A Stuffed Monkey Goes to Norway

To get to Norway, it took flights from Kansas City to Detroit, a flight from Detroit to Amsterdam (with depart time of 4:20pm… heh heh), and a flight from Amsterdam to Bergen.

Bergen welcomed me with a question.

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I certainly hope this is Bergen! Why are you asking?

The question did not make sense at first.  It wasn’t until I was leaving 9 days later that I understood what it was asking.  Bergen? translates to “Why are you leaving? Wouldn’t you rather stay here in Bergen?”

Although I would have a total of 4 days in Bergen, 3 of them would come at the end of the trip. Initially, this was only a quick 1 day stop to get acclimated to the time change before I went on the major hikes of the week.

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A view that was a small walk from my first AirBnB stay.

The next morning after my first night in Bergen was May 17th, which is their national holiday (similar to our July 4th).

Gentlemen were in suits, and ladies were in traditional dresses.  The crowds were hard to deal with as I dragged my luggage to the bus station for my trip to Odda. Everyone was making their way to the city center for parades and celebration from the bus station.

A stuffed monkey going upstream like this was very difficult.

Odda and the Trolltunga

When I first arrived in Odda, I was hypnotized by the beauty.  Since there was a pub and eatery right there at the bus station called the Smeltehuset, I ordered a beer and let myself be mesmerized by my surroundings.

My host at the AirBnB offered to take me for a drive south to see some more of the beauty that Odda had to offer.  On this drive, I was able to take in Buerdalen Valley and Glacier, Eidesfossen, and Låtefossen.  It was a very kind gesture of which I was truly thankful.

 

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The Trolltunga hike was scheduled for the next day.  However, since it was still early (about a month from the regular hiking season), there were no shuttles operating. A taxi would have cost a LOT of money.  Again, my host was gracious enough to carve time out of his day to give me a ride up to the start.

This hike began with nearly 4 km of switchbacks up the mountain.  After another 3 km (about the halfway point), the hike turned to snow that never stopped. As I got closer to the end, passing the 10 km, 11 km, and 12 km marks, it really started to sink in how demanding this hike was.  Every step further was yet another step I would have to make on the way back.  It was very tough.

 

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If you ever plan to do the Trolltunga hike, I would suggest doing it in season, which is June 15 – September 15.

If I ever do the Trolltunga again, I will probably do the following:

  • Backpack a tent and gear in to break up the hike into two parts, allowing a sunset and sunrise photo.
  • Put in extra time hiking beforehand to get those miles up.
  • Bring and inevitably consume some ibuprofen.
  • Borrow or purchase a drone to take some seemingly impossible footage and videos.
  • Make sure the current date is somewhere in the June 15-September 15 range.

This hike will provide anyone who makes it to the end an amazing sense of accomplishment.

Stavanger and Pulpit Rock

Odda was probably my favorite place in Norway that I visited.  The small community with stunning views and hikes all around captured a piece of my soul. I will most definitely return.

The bus ride to Stavanger was full of waterfalls and tunnels.  They were everywhere!  The bus I was on also had to drive onto a ferry at one point, which offered a nice break to let wind blow the stink off of my fur.

In Stavanger, I visited the Norwegian Petroleum Museum (Norsk Oljemuseum) which was much more informative and cooler than I had expected.  Most of the hiking I did there was urban hiking. I spent the most money on a dinner at Skagen Restaurant where I also enjoyed some high quality Aquavit.

Originally, I planned to hike the Preikestolen on a Monday, thinking that I could avoid the crowds.  On the particular Monday I chose, it was the day after Pentecost, which is referred to as Whit Monday.  This is yet another day that many Norwegians take off, so I met many of them on the trail.

To get there, I rode a ferry from Stavanger to a place called Tau, where I then hopped on a bus that took me to the base of the 4 km trail to Pulpit Rock.  Although without snow, and 10 km shorter than the Trolltunga, I would not call the Pulpit Rock trail easy.  You wouldn’t know it from all the people I saw on the trail.

Once again, the reward was gorgeous.  I took along a coaster from Pulpit Rock Brewery in Decorah, IA.  I sent them some of my snapshots which they used on their Instagram feed here and here.

 

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Back to Bergen

To get back to Bergen, I had to get up before 5 am and walk several kilometers to the bus station that would then take me to the ferry. For the first hour on the ferry, I slept on the floor since I was too cheap to purchase a comfortable seat during my journey.  I wasn’t alone.

Although a very beautiful ride, it wasn’t as awe inspiring as I thought it would be after I woke up and took in the views.

For my 3 remaining nights in Bergen, I really fell in love with the city and did not want to leave.  I walked all over the place, including to the high points of Fløyen and Ulriken (on two separate days).

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Bergen is definitely a place to enjoy for at least 4 days and 3 nights, if not many, many more.  Since I am getting really good at traveling, I was able to pack in quite a bit in the 4 days I was there, but I was definitely thirsty for more and would have enjoyed more time to hike the 13 km trail from Fløyen to Ulriken.  That is on my next to-do list.

 

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