Our first exploration of Scandinavia has started and (unfortunately) yesterday we came back home after eleven days in Norway.
We approached our trip as a sort of first expedition to Norway – such a big and wonderful country that it’s definitely not possible to know it in just a few days. The only thing we can think about is: how and when is going to be our second expedition?
Here a quick recap about the most interesting places we’ve visited during our trip.
On the first day in Norway we took the train from Oslo to Bergen, the gate to the Norwegian fiords. The railway that connects the two cities is probably one of the best travels by train in the world.
After leaving Oslo the train drives you through breathtaking landscapes, giving the chance to have a not-so-quick taste of the country (the journey lasts almost 7 hours). The outskirts of the city are not so appealing, but once the train leaves the urban environments it rides you along the beautiful Tyrifjorden and its peaceful landscape surrounded by wooden tiny houses. From that moment on the travel becomes more interesting miles by miles, leaving us literally smashed on the window in order not to miss any single detail! Not worthy losing time to take pictures, because honestly we felt more like enjoying the moment here and now and collect as much mental postcards as possible.
If by chance you are planning to take this same train we warmly recommend you to watch a quite surreal TED Talk we found just a couple of days before leaving. It’s about the concept of Slow Tv, created by a team of visionary Norwegians who work in communication and media. They realized a video of almost 7 hours, which records the whole journey of the train. The most interesting fact about this video was actually the reaction of the people who watched it. Here you can find the link if you want to know something more about the project.
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway (with only 278.000 inhabitants and a city area of less than 500 km2). When you arrive there it feels almost like you ended up in the middle of nowhere, as it is surrounded by forests and lakes. I remember the embarrassed face of a young Norwegian girl at the Tourist Information Desk when a quite charming and poshy woman asked her: “I want to make some good shopping, where can I find a biggest city?”
From the food perspective, Bergen is the seafood paradise! The most touristic part of the city is centered on the area called Bryggen, which is the Hanseatic Wharf….or as we prefer to call it the Seafood Holy Temple. Here there’s a small but very well equipped fish market where you can eat all the marvelous creatures that leaves in the depth of the north seas: juicy mussels, red shrimps, giant king crabs and the plumpest lobsters we’ve ever seen.
Beside our food obsession, there are many activities to try in Bergen and in its surroundings. This area is very popular indeed for hiking, kayaking, climbing and all those kind of tiring activities that active people like to practice. Well, actually our first intention was to spend our time in Bergen practicing this kind of activities, but the Norwegian weather didn’t want us to do it at all! We spent 5 days in a no stop rain storm. Apparently we decided to travel there in the coldest summer in the last 60 years. Well, hot chocolates and playing-cards tournaments became a comfy alternative to our too much proactive and energy-consuming plans.
Practical tip. Where to sleep in Bergen, for less money and more quality: Bratland Camping that saved us from the cold and rainy weather.
Oslo is completely surrounded by woods, hills and water. It is probably the only European Capital that looks like there are more natural and green areas than suburbs and buildings.
If you are a modern nomad affected by Wanderlust there are two places in Oslo that represents an incredible source of inspiration and that you cannot definitely miss out: the Fram Museum and the Kon-Tiki Museum.
The Fram Museum is the “home of the world’s strongest polar vessel”. Here you can walk through the actual vessel (not a copy, the real one!) which travelled to the North and South Pole. The story of Roald Amudsen and the others adventurous explores and scientists who explored the poles is very well illustrated through a clear exhibition path, both suitable for adults and little ones. Thanks to the many pictures, measurement tools and daily-life objects used on board you get a real taste of the everyday life on the ship, you can even still smell the pitch and wood used to build up the vessel while exploring the vessel and walking around the different rooms and cabins.
In our humble opinion the Kon-Tiki Museet is the best museum in Oslo. This museum shows the story of the most adventurous travel of the XX century. Kon-Tiki is the name of a “boat” built thanks to the pioneering mind of the Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl.
Heyerdahl’s aim was to demonstrate that the ancient people from South America could have sailed to Polynesia, influencing the people living there. The whole scientific community disagreed with Heyerdahl’s theory, so he decided to demonstrate he was right by sailing to Polynesia himself in a balsawood raft with other five men: all of them with any or little previous sailing experience. On the 28th of April 1947 they departed from the port of Callao in Peru, starting an epic journey of 101 days and 4,300 miles which changed the lives of the six men. Honestly, it’s one of the best stories we’ve ever eared and it’s absolutely worth to know. Here you can find the trailer of the documentary made back at that time, to give you a better idea about all the Kon Tiki’s interesting facts.
Last tip: thanks to our Airbnb Host we discovered this funny and practical no-nonsense map of Oslo, which is made by young locals for young travellers.
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