Norway

By savannahmius

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*All entries have been transcribed later and taken from my Midori Traveler's Notebook*

Flight to Amsterdam wasn't until 4pm, and even though I had checked my packing a couple times, it turned out that my laptop and chargers put my suitcase 10lbs over the limit. I ended up carrying them separately from my backpack since my 15-inch laptop didn't fit in my 13-inch day pack.

Thankfully the flight wasn't delayed. Everything was okay until the in-flight meal didn't agree with me and I spent the majority of the time in a whole lot of pain and sweating up a storm. The heavy turbulence didn't help, but thankfully there were movies to distract me.

By the time we got to Amsterdam, I already looked pretty haggard. I hadn't slept, my stomach was in a tender state, and I had only 30 minutes to get to my connecting flight to Oslo. Oh, joy!

Everyone around me on the plane was Italian. They were also very loud, as Italian often are, and I spent the next flight clutching my stomach and staring out the window. I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and was a little frightened at how pale I looked. I told myself that I would soon have my bags and be able to take a shower, and it got me through.

In Oslo, I found that my bag didn't make my flight. By now, though, I was too tired to even care and just gave the airport the information about where to deliver it when I arrived.

My accommodations in Oslo would be with a cousin of my mom's, and although I had never met them before, I was so glad to see them when they picked me up.

We went out to dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Oslo fjord, and it was beautiful. I felt gross and could barely keep my eyes open, but I was already loving the country and everything I was seeing and eating.

Sites seen: Holmenkollen ski jump, Olso fjord
Foods eaten: Airplane food, traditional Norwegian meatcakes

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Slept in a little bit in an attempt to make up for the lack of sleep the day before. After some tea and sleep, my stomach was feeling much, much better and I was ready to get into the city.

Apparently I have arrived during a very rare warm period. Much warmer than anticipated, and I don't have many t-shirts or light pants. Although the weather is beautiful, I am a little sweatier than I would like to be.

First stop was Vigeland Sculpture Park. There were lots of statues that you're allowed to touch or sit on, so there were lots of...creative poses that I came up with.

It's a large park, and there were so many people out tanning or playing games on the lawn. I wish that people were still as excited to get out and enjoy the sun back in the states. I feel like more people look for ways to stay out of the sun rather than enjoy it.

After walking around the museum and having maybe a little too much fun taking photos, Arlene and Peder took me to a Chinese restaurant.

Kind of a slow day, but was still able to see a good portion of the city and try some new things.

Sites seen: Vigeland Park and Museum, various streets and parts of Oslo through driving
Foods: HUGE breakfast consisting of pastries, fruit, and omelet, and toast with Norwegian cheese.

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Went to the city by myself. Walked to train station then was totally lost, then wasn't.

Found the Castle and looked for royalty, then realized I don't know any Norwegian royalty so it wouldn't do any good looking for them.

Went to the opera house and wished I could sing there. Climbed to the top and almost got blown over.

Found the National Art Gallery (shoutout to HERE maps for being able to work without data) and saw Munch's THE SCREAM and other beautiful pieces juuuuust before it closed.

Found my way back to Jessheim successfully!

All in all, a great day of solo exploring in a foreign country.

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Train to Bergen leaves at 9 in the morning, and it's going to be an 8-hour ride at least. They tell me that the trains are almost always delayed at some point. I make sure to pack lunch and some snacks and bring a book.

I've had pretty good access to wifi for the last few days, and I'm happy to see the the Norwegian trains offer free wifi for all classes, not just the first class like they often do in other parts of Europe. I had made sure to get a window seat beforehand, and eventually a nice British guy sat next to me. At least I'd have someone to talk to if things got really boring.

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I took this train instead of flying because I prefer train travel if possible, but also because it has a reputation for its beauty - and by golly I definitely was not disappointed. I spent almost the entire time staring out the window with my mouth hanging open at some points. If only taking pictures through windows was easier.

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The train was delayed, which wasn't a big surprise, and I ended up getting to Bergen about an hour later than expected. It was getting dark and just starting to rain.

My Airbnb was only about a 10 minute walk, so I lugged my suitcase up some very cobble-y roads and was very grateful to find the address and get checked in. My family back in the states wanted to hear about how things were going, so we skyped while I warmed up with some tea and then I took advantage of the better Netflix choices that Norway offered and fell asleep pretty quickly.

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By the time I had gotten to Bergen, everything was closed. Typical Europe. All I had left were some of the snacks from the day before, and I needed a real breakfast. I looked up the closest grocery store and headed out to pick up some stuff for the next few days. Mostly just milk, yogurt, water, and fruit.

The shower in the apartment is just a handheld little thing by the toilet. It's great since it's just me, but the whole bathroom gets wet and stays that way. All day.

No time to waste - this is the place I've been looking forward to the longest and I don't want to waste any daylight.

