Mario and I headed to the land of the midnight sun. Norway makes 28th country worldwide. Since Norway has lots to explore, we decided to explore the lower section of Norway. We started in Oslo, with a stop in Flam and then onward to Bergen. The forecast called for rain everyday, but we lucked out and had a few nice days. We can’t always have sunny skies when traveling. I definitely plan on coming back to see more of the Norwegian country side.
We left on an early morning flight from Stuttgart (STR) heading towards Oslo. Our tickets were with Lufthansa but this flight was code sharing with Austrian Airlines. We had a quick layover in Vienna, Austria. Luckily for us, we didn't have to wear mask on the plane or in the airport
. Since the weather was rainy and on the cooler side, we decided to check a small bag with extra warm clothes. So we decided to upgrade to business class which offered checked bags, meals on the planes and the middle seat empty. We had finger sandwich on the first flight and yummy spinach gnocchi on the second. We arrived in Oslo early afternoon.
As we deplaned, our passport were checked. As US citizens, a visa is only needed if you are staying longer than 90 days. We were asked the typical passport control questions, which is alway nerve racked for me. From there we headed to baggage claim to get our luggage. One thing I need to mention that Norway is VERY expensive, so you need to plan for this. Norway is very much a cashless, so credit card are widely accepted, which made it so much easier than worrying about having enough currency. Norway used the Norwegian Krone (NOK), which is 1 NOK to $1 USD, which made it easy figuring out prices. So 100 NOK would be $10 US.
After getting our luggage we headed to the arrival hall which is where we would be catching the train. The Flytoget train connects the airport to Oslo central station and surrounding areas. You can get tickets at the ticket machine. English is widely spoken so all machine we used had the option to change the language to English. The train leaves every 10 minutes and was only a 19 minutes ride. It looks like a silver bullet train. Tickets were pricy, $44USD for both of us, but like I said Norway is expensive. You don’t travel to become rich, you travel to become rich in memories!
Oslo welcomed us with a sunny and breezy day, perfect for exploring. Once we arrived in the Oslo train station, I wanted to get our train tickets for our adventure for the next day. I tried to order online from VY, which is the name of the train company, but they don't accept foreign credit cards. So I just wrote down the timetables I wanted from the website. I was able very easily to purchase our tickets for the next day, from the ticket machine. After the tickets were bought were given the confirmation screen which tell you the track number, which is nice.
From there we walked about 15 minutes to our hotel, Park Inn Radisson. When we travel we try to stay a hotel chains so we could get points. Radisson Blu hotels are probably in Norway, so that is where we stayed during our stay when available. After checking in, we relaxed and headed out to explore some of the city. We walked down the shopping street, enjoying the cool breeze and the sunny day. I wanted to visit the Viking Museum but it currently closed for renovations for the next few years. So we climbed to the top of the Oslo Opera building and enjoy the view of Oslo instead.
The next morning, we left Oslo on a mid morning train and headed towards Flam. This journey would require use to take two trains. We headed to our train and was in a compartment car which had 6 seats total with a table. The bench seats can be switch to a bed for the night train option. There were 3 other people in our compartment, luckily for us we had the seats right by the door. Our first train was from Oslo to Myrdal which was about 5 hours.
Then we had a quick layover at Myrdal mountain station, which is situated 867 meters above sea level. Then we boarded our next train which would take us to Flam. This part of the journey take place on The Flam Railway or Flambana. It is said this journey offers beautiful view of the Norway and it didn't disappoint. It a 20km - 60 minutes long train ride which you can take train year around. During this journey, we stopped for a photo stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall where we could go out onto the platform and take pictures. The spray off the waterfall was a great refresher after traveling all day by train.
We walked about 10 minutes to our guesthouse in the rain. We checked into our basement room with gave us views of the fjord. In our room rate, I add breakfast and dinner, so we didn’t have to worry about what we would eat. We rested a bit before heading to dinner. At dinner we were offered was smoked trout with a ramen mouse spread, lamb with mashed potatoes and root vegetables. Then for dessert was chocolate cake with cherries and cherries and apple wedges. All which was super yummy.
After breakfast, we had some time before we needed to meet our tour. So I walked around in the rain and enjoyed the views.
We checked out of our B&B and headed to our tour meeting point. Lucky for us, our hotel would hold our luggage while we toured. We were going to see the Stegastein Viewpoint. It was only 30 minutes from Flam, but since we didn’t rent a car, a tour was the best way. There were only 7 of us on this tour. Along the way, the views of the fjords and the towns we passed were so pretty. We had to take a few switchback bends to get there, but the views were amazing. The viewpoint is 30 meters from the outside and 650 meters above the Aurlandsfjord. The weather was nice one minute and the next it was rainy. This viewpoint is open year around and part of the National Tourist Toad which is known as the “snow road”. We had about 20 minutes up there to enjoy the view before heading back to Flam.
Our driver told us information about the area. This area around Flam is made up of farms which normally have sheep and goats. These farmers normally hold another job. Children go to school from ages 6-16 and then decided what they want to do next such as vocational or college or work. Students learn English in school. Also there is an agriculture vocational school there too. The driver said Flam is a huge tourist attraction and he is glad the tours are back.
