Remembering the ride, Maelstrom at Epcot gave me preconceived notions about Norway. Vikings, violence, axes, shields and spears. Snow..fur, beer, painted farmhouses, town halls and abandoned cabins. This is all I knew about Norway. After a brief visit, I’ve learned what a flourishing, beautiful country this is…
We began our journey by flying from Frankfort, Germany to Bergen, Norway, where we boarded the Viking Venus for their “homelands” cruise. Bergen rivals my memory of Lucerne, Switzerland and parts of Alaska. One of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life!
Views of Bergen, Norway
Our next adventure was a ride in a funicular train to the top of a mountain where billy goats roamed the hillside and gave us a sweet welcome to their home. The views of Bergen were truly like something out of a travel guide, but I was standing there seeing it in person.
007 is a huge Tripadvisor contributor, with over 1,000 reviews. As we travel together, we make notes and add captions to our photos so I can write these posts and he can write reviews. I like to add his thoughts to my posts. Here are his reviews of places he encourages tourists to be sure to visit:
The Det Hanseatiske Museum og
We did a brief walk through of this small museum during a day tour of Bergen. This museum presents what life was like along the Bergen waterfront during the Hanseatic League trading days. A very educational experience. ~007/Trip Advisor Review
Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf
According to our guide, this wharf is the most visited and photographed place in all of Norway. Having seen it first hand, I can understand why. Many of the buildings along the waterfront date back hundreds of years to the Hanseatic League era. The shops and restaurants here are a bit touristy, but of high quality. You will enjoy your visit here for sure! ~007 Trip Advisor Review
Mount Floyen and the Funicular
This was our favorite activity during our short time in Bergen. The Funicular is relatively new and provides a great trip to the top. Once at the summit, you will be provided with amazing views of Bergen and the gorgeous surrounding area. They have a restaurant, coffee shop, souvenir shop, a playground and more. Our favorite was the goats! They are so tame and love to be petted, plus they love to have their pictures taken! If in Bergen, you have to experience this wonderful place. NOTE: the lines can be long on the weekends so plan accordingly. ~007;Trip Advisor Review
Train Trips, Hiking and Extreme Sports
Once we descended from the mountaintop, we boarded a train to see the countryside of Norway and it did not disappoint. The train carried us by snow-capped mountains, lakes and ponds, a glacier, ~ and over ravines. We rolled through sleepy little towns with cabins for hikers who just need a place to rest out of the weather. The country is dedicated to the idea of “free to roam” and has some of these cabins offered for free! Those who like extreme sports could hike and/or climb to some of these places and find a free place to sleep! No amenities, but a roof and dry place to unroll your sleeping bag. First come, first serve.
Tunnels through the Mountains
The next day, the Viking Venus moored in a sleepy little village called Eidfjord. Our small tour group was driven through the mountains to see the sites. When I say through the mountains, I’m talking tunnels that were miles long with roundabouts in the center. I prayed that God would keep the earth settled while we were in the belly of the earth. And HE did. The only quaking was in my stomach! And then I asked Him that no man or woman with mustard-seed-sized-faith would ask these mountains to move into the sea! At the end of every tunnel, it was like a stone had been rolled away and the light was a blessed sight! I compare it with the blessed resurrection because for me the light at the end of every tunnel was like being born again! I was only inside the earth for a few minutes but my appreciation for my own salvation is increased tenfold!
Our tour guide, Carmelotta, shared lots of information about the construction of the tunnels, adding that the “engineers opted for quantity not quality” while designing these burrows. I was not amused until the tunnels were in the rearview mirror.
Home away from home
Once I saw the light again, the scenery took my breath away. The mountains, valleys, fjords, waterfalls, nooks, and crannies were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I imagine it to be a similar feeling after I wake up in heaven. Carmelotta described the fjords of the area as fingers that stretched from the hand of the Baltic Sea. If that is an adequate description, then the mountains surrounding the fjords were the arms and I had been wrapped up in a cozy sweater. How can such a different, far away place feel so much like home?
As we drove by motor coach through the landscape, small villages would begin to dot the scenery. The houses were mostly painted white, barns or farm buildings were red and retired farmers paint their homes yellow. All these colors with the backdrop of green mountains and blue water reminded me of the prisms you see in a bubble. And just as quick as a bubble disappears, we would rise over the next hill and a cascading waterfall would fill our senses. You could hear it long before you saw it and once it came into sight, the rainbow at the base reminded me of the promise. The smell was like after a rainstorm, the sound was crushing and the mist was gentle on the skin. The color was white, clear and a brilliant blue at the bottom. I know if I could have tasted it, it would have been much more refreshing than any “spring” water ever created.
Next, we stopped in Stavanger, a bigger town with a bustling port city. Lots of history and a row of historical wooden homes lined the cobblestone streets. The houses are painted white, but their doors are colorful. Blue, pink, yellow doors were all welcoming. And the story goes that fisherman painted the doors these different colors so they could see their homes from the port. Someone said it’s more likely they needed to distinguish their door from their neighbors after a night at the local pub.
Down the street from the white, wooden houses is the shopping and restaurant district in the old town of Stavanger. The buildings themselves are painted all different colors. Our guide described a scene years ago when the town was in decline. A gentleman bought one of the buildings to establish his barber shop, but there was no “traffic” in this poor section of town. He suggested to a fellow merchant that they paint their buildings a bright color to draw attention and it worked! Soon other merchants moved into the area and locals began to come to have their pictures taken on the brightly painted street. Cute doesn’t describe it.
Working in Norway
One fun, new photograph opportunity I discovered in Norway, is to collect pictures of manhole covers with the city emblem on them. Not only is it fun to look for them, but it helps to organize your photo albums when you get back home. Use this photo as an album cover and you’ll know at a glance which city/country you’re in!
I also learned that Norway used to be a poor country with farming and hydroelectric power being most of their trade. Until someone suggested drilling offshore for oil and gas. Once it was discovered, Norwegians became rich. There is now enough money for every citizen to have $2,000,000 for their retirement! Some farmers were hesitant to embrace this new wealth tho, and said “anything that comes to you that fast can surely go just as quick.”
There is wisdom in that statement. Just as a bubble always bursts, this trip came to an end. Just as quick as it came, it went by even faster. But the memory of its beauty will be like a prism in my memory. Brightly colored with a bit of fantasy and adventure. We get caught up in the colors of a prism for just a few seconds and then the sun moves and the colors fade. Then we go back to our day.
I got caught up in the beauty of Norway 🇳🇴. I wonder if I was in any way a bubble passing through. Did I shed any light or color in this magnificent country? I hope so. Because I had a great time. Norway and me.
Other adventures to consider: