Norway

NORWAY OR NO WAY

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Visiting Norway could be easily one of the most thrilling experiences in my life! We had the luck to have visited it while our friend Tena was there on Erasmus. That basically means we saved A LOT of money because accommodation in Oslo is beyond expensive. We first flew with Ryanair from Zadar to Oslo and stayed in Tena’s dorm for few days. The best way to get around the city is definitely by train or by bus. I suggest downloading Ruter Billett and Ruter Reise apps for purchasing tickets and learning how to use public transport in general. Oh, I almost forgot, the main reason we were there was because on May 19 (Nina’s birthday) Mumford & Sons had a concert in Oslo Spektrum so again I had to surprise her with a little birthday present. I am the best big sister ever, Nina’s words haha :D I won’t talk about the concert much but it was the best concert of my life for sure!

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Oslo city is beautiful and it is really easy to remember and retrace your steps. We mostly explored the centre but if you have more time you should definitely pay attention to area outside the city where you can find old Viking churches and beautiful nature as well (consider renting a cabin for the weekend).

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Really good coffee, especially the mocca! Excuse my face tho haha!

Really good coffee, especially the mocca! Excuse my face tho haha!

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The funny thing happened here, since it was our first day we haven’t yet exchanged the money and we only had Amex (which they don’t accept). Nina and I ordered mocca and asked if we could pay in euros. They said they only accept krona or Visa. I left my visa with Leš so we couldn’t pay for our coffee. Buuut, since people here are extra nice they just said ‘oh no problem just take this coffee as a welcome gift from us’. Nina and I were suspicious because this would probably never happen in Croatia. We tried hard not to take that coffee because it was really embarrassing but they were just so chill about it. Later on, there were many more situations where we witnessed that almost nothing can get these people to stress, get mad or ruin their day. It really was a big refreshment to us and also something to learn from as well.

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Moving on to my favourite part - Oslo Opera house. We had the luck to meet Sandra, Leš’s client from tattoo studio Working Class (he was again a guest artist for few days). Sandra works at the Opera house so she invited us for a guided tour and gifted us with tickets! I usually don’t really attend operas but this was definitely the highlight of our stay in Oslo! The story, the people, the architecture, the atmosphere.. everything!

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Our next stop (and also our last in Oslo) was the botanical garden. No need to explain much, I’ll just share photos :)

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We left Oslo knowing we are headed to the mountains and fjords which gave us huge excitement chills! I imagined visiting Norway and seeing fjords a long time ago and now I was there! Felt like a dream. Also, we decided to rent a car via Turo app because again, we don’t have a credit card. The company we rented from is called Sunndal and we were later advised to rent the car directly from their website because there is no Turo commission that way (you save at least 150 euros). It was May so we still needed winter tires for the mountains so keep that in mind, but I am sure the rental company will take care of that anyway.

We thought a lot about the accommodation because Norway has a million cabin houses all over the country which you can use anytime if you have the key (you need to register at DNT and pay for the registration which usually lasts for a year I think). Read all about it here. Tena’s friend had the key and he was willing to give it to us, but after a more thorough research we discovered it would be cheaper to rent some Airbnb rooms and split the cost among the five of us. At first we thought we could sleep on the floor in cabins and split the cost for just one bed, but turns out the cabins are also situated far away from roads and since we had ton of stuff it just wasn’t suitable for us. Anyhow, our first and also most demanding hike was Kjerag! We drove from Oslo to Kjerag parking lot (the price is around 40 euros for the day) and the weather was definitely not on our side. It was raining and the parking lot manager told us it should start snowing really soon on the top. Nevertheless, we decided to give it a shot and hike the mountain! I mean, this is why we are here and if we skip this now we won’t come back anytime soon. Haha, our adventurous spirits definitely led the way!

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The parking lot view after 15 minutes of climbing.

The parking lot view after 15 minutes of climbing.

The hike starts out really steep and the first half an hour are the hardest. You need to use the chains and the air is becoming thinner and thinner as you go. Some people could have difficulty breathing so be careful. It is not as demanding as it sounds but add the slippery terrain, rain, wind and several layers of clothes to it all. After the first climb, you go down the first mountain, then again you climb up, then down, up again on the third mountain and afterwords it is mostly flat up until the end.

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The hike was about 2,5 hours long (in one direction). We were pretty quick in going up because we were trying to get to the top before the snow. Our legs were shivering but it was all worth it in the end. That moment when we first looked at the famous rock we started screaming and jumping from happiness. It was really a rewarding experience, not only because it was tough but because it was completely out of anyone’s comfort zone and I am so proud of us all for doing this!

