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Trip Report Norway Trip Report from June 2016

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I will try to keep this as concise as possible. I did a lot of research this past spring on putting together the best independent travelling trip I could for 4 adults in their 30s. I found it hard to find the information I needed as a lot of people travel mainly to Oslo, Bergen and then just a day or two in the fjords which just blows my mind when Norway is all about the beauty! I decided we needed to spend most our time in the fjords and surrounding areas. So glad we did that as it was so stunning!!

Here is the itinerary I put together with driving times. Driving times were fairly accurate. Just allow extra time for stops along the way. I've added in notes to the itinerary.

Wed Jun 29th - Arrive and pick up BMW. We found that having passengers in the back, it was SUPER helpful to have a double sunroof as you could see the vertical mountain peaks straight up! Never needed sunroofs more in our lives! The mountains in Norway shoot straight up! And with over 30 hours of driving it is nice to ride in comfort. We did AirBnB for our first 2 nights. It was in a neighborhood where it was only a 10 minute walk to all the attractions. And it was only $60 a night for each couple. So a great deal! The first night we walked around the wharf and had dinner at Bryggeriet Microbryggeri og Restaurant. It is a microbrewery. We loved it. The fish and chips were outstanding and it was just a nice restaurant to eat at on the wharf.

Thurs June 30th - Explore Bergen. We took our time recovering from jet lag and got up around 9:30am and then made our way to the Bryggens museum and signed up for a tour. We arrived at 10:30am and the 11am tour was already sold out so we signed up for the 12pm tour. There are only 2 tours a day during high season that offer english. It was a great walking tour. While we waited we went to Rosenkrantz tower and explored. About an hour there is sufficient and they offer guided tours for a little extra. It was worth going to. The Bryggen walking tour started in the bottom of the museum with the excavations and then went outside and walked to the meeting rooms and kitchen, then ended at another interesting museum. Well worth the time and money. After the tour, we tried some reindeer sausage at Trekroneren which is worth a try. We also went by the fish market and tried some whale steak (I didn't care for but my husband liked). We then went shopping in the Bryggen area and then finished our day with a ride up the funicular. It was interesting and had a nice view of the city. We ate dinner at Bryggeloftet & Stuene. The food was good and pricey. But there service was super slow and we were exhausted so wish we would have eaten elsewhere.

Fri July 1st - We woke up and headed out on the road. Our desitnation is Solvorn and we decided to drive to Solvorn via E16, road 13 and then road 55 since were planning to go to the Flam area the following day. Along the way we stopped at Tvindefossen long enough to walk up to the waterfall and take pictures. It’s a quick 15-20 min stop right along the road. You cannot miss it! We turned onto 13 off of E16. You climb up above the tree line where there was still snow along the road from the past winter along with little glacial lakes. We made our way down the mountain tops and made our next stop at Hopperstad Stave church. The drive to the stave church over the mountain pass was beautiful and well worth going the long way to get to Solvorn. When we arrived at the church we were the only ones there and the students working gave us a tour and showed us around. We took the ferry across to Hella and then drove along 55 to where we will be staying 1 night at the Walaker Hotel. The Walaker is a splurge but we very much enjoyed the hotel and the food so would recommend it if you can spend a little extra $. Travel time was 6-7 hour driving with stops.

