The Norway in a Nutshell fjords tour took me from Oslo to Bergen, so I stayed in Bergen for two nights. Let me tell you, this city is so insanely quaint. With the cute old-timey houses, wharfs, and cobblestone roads, there were certain parts of the city that reminded me so much of Northeast coastal towns like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Aside from the city itself, I was lucky to have met an awesome Australian couple on my tour the day before, Cameron and Felicity, and we decided to spend the day exploring together!
It was beyond chilly out, but we went up the funicular to Mount Floyen and surely had more fun than anybody else up there. Hilariously, at the information center we asked a guide what else there was to do at the top of Mount Floyen besides see the view of the city and he said “Oh there’s a lot! There’s a lot of hiking…and a lot of people hike…” Even though it had just snowed (or rather, because it had just snowed!), we decided to actually hike portions of it and ended up seeing such a magical wintery forest.
In fact, there were moments where the magic of the forest started making us see little Norwegian trolls…oh wait, that was real. Turns out the Norwegians are legit OBSESSED with trolls, and there are dozens of troll statues hidden throughout the land! We couldn’t stop laughing at how bizarre the little creatures were, and mightily impressed with how far the troll statues seemed to extend.
We also took the time to explore Bryggen which I feel obliged to mention is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but I’m also realizing that pretty much everything is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so that’s starting to lose some meaning to me. Be a little bit more exclusive, would you, UNESCO?! Keep the cool table for the cool kids! Of course, Bryggen would still totally make the cut for the cool kids table in my book, because it was secretly cool. If you walk past the front street, you initially think “Aw, what a cute little row of houses…I guess they’re just really well preserved!” and might be tempted to walk away after a few pictures. But wait! There are actually some unlabeled passages that lead to a labyrinth of overlapping shops, cafes, and museums. We weren’t planning on spending too much time in Bryggen, but kept getting sucked into one cool store after the other. There was even a three story Christmas store!
But really, America needs to take a pointer or ten from the way Europeans do Christmas. While we didn’t go to a Christmas market in Bergen (don’t worry, I’m still hitting the upper-teens in other cities!), we did go to a Gingerbread Exhibit. Based off of the sketchy building it was in, I had some pretty low expectations for what to expect, but dang, Bergen LOVES its gingerbread. A large section of the exhibit was a recreation of Bergen itself with scaled mountains and funicular trains. Other parts were random yet wildly fun like a Quidditch field, Death Star, and Frozen castles. What’s even sweeter is that many of the gingerbread houses are made by schools and students, so it’s really a community effort!
Also, my post on Bergen can’t go without a mention of Det Lille Kaffekompaniet, an incredible coffee shop my friend Kathryn recommended. It’s right by the funicular station, so we actually went for breakfast (latte + a slice of delicious carrot cake for me) and post-forest warm-up (mint mocha, my favorite!). As a note, the Norwegians seem to love to sleep in so it didn’t actually open until 10am – my type of people!
Yet another huge thank you to Kathryn for sending over such wonderful recommendations for Oslo, the fjords trip, and Bergen! Also a load of hugs over to my new friends Cameron and Felicity for sharing such a fun day with me and being hospitable enough to welcome me into their home (aka hotel room) to warm up, provide me with a cup-of-soup dinner (backpackers know how to save money!) and even lend me a nail clipper because the travel struggle has been too real. Forest explorations and troll discoveries were so much more fun with you two, and I can’t wait until our next travel reunion!
If you're planning your own trip...
- I stayed at the Bergen YMCA Hostel & actually would not recommend it. Surprising, right? The facilities were decent, but the shower was just absolutely infuriating. It required you to press a button every 9 seconds to keep the water on. I get that they want to conserve water & save money, but at least give us 30 seconds!
- Bergen is extremely walkable & we didn't need to take any public transportation or cabs during our time there!
- I took the Flybussen from central Bergen to the airport for about 90.0 Kr. I left very early in the morning & I think they run on a different express schedule at that point, so I actually had to run from my original stop to another stop to catch the bus. One of those things where I made it on the bus & never quite figured out what I did wrong or right! Besides that, an easy trip though.
- Det Lille Kaffekompaniet, the cafe, for delicious coffees & cakes!