Years ago, I had a really, really tough class that I was teaching. I had to be really creative to get them to behave in a socially acceptable manner. They were a little younger (aged 10-12) and somehow I figured out that they loved, and I mean LOVED, the sing-along version of the Disney movie “Frozen.”
So I had them work to earn points, and I rewarded them on Friday afternoons with 3 songs from the movie. And once a term, we’d use our double block to watch the whole damn film.
During all these watches and re-watches of this children’s movie, I became a little bit fascinated with Norway, fjords, and Norse mythology. So when it came time for me to plan a solo trip where I had the freedom to go wherever it was I, SPECIFICALLY, wanted to go… Norway was at the top of my list.
And so I began researching. Oslo is supposed to be a really cool city, but if you want to see some fjords and experience a bit of the wooded splendor that Norway is truly known for, than Bergen is where it’s at!
I hopped on a flight from London>Bergen on Wednesday morning, and everything about my travel experience went smoothly. I arrived at London Luton with enough time to knock out an entire class-session worth of grad-school work on the airport wifi. My flight to Bergen took off on time, the passport check once I landed was efficient, and taking the light rail from the airport to the city center was so, so easy.
To anyone considering a trip to Bergen: the light rail is so new that it’s not on Google Maps yet. The stop is literally just outside the airport exit and it’s ~$3.50usd for the smoothest, cleanest, quietest train ride of your life. It honestly feels more like the monorail at Disney than a public transit line. Enjoy!
Once I got to Bergen, I set out exploring. I headed first to the waterfront, known as Bryggen, which is a UNESCO site. The Bryggen area is known for it’s series of wooden storefronts, which date back to 1702. Bryggen has been a super important port for a lot longer, though, as there are structures and foundations that date back to the 1100’s in the area. Nowadays the buildings are populated by tasteful but overpriced gift shops.
Quick Note: Bergen, and the Bryggen in particular, is a hotspot for cruise ship stops. So in the midday and afternoon, that area is totally mobbed with groups of nervous cruise-boat passengers. I found it hard to navigate the area in the afternoon on my first day, but then when I jogged down there around 8am the next morning, it was totally abandoned. The sun doesn’t set until almost 11pm during the summer here, so people- tourists included- tend to stay up late and sleep in. If you’re willing and able to wake up early, you can get some really lovely experiences.
After the Bryggen, I stopped by Bergen Castle, which is just next door. It was closed when I got there, but the grounds were totally open, and I had a blast exploring within the castle walls.
Then I headed over to the modern part of the city for a fitness class at my favorite bootcamp place. The girls were excited to have an out-of-towner in class and the instructor was impressed with my ability to convert my mile-times to kilometer-times competently (full disclosure, I googled it in the locker room before class).
I grabbed some traditional norwegian food for dinner; Plukkfisk. This is essentially mashed potatoes with some cod, chives, and bacon bits mixed in. It was AWESOME.
The next day… was rainy. I took a run in the morning, and spent the rest of the day exploring the area in really soggy weather.
I took the Floyen Funicular to the top of Mt. Floyen, which overlooks the city. The views were amazing, and there were some really pretty trails around the top of the mountain that I wandered before I needed a break from the cold rain.
The next day was the big event: Norway in a Nutshell!
Norway in a nutshell is essentially a self-guided tour that takes you into the north-country of Norway to see ll the spectacular fjords and waterfalls the country has to offer. I opted to book my tour through FjordTours.com, which was slightly pricier than booking it all independently. With 4 different forms of transportation and 4 different transfers at 5 different locations, though, I was willing to throw an extra $40 at the convenience fee.
I hopped a train from Bergen around 7am that took me through some incredible landscapes before pausing in Voss, a small town on a fjord. I had a little bit of time to walk around, take some pictures, and grab some coffee before the next leg of the tour.
Next, I took a bus over a set of mountains where I got to see dozens and dozens of insanely beautiful waterfalls. I hadn’t realized waterfalls a) could be that tall and b) were so frequent in Norway.
Then we hopped on a boat to cruise one of the larger fjords. This was the hilight of my year, I swear!
Finally, we took the historic Flam Railway back up and over the mountains to catch the normal train back to Bergen.
Getting off the train back in Bergen city was honestly so jarring! It felt like I’d gone all around the world in those 11.5 hours. If you’re interested at all in seeing the wilds of Norway, this tour is well worth it.
After a long run the next morning, I packed up and headed back to the airport and onwards to my next destination: Krakow, Poland!