Sat July 2nd – Today we had one big looped planned. We had breakfast and then drove to Kaupanger to take the 9:00am ferry to Gudvangen (famous Naeroyfjord). The ferry leaves from the actual town instead of up the road so just watch for signs. We almost missed it! It was a stunning fjord and well worth it. We even saw from a distance a few white fur seals. We then drove the Stalheimskleiva since we had a little time before needing to be to Flam. Well worth going out of your way to drive. A lot of fun and the steepest road in Norway alongside a beautiful waterfall. We attached the GoPro on the front of the car and video’d it. We then drove to Flam and took the 1:35pm train to Myrdal one way. It was a spectacular train ride up. The reviews do not do it justice. I have no idea why some people comment that it is not worth it. Not sure what is wrong with those people!!! We rented bikes which we had reserved (although there were plenty there) from Café Rallen. We took our sweet time going down the valley (about 3.5 hours). The weather started great but then it rained and misted on us for about a third the time. The steep section everyone says to walk down we just rode the brakes and it was no problem at all. Not super experienced bikers and felt at ease doing that. What a SPECTACULAR bike ride!!! Pictures and reviews out there do NOT do it justice! It was a very memorable and one of the favorite things we did. Here is a link to our youtube video of the bike ride.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dLuNNNvcgI
Of course, the experience is much better in person. Just a short while after you finish the switchbacks you will come to a farm where they sell cheese plates, pancakes and hot drinks. We stopped at the cheese farm for some cheese and pancakes. It seems like they closed up right after we left around 4:00pmish. The ride is pretty much a coast down the valley so no worries if you are not in super shape. We weren’t at the start of our trip. We grabbed a quick dinner in Flam and then took the tourist route instead of the super long tunnel, then the Fodnes ferry and then made our way to Nes Gard B&B where we stayed for the next 2 nights. Nes Gard is a mid-range B&B that has excellent hosts. The food is good and the rooms are very clean and nice! Travel time was a 25 min drive to the ferry, the ferry was 2.5 hrs, the drive to Flam was 30 min, the train up was around 1 hr, the bike ride was around 3 hours, and taking the tourist route to Nes Gard took us around 3 hours. We left Solvorn at 8:15am and did not arrive at Nes Gard until around 10:30pm.

Sun July 3rd – We woke up and had breakfast and packed sandwiches for lunch. Cheapest meal on our trip with packing sandwiches only being $5 extra! We talked with the B&B hosts at breakfast about different hiking options in the area. Based on their recommendation we decided to hike up the Morkrisdalen valley (Morkri valley). It took around 3 hours to hike up to the series of waterfalls between the Dulsete and Liane farms. And then around 2-2.5 hours to hike back down. It made for a full and tiring day. We returned to Nes Gard to have dinner there.

Mon July 4th – Today we woke up, ate and packed lunch again from the breakfast bar. We then drove to Krossbu along road 55 through Jontunheim national park. I had pre-arranged a private glacier hike with Iver whose company is http://fyrstogfremst.no/en/#_=_ We were planning to drive through Jontunheimen and so I did some research about what you can do in this national park when I came across glacier hiking. We were originally planning to go to the more tourist heavy Jostedal glacier area. But we liked the idea of going to a more off the beaten path glacier where you can get a private guide for cheaper than a group tour (if you have at least 4 people). Our tour guide was great and the glacier experience was none like we had before. We have been on 3 other glacier hikes in New Zealand, Canada and Iceland but this one was much more adventurous. We were roped up (one person in our group fell through the snow into a crevice but only up to his arm pits) which was necessary for safety reasons. We had the chance to actually make use of our ice axes and climb up and down the ice some. There was only one other small group on the glacier that day and they were doing rescue training operations. Here is a link to our youtube video of the glacier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KpSxSFxzOw
After we finished the glacier hike we made a quick stop in Lom at the bakery by the river and a quick look at the beautiful Stave church. We then drove on our way to Brekkeseter Hotel in Rodane National Park. It is a mid-range hotel that offers local ingredient foods. For dinner we had bison that was killed by the owner himself. The hotel itself was okay. Nothing amazing. Travel time was around 1.5 hours to Krossbu and then 1.5-2 hours to Brekkeseter Hotel.