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Usually, the queue for the photo is about an hour long and once again, we had the luck to have this magical place only to ourselves. I am so grateful for that because it would be ten times much stressful to have the photo taken while hundreds of strangers watch you take the step. It is most definitely the craziest thing I ever did and that was the first moment in my life where I felt my legs being completely frozen as if they were not a part of me. Thanks to universe for keeping us all alive on this day! I think I would’ve not had the courage to step on this rock if it were for other people around so yeah, we were in the right place at just the right time.

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It was time to head back to the parking lot and of course because it was May the daylight was all the way until 11pm! We needed a good rest because Preikestolen was due the day after! I was actually surprised to wake up in the morning feeling good and not sore at all! Around 11am we headed to Preikestolen, parked the car and started the hike. It is not demanding at all (about 2h one way), there were many kids and seniors doing it, but somewhere at the end I started to feel very tired. Nevertheless, we climbed all the way to the top and once again, the view was worth the effort. Some people say the Kjerag hike is way more beautiful than Preikestolen but I am 50/50 on that one.

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Minutes before the top!

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The view is just breathtaking! I would strongly suggest camping on the top, I plan to do it next time! I can only imagine the feeling of waking up in such a place! We had a little picnic on the top (as all Balkans probably would), took millions of photos and then sadly headed back down. It was really hard to say goodbye to a place like this, especially when the weather was this perfect! Don’t forget to take a lot of water whenever you go hiking. I feel like a mom saying this but it can easily feel less important than it is when your backpack is heavy because of it.

I really wanted to hike the Trolltunga next but it was not allowed without a guide at the time because of weather conditions. We were on a budget so it wasn’t an options for us. Anyway, it is more safe to do it around August so I will definitely come back for that one!

Our next stop was Bergen airport because Tena and Pero needed to go back to Oslo and Nina, Leš and I continued our way up north. On the way there we stopped few times and took some photos along the way :)

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I think road tripping in Norway is easily the prettiest ride I’ve ever experienced. You know how in some countries only specific places are beautiful and some parts are not that memorable… well, Norway is not one of those countries. Every second of our trip was worth sticking your head out of the window!

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The roads in Norway sometimes end up in ferry rides which is so cool! Another thing that is also cool is that you can meet a lot of animals on you way and so we did. Here they are!

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This is the usual scenery on the road! Just out of fairytale. The horses did not seem as forthcoming as those in Iceland but if nothing they were posing for the photo. Cuties! Also, as we were driving, we spotted one of the old Viking churches near so we made a quick stop. This is Weasley house in real life, I swear.

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Unfortunately, flying the drone is not allowed here and there is also an entrance fee so we stayed outside. The area around this church is also very very beautiful and definitely worth exploring. As we were sleeping in the car (since it was just the three of us) we found an amazing spot for the night right on the Viking archeological site by the river. I can’t even explain how magnificent the spot looked like, surrounded by the mountains in all 360 degrees.

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Our sleeping spot.

Our sleeping spot.

After the Weasleys, we drove more to the north to visit Stryn - a village famous for its serpent river! Lovatnet lake is also half an hour away from Stryn so it was a good combo for the day.

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Lovatnet is a glacier lake which you can immediately tell by the colour of water. The pictures above where we sit on the fence, show the viewpoint for the glacier itself. It is special because something so simple can create such beautiful places and landscapes. It is a perfect spot for the kayaking but they were not renting them at the time. Also people swim here during summer but I am definitely not ready to take that step in my life.

After Lovatnet we were supposed go a bit more north but we decided to head back to Oslo instead. It all sounds nice until you start craving your bed and some real food. The first thing we did after we came back to Oslo was cooking, then shower and bed. Slept like a baby!

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Important things to mention before I finish this blog post are gas, food, accommodation and money. Gas is considered cheap and gas stations are available everywhere (good for buying coffee as well). Just make sure to check the clock on time. If you are on budget the only food store I would recommend is Rema1000. It is located all over country and it is definitely the cheapest one. We were mostly buying bread, peanut butter & jelly, milk, cheese, granola, water, fruit and all the other essentials. As for the accommodation, I already mentioned we rented an Airbnb for the first 3 nights, then we slept in the car for few nights and lastly we rented a hotel room for 2 people and sneaked Nina in haha. Norway is expensive as you already know, please don’t judge :D The currency is Norwegian krona and 10 NOK is somewhere around 1 EUR. I would suggest taking your credit or debit card with you because Norway is currently trying to completely get rid of cash and become card paying country only. Cards are accepted literary everywhere and a lot of places do not accept cash! I just thought it might be important to mention that :)

I left a piece of my heart Norway and I can’t wait to find the time to come back and explore the north (Lofoten and surrounding area). I know I say this a lot buuuut Norway could easily be one of my favourite countries ever. Hope I convinced you to visit :)

Stay adventurous and I wish you happy travels! :)