Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway
July 9th, 10th 2010

Not much to say about Oslo. It’s quite pretty, things are expensive, everyone gets around on bus, quite a number of museums around. The only one I visited was the Viking Museum, which frankly, for its price, was disappointing. But then again, it’s nice to see some old wooden Viking ships.

Hostels in Norway love charging for essential extras, like bed linen. Linen is standard and included in every single hostel I’ve stayed at, except the ones in Norway. I had a room mate who was this older man who declined to name his original nationality (he told me to stop guessing when I tried). He is an EU citizen, probably from Eastern Europe, this much I could tell. He lived in America (somewhere in Washington state) and was kicked out of the country by immigration when they told him they made a mistake giving him his permanent residency years earlier, which I thought was quite messed up. He lost everything he worked for in the USA; house, possessions, car, social security etc. Then he went to live in London. He constantly talked about how much he could earn working in Norway, if they let him. In fact, I’ve met quite a few people on my Norwegian travels who are living in hostels while they look for work. The problem is, Norwegian employers want employees who can speak Norwegian, which is the stumbling block for most immigrants. The country is one of the richest and most stable in the world and has one of the lowest unemployment rates, which is what’s drawing in all these immigrants. Anyway, this guy wouldn’t stop griping about money and how hard life is, it made me realize how fortunate I am.

BTW, this guy slept in the bunk above mine. He snored very loud throughout the night. I was tempted on several occasions to kick his bed in the middle of the night.

Food wise, our room had a small stove and sink so I borrowed some pots/pans from the hostel and made pasta for my meals. Much cheaper than eating outside.

p/s: I think I forgot to allow the public to see my Bergen pictures so I just changed it. Check the Bergen pictures out if you haven’t.

Oslo, Norway Pictures

Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway
July 6th, 7th, 8th 2010

You know why the Vikings went around plundering treasure? Because they needed all that money back home in Scandinavia to buy things. Everything is so expensive. A small meal is at minimum 100 NOK (Norwegian Krone) which is roughly USD$15+. In restaurants, expect to pay close to 150-200 NOK. A Burger King/McDonald’s combo is around USD$10-12.

I came to Bergen because I was told this was the best city to be in if I wanted to view the famous Norwegian fjords. I came close to not going due to the weather. It was windy, cold, rainy, and dark the first two days I was there. I wondered if it would be worth paying $150 for the ‘Norway in a Nutshell Tour’, which is a popular tour taking tourists to view the landscapes and fjords east of Bergen. But no point doing the tour if the weather was going to be bad. I thought about it carefully and decided to reserve my ticket. I came all the way, I should at least make it out there regardless of conditions.

Luckily for me, God was good. Although it was supposed to rain all week, that day, my last day, the skies were clear and the sun was out. And the Norwegian landscapes were as spectacular as I’d hoped. Heaven on earth, literally. Why a city of gold (or however people imagine heaven to be like)? Why not this? But I didn’t take pictures of the Norwegian landscapes we passed because we were in a train/bus and pictures from inside a train/bus always suck thanks to the screen reflection and people getting in the way of pictures. Took a fast train from Bergen to Myrdal, and on the way, stopped by a waterfall for pictures.

A woman suddenly appears in the distance, on the waterfall, and starts dancing to music which was playing through hidden loudspeakers. She kept disappearing and then reappearing in other parts of the waterfall so there were obviously multiple women playing the same role. But I cannot tell you how creepy this was. I was thinking of ghost stories. Specifically, maybe this woman fell over the waterfall a long time ago and until this day, her ghost dances around the waterfall. I am imaginative and have other versions as well but I digress.

We take the famous Flamsbana from Myrdal to the small city of Flam (local population 500, yearly tourists 500,000). The Flamsbana is a train track built on rocky mountains, supposedly a great engineering feat.

At Flam, I had a two hour layover so I decided to overpay for a crappy meal, then park myself at the bank of a river that lead to the mouth of the Aurlandsfjord. The sky was so blue, the water so green (the color resulting from the clay in the riverbed), the mountains so magnificent. I made a tiny paper boat, labelled it “H.M.S. KK” and let it sail with a little message written on it.

Took a boat from Flam to Gundvagen, passing through the Aurlandsfjord and then through the world’s narrowest fjord, the Nærøyfjord (Yeah, the Norwegians were really creative when it came to naming things). From Gundvagen, took the bus to Voss (taking the narrowest, steepest hairpin turns in a long bus), then train back to Bergen. All in all, very expensive but worthwhile experience.

There isn’t much to do in the city itself. Took the funicular (what a fun word, it’s basically a tram that takes people up and down hills) up to Mt Floyen for a view of the city. It was rainy and windy so that didn’t help with the viewing. I had originally wanted to take the cable car to Mt Ulriken, then hike 3 hours to Mt Floyen and then descend but crappy weather put a damper in my plans. Plus, 3 hour hike wasn’t exactly something I was craving to do, although it is through the Norwegian forests.

World famous Bergen fish market? Overrated. Locals don’t buy their fish there, prices are inflated for the tourists but it was cool to see the seafood being sold nonetheless. Bryggen, the area with the old wooden Haseatic houses? It wasn’t anything special, they house tourist shops now.

Bergen, Norway Pictures