10 ways I fell in love with Norway: Part 1

You know when you meet someone and you’re like hey, they seem pretty cool and then suddenly you’re head over heels, rapidly falling down this rabbit-hole of infatuation with increasing velocity, afraid that your heart might actually burst with love? My 2 weeks in Norway were exactly like that.

1) Dancing between the poverty line and baller status

Toronto is kinda expensive. Norway is HELLA expensive. One time we did the math and realized we had just paid $16 for a beer.

Of course the “YOLO/Treat yo self/I’m on vacation, bitch!” mentality kicks in. So it becomes a delicate balance of impoverished living, peppered with costly outings.

One day we’d be treating ourselves to dinner and drinks, and the next day we’d turn into breakfast buffet criminals, stuffing cookies and hard-boiled eggs into Ziploc bags.

We’d go out for a few drinks, and then we’d have instant noodles for dinner. Not Mr. Noodles either, this knock-off brand that proudly touts “ARTIFICIAL FLAVOUR” as a key benefit.

IMG_84012) Horseback riding in Hov.

I love horses. Like, a lot. In the Lofoten Islands, Hov is the place to chill with horsies.

IMG_8608When they asked if I had been riding before I said, “Yup!” and smiled. I think something got lost in translation, because my “yup” was understood as “I’m looking for a real challenge. Give me your most skittish, stubborn, gigantic pain-in-the-ass horse, please.”

Godfrey’s horse was calm, good-natured, and old man-ish. My horse on the other hand, was an evil genius that managed to open his own stable door and loudly clomped around while they saddled him up. I looked at all the other quiet, sane horses and thought, “Nah, no way they’re giving me this chemically imbalanced nightmare.”

His name was Bragi, named after the God of Poetry. He was strong-willed, stubborn as all hell, and only had one thing on his mind: food. (Okay, so maybe my horse was a perfect match for me after all.) Regardless, this was by far the most peaceful, picturesque riding trail I’d ever been on.

IMG_85933) The Bergen Funicular

Our first day in beautiful Bergen we rode the Fløibanen funicular up to the top of Mount Fløyen, until we saw this:

IMG_8020We decided to take the walking trail on the way down, and ended up in a small town that our AirBnB host told us to “get lost in.” And that’s precisely what we did. We walked around this silent town, lined with old, coloured, wooden homes.

IMG_8068 IMG_2664 IMG_2663It was hard to believe anyone lived in this peaceful place. Quiet and beautiful, it was made for wandering around in.

4) Avoiding tourists.

Being a tourist doesn’t mean you have to act like one. Armed with the advice of our AirBnB hosts, we took great pleasure in avoiding the crowded tourist traps and discovering hidden gems.

For example, we sailed right through Bergen’s famous Fish Market, which was overpriced and kinda sucky. Instead we checked out the Bergen Fortress (Bergenhus Festning) and did a short hike to reach this spectacular view:

IMG_8306Our Hurtigruten cruise was obviously filled with tourists, but was a necessary step in getting to the less tourist-y Lofoten Islands. The only part of our 36-hour cruise I really enjoyed was our stop in Ålesund, where we broke away from the crowd to hike up Mount Aksla. It was way too uphill for my liking, but I shut right up when I saw this:

IMG_8382We also spontaneously bought tickets to see a band called The Amazing. Before the show we stopped at Apollon, a very cool little bar that doubles as a record store.

IMG_8241 IMG_8239The show was at The Landmark, which felt less like a concert venue and more like a friend’s high-ceilinged basement. It was such an up-close, intimate performance, and it gave us the chance to roam among locals.

IMG_82505) Rorbuer.

“Man, the seagulls are all over that rorbu.” Words I never thought I’d hear myself say. But there we were, in the village of Å, looking out of our very own rorbu onto another rorbu.

Btw, a rorbu is one of these very Norwegian fishing homes built right in the water:

IMG_8706These were all over Lofoten, and became a familiar, stunning part of the landscape in almost every photograph.

IMG_8699Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten how to count. Numbers 6-10 are coming soon!

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