I have been so focused on our recent trip to Africa that I almost forgot to blog about our gorgeous trip to Norway back in May!
It started off like any other trip - we were going to be traveling the longest way possible. :) We found a sweet 5th freedom route from Houston to Manchester on Singapore business and flew from Manchester to London to Oslo on British Airways. The business seat on Singapore was definitely worth the run around!
Flying over London was also exciting since I'll be visiting with my bestie this November for the first time. Yep, you read that right. I have not been to London yet!
We landed in Oslo and made our way to our first Air BnB of the trip. This place was really cool and well located next to shops, restaurants, and transit. We were able to walk to our place from the main train station which saved us some much needed cash for everything else.
Norway is notoriously expensive. We knew that going in and decided our best route was to red bus it to save on transport to key sites around Oslo. I don't have many pics of the city, sorry!
After exploring Oslo, we hoped on a flight to Bergen to drive the scenic routes showcasing Noway's fjords. We landed early and made our way to the car rental counter to pick up our ride.
"Would you like to upgrade to an electric car for $100 more? The tolls are free on all of our roads if you have an electric car and with your route, you'll definitely be spending more than that on tolls." Us "I'm not sure, what about charging it?" "OH there are superchargers in the areas you're visiting. Tesla is good about that."
Hold. The. Phone. This man is trying to hand me the keys to a $90,000 car AND save us money in the process? It took one grin between me and the hubs before we took it. We fell in love instantly and it was amazing to essentially get to test drive a car we're truly interested in (years from now) all over the country! Probably the best decision of our trip. And we're basically sold on a future Tesla.
We spent the next 5 days driving all over Western Norway and only once were we worried about losing charge! This country is stunning from every angle and soaked up the cool breeze, gorgeous weather, and crystal clear water as much as we could. Our stops included Hardanger area, Aurlandsfagen, and Balestrand. We Air BnB'd (is that a verb now?) the entire way!
The most obvious difference between Noway and other "tourist" countries is that Norwegians are very active and they also lack a definitive cuisine. We kept searching for restaurants (in some cases, ANY restaurant) that served fish dishes, especially Salmon, and all we could find were grocery stores and pizza. These people love pizza. In Aurlandsfagen, there was literally nothing open when we were there (not an exaggeration, the only grocery store was closed) and thankfully a Thai food truck was nearby. It was weird eating in this country for us. So much of a culture is it's cuisine and in these small towns, no one eats out so there's no reason for a restaurant. One gentleman told us the last time he ate at a restaurant was 4 years ago. This resulted in us going full local and stocking up on fish at the grocery store, which were frozen fish sticks, and still delicious.
The second most obvious thing about Norway? The beer prices. Ya'll. I know we have some fairly strict alcohol laws in Texas but this was a whole new playing field. No alcohol, outside of a state-sponsored store, could be more than 4.6% ABV. This also included wine! So I sampled some of the many ciders from the area and Curtis drank only a handful of beers we could find available.
After almost a week in the fjords, we headed into Bergen! I love this town. It's gorgeous, quaint, and very walkable. Our house was located just a few streets up the hill from the main area so we could easily get around without having to move the car too much. We took a cable car up one of the mountains one morning only to discover a marathon was happening with people running up to the top. People included 5-7 year old kids! It was fun to watch everyone enjoying their time either running, touring, or paragliding.
We ended our trip with a stop in Stockholm, Sweden and the cold took us by surprise. It was mid-May and the temps dropped below freezing, or right at it, daily. We jumped at the opportunity to enjoy soups and hot chocolate at tiny cafes and restaurants before retreating back to our only hotel of the trip, the Hilton Stockholm. I highly recommend this hotel for the location! It is across the island of Old Town with a train stop basically at the property.
Our final meal was at a restaurant recommended by TripAdvisor and included famous Swedish meatballs! They were phenomenal! I highly recommend popping in for a meal at Restaurant Kvarnen, especially if you're staying at the Hilton as it's right up the road.
I We headed to the airport the next morning where we flew to Frankfurt to catch Lufthansa's 747 First Class back to the states. As we were leaving Stockholm, I got to catch a snow shower from the air and it was so cool to see!
In Frankfurt, we enjoyed a nap in the private sleep rooms, champagne, lunch, and more champagne before heading to our flight.
I love Lufthansa. The service is always wonderful and the seats are exceptionally comfortable. This configuration, where first is in the nose of the plane, allows for just 8 first class seats and 6 were taken on this flight. We prefer the first two seats as they feel the most private. Curtis and I got so excited when we noticed the Champagne being served on this flight - it was one of our favorite Champagne houses, Pommery! They were pouring the rare Louise and we expressed our excitement to the flight attendant. As we were descending into Chicago, he surprised us with an unopened bottle to take with us because we loved it so much. :) #thingsthatdonthappenincoach
Overall, Norway was a stunning country and one we'd definitely like to visit again. I think next time we may try to find a small cruise though since most of the sites are on the water and the cost of your meals and drinks are built into your ship. Thanks for reading travelers!