Half birthday celebration/half submitting my master’s thesis celebration, Max and I spent five days in Norway hiking rain and shine. We flew into Oslo on Thursday morning, rented a car from the airport, and proceeded to drive 8 hours to Bergen, a city on the country’s west coast. It was a long haul, but the fjords, untouched countryside, and peak fall foliage made it worth it. Hailing from New England, the leaf peeping capital of the world, I can appreciate a brilliant display of autumnal colors, and it was especially nice to experience that in Norway, because, in Berlin, the leaves fall hard and the foliage is quick and dirty. Driving was an ideal way to see Norway’s varied landscape, and it gave us the opportunity to stop as we pleased, take pictures, and recaffeinate.
While in Bergen, we stayed in Eidsvåg at a charming Airbnb spot overlooking one of many fjords in the area. Our host was the most hospitable, and recommended us incredible day trips that we would have otherwise overlooked. Our nature-centric highlights were hiking the loop tracks that summit Bergen’s seven surrounding mountains, and trekking along a remote coastal trail on an island just north of Bergen, in torrential rain that concluded with incredible cliff views of the stormy North Sea.
Friday evening and Saturday afternoon we discovered Bergen’s back streets and city center, and found that there is something very hygge about a Scandinavian city at night. Also, the cocktails at No Stress bar are sensational. The apricot, rosemary, and ginger this and the aquivit, cucumber, and lemon that are well worth the price tags. Luckily we had two out of four sunny days, which for Bergen is unusual as on average it rains 240 days out of the year.
Come Sunday we headed to the airport and flew to Oslo, where we spent just one night. We stayed in an apartment in Rodeløkka, in the greater area of Grünerløkka, and this was hands down my best Airbnb experience. The apartment was perfectly cozy with a beautiful back yard, and the adorable and multicolored houses and lush neighborhood appeared to be transplanted from the Norwegian countryside. Better yet was Bandit, the sweetest little kitty cat. Naturally, I had no desire to explore Oslo Sunday night, not with that Bandit stealing my heart.
On Monday morning, after a long and rainy run, we said bye to Bandit and went to explore the city. We strolled through Olso and quickly realized that one afternoon wasn’t enough time. It’s a really beautiful and equally funky city that simultaneously feels like a metropolis and a small town. There are green spaces, community gardens, urban artistic areas, waterfront properties, central squares, consignment stores, historic landmarks, contemporary architecture, and Scandinavian interior design stores to die for.
Norway is just the best and I can’t wait to go back. After five days my main takeaways and lessons learnt are:
- Norway’s natural beauty is otherworldly.
- Norwegians are friendly and eager to help.
- Norwegians speak excellent English.
- Norwegians have great style that is minimalist in both a classic and trendy way.
- Norwegians are very respectful of the environment.
- Electric cars park for free, at least in Bergen, not sure about Oslo.
- Norwegians do not feel the same way about crosswalk rules as Germans do. They’re no New Yorkers, but they do seem to go as they please.
- Alcohol is expensive.
- Alcohol cannot be purchased after 6pm on most days, and not at all on Sundays.
- As its name would suggest, Vinmonopolet, has a country-wide monopoly on sales of wine and beverages with an ABV over 4.75%.
- Rema 1000 is the king of supermarkets when it comes to affordability, then Extra and Kiwi.
- Licorice is very popular.
- Caviar is sold in toothpaste tubes at every grocery store.
- All grocery stores have a weirdly extensive selection of Old El Paso Tex-Mex products.
- As is increasingly the case in Berlin, oat milk is the new almond milk.
- 7/11 in Norway sells mostly salmon products and gummy candies.
- Tesla is the most popular car in Norway.
- Due to the mountainous landscape, there are a lot of tunnels in Norway. We drove through one that was 25k long, and later found out that it is, in fact, the world’s longest road tunnel.
- Locals recommend visiting Lofoten (in the north) and Stavanger (in the south) next time.
Also, there are ads for the new Netflix movie “22 July” everywhere, so much so that we were prompted to watch it our second night. It’s a story of the 2011 terrorist attacks on Oslo and Utøya that resulted in the deaths of 77 people. The film was heavy and difficult to watch, and it was also well done and powerful, as far-right nationalism is very relevant in Europe today. I recommend the film, regardless of if you plan to travel to Norway, and, I highly recommend visiting Norway!
Below I’ve shared pictures from the trip, in chronological order from the road trip, Bergen, and Oslo.
On the drive between Oslo and Bergen:
As usual, I was on the look out for kombucha, and specifically wanted to try Surf Kombucha and ASK Brygghus Kombucha, but found neither one. I did find Captain Kombucha (pictured below), however, it tastes exactly like ginger beer, which is objectively good, but nothing like kombucha. It’s too sweet for kombucha and doesn’t tasted fermented or cultured. Plus, it comes in a plastic bottles which is a kombucha brewing and storage faux pas. Better luck next time.