One, it isn’t too big of a city, and two, it’s known for being one of the rainiest cities in the world. Even wetter than Seattle!
But for some reason, the 3 days we were there it was warm, beautiful, and sunny almost the whole time! Erik couldn’t BELIEVE the kind of weather we were getting, as he used to live in Bergen and complain constantly about how it rained 24/7/365. It soon became a running joke on this trip that “Bergen is so beautiful and sunny, who knew!” – Erik was only slightly amused… 😉
The Colorful Houses Of Bergen
Day 1 included general sight-seeing and exploring around the city. As I mentioned, the city isn’t too big, and so we were able to see most everything in a day. One thing I recommend seeing in Bergen are the colorful houses down by the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf.
The tall and slim wooden houses standing gable to gable along the wharf are a classic landmark of Bergen. You can tell that they’re extremely old/historic buildings, and the back-alleys are winding and fun to walk through.
The whole area around the wharf is pretty much a bustling market these days, with various shops, restaurants and pubs to go into. There was definitely a lot going on here, and the city streets were extra crowded while we were there because of the World Championships (more on that in a bit!).
We ended the night by going to a bar to play team-trivia with some of Erik’s friends. It was a good time! We didn’t end up doing too well at Trivia, but it was a lot of fun still! We were Team Ladder Goat.
Hiking Mount Floyen
I was told by Erik that Bergen had access to a few hiking trails with nice views. After he said that I knew exactly what I wanted to do for our second day in Bergen! And so, the next day we woke up and set out to climb Mount Floyen.
It was a pretty easy and quick climb to the top (though also very steep in some parts). It was also an interesting “hike” because most of the trail to get up it is through residential neighborhood streets. You’re mostly just walking up a road that winds through a mountainside neighborhood of houses and private homes. It was kind of strange, but also neat! I quickly decided that I really liked the style of architecture in Norway, it was very different to other places in Europe I had been.
Once you get closer to the top the terrain starts to look more like a forest (or in my opinion: mystical wooded fairytale landscape). And although it was pretty steep at this point, the view is 100% worth it! At the top there is a small cafe and a lookout point for you to get some good photos. We sat up there for awhile enjoying coffee and tea while catching our breath. If you’re ever in Bergen, I highly recommend you take the time to climb to this gorgeous view of the city and ocean! It was very rewarding.
You can see by the train tracks in the one picture, if you are feeling lazy you have the option to pay and ride a gondola up and down the mountain. The hike really isn’t bad though, it only took us an hour to go up I believe.
After the hike we were pretty hungry, and so decided to get lunch. Erik had a few MUST-TRY restaurants he wanted to take us to, and this tiny cafe called Kafe Spesial was one of them. I had a delicious quinoa-burger there!
It was at this point in the trip (day 1) that Cody and I also realized a very startling and absolute truth about Norweigans. They LOVE pizza. No, no, you didn’t hear me correctly. They LOOOOOOOVVVVEEEEE pizza! I swear, there is a pizza shop every 5 feet! We must have had pizza 5-6 times on this trip (and there are tons of vegan options!) but more on the pizza later…
The World Championships of Road Cycling
Ok, I have to level with you for a second. There was one other tiny reason that Cody was really excited to go to Norway at this particular time of the year. At the time we went, it was the date of the 2017 World Championship Road Cycling Races (“Worlds”) – which also happened to conveniently be held in Bergen, Norway this year. 😉
Cody is an avid cyclist, and he loves watching all the pro-cycling races throughout the year. Two years ago we went to Richmond, Virginia to see them live, which was a lot of fun. The fact that they were held in Norway this year was just an additional bonus for us to go and see them once again!
I’m not as into cycling as a sport as Cody is, but I have to admit that it is a LOT of fun to watch these races live! There is so much excitement and energy in the crowd. I forgot to mention before, but Bergen was JAM-PACKED because of these races. The city was overflowing with people, and it was a very cool thing to see. It was especially neat I’m sure, for all of the native Norweigians in town because there were a few prominent Norweigian cylists in the race that had a shot at winning first place. It was really cool to see!
We found a great spot on a hill (Salmon Hill) to watch the racers go by. It was one of the main up-hill points of the course, so it was very exciting to see the riders go full-speed up it! We sat on the grass with some beer, whole grain bread (omg, the bread in Norway is amazing), bananas and peanut butter (the best quick lunch fixings we could find at the local grocery store!) and cheered the racers on all day. It was so much fun, and a great memory.
After the riders went by us for the last time we hurried away from our watching spot to beat the crowd walking down the hill back to the city. Here’s a final photo from that day of a crowd gathered around a lawn that had a TV on it broadcasting the finish line. Everyone was so excited because it looked like the one Norweigian rider was about to win it all! But alas, Peter Sagan won (for his third year in a row, making history).
Our final day consisted of more walking around, exploring, sight-seeing and relaxing.
We walked by the castle in Bergen called Bergenhus Fortress, which was neat to see. It wasn’t very big, and we didn’t actually go inside (you had to pay and we didn’t feel like it). So instead we just walked the grounds outside and through the courtyards. The whole surrounding area was very pretty and well-kept up. If you ever do want to take a tour of the inside, you can do so during the daytime before sunset.
Overall, I thought sunny Bergen was beautiful, energetic (because of races), and very walkable. The highlights for me were the hike we did to see the overlook of the city and experiencing the World Championship Races live.
For our final meal we had pizza (again) at a place called Pepe’s, which I’m told is one of the best pizza chains in all of Norway! I had fresh avocado slices all over my veggie pizza and it was really good. I forgot to take a photo of that one, but believe me when I say there are plenty of vegan options throughout the city.
Most all restaurants we went to had a vegetarian option that could easily be made vegan by asking for no cheese. Also, most everyone we encountered spoke fairly good English, so there wasn’t much of a language barrier to work with. It helps that we also had Erik with us, who is Norwegian himself and fluent in the language.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series, which details our adventures hiking in Flåm and Aurland! I can honestly say, that on that hike I saw the most incredible view I’ve ever seen in my life. I look forward to retelling our journey from renting the car, the 4 hour drive out there and back, our picnic by the lake, the lookout point, and more!
Closing Thoughts On Bergen
- I thought the city was very historic looking, with old-style buildings and architecture all around. It was very pretty.
- I swear pizza is the national dish of Norway. They love it there, and it is everywhere.
- People in Norway are very friendly! I think the time that we visited Bergen was a special case though, with so many people from all over the world that traveled in like ourselves to see the World Championship Races. But I remember when I went into a grocery store to buy the bread, bananas, and peanut butter for our picnic lunch, I had to ask a few people what the ingredients were in some bread I found, and everyone was so polite and ready to help me translate the ingredients list. I was touched by how nice they were.
- I thought the city was very clean overall. There really wasn’t any graffiti anywhere to be seen, and even with it being packed full of people for World’s, I thought there wasn’t really any litter.
- Already at this point in the trip, my thoughts are that Norway is BEAUTIFUL. There really are mountains and Fjords everywhere you look. I couldn’t wait for our main hiking day.