Norway – A beauty beyond itself

Norway had been a trip which truly satisfied the wanderlust in me. This drop-dead gorgeous country had everything you need on the bucket list. Thanks to my friend who had already worked onsite in Norway, helped me out on planning out various places and organizing my trip. ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ package has customized tour for most places which I booked for 3 days round trip from Oslo – Myrdal – Voss – Bergen – Gudvangen – Flam – Oslo. It was a very beautiful trip across pretty landscapes, mountains, and breathtaking sceneries. I can’t forget those scenic mountain trains and fjord cruises sailing across places which I have never seen in Europe. I had to plan it very well keeping in mind its extreme weather, cost, commuting around and a lot of things. Most people skip Norway as its very expensive country and would not fit in their budget, but after visiting various places here, I would say its worth every penny I’ve spent as it has given lifetime memories. Another plus are its people, who are so friendly and helpful and no doubt it’s the happiest country in the world.

Tips before flying to Norway

  • Make sure you carry Norwegian Kroner which is the local currency of Norway. Euros might not be accepted at few places, or you get very low conversion rate if paid in Euros.
  • Winters are extremely cold and you need appropriate costumes if planning from October till March.
  • Norway is best for Northern lights if you plan around winter time. There are many places in Norway where you can witness the best of green lights. Tromso is the place to go
  • Commutation needs to planned out well, as it’s a large country and the best places are around the corners of Norway. If you’re planning to roam around from Oslo, flights would be the best option as train/buses take almost a day to go to Trolltunga / Geirangerfjord / Preikestolen etc.,
  • Its very expensive country right from food, transport, hotels to everything, but can be planned out economically if hostels are booked, flights are booked in advance, camping if you like (its free to camp in public), get tourism card with free entries, cook your own food.
  • It’s best to have a DSLR camera or good iphone/smartphone as its so beautiful everywhere and capturing good photos would give you wonderful memories for a lifetime.

Top Places to see around Norway

Fjords of Norway – Ever since my college days, I ve seen a lot of Norway in movie songs, travel channels and its been a dream to visit Fjords. Seeing the fjords was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, also my travel life. After spending two wonderful days around Bergen and Myrdal, I finally headed to take the fjord cruise from Gudvangen to Flam sailing around Sognefjord. The weather was just about perfect as spring was coming to an end and summer at its starting stage. Mountains were covered with snow and it was sunny reflecting beauty every corner of my cruise trip. I could sit here and describe the fjords for you, using terms like majestic, pristine, grand etc., but seeing them in real I was totally lost in the beauty. I’m just going to show you some pictures.

(Click on the pictures to view full size)

Bergen – I had the best mountain train from Oslo to Bergen and it was well organized through ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ package. Bergen is a compact city nestled between two mountains, Bergen’s center is filled with historical brick and wooden buildings, winding cobblestone streets, a huge central park and Gothic churches. In the harbor, there is a fish market where you can eat some of the best fish in the country. I loved the trek all the way to top of Floyen mountain which was approx. 2hrs (alternatively you have mountain train which takes you to the top). Views were stunning from the top and it easily goes without saying Bergen would be my best Scandinavian city.

Flam Railway – Also known as Norway’s best train journey, you can get snapshots of Norway’s stunning scenery flashing by, one after another – steep rocky cliffs, deep blue fjords, pretty waterfalls flowing in small streams, lush green meadows, neatly painted red and white houses, mountains topped with a sprinkling of snow all in for a photographers delight. It was hard to even imagine how much more beauty there could possibly be, but Norway is overflowing with it. It’s now one of Norway’s top tourist attractions with more than million visitors each year.

Myrdal Train – Next would be Myrdal to Flam train which was approximately one hour journey and it was yet another scenic journey. All the way frozen and snowy and with clear skies and sunny weather, it was like Switzerland at top of Jungfrau or Titlis mountain. In fact, both sides of the train had beautiful views, do make sure you catch a window seat in all train journeys. I’d recommend overnighting in Myrdal and going on some hikes or bike rides into the valley towards Flam.  There are stunning lush valleys dotted with houses and surrounded by towering waterfalls.

Vigeland Park, Oslo – I had also stayed close to 1.5 days in Oslo from where I returned back to London. There was sufficient amount of time to cover all the main attractions around Oslo which included few good museums and this Vigeland park. It was a large park with 200 odd naked sculptures made of bronze, granite and wrought iron. It was all designed by Gustav Vigeland who took almost 10 years to complete most of the sculptures and has now turned out to be the largest sculpture park in the world. The fountain at the center shows the circle of life, from cradle to grave and to cradle again. The famous Sinnataggen is here. Better known in English as ‘the little Angry Boy’ the left hand is gold polished from people rubbing it for luck as they go by.

Fram and Viking Ship Museum – There were quite a lot of museums to go in Oslo, with some research and decided to visit Viking Ship museum first, which had lots of history about 9th-century Viking ships. They were detailed intricate and complete reflecting the incredible technology of the time. Then I wanted to visit Fram museum about Norwegian polar exploration and you can actually go inside a big ship and walk around it. Apart from that, you can visit few other museums like Nobel Peace Center about Peace Prize laureates, Kontiki museum all about Norwegian explorer Thor.

Foods to try out in Norway

  • Potato Pancakes – Nice thin breakfast starter to begin to day, worth a try
  • Fiskeboller – White fish such as cod blended with eggs and milk, forms a great meal
  • Reindeer meat – Its famous tradition in Norway serving Reindeer. Give it a go
  • Lun Epleterte – Apple tart, quite tasty with whipped cream on top
  • Aquavit – Also called schnapps, it’s a spirit distilled from potato. I liked it

All said its time to pack your bags and head to Norway. The ideal time would be from April until September, and if you need to witness Northern lights its best to plan around Nov-Feb time. Signing off with some beautiful memories from Norway!

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