What To Do In Bergen, The Gateway To The Fjords, In The Winter
For the first time in a long time, I had a day where I didn’t have to do anything. I woke up, after getting nearly 14 hours of sleep, feeling dehydrated but overall much better since I finally got some rest.
After getting ready and enjoying a leisurely morning in the Airbnb (also one of the weirdest designed buildings I’ve ever seen, funnily enough), I headed out to get some breakfast at good ‘ole McDonalds.
Obligatory note: I never eat fast food — in fact, I haven’t in at least two years. But I realized I could get full much cheaper with a quick breakfast & coffee here (~69 NOK or ~$8 for a McMuffin & latte) which saves my budget and also allows me to spend more for lunch or dinner.
Anyways, I remembered reading in my travel guide that there was a fjord cruise that was supposed to leave the waterfront at 10 am. I checked my phone, saw it was 9:30, and decided to hurry over to see if I could still buy a ticket and jump on.
A ticket for this cruise cost 550 NOK (around $65). I hadn’t exactly budgeted for it and it was a little pricy, but I figured how often would I be able to see fjords up-close and personal outside of nature documentaries on Netflix? With that, I jumped on board and hoped it was going to be worth it.
I could tell I was the only one there by myself. That seems to be a recurring theme across this trip; I haven’t run into many other backpackers or solo travelers. It’s mostly couples and retired Australians/Europeans. I haven’t seen many other Americans, for that matter, either. I’m assuming it’s because of how pricy it is here.
The cruise started out fine, although, in the beginning, it looked a lot like Washington. I kept thinking that if I somehow passed out, woke up, and forgot where I was, I’d think I was back home on the Puget Sound. It was pretty, don’t get me wrong. But that’s the one downside to living in such a beautiful place. Sometimes it can spoil you so much that other places end up seeming pretty bland or, in this case, familiar.
A few minutes later, the walls started getting steeper and closer and my interest piqued back up. But then came the fog. It was so dense we couldn’t see around the boat at all. I was disappointed and frustrated. Of course, I would splurge on this and end up not being able to see anything.
Just as I was trying to figure out whether I should be that American tourist and demand my money back when we returned, the fog vanished and everything opened back up again. And damn, was it incredible.
As we reached the end of the fjord, we came upon a giant waterfall down the side of one of the cliffs. To boast their delicious mountain water (which, actually, is incredible — even their tap is mouthwatering) and get tourists excited, they positioned the boat right up against the falls and collected water for everyone to drink.
And yes, that was probably the best water I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.
For the rest of the trip, I basked in the awe-inspiring views of the dazzling mirror-like water reflecting the steep mountains. This is why I came to Norway, I thought. This is it.
After the cruise, I decided to hold off on eating lunch until around 3 pm. This way, I thought, I’d save money by only eating one larger meal instead of two smaller ones (hint: this didn’t end up working out…at least for this day).
There was still one more thing in Bergen I wanted to do before leaving the next morning, and that was to get to the top of Fløyen. There are two ways to do this. One is by cable car which carries you up the steep slope. The other is by walking.
I was hoping to take the cable car up and possibly walk back down but upon arriving at the destination I saw a long line spilling out into the street. I’m not sure if it was the nice sunny weather or the fact it was Thursday (so, basically, the weekend), but there seemed to be a lot more people out than the day before.
Figuring I could save money, frustration, and get some exercise, I decided to just walk to the top. After all, how bad could it be?
Well, turns out it was a whole hike complete with switchbacks and consistently steep inclines. It’s just under 2 miles and an elevation gain of 1050 feet. I was not prepared for that. With my jeans, snow boots, and ~40 lb backpack, I headed to the top, pushing myself with the promise of great views and the opportunity to take the cable car down once I reached the top.
It was a rough journey, but I made it. And there were kids everywhere who did it too (if they could do it, I knew I could!). There was a huge playground at the top, and a few randomly placed on the way up as well. I couldn’t figure out why there were so many kids or why they decided to place these playgrounds so high up, but I decided it’s because they just like to exercise much more than American kids.
I reached the top of the hill about an hour and a half after I started. I stopped many times, sometimes just for 30 seconds to catch my breath, and others for 5 minutes or so just to take in the views.
When I reached the top, I had a good scare when my credit card got declined twice — not only when trying to buy some food (this is where my plans for a larger lunch got sacked, it was 3 pm and all that was available was a vegetarian wrap & muffins) but also for my ticket back down.
Dreading the walk back — even though I knew it’d be easier — I turned on my phone signal and called my credit card company. When customer service didn’t take me off hold after five minutes (that’s $1.79 a minute because of course I took myself off of Travel Pass and put myself on Pay As You Go that morning), I called my bank, put on a travel notification, and went back to try my debit card.
It worked immediately but then the cashier told me the original decline was probably not my fault; their wifi was down and they could only take cash for a little while.
Later, I checked into my hostel (Marken Gjestehus), claimed my bed, and spent some time checking email, updating Medium, and planning the rest of my trip. Feeling hungry, I ventured out for a small 6-piece salmon sushi from Bergen’s fish market (meant to be incredible). While it was good, I don’t think it has Seattle beat. ;)
Until next time.