Days 9 and 10 – Sognefjord, Bøyabreen Glacier, and more Bergen

Day 8

We took the Sognefjord Tour, which starts in Bergen and travels from the ocean side in on the Sognefjord. This is the same fjord which has a small inland end at Flåm. We took an express boat from Bergen, which also functions as a ferry, but only for people and stuff, no cars or anything like that. It stops at a lot of towns, but not all of them. Riding in this boat is, as my mom describes it “like being in your living room.” It is an extremely smooth ride and there’s plenty of space. But really, you’re flying through the water. No idea how fast they actually go, but it’s quick.

We spent around 4 hours on this boat, to get off at Balestrand, to get immediately onto another, smaller, boat. This boat took us to Fjærland, which is the town closest to the glacier. We jumped onto a bus that was waiting, and had a brief stop at the glacier museum, before heading out to the glacier. I thought they were joking when they said the glacier was close to town, but it’s no more than a 15 minute drive.

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As you can see, it’s quite a pretty place. The glacier seen here is the Bøyabreen Glacier, which is part of the largest glacier on the European continent, the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. The Bøyabreen Glacier used to extend a lot farther than it does today (even 200 years ago it was essentially in the town). There are so many cool things that I learned about glaciers at the museum that I want to share, but that’s a lot of brain dump and I’m sure not interesting to anyone else. If it is, you’ll just have to make a Norway trip.

We then repeated the sequence to get there, in reverse, to get home. Sadly, we didn’t get to spend any time in any of the towns we stopped in.

Day 9

We spent our final day in Bergen wandering around and looking at the museums we didn’t get to on the previous day in town.

This included a new Fisheries Museum, which was interesting, but could have had SO much more information. Fishing has been and still is a HUGE part of Norway’s economy and I know there’s more information out there than the tiny bit in the museum. The cool part though was that the museum was in an old fish warehouse, similar to the Hanseatic League museum.

Then we went to the Maritime Museum. This had a lot of cool information about ships from the viking age to the modern. However, it was under construction and therefore lacking a lot of information, particularly in English. This could be great to see in a couple years when it is back up and running like normal.

We made it over to the Leprosy Museum for our final stop of the day. This museum is in what used to be the Hospital. This hospital was built specifically to house lepers, when that’s what happened to people. The hospital used to be in the boonies, but is now located right in the city center area. Interesting to see, but didn’t end up covering a whole lot that I didn’t know from the book Moloka’i which I read a bit back. See the link for more info.

After that, it was time for some laundry. I was lucky enough that our Airbnb host agreed to let me do a load of laundry. However, in my poor planning, I did not do this early enough. I forget that Europe seems to not use dryers at all. So not all my clothes were dry by morning. Oops. Lesson learned.


Day 8

Steps: 7093 (lots of boat sitting)

Floors: 17

Day 9

Steps: 16,670

Floors: 40

Day 8 – Bryggen, Old Bergen and the Fløibanen

IMG_3220Bergen

 

Today we got a lazy start to the day being that we were staying in town and touring around.

We started off by going across the way to Bryggen, which is the older part of Bergen. There’s a museum that explains the significance of Bryggen, which was as a major Hanseatic Port for many, many years. It was where all the fish from the north was sent to be traded for goods from around the world. Bryggen is the only place which has buildings remaining from this time (starting around 1200, but many fires took down different parts different times). So there’s actually historical significance to those pretty buildings. I did have to take the classic picture for myself though.

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In these houses, there was no heat/fire because of the fear for burning the places down and they housed all the merchandise to be sold. Crazy because it’s chilly even now and it’s midsummer, I can’t imagine the winter.

Now there’s lots of little shops housed on the main floors of the buildings and you still get there by little alleys, like the one below. Notice that one of these houses wanted to add a stair case, and so just added on a bump out for that stair case! In case the leaning of the houses wasn’t scary enough, now there’s just a random staircase attached.

That yellow house on the left has the staircase added. There's stairs and walkways across the alley too.
That yellow house on the left has the staircase added. There’s stairs and walkways across the alley too.

From here we went on to check out Bergenhus, which is the castle in Bergen. It was built in bits and pieces, starting around the same time as the houses. Norway is trying to return all their unused fortresses to public use, now that the Navy doesn’t need them. This one has some of the old rooms restored and displayed, and then other buildings have been turned into gathering halls.

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Next we grabbed lunch before hitting up the funicular train. It is appropriately named the Fløibanen, as banen appears to mean train, and the mountain is Mount Fløyen. Not so original in the naming. Check out the link for more info on what a funicular train is and how it works. Super interesting. The picture at the top of this post is the view from the top. Gorgeous. For some reason the trip up and down the funicular was less terrifying than yesterday’s bus ride down the twisty road.

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I don’t have much else for you beyond some other quick stops. Check out the couple pictures below.

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Steps: 17,500

Floors: 47

 

Day 7 – Norway in a Nutshell

Today we got up nice and early because we wanted to go on the circular Norway in a Nutshell tour and the train with space left at 6:51. Not too horrible since that was sitting and looking out the window for a few hours to start.

People aren’t lying when they tell you that the Bergen/Oslo and Flåm railways are the most beautiful. We got off the Bergen line at Myrdal to wait for the Flåmsbana. This trip was billed as the most beautiful train ride in the world. That’s pretty big hype. But even the start of the train was gorgeous.

This is the Myrdal Station. Yes, there's snow.
This is the Myrdal Station. Yes, there’s snow.

I’ve only got a couple snapshots for you from the rail line. Tough to take pictures, this is why you should go on the trip yourself. You can also chose to bike or hike from the top to the bottom (or the bottom to the top if you’re really crazy) which would allow for a slower viewing. But remember, snow. In June.

