Trolls and Vikings (Scandinavia) Part I – Bergen, Norway (*Plus Tips for Visiting Norway*)

Ever since Joel and I saw the amazingness which is Trollhunter, we have wanted to go searching for trolls in Norway ourselves. Scandinavia is actually a mere 1.5 hours away from London so we saw an opportunity for an awesome long weekend. Norway and Sweden, here we come!

As we were only taking 4 days to travel and see Scandinavia, we chose to stick with only 2 cities – Bergen, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden. Norway was up first in the hopes that we could spot a few trolls or at least some reindeer.

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Bergen, Norway is actually considered the ‘gateway to the fjords‘. If we had an extra week and I actually liked cruises, we’d be on one of those boats in a heartbeat. But, since I can’t stand the thought of being trapped on a ship with that many people (fjords or not), we stuck to the mainland. Bergen is one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited yet. Nature reins supreme here as well as fish and history. The main part of town, Bryggen, is actually a UNESCO world heritage site. It is worth walking up and down the alleyways and noting that the crooked yellow, red and brown buildings smell of cedar and the sea.

As we’d hoped, Bergen was misty, but not rainy. Although it was the end of summer, Norway had a constant feeling of Fall about it. Even when it was sunny (which wasn’t often), a mist loomed over the mountains which are within walking distance from the center of town. Or, if you’re up to it (and we were) – a funicular ride. We rose early (highly recommended to go first thing!) to catch the funicular to the mountain top and do a bit of troll hunting. The mountains were spectacular – while visitors were plentiful, there was still silence as we walked further into the mountain paths. We also stumbled upon some trolls!

Aside from the nature and hiking, Bergen has the absolute best fish we’ve ever tasted. It was so fresh, so simple yet so creative and flavorful. Some highlights were from the lovely Brugeloftet & Stuene. We loved it so much that even though we were only in town for 1.5 days, we ate there twice. Salted cod stew, fresh Norwegian cold and hot smoked salmon, halibut… it was incredible. The fish alone was worth the visit.

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When looking for tips on Bergen, we found very little information so we wanted to share our choices, from our limited visit –

Brugeloftet & Stuene – Even though this is in Bryggen – the touristy area–  it was not crowded at all and had reasonable (for Norway) pricing, pleasant service (also not something they are known for) and the best fish EVER.

The Moose Shop – Everyone should get a moose something or other from Norway. Also located on the main wharf of Bryggen

DLK – Small coffee shop located up the stairs from the funicular. They are famous around Norway for their coffee making skills. Try the kaffe Istanbul. Made with cardamom and brown sugar, it is incredibly fragrant yet still packs a kick (note – cash only!).

We stayed at the Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret. It is at the end of town, but still along the water. Rooms were small, as expected in Europe, but clean and quiet. The building itself it quite old and beautiful. Breakfast in included and (!) pancakes mid-day.

Last tip – take the Floibanen up to the top of Mt. Floibanen. Trolls and mist await you!

Although Norway isn’t on the top of most people’s travel bucket lists, I suggest it moves up. The scenery, love of nature and fish makes Bergen an awesome, different place to visit. And if you enjoy a cruise, go for the fjords!

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