Once back in Flam we had a bit of time before we needed to catch our train to Bergen. So we went to get out luggage and the headed to one of the restaurants in town. Mario had a burger and I had fish and chips, both were super yummy. From there it was time to once again board the The Flam Railway or Flambana. This was great riding this train again, because we could see the view we missed on the way there. We had to switch trains at Myrdal where we had a little layover. Then we got on our train and rode the 2.5 hours to Bergen.
Once in Bergen, we walked about 15 minutes to our hotel. We checked in and decided what to do for dinner. The hotel restaurant was closed and the bar was booked so we headed into the city. We come cross Egon restaurant. We found a table and looked at the menu. We had to order at the bar and the food would be delivered to our table. Mario got a burger while I got a caesar salad, it was super yummy. We walked back to the hotel in between the rain drops and settled in for the night.
The next morning brought more rain and foggy skies. We headed downstairs for breakfast which had a huge spread of food. I’m glad we added breakfast to our room, definitely was worth it. Then we headed to out to see some sites in the rain. Our hotel is located in the Bryggen historic section of Bergen. We went to see the fortress and then wonder around enjoying the views of the harbor. The we had dinner again at Egon restaurant.
The next day was our last full day in Bergen. After having breakfast, we waited for the rain to clear, so late morning we headed out. After the rain passed, it ended up turning into a nice day. We decided to purchase the 24hr Bergen pass which yields, discount at attractions and free travel of the trams and buses. It was around $30 a person for 24 hours.
Our first stop was exploring the Fantoft Stave Church. Since this is located about 20 minutes outside the city we needed to take public transportation. Since it was located in zone A, a one way ticket would be about $4. We took tram 1 towards the airport getting off at the Fantoft stop.
From there it was a short 15 minutes walk up a little hill. From there we follow the path in the woods come to the church. It costs $8, but it since we had the pass it was free. The church was originally built in 1150 and moved to its current location in 1883. It was destroyed by a fire in 1992. The church was rebuilt and reopened in 1997.
After exploring we took the tram back into city center. We had TGI Friday, needing a little piece of the US….lol. After lunch, since the weather had turned nice, we decided to go to the Floyen funicular. Cool fact; You can take this funicular up and hike the 13 km to the other mountain top and take the Ulriken cable car down. We decided just to explore the Floyen today. With the Bergen pass we were given a 50%, so instead of round trip tickets being $15, they were half. It was a quick 6 minute ride to the top. With the rain way and fog had clear, we were able to see an amazing view of Bergen below. On top, there are 10 goats that gaze freely on the mountainside. They wear solar gps collar which remind them when they are being unsafe. I explored the troll garden and then we walked to the Skomakerdiket Lake, taking in all the beauty. From there headed back down.
We stopped at a 7eleven for snacks, then a bakery to get some yummy pastries. I stopped in a hiking store and scored a sweater coat for $20. The. We relaxed the rest of the night.
The next morning we had our breakfast. Then we checked out late morning and headed to the Bergen airport. There are many options on how to get to the Bergen airport from city center vice versa. There are taxi, bus or a tram. The bus (Flybssen) makes numerous stop around the city and is the fastest way. It’s about $17 a person for a 30-45 minutes minute trip. You can get tickets ahead of time or if you purchase from the driver, but there is a surcharge. This was most convent for us, since there was a stop right outside out hotel. Next option is the Bergen light rail or tram (Bybanen) which is the cheapest way. Tram 1 runs directly to the airport with numerous stop along the way. Tickets are $4 a person for zone A travel and takes about 45 minutes travel time. It was about 10-15 minutes walk from the hotel. A taxi is about $40-50.
As we were leaving the hotel, the airport bus was right outside the hotel at the bus stop. We figured we would take it. Our Bergen pass was still activated which saved us 20%, so tickets were $15 a piece. On the way to the airport, we saw different parts of the city which we didn’t see before.
We checked our bags and waited at our gate. Our flight was only 40 minutes. We got our bags in Oslo and checked into the Radisson Blu which was across the street from the arrival terminal, a great location. We decided to stay here since we had an early morning flight the next day. Since I’m a member we got free bottle water, score!
The next day we boarded our early morning flight and headed to Frankfurt. We were flying Lufthansa, so our ternary was plane from Oslo to Frankfurt and then train ride to Stuttgart main train station. There were issue with the boarding gate computers so our flight was delayed about 40 minutes, which didn’t leave us much time to caught our train back to Stuttgart. When we landed in Frankfurt, we had to wait for ground service to move the stairs to the plane and since we were parked at edge of tarmac, the bus ride to the terminal seemed to take forever. Once at the terminal, we need to get our luggage. Since we would be taking the train back to Stuttgart, we picked our luggage up at the train baggage claim which is right by the high speed train station. Since we had to wait for our bags, it took over an hour after we landed to get our bags so we missed our train. I tired to switch seats to the next train time, but the line was crazy long.
Finally we boarded the next train and found seats and heading back to Stuttgart main train station. From there we took the local train to the train station where the car was parked. I was able to purchase a monthly parking pass for 10euro to park the car in the deck at the train station. Also there is a special this summer for only 9 euro a month you can ride public transportation unlimited, of course not all train are included in this deal. Thought this whole adventure we had to wear out masks. Masks in Germany are still mandatory on all public transportation and airline can choice if they will instill mask. Finally we arrived home around late afternoon. Another great trip in the books!
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A teacher who loves traveling the world.