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My Airbnb is right about the main part of the city. Literally a 2 minute walk, and it's perfect. As soon as I come down the hill I see Bryggen. Rows of connected wooden buildings that have been there in some form since medieval times. It's still a little rainy so I duck inside and walk through the shops, and admire the woodwork.

I bought a handbook on the history of the buildings from a souvenir shop and got piggy-backed on a little bit of a tour through the buildings.

Man, I love this place.

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So, sometimes I have a list of places I want to see, but I'm also big on going with the flow and discovering things you might not have planned for. This was one of those.

I just followed the road down to this medieval tower (I've seen plenty to know it must have been from around 1300), and then just followed the sign inside.

Bergen has all these free guide books, so I looked for a picture of where I was and immediately got really excited. Medieval tower with dungeon? That's my thing.

I climbed to the top and got THE best view of the harbor area.

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Bought a Bergen pass and got directions to Grieg's home right outside the city.

It was easy enough to find, but NOT as easy as it sounded. DEFINITELY not as short of a walk. I thought I was seriously lost for a minute. Will take a bus or something next time.

First thing I did was buy a cold drink of water. Then used my pass to get in and explore the composer's home. So cool to see the tiny furniture and piano, and to be the only person there who was young enough to make it down the path to see the water and tomb.

Once again, Norway is so beautiful.

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My legs are a little sore from my unexpected hike yesterday.

Meeting up with friends tonight, so planning on staying in the main part of the city.

Breakfast of yogurt and orange juice. Walked through the fish market, went to the fortress and explored the grounds.

Found the city center with the giant pond and visited the art gallery.

It's really hot. So I bought some shorts. Thank goodness.

Walked A LOT. Like. A ton.
Was overcome with exhaustion and took a nap before dinner.

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Leaving this city makes me depressed. Kinda want to live here. A lot.

Checked out, dropped off bags at the airport, then spent the day getting souvenirs for friends and seeing a few museums and other landmarks. The church, Bryggen museum, and hunted down some statues.

Got one last lunch at the Fish Market, took more pictures, and met a cool group of travelers from the UK and a fellow solo girl from South Korea. We follow each other on Instagram now.

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Today will consist of a lot of driving and a lot of hiking. Grace and Hans have this big old van that we're taking all over this part of the country to see some of the best sights.

The first stop is Geiranger Fjord, and we decide to take the ferry ride so that I can get the full experience.

The drive there consists of a lot of tunnels, and when we come out of on particularly long one, I catch my breath for a minute.

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Taking the ferry ride was a great decision. Almost nobody else is here this time of year, and there's plenty of room to sit on the top deck and get the best views.

I still can't believe my luck at the weather. Everything is sunny and warm, and I don't think I could have timed it better. I've only experience the smallest amount of rain. Alesund is known for always been cool, but even the locals have been commenting on how warm it is.

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Dalsnibba is one of the highest peaks in Norway, and WE MADE IT.

It's windy and there's still snow on the top, but it's gorgeous. It's the highest I've ever stood and I feel on top of the world. I even bought a certificate to verify the fact that I've been here. The journey up here has been insane, but I'm so glad we made it. And let's talk about this view.

I love that Norway doesn't seem to believe in protective barriers because it gives a more raw and natural experience to these types of things. I can walk as close to the edge as I'd like and not have any ugly fence in my pictures.

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We stopped for dinner at some little hotel that I don't remember the name of, and then at a strawberry farm. Hans bought a crate full of strawberries and I spent the next hour or so just eating them because I've found that these Norwegian strawberries are a thing for good reason. Everywhere I've been, I've had people ask if I've tried them yet, and it's an important question. I have tried them - and they are amazing. I do not like strawberries, but these are not strawberries. They are the nectar of the gods.

Now we're at Trollstigen, which is basically an incredibly curvy road in an incredibly beautiful place. We walked along the pathway and I stood over all the grates where you can just see straight to the bottom.

Apparently "Trollstigen" means "troll road" and I guess it makes sense. It seems like the kind of place trolls would live and try to trick you.

I love the colors and shapes of the rocks here. And with it getting cloudy and dark, it makes everything a little more fantastic and unreal.

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Explored Alesund on my own today. Everything runs differently on Saturdays. The ferry stops running early, most museums are closed, and there was some weird inflatable boat race going on in the center of town.

I also ran into some sister missionaries, which made my day. And some guy gave me a rose to try and get me to vote for something. He let me keep it even when I explained that I'm definitely not Norwegian (although I wish I could be).

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Grace spent the whole day making me a traditional Christmas dinner. It was the heat of summer and I had to eat this huge plate of steaming food. Thankfully, it was delicious and I had no problems doing so. I don't know what is in that sausage, but I really wish that we had those in the States because then maybe I would actually eat sausage. It was all good, and I'm sure that it would be even more satisfying on a freezing Christmas day. Perhaps I'll have to come back in December just for that.

