I have waited so long for this trip to happen! Originally, I had planned on heading back up to the Nordic countries for my birthday in January (Nordic = cold, thought it would be the perfect winter getaway), but unfortunately most of the sights are closed then due to weather. Instead, I settled on visiting during the second bank holiday in May. My friend and I booked our flights in November (I’m a planner, what can I say) for £56 return! No matter how long I live in Europe for, I will never get used to how cheap flights are.
Friday, May 22 – arrive late in Bergen, crash at Marken Gjestehus
Saturday, May 23 – explore Bergen + first Airbnb experience!
Sunday, May 24 – full day Norway in a Nutshell tour, arriving in Oslo, staying at Anker Hostel
Monday, May 25 – explore Oslo and catch flight home
We arrived late and exhausted in Bergen, it was POURING rain and quite a shock to the system having just come from 20 degree London to 10 degree Norway (who knew London weather would be the benchmark!). Thankfully, our luck turned around and we had an absolutely beautiful Saturday in Bergen – still chilly but manageable. Our hostel had the option of a buffet breakfast for 130 NOK (£12) and it was 100% worth it! We feasted upon baked beans, fruit salad, ham sandwiches and an assortment of local cheeses (Norwegian brown cheese is really good!) and then being the cheap travelers we are, made sandwiches and swiped some fruit for a free lunch later on.
Bergen, also spelt Bryggen, means the Wharf in Norwegian. It’s known for it’s slanted colorful UNESCO World Heritage buildings lining the harbor. The building area is filled with trinkets, local artisans and historical trades such as a moose leather-making store.
One of my must-sees in Norway was a medieval wooden stave church. We took a short metro ride up to see the Fantoft Stave Church atop the hills in Bergen and paid 70 NOK (£6.5) to go inside. When the original church burnt down years ago, the local community came together with pictures from weddings, gatherings, and other events that took place at the church to piece it back together the exact way it was before. The reconstruction took over five years to complete. There used to be hundreds of this style of church around the Nordic countries but unfortunately due to fires, there’s only a handful left now. I can definitely recommend it; I’ve never seen a traditional church like it before!
We explored the Bergen fish market located along the water, which has been around since the early 1200’s. I’ve sampled the freshest, most buttery shrimp, and some reindeer and whale jerky (!!!!). The fresh fishy air reminded me of home in Nova Scotia. Next up, we rode the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mt Fløuen for breathtaking views of the coastal city. I would definitely recommend doing this, especially on a clear day; it was pretty affordable for Nordic standards at only 85 NOK (~£8) for a round trip adult ticket.
For supper, we were told by everyone we met to visit this local traditional Norwegian restaurant called, Pingvinen, which means penguin. Wanting the full Norwegian experience, we ordered reindeer neck (sorry Ruldoph!!), steak of whale and the most delicious beetroot borsch-esq soup I’ve ever had! Unfortunately, my Canadian accent was too thick and my waitress didn’t hear my reindeer request and brought me a lamb sausage, which tasted like a kebab 😐 but what can yah do. The whale steak was really good though, and didn’t have a fishy taste at all, more meaty and chewy. Would I get it again? Absolutely.
On Sunday we bought the full day highly acclaimed Norway in a Nutshell Tour. Sadly for us it turned into the perfect storm and one giant headache. Firstly, our cabbie almost didn’t show to pick us up, and was waiting at the wrong address for almost an hour, then there was a landslide in the mountains, so some of the tour route got washed out meaning we had to take 3 mini bus rides to get back on track, adding an extra two hours to an already 14 hour day. Then, the tour was massively overbooked (Norway also had a long weekend) and as such there was a lack of seating on the boats and buses. The weather God’s weren’t helping either, it was pouring rain and pretty cold out. When we went on the two hour fjord cruise, there was only enough room for 70% of the passengers to sit on the warm enclosed section of the ship while the rest stood out in the rain – it felt like some twisted Titanic remake. After that, our train to Oslo was delayed for over an hour so we had another late night. To top it all off, there was a screaming, inconsolable baby that followed us everywhere we went. She was wearing all pink and has since become known as Pinky Screamadero.
All that aside, I’m not even sure what the big hullabaloo is about for the tour. I wouldn’t personally recommend it.
Our last day in Oslo made up for the previous sour one we had. I hadn’t heard rave reviews on Norway’s petite capital, but we, thankfully, had perfect weather and I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful scenery and picturesque waterfront. My favorite part was the gardens at the Royal Palace. There were so many locals lounging enjoying the sunshine, I even managed to get a sunburn – I think I may be the only person to leave Scandinavia with one.
Deciding to maximize our day in the city, went on an adventure to go see the Viking Ship museum located on this little island you had to boat over to. The best part was the actual boat ride, the map left a lot to be desired and we ended up doing a full loop on the entire island before doubling back and finding the museum. I didn’t pay to go in out of protest (and my funds were running short hehe) but my flatmate said it was pretty cool. PRO TIP: go stand at the roped entrance and take a picture of the Viking ship to avoid the entrance fee, do it for the #insta.
Before we took off to the airport we made a pit stop on the main drag called, Karl Johans Gate and ate traditional Norwegian fish soup WHICH IS AH-MAZ-ING. Don’t leave without eating it! Om nom nom so good.
We packed our bags and took the metro to the airport, which is only 25 minutes away. And FYI – your passport stamp won’t say Oslo, it says Gardermoen, if you care. I do.
And in typical Norwegian fashion, our flight was delayed over two hours – hooray.
Norway, I will be back. Next time I’m conquering Trolltunga!