Norway: Oslo and Bergen

First stop: Oslo

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Oslo is the capital of Norway and its biggest city. They use the Norwegian kroner as currency, which at this moment is worth roughly the equivalent of 1 USD to 12NKK. I’m not great at math, and it was confusing seeing that we paid “3600 NKK” for our Fjord cruise but luckily Conner’s great at math and can figure out how to divide things quickly enough for me to be a bit guilty about paying 9+ USD for a grocery store salad… 

We started off our Oslo trip by finding a walking tour of the city. I learned so much about its history, and we were informed by the guide on where to get the Norwegian delicacy, the best “brown cheese waffles” in the city: at Haralds’ Vaffles.

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Another must see is the opera house. It’s modeled off the shape and texture of an iceberg! There’s a lot of amazing architecture in Oslo, as well as many kinds of museums. All of these museums as well as public transportation are included with in an Oslo city pass which I recommend buying because it quickly pays for itself if you go to more than one museum. We used our pass to visit the Nobel Peace prize museum.

The city is overall a very clean and nice place to spend time, it was fun to walk around and explore the sights along the Aker Brygge harbor area and the other districts. The first evening, we came across a ship with a bar docked in the harbor and ordered drinks with an amazing view of the coastline.

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Fun fact: (or not so fun depending on how you look at it?) Norway has very strict liquor laws. Grocery stores sell beer and cider but are not permitted to sell anything above 4.7%, and are only allowed to sell alcohol before 8 PM on weekdays and before 6 PM on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays! Anything above 4.7% is sold through the state-run “Vinmonopolet” translated to “wine monopoly”) shops which usually close at 6 PM on weekdays and 3 PM on Saturdays. And the ages to drink liquor are older than most countries as well. Check out all the rules, here!

The next day, we checked out the Royal Palace where the total family still lives at the top of  Karl Johans gate. We also checked out the Vigeland Sculpture Park gardens and its famous naked sculpture people. How raw and artsy.

Then, of course I had to go to the most famous coffee shop in the city Tim Wendelboe, where I was given a cappuccino freddo in a martini glass. CLASSY!

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Another must do in Oslo is island hopping. We visited the Hovedøya,Gressholmen, and Lindøya vest islands which were completely included in our public transportation cards/oslo city passes. Gressholmen had a really fun cafe called “Gressholmen Kro” on it where Conner got a norwegian beer and we enjoyed a lazy evening.

The islands felt like an amazing place to spend a summer, in the cute red and yellow cottages. They were very peaceful and tranquil to close to the bustle of the inner city life in Oslo nearby.

Bergen

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After Oslo we flew to Bergen which is known as the “gateway to the fjords” where we met up with one of my dearest friends, Annie! It was amazing to see her and to explore the city with her and see the historical port houses on  the Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen!

Bergen was very walkable in the city center and had a lot of fun shops to check out. We also spent a day hiking Mt Floyen, on which there are many trails to use and even a funicular to get to the top, if you don’t feel like walking 😉

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But our main adventure in Bergen was going on a “Norway in a nutshell” fjords tour. What an adventure that was. It was kind of a disaster but in the best way and has a happy ending, so keep reading!

Our tour had multiple self guided sections which we were supposed to take a train to Voss then a bus to Gudvagen, then to a boat to Flam, and then another train from flam to Myrdol and back to Bergen.

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Our first train to Voss from Bergen was cancelled because there was an electrical issue in the tunnel… this left hundreds if not thousands of people stranded in various citrus in Norway and unable to do the fjord tour. I thought we weren’t going to be able to go on it at all. But we got on a bus to Voss instead of a train. And that bus was an hour later than the train would have been which messed up our schedule and made us miss the rest of our connections. 

We were late for every connection, but made it all the way to the cruise through the fjords in Gudvangen which was by far the highlight of the trip in my opinion. Although we missed the Flåm Railway ride, it was an amazing experience… and now we have an excuse to go back to Norway again someday 😉  

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Norway’s public transportation is the best I have seen, and the care that they have for people is the strongest I have felt in any of the countries I traveled. Everyone who goes to Bergen or to Norway in general should take the Norway in a Nutshell tour. It was incredible.

Overall, Norway was friendly, prompt, clean, and majestic 😉 I’m so glad we got to spend time in Oslo and Bergen, and would love to return someday to do a more extensive trip through the magnificent fjords.

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