Our big trip of the summer was one Jon had been looking forward to for a long time, since before we even got to Germany. With a little bit of city exploring and a big emphasis on spending some time with nature, our trip to Norway was an unbelievable experience.
We started in the capital city of Oslo at the Viking Ship Museum to see beautifully preserved ancient ships and understand how they were used by the Viking civilization. The nearby Fram museum gave us a glimpse of the proud Norwegian tradition of polar exploration, housing the “strongest polar vessel” in the world. Other city highlights included trekking to the Olympic Ski Jump for a panoramic view of the city and wandering through the sculpture-filled Vigeland in the city’s park to find the famous angry boy statue. We never found Munch’s famous Scream painting but we consoled ourselves with burritos and craft beer at Freddy Fuego’s Burrito Bar. Finally, we couldn’t leave Oslo without walking on the roof of the opera house.
Most likely one of the best train trips in all of Europe, we rode the Bergen Railway from Oslo to Bergen with our eyes glued to the windows. Mountains, lakes, sun, rushing rivers, evergreens, freezing temperatures…we saw it all!
We picked up a rental car from the Bergen train station and ventured into the beautiful Hardangerfjord region of Norway. Several endless tunnels and rotaries later (sometimes the rotaries were INSIDE the tunnels), we arrived at Hotel Ullensvang…our lakeside hotel with gorgeous views of the fjord. Check in told us it had rained for four days before we arrived and when we left it also started raining – somehow we got the 4 best days of the summer in the most beautiful region!
First on our list of fjord adventures – glacier skiing! We drove hours up windy, steep roads to reach Folgefonna National Park. Above the clouds and perched on a fjord with views to the lakes below, the Folgefonna Ski Resort offered one rope tow for skiing with a view. Jon snapped pictures of the stunning landscape while Corey enjoyed some summer skiing.
Trolltunga: the biggest test of willpower we’ve had in awhile…possibly ever. A 23km expert level hike with average hike time of 10-12 hours, we knew it would be difficult but the first kilometer seemed almost impossible. We refilled our water bottle at the glacier cold streams lining the path, cheered on fellow hikers and finally made it to the breathtaking summit. The views speak for themselves but the way down was not easy. Total hike time = 9 hours (plus 1hr at the top taking every picture possible)
To wrap up our time in the fjords, we took a kayaking tour around Eidfjord, marveling at the crystal clear glacier water and learning about the first settlements in the area. We ended our trip to the fjords watching an amazing sunset over the mountains from our hotel balcony!
We spent one day in the coastal town of Bergen, sampling the local fish market and shopping in the old wooden houses lining the harbor. Tucked away off the main street, we found the most incredible coffee place for a capacuino & chai tea before we headed onto the next city!
Our main goal flying to Stavanger was to hike Pulpit Rock but with bad weather (and sore muscles from Trolltunga!), we changed our plans and spent some time in the nautical town center. We visisted the oldest cathedral in Norway, the Stavanger Domkirke built in 1125 and checked out some of the big ships docked in the harbor. We even stumbled upon a grill pub that served craft beer and amazing burgers/wings.
Norway was all we hoped it would be!