Norway – The Worlds Adventure Playground!
Since starting My Travel Mission I’ve created a Facebook page, Twitter account, and an Instagram account sharing snaps and moments from my travels. The more and more involved I’ve become with it the more Ideas I get for adventures. I’ve really enjoyed interacting with other travellers, seeing where they have been, speaking about their experiences, it’s been great.
We gained some height through beautiful woods passing little waterfalls and streams, stepping up rocks. The route is clearly marked and easy to follow, we were lucky that it wasn’t very crowded at all while we were there but we were regularly passing other people along the route.
One of the many things that amazed me about this walk was the variation in types of areas you walk along. Through woods, bog type areas, along rock plateaus and then ending up overlooking amazing fjords, I really loved this hike, the locals had given us good advice…as with most places you spend time travelling. Fairly early in the walk the woods opened up and levelled off and a wooden path is there for you to walk along through what is quite a boggy area. But again though, it was beautiful…there was still mist hanging in the air here and it gave a really mysterious almost eerie feel to it.
The views and the scenery were already beautiful….but they just kept getting better and better! We gained some more altitude and reached a ledge where we caught our first glimpse of Lysefjord, you could also see lakes at all different levels within the hills, the closest thing to this scenery I had seen in the UK is the Lake district, but this was a different level entirely!
As we climbed higher we could see the rock formations above us, the ledges, the outcrops, we were getting closer to our goal and the excitement was building, you could feel it in everyone around us, people seemed to have that extra bounce in their stride. There were less people stopping with their cameras now, every one could tell that the main attraction was close.
Then we saw it…Preikestolen, Pulpit Rock…jutting out over Lysefjord, with a sheer under cut cliff face. There was nothing between the ledge and the bottom of the fjord. People seemed way too close to the edge! I don’t have the vocabulary to be able to give justice to the beauty and wonder of this place. It really was incredible. I can’t imagine a human mind being able to design a viewing platform any more perfect.
At the top its a pretty large area, people are sat around on the floor, on almost ready made rocky seats, having food and drinks, people quietly wait for their turn to have their photos taken at the edge. But the over riding feeling of the atmosphere for me was a sense of awe. Every one was speaking in hushed tones gazing out in total amazement at the scenery, in a way it’s difficult to take it all in.
Eventually (after I had Face Timed mum & dad to share the view!) we faced the inevitability of what goes up must come down. The walk back down again was so much fun, different angles, new views, and a feeling of accomplishment. OK it wasn’t the toughest hike we had ever done, but we had seen one of the most amazing views. This is the kind of trip which is good for the soul!
So we made it to the summit in 1 hour 45 minutes, that was with LOADS of stops for photographs, and I am most definitely of very average (I’m kidding myself, well below average) fitness. The age range of people taking on the hike was from around 12-70 – it is very achievable and one of the most rewarding hikes you are ever likely to do. No special kit is required, just sensible clothing and I would recommend walking boots or shoes as there is some quite rugged rocky terrain and steps to be climbed.
We returned to Stavanger cleaned up and headed into town for food. The weather was so much better now and we enjoyed a stroll around the town as the sun came down. The sunset over the harbour was beautiful as well.
Stavanger was a really pleasant pretty town, and it felt Norwegian, it felt as if it was the locals town and they were proud of their town. Bergen, as we discovered was awesome and amazing in so many ways, but it was somewhere which took a little time to grow on us, in all likelihood because of it being such a major tourist destination. In Stvavanger we felt like we were experiencing real Norway.
We failed to settle on somewhere to have some authentic Norwegian food and went to a restaurant called the Cow & Fish, the food was nice and it is a cool restaurant the grilled Salmon was great (the price…Ouch!). We wandered back towards the colourful street we had been to the previous day and went and had coffee and cake in Bacchus Bar, which was really cool, with a chilled atmosphere with old fashioned furnishings, the cake was sooo good!
The E39 road is a kind of tourist route along the fjords and connects Stavanger with Bergen, google maps says the route would be around 5 hours with two ferry crossings. A lot of places the prospect of a 5 hour drive would be daunting…but in Norway, through the fjords, with Bergen as the final destination? This was not daunting at all, we were so excited about what we were going to see along the route. It was a great, easy drive and there were so many cool views which we passed by. The driving is so easy in Norway and the roads so safe, the speed limits are pretty low, we didn’t travel along any roads with a speed limit higher than 90 kph, I don’t know if that is the top speed limit or not but it does keep things safe, and easy when driving in a different country.
About 2 and a half hours into the journey 133km we could see snow capped mountains to our right the other side of a huge lake, in reality we were on an island in the fjords in the middle of, well, the sea I guess! (stick this into google maps 59°49’40.0″N 5°31’45.4″E to see exactly where I’m on about!) On the sat nav I spotted a road which lead along the waters edge and we took a little detour to have a break. There was a small car park and we stopped, then I could see a gravel path between trees leading down to the water, so we took a stroll.
As we got further along we passed by a stream cascading down a mini water fall to the water, there were lobster type pots there, and a rock as if it had been positioned there on purpose to sit on and admire the view!
The view…well…thanks Norway…another WOW moment for the archives! It just makes you want to explore more, I couldn’t just leave it at seeing the view, there was an out crop of rocks to the left at the waters edge, I climbed up and went along to get a better view, it was amazing!
Another breath taking moment from this country…what more? We sat on the rocks taking it all in, until we realised we had huge ants crawling all over our legs and made a hasty retreat back to the shore!
