What could be better than traveling? Traveling to visit friends! In 2016 we spent 5 fantastic days in Bergen and Sognefjord visiting our friends Silje, an outstanding chef who indulged us in delish Norwegian cuisine, and Øisten, a great story teller. Plus now they have an adorable baby, Sigur. Their house is a real Norwegian wooden house with outstanding views. We explored charming neighborhoods, walked through parks and strolled downtown till very late, the sun sets at 11:30 PM!
Though Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, second to Oslo, historically speaking it was very important in the Baltic Region. In fact, it was the foreign trading post of the influential Hanseatic League since the 14th Century. The magnificent Bryggen at the end of the Vågen Bay is a testament to those glorious times (although the current buildings are from the 18th century). Finally, it was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1979.
Apart from Bryggen we also visited the Bergenhus Fortress and spent hours getting lost around the numerous charming wooden houses. For people watching we headed to Torgallmenningen Square and then to the fun and lively Fish Market (Fisketorget). As much as we loved the city, Bergen’s natural setting is what sets it apart. To fully enjoy the superb scenery we took the Fløibanen funicular to the Fløyen Hill and got back to the city walking through a dense forest. We won’t forget those views and the fresh smell of plants!
While visiting Bergen we discovered that Sognefjord, the country’s largest fiord, is just around the corner. There was no chance we were going to miss this natural wonder. Therefore, we took a 12 hour day tour which included a train, a steep train and a fancy boat cruise through the fjords. Though the train was quite crowded we got to enjoy the views all through the journey. However, you simply cannot move freely. Everything is organized for you to follow instructions: go down here, stay a limited amount of time, and come back.
Be sure to spend some time in Flåm before taking the boat back. It is one of the nicest places in Norway and it just makes no sense to travel so long and miss the sights. It took us two hours to walk on local roads, through the woods and across the stream to get to see some of the most spectacular views ever. Our effort was rewarded with a beautiful waterfall on the top of the hill! Too bad we had to share our prize with other people!
Massive tourism can be avoided!
Don’t get us wrong, Sognefjord is a nice place, just terribly overcrowded and overpriced. A month after our visit we were in Russia enjoying equally exceptional landscapes by ourselves and for a fraction of the price. We are not saying you shouldn’t visit Norway, just that you won’t be alone nor have the luxury of moving about. Believe us, there are always fantastic alternatives!