Iceland ⇒ Bergen⇒Flåm
Friday, July 1st
We bid fond farewell to Iceland in a rush. We had another fantastic breakfast and said goodbye to the lovely staff at Reykjavik Marian Residence – in a rush. Then we caught a bus to the bus station – in a rush. Then we waited at the bus station for an hour for a shuttle to the airport. I had no idea we were going to the bus station nor that we had to wait for the shuttle. I started to sweat a bit despite the brisk air for fear we would miss our flight. As you might remember, we have not necessarily had the best luck on travel days – refresher – Lincoln was vomiting on the last one! Oh! Remember that Lincoln’s suitcase handle broke off – at the rental car return in Copenhagen on the same day that he was vomiting! It was comical at that point! But one of us has now had to hand-carry the case each time!
However, we caught the shuttle, breezed baggage check and through the non-existent security line – I’ve never see a capital airport with literally NO security line. I said a little kind thank you to the trolls of Iceland for allowing us passage in their lovely land and for our speedy departure.
I did catch a glimpse of loads of Icelandic beer at duty free. Cracked me up!
We flew Norwegian Air to Bergen, Norway, and I sincerely thought we were on a party plane. Loads of families, groups and clearly vacationers. I don’t think there was a single business traveler on the flight. I’ve never seen a more irreverent crowd during the security briefing! Usually people at least stop conversing – not on this flight. People were still getting things out of the overhead bins basically yelling back and forth to each other, and that continued the entire flight. There really was a party energy to the plane, and then the pilot announced a birthday and a group burst into what I could only assume was a birthday song for a 16yr old girl.
The party vibe did not stop when we deplaned either. The Bergen airport was absolute chaos! Mobs of people crammed in a small baggage claim anxiously awaiting the arrival of their bags – as were we. Awash with relief, our bags in hand, we made our way to the city center bus. The brisk air and chilly drops of rain revived us for the 20min ride to the city center enabling us to make the 10min walk to our hotel with ease. I feared any accommodations post Reykjavik Marian would look and feel like an armpit, and I was not wrong. The Ole Bull apartments were large but old and not well equipped in the way of kitchen. It wasn’t really possible to cook there, so the purpose of renting an apartment was lost. The apartment was centrally located, so that was nice.
We were all pretty tired, so we opted for an easy dinner. First, we wanted to find a wine shop! Grocery stores can sell beer, but not wine. So, you have to find a bottle shop, and they are only open very specific times which our concierge – as it turned out- did not know. We walked in the rain to the nearest shop (10min away) only to find it closed. We were told it closed at 8p, so we got there at 7p. The next day we walked in the rain, again, at 4p, and it closed at 3p. We gave up! So, off to a local pizza chain that has gluten free pizza, Dolly Dimples. The pizza was pretty good, but we were so hungry it didn’t matter. Then we wandered down the street to get some ice cream, and then back to the hotel for bed!
Saturday, July 2nd – Bergen
We all slept in until 9:30a! Amazing. We all were clearly in need of some sleep.
We finally got out of the apartment a bit before 11am, and walked up the road to the fish market. The fish market is set up under several tents with each fisher in a different stall. They also have fruits and veg under and various other food trucks at each entrance.
This one! I was dying. People really eat reindeer! There were several stalls with various forms of reindeer meat.
We stopped for some amazing fruit, smoothies and coffee as we made our way up to the Floibanen – the funicular to Mt. Floyen.
It was raining, so our time at the top was shorter than planned. The views were no less impressive – just slightly soggy.
It’s not every day that you encounter a troll-guarded playground, but that is indeed what we found at the top of Mt. Floyen.
There is also a cafe and gift shop, and on finer days, you can hike back down to the city. We decided in the driving rain a ride would be just fine. After we got back to the bottom, a marching band was finishing up and catching the funicular to the top.
Marching bands are quite popular here, I’ve been told. They seem to be associated with the military somehow, and we had seen several different bands lined up and playing in a square earlier in the day. I’m not sure what was going on, but this group was headed to the top, and the trams were held in waiting for them. They were impressive and well organized and it was a treat to see them despite the rain.
We also saw this picture, and I laughed out loud.
We stopped for some refreshments, and we’re thrilled to find a few gluten free treat options at a bakery, Godt Brød. They had the most amazing gluten free brownies and a delicious latte.
Refreshed, we moved along, in the rain, to the Bryggen Warf area.
It is the most iconic image of Bergen and is full of narrow, wooden streets full of quaint, artisanal shops and cafes.
Then we wandered over to an old fortress. There was even a bunker from WWII behind it.
We made our way back to the hotel to refresh our soggy socks and headed back out to dinner. We wanted to eat at the fish market, but it was raining – still. So, we made our way to the adjacent Information Center which was also full of restaurants. We decided on, Fjellskal. Our meal was ridiculous. Amazingly fresh, and they had the best gluten free baguette I’ve ever had!
The meal was complete with lobster, stone crab, king crab, shrimp, mussels, scallops and oysters!
The food was fantastic as well as immense, and we cleared it all save for a couple of mussels. Lincoln and Tip both ate their weight in seafood this time. One of the best meals of the trip for sure – especially since it was in a street market. We managed to wobble back to the room before passing out for the night. Next up…travel to Flåm by boat!
Sunday, July 3rd – Travel to Flåm.
We woke early to catch the 8am ferry boat to Flåm. The dock was a short walk, but you guessed it, it was raining. We used Norway in a Nutshell for our travels up the Fjords, and the boat was really nice. We all, save Lincoln, slept at some point and arrived in good form. We did see several waterfalls along the way and had a few flashbacks to our Doubtful Sound adventures in New Zealand. However, someone did propose on the trip, and that certainly didn’t happen in NZ. Plus, we had better snacks and seats.
Flåm is breathtakingly beautiful and perhaps the most picturesque town yet. The air is refreshing in a way that is almost edible – I found myself wanting to gulp it in and taste the greenness. We’re staying at the Flåmsbrygga Hotel, and it is perfectly situated – minutes from the pier and the train station – with lovely linens and views of the fjords. There is a playground directly behind the hotel and some stunning views of waterfalls, the fjords, bridges and nature.
Our stay included a breakfast buffet and a 3 course dinner in the restaurant. Our dinner was lovely. Then we headed up to the room for much needed showers (we didn’t feel good about the Ole Bull shower situations) with heated floor-tiles again and bed!