Oslo began with Holly getting burnt before we had even left the apartment, having fallen victim to the heated floors in the bathroom. Why the apartment had heated floors on full blast in 30 degree heat, remains a mystery. On the bright side I suppose, we did have the equivalent of an authentic sauna in our bathroom, albeit one we could not escape.
Something that Tamsyn learned is that Norway is not included in some data plans, like O2 roaming for example, and so the cheapest way to get data is to buy a local sim card with enough prepaid data for your trip. Therefore, as a shopping centre was close by, we started our day by both buying sim cards, even though Holly apparently already had data but thought to hell with saving money and brought one anyway. The heat had melted her brain.
After a coffee and 30 minutes of failing to get the sim cards to work, we realised that all we had to do was restart our phones and were soon off to our first actually planned destination of the Oslo Opera House. They say that you can see the Great Wall of China from space but they clearly haven’t seen the Oslo Opera House when it is a sunny day. Some experts believe that it was the first beacon that called Rohan to Gondor’s aid. (If you haven’t caught on yet, the building is very bright). The entire rooftop is walkable with an impressive view of the harbour.
Next on our walk was a hidden warehouse called Vippa Food Market on the waterfront, where we treated ourselves to some street food. It was a lovely place, with a variety of different street vendor styles stalls and different food options. Holly as usual bypassed traditional food and instead went with a Polish stew and Tamsyn chose a similarly traditionally Norwegian banana and peanut butter crepe as well as a coffee and a ginger beer that she was surprised to discover had alcohol in it.
However, we soon moved onto our next destination which was the Akershus fortress where the crepe soon became a bad idea, as Tamsyn very quickly turned into a toddler hopped up on sugar. The fortress was filled with blossoming trees so she soon busied herself with catching the falling petals, or as she repeated many times, fried egg shaped flowers. Aside from this, the fortress was huge and interesting with the two of us getting lost during the walk around it. There were a couple of museum exhibits offering history on different periods of Norway in addition to the main fortress itself and which offered us shelter as well as information when a sudden thunderstorm hit. However, neither of us complained as it was a welcome change from the heat.
Tamsyn then lead us on the hunt for a gate which was not a gate. This is where we learnt that the word gate in Norwegian actually means road and that the Karl Johan gate we had been recommended to see was a very long high street. If you follow this road it eventually leads to The Royal Palace which, seeing as we are in Norway and I do not wish to anger any locals, I will not compare to our own palace. It does have a lovely view of the city and a beautiful park. There was also a kid showing off their impressive wheelies which I don’t believe happens often at Buckingham Palace so there is that. We then had to leave in search of water as we weren’t about to die of dehydration, and on the way, we came across the edge of Telthusbakken. The glimpse of multicoloured cottages and overhanging flowers prompted us to take a slight detour on our way back to the apartment so we could meander through the cobbled streets- and take some typical Instagram photos of course. However, the peace soon subsided as we arrived at the apartment and a battle was waged again- Holly and Tamsyn versus the heated bathroom floor. Who would win? Who would triumph? Not us as it turns out. It was a malicious floor. Frodo could have cast the ring into the fires of Mount Bathroom instead of going on a three novel long trek.
This day was filled up by a long 7 hour train to Bergen, but don’t be fooled! This train journey was more of an attraction or activity than a normal travel day, as the train from Oslo to Bergen is one of the most scenic routes in the whole of Europe. After an initial disappointment, as our reservations had us sat at a broken window with no visibility, the lovely train attendant directed us to last coach, as it was practically empty, allowing us to pick a much better seat. For anyone thinking of taking this train, the attendant advised us that the best side for views was the left side leaving the platform. The train itself was quite unsteady in places, which is all fun and games until you need to visit the toilet, during which you better be prepared to look a fool trying not to fall over. Tamsyn fell over twice walking the short distance which prompted a man to keep giggling and almost kamikazed her phone into the bathroom sink. One thing which was unexpected, was the snow and frozen lakes which appeared along the way, as the train went up into the mountains, Holly was panicking in her shorts and t-shirt that she would freeze. Maybe two trench coats wasn’t a bad idea after all! Once we got to a snow covered station however, Holly was soon put at ease to see all the people milling around in t-shirts and shorts as well. Although whether this was because it was warm despite the snow or that they were insane Norwegians who were used to the weather we weren’t quite sure.
