Since about forever, I've always wanted to go to Norway. A mysterious land so far away from Los Angeles with more sprawling landscapes than people, and infinite things to see. Lucky me, when Danny and I began talking about where to go on our Honeymoon, he was all for going to Norway. Beaches are cool, but we wanted adventures rather than lying in the sand.
Norway was going to be our first stop of our Honeymoon, as we flew into Oslo the day after our Wedding Party. Danny had never traveled that far, so the ten-hour-plus flight time made me a little nervous for him, but Norwegian Airlines made the flight nothing but comfortable (we would definitely recommend booking with them). We were set to land around 7pm, which worked out well, because we would be able to catch up on sleep and wake up the next day refreshed. Wrong. Not only was the jet lag very real, but it also doesn't get dark in Norway during this time of year. From about 12am-4am, it looks like dusk with light blue skies - and you can even see your shadow. It's crazy.
After landing, figuring out which train would take us to our Airbnb, and standing out like a sore thumb wheeling our suitcases over streets made only of cobble-stone, we had finally made it. We were exhausted. Since we needed to be close to the central train station in order to head to Bergen later, we decided to stay in Oslo Sentrum. Our flat was cozy, accommodating, and it gave us our first introduction to what will be a series of weird showers in Scandinavia.
We unpacked, chilled for a minute, and headed out for our first meal in Norway. We walked over to this cute restaurant called Lokk, which had a wonderful selection of traditional dishes, including a gourmet take on fish soup, a common street food of Scandinavia. I could seriously eat that everyday, and it was by far the best version that we had tried during our stay. This was also our first introduction to Norwegian prices. Yes, it's as expensive as everyone warns you it is. Even the cheapest glass of wine will set you back about $15 - but hey, it was our honeymoon.
Our first day was dedicated to exploring the city and seeing its interesting architecture, museums, and touching some Norwegian wood. We started off with stopping by Prince Lunchbar where we had our first Sjømat Smørbrød: an open-faced seafood sandwich. Fffff - I also want these forever. So filling and satisfying without being heavy.
From there, we visited the Opera House which is a modern monument with 360 views of the city, and laced with delicate Norwegian wood inside. We road the ferry to Bygdøy, where the Viking Museum is located (really cool) and then took a bus to Vingeland, Oslo's "Central Park". Vingeland is really the biggest, most manicured park I had ever visited, with different pockets and impressive sculptures.
Afterward, we road the bus through Frogner, which I really wish we had more time to explore and walk through so that I could take pictures! We then stopped by Fuglen - a coffee-shop-slash-bar-slash-(I think)-vintage-store. This was probably my highlight of Oslo. I mean, a bar that looks like an awesome mid-century time capsule without having an overly-pretentious LA vibe?! Yes, please. I could've sat in there all day.
From there, to wind down the night, we ate at a place called Meatballs (not photogenic) and then ended at Kniven - Oslo's heavy metal bar (because... Norway). We sipped on some beers and listened to therapeutic screams before calling it night. Thank you, Oslo. You were short but sweet.
Where we stayed...
Where we ate & drank...
Where we went...
This is where things started getting good...
The next day, still jet-lagged, we set off for Bergen (on the other side of the country). We didn't just fly there, but instead, booked what is called "Norway In A Nutshell". It starts off with a five-hour train ride from sunny, warm Oslo, through a frozen tundra, and then into Mydral. It was so awesome, and we got to see so much of Norway.
Next, we boarded the historic Flåm Railway in Mydral, which took us through the narrow mountains, to where the Fjords are located. This train felt like we were in some Wes Anderson shit. The Flåm Railway makes stops along the way so you can get out, take photos, and get better views of the landscape, including a major waterfall. Even better than the view was the unexpected accompaniment of music and a mystical dancing lady in red. If this isn't Norwegian, then I don't know what is.
From here, we got a little break to grab a bite in Flåm, which is a really small town that almost reminded us of Big Bear. Unfortunately, it was a bit overcrowded, and if you plan on getting to Bergen by the end of the day, you don't have enough time to hike around. We did eat some awesome fish curry and fish 'n chips that hit the spot. We then boarded the next segment: the 2-hour boat ride through the Fjords.
Now, I don't mean to sound critical, but for the entire tour I felt like I was waiting for "the moment". It was also freezing and we were exhausted, and I admittedly fell asleep for a portion of it. There were some pretty scenes, though, of small waterfront towns that looked like they were straight out of a tale. Once the boat ride was finished, we boarded the final train in Voss to Bergen. This is when we realized that it probably would have been best to split the entire tour into two days. Voss looked awesome but we had no time to explore.
After 16 hours from beginning to end of the tour, we had made it to Bergen and we couldn't have been happier. It's so damn cute you want to punch it. We met up with our AirBnb host to pick up our keys and checked in. Little did we know, BergenFest was also taking place right across the water from where we were staying, so we had box seats to the music, which was awesome. Tired from the day but excited, we headed out into town to grab a delicious reindeer sausage at Trekroneren and then a glass of wine at Pingvenen.
After finally sleeping like logs, we got up, and headed out for breakfast at Bergen's open-air Fish Market, Fisketorget. This place is awesome, filled with tons of fresh seafood ready to purchase, and if you want to eat it right away, many of the merchants will cook it right there, on the spot. Salmon is one of Norway's specialties, and I literally could not get enough of it - it's SO fresh.
Bergen has a trolly, aka Fløibanen, that takes you to the top of one of its mountains where you can see the whole city from their observation deck, or hike one of its beautiful trails.
Scandanavia also had this magic candy called Kvikk Lunsj (pronounced like "Quick Lunch") that were recommended by travel officienado, Walter's World, and they are the best! Very similar to a Kit-Kat but like a million times better. I think we bought like 10 of these on our trip.
Disappointed by our boat portion of Norway In A Nutshell, on our last day in Norway, we decided to give it another go with a different tour from Norde Tours that docked in the Bergen Harbor. Man, was it worth every penny, and I am so grateful that Danny found it. We woke up at the crack of dawn, got breakfast at Godt Brød (and it was awesome - something about the bread in Norway is very special and different, must be the water), and took off. Right off the bat, we knew this was going to be good as soon as we boarded. This tour not only gave us detailed information of what we were passing, but it played scenic music, took us through areas where I literally cried because it was so beautiful, AND it took us up-close and personal to an effin' raging waterfall, where one of the staff went to the bow of the boat with a bucket and collected water for everyone on board to drink! It was pure awesome and SO fresh and SO clean. This was our "awe" moment and I fell deeply in love with Norway. It was everything I have ever wanted, and I had it.
Sadly, a few hours post-amazingness, our flight to Denmark was set to take off - but we weren't done. We had one last item to check off the list in Bergen: Bryggen Tracteursted (another gem found by my new husband) - an old world traditional tapas restaurant. It had it all. We ordered the herring, the eel, the WHALE, the fish stew... you name it, we ordered it! It was all good in it's own way, though I probably wouldn't eat some of those things again (the herring & the whale). Norway... you have my heart, and we love you forever for treating us so well. Next stop: Copenhagen!
To be continued...