Legen…wait for it…DARY! Norway was absolutely incredible!!! It was really similar to when we went to Switzerland in September because we got to be in nature again and leave behind city life for a bit. Hailey and I left Madrid on Thursday night and flew four hours from Madrid to our first stop, Oslo. We landed and walked outside to catch our bus from the airport to our hostel. The cold was crazy; I had to put on my big puffy jacket, beanie and gloves right away. We ended up having to wait outside for about an hour before getting on our bus, so we had to get comfortable fast.
We got to Oslo after 45 minutes on the bus and checked into Anker Hostel for the night. We dropped our stuff and got these amazing falafel kebabs from a small Mediterranean shack near our hostel. Instead of getting a beer to wind down, we decided to head straight to bed because we were exhausted. We wanted to wake up and leave by the time the sun rose because, in Norway, the days are much shorter because of how far north we were (sunset was supposed to be at 4pm that day, so we were up and out the door by 9am).
Hailey and I got some coffee and a skolebrød (THE BEST PASTRY I HAVE EVER HAD EVER) at a Norwegian 7-Eleven and we were off. The first thing that we did was walk out to the water to see the Oslo Opera House. But, on the way it actually started snowing! That was the first time that I had ever seen snow fall from the sky that I can remember; it was magical. The snow didn’t stop until the sun was about to go down and I was so happy 🙂 After the Opera House, we walked along the Akerbrugg Bay. We walked past the Oslo fortress, Akerbrugg docks and stopped for a snack in the Espresso House right along the water. We realized that it was necessary for us to stop and take shelter in a warm place every few hours, so we could keep exploring.
From there, we stopped by the Nobel Peace Center. It has interactive and historical art exhibits about the Nobel Peace Prize and things related to it. The temporary exhibit was called Klima Lab and it was all about global climate change, which we found so relevant and interesting to see another country be so passionate about environmental issues.
We continued along the bay until we reached the dock at the end, then turned inland. We made our way to the Oslo Palace with the snow still in full force. The walkway was completely covered in snow, so we didn’t last long, but saw all we needed and took some good pictures too. After the Palace, Hailey and I decided to take the metro across town to the Oslo Botanical Gardens. This garden was covered in a sheet of snow, but there are small greenhouses scattered across the park. It was around 32ºF outside, but inside the greenhouses was roughly 80ºF and incredibly humid. It was such a nice place to warm up, until it got too hot and we purposely headed back into the Norwegian tundra to cool off. We spent a few hours walking around the gardens, exploring all of the sculptures and new snow-covered trails. Hailey and I left the park to get a cozy coffee in the closest Starbucks, while the sun set at around 4pm.
We met up with Elena and PJ who finally made it to Oslo and we basically re-walked all that Hailey and I had done that morning: the Opera House and Akerbrugg. We finally stopped for a late dinner at this really trendy food market that reminded me of a more crowded, hipper Santa Barbara Public Market. I got some Indian food and didn’t realize how much I was craving it until I saw butter chicken at one of the stalls. We went to sleep right after dinner because 1) we were absolutely stuffed and 2) we had an early train to Bergen the next day.
Our train was at 8:25am, right when the sun was rising, so we departed our lovely hostel and headed for the train station. The six-hour train ride from Oslo to Norway is supposed to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world and, lemme tell you, it did not disappoint. We went up into the mountains where everything was a winter wonderland, all of the trees covered in snow, everything was completely white; it was unlike anything that I had ever seen before. We trained through more rural parts of Norway, which was so beautiful to see after being in a big city like Oslo all day. We took so many photos during the train ride because there was always something picturesque to see out of the windows. I wonder what Norway looks like during the spring/summer, because the winter is stunning, so I can’t imagine what relatively warmer temperatures look like.
Once we arrived in Bergen, we dumped our stuff at the hostel and immediately walked around because the sun was setting in the next hour. We decided to go on a funicular up Mount Fløyen that gave us the most incredible view of all of Bergen. It reminded me a lot of Mount Pilatus in Lucerne, Switzerland because of the activities to do up on the mountain once you reached the top. We decided to take a mini-hike to a completely frozen over lake; I don’t think I had ever seen one before. The nature around the lake reminded me a lot of Lucas Valley and Miller Creek (aw home). We sat on a bench and watched the sun set on Bergen before we headed down. We then walked to Bryggen (famous place to walk into shops), got dinner, then headed out to some bars that night. We saw a really cool Norwegian Beatles/Paul McCartney cover band at the restaurant that we had dinner at. I wish B-rad could’ve seen it because they were great! We also went to this sports bar before going home, which felt like one of the most “American” places that I have been since being abroad.
We woke up with the sunrise the next morning because we had a flight at 4pm back to Madrid and still had so much of Bergen that we wanted to see. We decided to rent bikes for a few hours and we actually biked all around the city of Bergen; I felt like I saw absolutely everything. For our last meal in Bergen, we went into a fish market (not my favorite place to be, but I handled the fishy smell well) and had a late lunch right along the water. We ended up spending wayyyyy too much money, but Norway is always expensive and the food was so worth it. I also tried whale for the first time and it tasted a lot like beef jerky. That was probably the second weirdest food I have ever tried behind shark.
Norway was such a cool place to visit. It was the coldest place that I have ever been for an extended period of time and I absolutely loved it, cold, yes, but it was all so worth it. It was also comforting to know that almost everyone in Norway spoke English in some capacity. I felt like because of that people were even friendlier when compared to Spaniards. Everyone always greeted up with “Hi hi!” and always said “Bye bye!” on our way out, always in doubles and with a huge smile on their face. Norway is definitely not a place that I would have ever thought to visit before, but I am so glad that I did. I hope to go back and potentially do a fjord tour with my family!