First stop: this roaring waterfall
First stop: this roaring waterfall
This is the road that was used before the rail line was put in.
This is the road that was used before the rail line was put in.

The train ride takes around an hour, and goes 20km. The incline varies, but is really steep. The museum in Flåm tells you that the engines that run on this line have been specially built and contain extra braking mechanisms.

From Flåm, we hopped on a boat to cruise down the Sognefjorden. This is the longest ice-free fjord in the world. I didn’t understand how beautiful the fjords actually were until getting here and seeing this. We also seem to have lucked out that the water seems to be very high right now, and all the rivers and streams are flowing at capacity. This makes for some amazing waterfalls.

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Now, there were some things I didn’t quite understand about the fjord life. One was how on earth you get to some of the houses you see. I mean, really. Check out this house below.

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That’s another fjord cruise boat.

There is NOTHING around this house. For a long way. And it’s not like you’re going to climb that cliff. There must be a road I can’t see, but still crazy. There was also some of the most interesting electrical wiring I’ve ever seen. It was strung along the side of one mountain for a while, then went all the way across the fjord to a tiny town on the other side.

After we got off the boat, we were on to a bus for the trip back to the train. I wish I had gotten pictures to do the bus ride justice, but I was too terrified to get my camera out. Below is the road that we went down. This was on a full size coach bus. The road sign said maximum length for a vehicle was 13m, which is pretty close to the bus length. Normal slopes you see warnings for are around 8-10% grade. This one was 18% and making hairpin turns. About half way through I got over being terrified, and determined that this was in fact a really pretty view. Too bad I had to about shit my pants to see it.

Windy Road

Dinner back in Bergen and to bed for another adventure the next day.


My new section for you is going to be a quick summary of the days steps and flights of stairs (which also includes walking up steep hills), per fitbit. It’s been amusing to me to see.

Steps: 12,475

Floors: 28

Days 3-5: Reykjavik and the Start to Bergen

The remainder of our days in Reykjavik were spent around town.

We checked out the Whale Museum (not worth a visit if you’re there, I was expecting actual whale specimens) in the morning, then headed over to the harbor area to check out our tour options to go out and see the Puffins. Mix in some lunch, some coffee, the Volcano House and then we were off to see the puffins. Sadly, there weren’t too many around for our tour. No pictures as they were small and far away and I was on a rocking boat with my not so nice camera… wouldn’t be even worth the space. Cute little things they are though. However in it’s place, a picture of my mom in her, as she calls it, “rockin puffin hat”. Finished our tour and hit up Valdis Ice Cream for an afternoon snack. Delicious.

The "rockin puffin hat" from  Nova Scotia
The “rockin puffin hat” from Nova Scotia

Monday we went for the museums (and a bit of shopping). I would say that no trip to Reykjavik is complete without a stop at the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Totally worth the 2000isk to go. Just tons and tons of random penis displays.

Crazy right?
Crazy right?

From all sorts of different animals, and in lots of different types of preservations. Rather amusing are the people who have requested/plan to donate their own jewels to the museum. Or perhaps the casting people did and submitted. Whatever, it’s an odd place totally worth checking out.

We then went to Hallgrimskirkja and took a look inside and a trip to the top of the tower. It’s a great spot to look out over all of Reykjavik, as the tower is tall and the church is on the top of the hill. It was cloudier this day than others so everything was a bit more mute in color.

Looking towards the ocean from the top of the tower. Reykjavik looks much more classic scandinavian from up here.
Looking towards the ocean from the top of the tower. Reykjavik looks much more classic scandinavian from up here.

Stopped for lunch before some more wandering. I think I’ll be eating plenty of fish on this trip if these first few days are any indication. So delicious and such a great deal!

Wandering down near the city center we saw a tall ship in the harbor. Of course we had to go check it out. Turns out the Danish Navy training vessel was in town for a few days. Such a cool looking ship. Also the building behind the ship is the new theater and shows awesome colors when there is light reflecting on it.

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(We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather)

I almost came home with a new winter jacket. Lucky or sadly, they didn’t have a normal color of the coat I wanted, in my size. I wasn’t a fan of the blaze orange for an every day winter coat. Came very close to buying a fall coat as well, but that’s just so impractical in Minnesota.

Today/Tuesday we headed off to Bergen. Walked ourselves to the bus station bright and early to catch the FlyBus to the airport for our 8am flight. No cutting it close this time. Plenty of time for coffee and breakfast before we left the airport. Repeat on the other end at Bergen.

This is the bathroom sign in the Bergen Airport!
This is the bathroom sign in the Bergen Airport!

Found our new place to stay (so cute) and headed down to the train station to book our trip tickets and the information center for other things to check out in town.

This hill looks less steep in the picture than it really is
This hill looks less steep in the picture than it really is

Grabbed some Linner (Lunch/Dinner) at the food stalls by the harbor. Some more great fish. I went for the Salmon plate. They managed to forget that I had ordered that, and so when I went back to ask about it they felt horribly. The upside of this was that I also got some shrimp and some smoked salmon along with a GIANT serving of grilled salmon. Turns out I was hungry as I managed to eat almost all of it (too many shrimp for me to eat).

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Some more wandering around and a restful evening at home now. We are off bright and early for our “Norway in a nutshell” tour. 6:51 the train leaves! We are training to Myrdal, then the scenic train to Flam, then a fjord boat tour, a pretty bus ride to Voss and the train back to Bergen. I’m getting my camera all charged up as this is supposed to be a gorgeous trip (glad to finally get it to charge, it’s been easier said than done. Only the camera is giving me troubles, none of the other electronics).

I’ll update you more later!