A Summer Escape through City, Lights and Love of Norway
We go to the airport with a little fear because no the agency have still not charged us for the plane tickets. It's a bit strange, but a week before we called the company's information phone and the girl confirms that our reservation is fine. We crossed our fingers! What if! Luckily there is no problem. We carry a backpack and a hand luggage.
We took off at 7:50 PM, so we had dinner on the flight. We already assumed that there would not be much variety, but anyway. We arrived at Rygge airport, 60km from Oslo at 11:30 pm. It is a very small airport. There is a bus waiting just outside the airport for passengers to take them to Oslo or to the bus station.
We bought a round-trip ticket on the same bus. We have preferred to bring the money already changed. It is night, and we see a small glow as if there were a full moon. I thought there would be more light.
Day 1 - Oslo
At 1 o'clock in the night we arrived at the Bussterminalen in Oslo. The street is very lively. It is very cold with 1 degrees. We see a few people in typical costumes. What a picture of Norway as soon as we arrive! In 10 minutes we stand at the hotel, booked online directly through the hotel's website.
We are served by a Cuban boy. The room is small but it is very good. And we see for the first time a shower without separation, with a drain in the middle of the bathroom. Luckily that has a little inclination and dries soon. It is already 2 in the night.
The light enters through the window and it is only 4 o'clock in the morning! It cannot be! The curtains are thick, but there is still some light coming in. We managed to extend the sleep until 7.30. We have first contact with the Scandinavian breakfast. There are no muffins or cookies or croissants to dip in the coffee.
There are several kinds of bread (especially mold bars), brown and other cheese. There is also cold cuts, cereals, cucumber, tomato, a kind of meatballs, jam, coffee, yogurt, herring in various forms. The dining room is full and we share a long table with another couple.
We left the hotel and there is almost nobody on the street (it's almost 11). We have maps and brochures of the city got through the official websites. We take the ferry that will take us to the Bygdoy Peninsula. The ferry stops first near the folkloric viking museum. We get off at the first and follow the signs to the Folkloric Museum.
In general we are disappointed a little. Most houses can only be seen on the outside because they are closed. But it's already worth it for the Viking church, which we assume we will not see another one on the trip. We approach a house from which smoke comes out of the fireplace. People are making a kind of pancakes with butter!
We take one. In another house someone gives tea, or coffee (we did not get to try it) heated in the fireplace. Then there is the old town, with the pharmacy and other buildings. We left there and went on foot to the Viking Ship Museum. We liked it a lot. We went back on foot to the pier where the boat had left us and we climbed. We reach the second stop (Fram and the Kon-Tiki).
It's 3 in the afternoon and we go to the Aker Brygge area to eat classic fish soups. It suddenly starts to rain but we are warm with stoves and blankets. The Norwegians do not seem to care that it rains, as they must be used to these sudden changes. The sun comes up again and we visit the Royal Palace and its gardens, the Theater, Karl Johans Gate, and more.
It gets back to rain with wind and we just break the umbrella handle. We return to the hotel and only go out to buy dinner at a nearby supermarket. There are hot dogs, pizza, pasta, sweets, fruit, salads. Not that they are super cheap, but they are not as expensive, of course, as a restaurant. Many have Minibank (ATM).
Day 2 - Flam
We rise early morning and go for breakfast and take the train at the Sentral Station. The panels of the station indicate to us in which route the train is (it is the Oslo-Bergen line). We had reserved seats for the Oslo-Myrdal train. It was a bit long (almost 5 hours of journey). We see a beautiful and green landscape. Half way it gets interesting.
Every time there is more snow, so sometimes we can not see anything else (no trees, no water, nothing) and it's hard to look out the window, with the glare. We reach Myrdal and there is the famous Flam train waiting. It is extremely cold! The route lasts around 1 hour. At first we all sit down. There are plenty of free seats, but we end up mostly standing to listen to the public address voice. We went through several tunnels.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the trip is to see how high is the Myrdal station shortly after having begun to go down and the Kjosfossen. At 2:00 pm we are in Flam. We eat in one of the restaurants near the station. They give us a gadget that, when our dishes are ready, whistles and we go to pick them up. We buy food for the next day in a supermarket from there.
Through the tourist office of Flam, we find where to rent a car in Vibak Bilutlei, in the Heimly Pensjonat. The usual rental companies do not work here. We agreed on one. The lights were turned on automatically when the car was started (it is mandatory to drive with them on). The woman also gives us a road map.
We put gasoline in Aurland, with a card. We enter the Laerdalstunnelen! The 25 km seems never ending. At 3 points of the tunnel there are lights that want to simulate a glacier. We follow the road and arrive at our first ferry at Mannheller-Fodnes. It's very simple, and we put ourselves in the line of cars and go to the boat.