We got back to the car and made a plan of attack, looked up where our base in Bergen was going to be, figured out how long it was going to take to get there and figured out that we had enough time to take the cable car ride to the top of Mount Ulriken (642m) the highest of the seven hills overlooking the city. As we approached Bergen straight away we got the feeling that this was more of a cosmopolitan city, it had the feel of a city approaching it, the road network became more complicated, still not panic inducing at any point though. There is parking at the station where the cable car runs from which is just off the 585 which is a pretty minor detour from the E39. The ride takes you just over the tree tops along the side of the mountain and is good fun! We reached the top and people were almost running to take in the views! At the top I felt a little like a fraud…it was warm…and there were people sweating…tired…having taken the walking option up…next time (honestly).
There is a café at the top with seating outside looking out over the Bergen. This is the quintessential view over the entire city of Bergen, it’s fantastic, in one direction you have the view over the entire city. In the other direction you have a view over the other worldly terrain of hills valleys and lakes. Amazing.
It seems like all buildings and homes are built in Norway with the view from them in mind. We arrived at our home for the night again booked through Airbnb, met up with our host who showed us into our apartment, straight away we were drawn to the window…all other conversation and formalities were going to have to wait I’m afraid. Our base was perched on a hillside over looking a valley, although it wasn’t a view over the city it was still pretty special!
We headed into Bergen and they were setting a huge stage for the international festival in Bergen. A festival of arts at loads of different locations all over the city. It’s fair to say that the city was buzzing. It wasn’t packed but it was alive with tourists. The first place I wanted to head for was Bryggen, the oldest part of the city, and the location of the iconic coloured wooden buildings lined alongside the Vagen Harbour.
This area has a row of cafés and bars along the harbour side, as well as a Radisson hotel! Behind these are more of the wooden buildings arranged in rows with walkways crossing above you. It’s a treasure trove of craft shops, artists selling their wares, museums, and a nice little visitors centre.
When we visited the centre the guy on duty there was really knowledgeable and had a real interest, and again pride in his local area. He told us how a fire pretty much destroyed the entire area in the early 1700’s and it was rebuilt, over time there has been discussions on how the area should be used, with one almost agreed plan to build a new modern shopping mall, which would have been totally out of keeping with the area. He showed us a picture of the plan with a true look of disgust on his face which changed to a smile when he explained that thankfully it was turned down and is now a designated UNESCO world heritage site.
We bought a really nice book on the history of the area here. There are also some really interesting postcards available here with photographs from Bergen over time. The staff member pointed out some interesting ones to us which showed how the hill sides over looking the city which are now pretty thickly wooded were once, naturally bare rock. The trees having been planted over time.
I have to admit, Bergen grew on me and when it came time to leave I really did not want to go and head back to reality. Initially though, I struggled to get to grips with the personality of the city, this was probably down to me being tired and the fact that it really is an international city with visitors from all over the world, English was heard easily as often as Norwegian was.
After we had eaten we went back to our Airbnb place. When we got there we had to check what the time was over and over again, it was after 11:00 pm and still pretty much daylight, in fact the sky never really got totally dark the entire night and sunrise was just after 4:00 am! We hadn’t realised that it was that late when we had returned, time seems to mean little in Norway!
We woke up early with the sun burning into the apartment through the windows. We went back into the city centre to explore. Now I was enjoying Bergen. Bright blue skies, warm sunshine reflecting on the water, the surrounding hills bathed in sunlight, it really is one of the most beautiful settings. We parked the car and wandered down towards the harbour area. A funny coincidence was that there was a youth orchestra performing in the street as part of the festival, as I approached I realised they were playing God Save The Queen!! They must have known I was on my way into town! They finished and I began to clap…I was the only one clapping! (I’ll post the video on the Facebook page, click the icon at the top)
The area around the harbour was my favourite part of Bergen and it seems to be the area that everyone gravitates towards, but as we explored further and further and wandered aimlessly through the streets we realised just how marvellous this city really was.
The area around Lille Lungeggarsvann was really nice in this amazing sunshine, surrounded by the city’s Kode art museums, this seemed to be the area of choice for students to chill out and enjoy the sun.
More and more we were beginning to notice the little things, the quirky architecture, the landscaping, everything was beautiful. More and more I found myself saying “Lets just see what’s round here” and walking to the end of a street, to then want to walk to the end of that one. It’s another city where being lost in the back streets is a pleasant experience.
We spent our last few hours in Bergen around Vagen Harbour. Throughout the day more and more yachts had appeared with people sat on the decks sipping champagne, there’s some serious money here.
As the sun went down we faced up to the fact that we were going to have to leave! Norway was amazing, so much to see and do, even in the short time we were there. It comes across as a country that has things right. People appear, in general, happy. Everywhere you go the atmosphere is great, people are friendly and there is a real relaxed chilled out feel to the place. You feel safe regardless of what the time is, everywhere is clean, there was no litter, people are proud of their country and where they live and want you to share in their enjoyment of this magnificent place.
We did this trip, car hire and spending money aside, for around £220 each. With flights from the U.K only 1 hour 45 minutes, if you are prepared to either self cater or eat at budget places or from supermarkets, it is a great place to go for a budget break. Using Airbnb we were really able to keep the costs down too. Just make sure you check out other users reviews before you book a place. Remember click the link at the top of the post to get £20 credit. We had a really good experience with them. With the natural beauty of the fjords so easily accessible, for me it’s a no brainer and we are already making plans to return and conquer Kjeragbolten!
Really, if your thinking about taking a break some where and fancy a bit of an adventure, slightly off the beaten track with stunning natural beauty and amazing towns and cities consider Norway.
Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed the story of our time in Norway! If you’ve enjoyed this post, with trips coming up to Cyprus, Canada, New York, and Iceland, sign up to receive the posts by email and never miss a post! The sign up box is on the right on desk tops/laptops and at the bottom on mobile devices.