Norway had been on my "bucket list" for years....I had seen photos and fallen in love. Then I would search for flights or hotel and gasp a little in shock at the price (how much??) or look at cruises because they can be much more economical and you see so much more than you possibly could on your own only to realize my schedule didn't work with the cruise schedule (7-10 days days can be a long time to be gone). So, years passed and I still hadn't visited. I was going to be in Europe anyway and I thought I'm not getting any younger, I should go.
The time I had available wasn't long enough for a cruise, so I decided to do a short trip. I still gasped when I saw the prices and was thankful to have some miles sitting in an airline account so I could use those for the airfare from Germany (it is amazing how such a short flight can be so expensive...especially last minute). When I said short trip, I meant it. I chose one place (Bergen) and visited for 2 nights. I would have one full day to explore the neighboring fjords and all Bergen had to offer (plus a couple of hours the next day before my flight back). A little crazy, yes??? Well life isn't perfect and I had hyped Norway up so much in my mind I actually thought it might be a let down when I arrived. How many places live up to your expectation? Not many. I also thought while the fjords are beautiful, would I really want to look at them for 7 days? Only one way to find out...
I arrived in Bergen with an hour or so of daylight left. After checking in to a modest hotel in a wonderful, city center location I was off on my journey. The colorful houses of Bryggen were vibrant and a stone throw from the harbor. I walked to the old fort where I followed music to an open air concert (an act that was the equivalent of the Norwegian Justin Bieber...or so I'm told...or more like the thousands of teens and pre-teens decked out in all of their gear screamed). I walked back to the hotel along the coast and admired the mountains in the distance.
I'd been looking at the weather for days hoping my one day in Norway would be beautiful. I am so grateful and thankful to say the sun was blazing and it got up to nearly 70 degrees (I visited the end of August). I started with the funicular up to the nearest mountain and took in stunning views....
After admiring the 360 degree views (and meeting a few of the friendly mountain goats), I decided to walk back down into town (you can take the funicular down as well). Around every corner, there was the most amazing view. Then the next corner delivered a view even more stunning. Spoiler alert....it took me a long time to get back to Bergen :) I took a fjord cruise in the afternoon....the main event in my mind....and even though I wasn't going to be able to see the most amazing, most visited fjords, I was going to the fjords. (side note: you can get to the more famous fjords on a really, really long day trip from Bergen). After leaving the harbor, the landscape changed almost immediately. As we headed further out, the rocky outcrops got closer and much higher. It was stunning. There were small waterfalls cascading down in places and there were little outbuildings stuck on little peninsulas along the way. The atmosphere was serene.
The cruise was only about 3 hours, but it gave me a taste. And now I want more :) For me as a nature lover, Norway is amazing! My experience confirmed my impression that a cruise if for sure the way to go when seeing Norway. You can't get immersed in the scenery from land the same way you can from the water. I am now trying to find a week or so in my schedule for a return trip :) Norway has more to offer than scenery, but for me that was the highlight. The food is fresh and very good (simple, but with amazing flavors), there is a lot of history and culture (I was lucky enough to see an Edvard Munch exhibition in one of Bergen's many museums before my flight...he is the artist of the famous painting "The Scream") and the people are friendly. I highly recommend adding Norway to your list.
Tracey is the owner of Unraveled Travel and has traveled to every continent (thanks to the recent visit to Antarctica!