They tell us where to park and almost immediately they come to charge us. They look at the type of car and how many people travel inside and they tell the price. Nobody is supposed to stay in the car (a sign recommends it, or prohibits it), but many people stay and nobody says anything. We went to see the cafeteria and we also went up to see the landscape, but it started to rain and we ended up inside the car again.
When we arrive, we turn on the car and leave in order. It has been easy! We follow the road until we reach Hoyheimsvik, where our campsite is, well indicated, next to the tourist road at Sognefjellsvegen. We made the reservation again by email, specifying the cabin (each one has certain characteristics and the price varies, of course).
We are on the banks of the Lustrafjorden, an arm of the Sognefjord and overlooking the Feigumfossen waterfall on the other side of the fjord! It is around 7 pm and there is nobody in the kiosk to receive us, but a sign indicates a cabin right there, with a free telephone number. We call and the woman tells us that the keys to the cabin are placed at the door. It is true!
All the cabins have a green sign and they have the key in the door. So we parked the car next to our cabin and unloaded. Soon she came with sheets and towels and plugged the heating (it was not very cold) and told us to pay her without problem in the afternoon before leaving.
We walked through the area and discovered that we have a shadow that follows us. Every day he visits us. Later we discovered that the cat belongs to a relative of the owner of the campsite, and he escapes. It is 12 o'clock at night and there is light. It shows that we are higher than Oslo.
Day 3 - Nigardsbreen
At 4 o'clock in the morning we are already closing the windows with cushions so that we do not get light! At 8 we got up, had breakfast and prepared sandwiches for lunch. Today is an important day. We have a kayak tour and walk through the Nigardsbreen arm of the Jostedal glacier.
From the cabin to the Breheimsenteret we have to go around 1 hour. We reach there at 10. We still arrive before our guide. We sign a paper that says that we will pay attention to all his indications and leave for the lake. Another guy comes, who is doing a video about the summer in Norway and has us sign another paper giving him consent to record us. How cool!
We reach at 3 by the lake. The guide teaches us to use the kayak (we have never climbed one), and keep the backpacks inside. We change our boots for the socks he gives us and we go to the water or rather ice! We must start a little further because the lake is frozen. It is an incredible feeling. I carry a water camera.
We are newbies in this and I see myself in the water. Anyway our guide gives us a waterproof bag to put the digital equipments and everything that we do not want to get wet just in case. We go in pairs in the kayak. We are the last because the French had already kayaked before. It is better, as they open their way through the ice.
In the sections with less ice we stop to take pictures. We ask the guide to keep our camera and to take pictures when he wants. It's hard to get to the end. We change our boots again and at the base of the glacier we put the rest of our luggage. Our guide give instructions and there we go!
The sun rises, it hides and it rains. We go through an ice tunnel, see a black hole, cracks, and we drink water from the glacier. It is best to turn our heads and look back at the valley and the frozen lake. When the sun rises, the light is incredible. Every time we move, we stop to take pictures. We have to look where we step.
If it's ice, there's no problem, but if it's snow, there may not be anything down. We stop to eat. We wear ski pants and fleece, but the guide warns us to put on something more as it will be colder. And it is true. We start the return. In the distance, another group is seen with an excursion with another company.
We see a mini-avalanche in one of the mountains. At the bottom we approach to see the exit of the river that runs under the glacier. We go back to the kayak and return. This time we are better! We even overtake the French! That looks like a competition for countries. After reaching Breheimsenteret we pay. Having made less of a kayak because of the ice, our guide thinks we should pay less.
It is 4 o'clock in the afternoon. On the way to the cabin we have a hot chocolate. Later we have a lively conversation of more than an hour with the owner of the cabin. They live 200m from the campsite and they have sheep like almost everyone in this area. After dinner we go to sleep, if the light allows it.
Day 4 - Bergsetbreen
We took some routes from the Luster website (which is the area where we are), the Norway glacier guide recommendation and the owner of the camp. We go in the morning to make the hiking route to Bergsetbreen, another smaller arm of the Jostedal glacier. The camp owner assure us (and in fact they give us a brochure) that it is a 1 hour round trip, and a flat route of about 3.5 km, recommended to families.
We take the same road from Gaupne to go to Nigardsbreen, but before arriving we leave by the Bergset sign. We were supposed to leave the car in the parking lot and start the route on foot, but the parking is all covered in snow! For a moment we consider whether to turn around and pass the route, but we encourage ourselves to do it.