Tues July 5th – After breakfast we headed back on the road to make our way to Innerdalen Valley. Along the way we made a stop at the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion. There was poor signage on the location and so were guessing on where exactly we should go. We did find it and it was about 2 miles round trip. There was a cool building at the top but no reindeer in sight. I don’t think it was worth the stop really. So pass on that. We continued our drive to the trailhead parking lot for Innerdalen Valley. The trail is really a gravel road that has restricted access. It is a 45 min steep hike up the road and then 15-20 min more down the road to the valley. We had reservations to stay at Renndølsetra Mountain Lodge which is only open for around 2-3 months each year. It is a bit pricey for a somewhat remote hike in lodge but worth every single penny. The main building has a couple of charming living areas, a kitchen for the staff to prepare meals and a dining area for guests. Breakfast and dinner are both included in the rate. The steep upstairs climb up the ladder/stairs has 4 bedrooms and then there is also a separate cabin that sleeps 2. The bathroom is a fancy outhouse near the lake. There is soap on the side of the building and a rock that has a water spigot that comes out of it. It was the nicest outhouse we have every been in. There is also 3 other buildings. One is a warming room for wet items, another is a recently renovated fire room where you can warm up and hang out. The third is where they make yogurt and sour cream and such. The dinner was freshly caught trout, homemade tomato soup with their homemade sour cream, carrots, potatoes and pears from their farm. Everything about this place was charming!! The valley was beautiful even though it was a bit rainy for us. I would say it was my favorite place that we stayed. It felt like what Norway would have been like 100 years ago! Travel time was around 3 hours of driving to the parking lot and then1 hour of hiking to the small lodge.
Wed July 6th – After breakfast we hiked back to our car and then began our long day of driving. We first stopped at Tingvollost cheese farm where we picked up a couple of cheeses and ice cream to eat along our drive. We continued on to the Atlantic Ocean Road. We had a beautiful day and fairly high expectations as we had read lots of great things about this National Tourist Route. We ended up being disappointed with this stretch of road. It was nice, but after driving through the fjords it was very underwhelming. We would skip it know what we do now. We then headed to Alesund. We arrived around 5:00pm and checked in to the Brosundet hotel. We had reservations for the 6:00pm Wildlife Safari with 62 Nord. It was an extremely disappointing tour in many ways. It was on a rib boat which goes very fast. That is fine, except for the fact that it is rough seas in that area. Because people have had injuries before they make you stand for a long part of the ride. It gets pretty tiring on your legs when you are hitting waves hard. After 45 minutes we came to the seal safari where they said all the seals are out to sea hunting and then leave 1 minutes later after barely looking. So no seals. They come to Runde Island famous for birds 10 min later. One of the 12 people on board became VERY sea sick at that point. The tour guide acted completely clueless and at a loss on what to do which is crazy since they must get a good amount of sea sick people on that crazy of a boat ride. She was hanging off the edge of the boat the rest of the trip. We saw birds from far away just flying around. And then 15 min later we were headed back. Little commentary or information and a really sick German lady. There was very little wildlife on the wildlife tour. Do not do this! After we got back, we found a place to eat listed on tripadvisor called Cafe Lyspunktet. It was delicious and was a great café that was middle of the road on $ and great for a meal in less than 1 hour. After dinner we went to the lookout over the city. Great view and spot for taking pictures of the city. We all agreed that even though the overlook was nice, Alesund is not worth going out of your way to see. If we had to do it over again we would spend more time in the mountainous fjord areas and skip Atlantic Ocean Road and Alesund. Travel time was 5.5-6 hours total.

Thurs July 7th – We got back on the road first thing in the morning to head to the Trollstigen. This was over an hour out of our way but was definitely worth it. We had beautiful sunny weather and the views were spectacular. We stopped at the visitor center and then checked out the overlooks. Shortly after driving past Trollstigen we started to notice multiple strawberry stands. Throughout our trip we frequently picked up quarts of strawberries along our drives. The strawberries are much sweeter than in the states. We were told that this is due to the cooler temperatures making the strawberries grow slower and sweeter. Be sure to stop for strawberries if you can. We made our way to Geiranger where we stopped for lunch, checked out the shops and went to the overlooks for a few different photo ops. We pre-booked the ferry to Hellysylt. They have a car package which is much cheaper to book online before you arrive so if you know your plan this is a good thing to do! It started to rain once we got on a ferry unfortunately so it was hard to see the amazing waterfalls. We then drove 30 min to Hotel Union Oye. The drive through the valley to Hotel Union Oye was beautiful making the detour to the hotel completely worth it. We really enjoyed the hotel. Each room has its own décor and it also has a fascinating history which they share with you after dinner. Travel time was around 4.5 hours of driving time and 1 hour of ferry time.
Fri July 8th – After spending the morning checking out the Hotel Union Oye area we made our way back towards Bergen with very few stops. Travel time was around 6 hours and involved a ferry or two.
Sat July 9th – Fly out of Bergen

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