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The Kon Tiki museum and its story is something I am only vaguely familiar with, but have now learned a lot more about. It houses souvenirs and the ship from the Kon Tiki expedition. I learned a lot about the men and what they went through, but I can't say that it was the coolest thing I've ever seen.

Literally just across the street is the Fram museum, and that was significantly cooler. I still didn't know a lot about the Arctic expeditions beforehand, but exploring the ship and playing the different games (even if they were meant for someone half my age) was fun. Apparently this is Oslo's best museum, but I'm not sure if I agree. Lots of color and stuff, but lacked a variety for me. But still worth the visit if you have the chance.

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The Viking Ship Museum. Was. So. Cool.
Viking longships are something I've always found interesting, but seeing them in person? More amazing and detailed than any picture could capture. They are also far larger, although the ones in the museum aren't even the biggest. I think Viking history and old Norse culture is fascinating, and I looked at every single artifact and read about it. I even bought a shirt with Viking runes on it that translates to "Man knows little."

It only made my Viking interest bigger. Highly recommend to any fellow history needs out there.

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Finally, Norway lives up to it's rainy reputation. It's my second to last day and I finally had the chance to pull out a scarf, long sleeved shirt, and umbrella.

I had the day to myself to explore solo again, and then meet up with Arlene and Peder for a goodbye dinner. They have been the most incredible hosts. She may have even checked up on me more than my mom. I haven't left yet, but I already want to come back.

I might look sad, but the cooler weather actually made me kind of happy. I love exploring in the rain.

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The Akershus castle was the last big thing on my list of things I wanted to see. Just about everything is within walking distance in Oslo, so I followed some signs and made my way towards the castle.

On the way I stopped at the Opera House again and got the coolest hot chocolate ever. It was chocolate on a stick that you stirred into frothed milk. Wasn't too sweet or bitter, and kept me warm enough for the rest of the walk. It was also basically my lunch.

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So the fortress is pretty cool. Technically it's still an active Royal residence so not everything is made to look like it would have hundreds of years ago. I was the only person there aside from the employees and guards, and I was totally okay with that. Well, until I found myself all alone in the crypt. And the lights flickered. As it was raining and cold. Yeah - I ran the entire way up the stair and may or may not have freaked out a bit. But don't worry - I took a selfie first.

It was like that time in France where we were in the crypt that was only lit with lanterns and had creepy speakers that whispered things to you in French. I thought we'd reached the end and I leaned against a rail only to hear a voice start whispering in my ear. I literally screamed and then my sister did and everyone around us jumped. Then I realized what had happened and everyone started laughing - me included. Good times, good times.

The other rooms open for your were pretty neat as well. I loved the ancient tapestries and that awesome feeling of walking through history that comes with every old monument I visit.

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So I've still got hours left before I have to meet up for dinner. I can't sit outside in the park because the rain has gotten a lot more intense. I've seen everything that peaks my interest, and I'm almost too broke to do much else.

I found Oslo City and stayed there for a while. It's a giant, giant mall with multiple Starbucks on every level and more stores than I've ever seen in one place. I found an Oasis London store and got a shirt that I couldn't resist, then found a tea store. Tea stores are my weakness. I bought a lot of tea and smelled all of them probably twice. Thankfully the guy was very interested in me and where I was from so I wasn't too much of a bother - I hope.

There were also like 12 H&Ms. And not normal ones. There were ones just for athletic wear, hair accessories, underwear, and tops. Not even pants - just tops. I can't even remember if I got anything - it was all so different.

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Got tired of the giant mall and decided to go on a scavenger hunt for myself. Looked up some significant buildings and hunted them down. My two favorites were the National Theater and the parliament building.

Still have over an hour to kill. It's not enough to really go anywhere, so I've decided to just stay in this general vicinity and wait it out. And try to find the restaurant. That would probably be a good idea, too.

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Dinner was at this cool Asian inspired restaurant and was like 5 courses. Arlene's other son also joined us and we got along really well.

I'm so sad to go, but previous commitments are calling. Norway is beautiful and full of so much more than I got to see. I'm already planning a return trip sometime in the future.

I took the train back with Peder and Arlene and it was still raining the whole way. It was a long day and I only sat down twice, so sleep sounds pretty great.

Picture of dessert, which was amazing.

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I spent the majority of the day packing and trying to fit everything in my little bags, but the last big thing I did was go visit....somewhere. I'm still not entirely sure because I guess it's a new place and there aren't any English translations of...anything.

From what I could understand, it was the newly restored building where Norway signed their constitution...? Or something like that. But there really was no English anywhere. Peder took me there and felt really bad that he couldn't translate, but it was still cool. We even had to wear these little booties over our feet for the house tour.

Flying home first thing in the morning. It's bittersweet, but I'm excited to get some sleep in my own bed.

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