We take wooden poles from a hut that is right there. It is assumed that there is a marked path, and intuitively (or luckily) we find the bridges to cross the rivers. There are times when we sink in the snow to the knees, and even I fall in a hole up to the waist! It becomes very risky to walk. When we have been an hour of the way, we still have not reached the base of the glacier (it was assumed that in 1 hour we would be there).
We must go at least another half an hour more but we are very tired. We're alone in silence. We go back on our own footsteps so we do not get lost. It took an hour to return. On one of the sides of the valley we can see another arm of the glacier, called Briksdalsbreen. It is very high, steep and inaccessible. We got into the car being wet to the waist because of the snow. We arrived at the cabin, changed and we ate.
Soon we take the car again on a route to Feigumfossen, to the waterfall that can be seen from the cabin, on the other side of the fjord. We follow the Sognefjellsvegen to Skjolden and from there we turn right to continue bordering the fjord on the other side. We passed a couple of unlit tunnels and in less than an hour we reached the parking lot of the route.
In the information taken from the web of the area, it tells us that this route lasts around half an hour each way and it is true. Following the directions from the parking, we arrive at the beginning of the route. We go all the time parallel to the river that is born in the waterfall. We follow the red marks.
It is all the way up and in some sections we try to get as close as possible, but the waterfall drops by this time with a lot of force. I think that in summer we could have gotten closer still. We end up soaked from top to bottom! The force of the waterfall pushes us, as if it were very windy.
The owner of the campsite recommended us to come here in the afternoon. He said it is at this time when the waterfall is illuminated and it looks more beautiful. The only sound we hear is the roar of falling water.
With care not to slip and we start the return. Already in the cabin between the excursion in the morning and in the afternoon we have a lot of clothes hanging. At 8 o'clock we see the pictures of our excursions and cannot believe how much snow we have seen.
Day 5 - Bergen
We clean the cabin before leaving (if you do not have to pay for it). In a little over half an hour it is done. We feel sad to leave here. It has been great, the views, the proximity of the points we wanted to visit. It has been very good. The cat comes to say goodbye, of course.
We take the same path to Flam to return the car. For this we return to take the Manheller-Fodnes ferry. This time they charge us before boarding the ship. We go through the mega tunnel again and this time we get better. We do not need to put gas again, as the deposit is more or less like when the woman gave it to us. We examine the car. We pay and we go to eat at the same place as the other day in Flam.
At 3:10 pm, the Flam-Gudvangen ferry takes us through the Aurlandsfjord and Naeroyfjord fjords (the narrowest). It is very nice to see the color change of the waters. Soon after starting I give a piece of bread to a seagull and a man starts to scream like a madman! Of course, everyone turns to look at me and I have no choice but to sit down.
I do not know if they have said it over the public address, as we do not understand anything. But the fact is that a lot of people imitate me and starts to feed them. We arrived in Gudvangen and shortly before the people already prepare with their bags to go out. We line up and go up the bus.
It does not fit all the people, but the driver assures that soon another bus will come. We left before the scheduled time. We deviate from the main road and take the bus up a troll staircase (a winding and narrow road) to Stalheim. I understand that this alternative route is only done with good weather, and I believe it because that seems impossible.
Only the bus fits. We see a couple of waterfalls going up (the best side to see them is the right one, and we are in the left one, but since the bus is slow we can also take some pictures). Then we take the main road again. Later we passed Tvindefossen, which is also on the right hand side of the road, but the bus goes faster and I think I'm the only one who was waiting to see her.
I managed to take a snapshot! I scream and wake up halfway to the bus. We arrived at Voss well in advance. The bus stops right next to the train station. Soon those who did not fit on the first bus arrive. At 7:20 the train leaves in the direction of Bergen. Almost at the end of the journey we are notified by public address that the train will remain stopped at the next station.
We can change trains and continue, without having to wait so long. So most of the passengers picked up the junk and got on the other train. After reaching Bergen at 8:30, we took the map and arrived at the hotel. We have reserved a standard twin room with breakfast. The day before we sent a sms reminding of the reservation.
The hotel is split into 2 buildings, one practically opposite the other. When we entered the room we see it's an Ikea studio! I say Ikea, because everything was from Ikea brand. It has a sofa, a kitchen, an oven, a dishwasher, a fridge, a milk warmer and coffee bags and complimentary tea! We cannot believe it ourselves.
We threw backpacks and went out to the supermarket in front, which closed at 10:00 pm to make the purchase for the night. It strikes us that there are vending machines for cigarettes, razors and mobile recharges (all in the same machine). Bergen is a very lively city. There are many people on the street, especially young people. We go to sleep trembling. There are no curtains. I just rolled a shirt in my eyes. I definitely cannot sleep with lights.