Travel Guide: Norway's Fjords
I lived in Norway for 3 years as a young girl and I remember it quite well, though I can't say I remember all my Norwegian vocabulary quite as well. I consider myself conversant in Norwegian and it felt great to practice a language I too rarely speak. Moving back to the U.S. from Norway in 6th grade wasn't the easiest experience of my childhood. I had to take special education English classes for a little while to get my English back to speed and I was teased quite often for my lunches: liverwurst & pickle or hard-boiled egg & caviar spread sandwiches...strange to Americans but completely normal back in Norway. But all this made me who I am today and I'm proud of 6th grade me for being completely unfazed by the teasing...in fact I kept bringing those lunches until I graduated high school.
All this to say, I was really excited to come back to Norway and even more excited to introduce Graham to this part of my family's culture and life. Our trip didn't start off on the best foot as the airline didn't deliver our one piece of luggage on time. Our itinerary got quite screwed up due to this as all our hiking clothes, etc were packed. But we made due and still had a fabulous weekend. I felt a lot of nostalgia especially where it came to foods that we just can't get back home. Simple things like skolebrød, pølse with lompe, and seignmen gummies really brought me back.
If our itinerary hadn't been messed up this is the agenda I had planned and would propose to you if coming to Norway for a short trip (though if you are, I'm sure you'll want to spend at least a full week).
Day 1 AM: Preikestolen Hike
Rent a car and take the ferry from Stavanger to Tau (Just put in Preikestolen in the GPS and it will lead you on this path). Taking the ferry by car is fun and pretty affordable. Paying for the ferry is done on the boat.
The hike itself takes about 4 hours roundtrip (with short photo breaks). It took Graham and I 2 hours to get to the peak and about 1 hour back. We spent a little less than an hour just taking in the view at the peak and eating lunch.
Here's some quick tips:
- Wear hiking shoes. I thought this would be obvious, but I saw quite a few people wearing bad footwear and why it might be cuter wearing Nike Frees (or Crocs?!?! Yes, saw someone hiking in Crocs!)…there’s a lot of rock, a bit of climbing, and if it's wet, lots of slipping.
- Dress in layers. I got hot on the hike itself, but once we stopped moving, I got really chilly. It’s super windy at the top and I was glad for my beanie and extra layer. (I wore a tank top, running long sleeve, and my parka.
- Bring water and snacks. Graham and I had breakfast at the base lodge. They have a great breakfast buffet for about 12 EUR each and we just made our own ham and cheese sandwiches from that.
- Come early. There were a ton more people walking up when we were heading back. I wish we had even started earlier (We began our hike around 9 am).
Day 1 PM: Enjoy Stavanger!
There’s 2 main areas to visit in Stavanger. Old town and downtown. Old town is so charming. It’s a very small residential neighborhood of old white wooden homes, loaded with flowers. Downtown has plenty of shops and restaurants. Graham and I loved the “color street” standing out with all it’s funky, bright buildings.
One of Norway's Michelin starred restaurants is in Stavanger. While we didn't budget for that, it does have a sister bistro next door that we really enjoyed!
Day 2 AM: Drive to Bergen via the E39.
Since we had to do our Preikestolen hike a day later, our drive rerouted us via the E16, so my planned “loop” drive got messed up. We ended up taking the same road we came down on, but it is gorgeous. It was a lot of driving for a single day and if I had 1 extra day, I would recommend stopping half way.
Day 3 AM: Enjoy Bergen!
Bergen to me was a cross between San Francisco and Boston. Very hilly and cool, with lots of classic architecture. The Bryggen is the most famous sight in the city with a fascinating history. The fish market was seriously impressive and is located just at the end of the harbor.
Other than these two sights, we mainly wandered around like I prefer to do when visiting cities.
Day 3 PM: Drive to Odda…
…while enjoying all the vistas, waterfalls, and sheep!
We visited Langfossen, Låtefossen, Røldal's stave church and stayed at the Energihotelet in Nesflaten.
This hotel is famed for being a piece of post-War industrial architecture. The site is a little misleading as many of the photos of the hotel are actually the energy plant offices right below it.
What we enjoyed: dinner at the hotel was perfection - each dish contained locally sourced food. i.e. Mushrooms picked in the forest outside the hotel and fish from the lake itself.
What we didn’t enjoy: The interior is really outdated. I get that it’s a “minimalistic” design, but the hotel could really use a revamp.
Day 4 AM: Morning Hike!
I had initially planned on doing the Kjeragbolten Hike - a 6 hour climb to the famous boulder stuck between 2 cliffs. However it was raining and while we did have rainproof jackets and the right shoes, I wasn’t confident how long the rain was going to last. So we changed our plans and did the Buergren Galcier Hike, a 3 hour roundtrip. We were soaked, but so happy. We only passed a handful of other hikers which made for a very peaceful but rigorous morning. About 15-20% of the hike required actual climbing; ropes and all.
While we packed lots of snacks and a great lunch, we completely forgot to fill our water cantine. We debated drinking stream water, and at the end of the trail, we filled our bottle at the glacier falls. Crisp and delicious. Plus we’re not sick from some microscopic bug or bacteria. In the end, I kind of felt stupid even questioning whether we'd be ok drinking the falls water...I mean people do pay $$$ for Voss water just down the road.
Day 4 PM: Continue back to Stavanger
We continued our drive after lunch and finished our day passed out at the hotel to catch up on some zzz’s for our early morning flight.
All photos are mine with the exception of those of me taken by Graham.