Our Airbnb was just a short uber from the station, and turned out to be unexpectedly huge! We finally had separate bedrooms which meant Holly wouldn’t freeze from the stolen covers and Tamsyn wouldn’t wake up bruised from Holly’s night time karate. On a slightly embarrassing note, our expertise chef skills came to play again in our attempt to make popcorn, which we are now convinced is for rocket scientists only. So much time wasted. I think Tamsyn was still in the denial stage of grieving as she was trying to convince herself that burnt, un-popped kernels were still edible. Although there is no point crying over burnt popcorn kernels. Then after watching the beginning of 5 different movies and way too much of Finding Nemo’s baby calming video, movie night was classed as a disaster. Tamsyn still argues that it was a great movie however.
Our first whole day in Bergen was perfect, though admittedly, we were feeling rather lazy, and only went out for half of the day. The famous fish market was very close to our Airbnb and so seemed like a great first stop, with small groups of musicians playing at every corner, and stalls spread out along the harbour. Visiting a fish market is quite interesting with someone who dislikes seafood however. Although Tamsyn proudly states that she does in fact eat cod, and is therefore not an entire fish hater. Fish-ist if you will. The battered fish and chips Tamsyn did eat, was gorgeous, melting off the fork and can even beat your local chippy around the corner. Tamsyn animatedly trying to explain the nuances of English fish and chips to our new Austrian friend later on in the trip was quite funny. We then pottered around, accidently stumbling into a mall, and accidently found ourselves filling up the changing room with clothes to try on. Accidently of course. Luckily nothing fit so the accident caused no causalities to our bank account. We then went home and attempted operation popcorn 2.0. We somehow got worse. With higher hopes, we gained not a single pop! I maintain that it is witchcraft.
This day was to become the most physically exhausting part of our month, possibly to punish us for all of our popcorn misdeeds in the previous days. It was the day of the Hike! And before we go any further we will state that we were wholly unprepared for and we have realised that. Firstly, we took an Uber to the cable car station because who hikes to a hike. After expecting a queue for the cable car as had been mentioned when we read about the trail, we were pleasantly surprised with an empty cable car. Of course we had to wait for the car to fill with passengers but it allowed us to find a good seat with a view. However, whilst the view was amazing, Holly’s having to remind Tamsyn that bringing up recent cable car disasters out loud and in front of small children was psychopathic might mean that there won’t be a lot of future cable car trips.
Luckily, we arrived at the top of Mount Ulriken without any disasters and soon head off towards Mount Floyen. However, about an hour after we had started, we soon realised the first of our mistakes. Instead of what Tamsyn had thought were multiple cafes dotted along the trail, we soon realised that she had seen symbols of binoculars which instead simply meant there was a nice view. Now, both of us like a good view as much as any person with eyes, however, we had neglected to pack any food and only had a small bottle of water each. As lovely as the view of Bergen is, it is not very nutritious. But we soon continued on which led us nicely to our next mishap of the day. Something that you may not know about Tamsyn is that believes that she is above laces. This unfortunately did not stop her from spraining her ankle on a small rock. So combining no food, a sprained ankle, constant sun and 5 hours mainly up hill and over two mountains, you get two very out of breath and red-faced individuals. However, all of this aside, the trail itself was stunning with views of miles of mountains, lakes and the occasional small waterfall and if prepared, is a great medium hike if you have 5 hours.
Another aspect that also makes it a great hike is that after you have completed it you can reward yourself at the café with waffles and icecream before going for a swim in lake Skomakerdiket. Then after a much needed cool off and a swim, we met up with a friend who convinced us that a hike back down the mountain, instead of getting the tram like we had planned, was better than waiting in a queue. Had he done the hike I am sure he would have thought differently. He also managed to convince us to stop being antisocial and hiding in our Airbnb and instead go out In Bergen for the evening. Can you guess from our outfits of shorts and sandals where we went? Did you guess a -5 degree ice bar? Didn’t think so. Luckily you do get given a poncho and gloves at the entrance so we didn’t completely freeze and we were able to enjoy the ice sculptures whilst sat in our ice furniture whilst drinking from our ice glasses. Then after escaping back into the warmth of Bergen harbour to watch the sunset, we very slowly and very stiffly walked back to our apartment.
Feeling sad at having to leave Bergen and our lovely apartment, we boarded the train for our uneventful, but still very beautiful journey back to Oslo. From all the cold of the ice bar we were craving some warmth and were happy to be back in the heat of the apartment.