I’m starting this blog post currently on a flight to Norway, looking out at the twinkling lights of Copenhagen from above. It’s been a dream of mine to travel to the Norwegian fjords since I was a little girl. When I confirmed that I was studying abroad in Copenhagen this July, I knew it was finally time to check the Norwegian fjords off my bucket list. I did some research and found that the best way to get to there was to fly into the city of Bergen, coined as “The Gateway to the Fjords.”
Two months later, and I found some friends to join me on this crazy vision. And now the now the five of us are on nighttime flight to Bergen, not quite entirely sure if Norway will let us in once we get there. We heard from other DIS students that Norway had not been letting U.S. citizens into the country, but that restrictions have eased since Norway opened its borders again. After calling the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, we got a (hesitant) thumbs up that we could get in as long as we provide proof of Danish residency. So we decided we’ll board our flight – but not book anything but an AirBnb just yet in case we were devastatingly rejected at the border.
A few hours later, we miraculously made it into Norway. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were the first Americans entering Norway since the border reopened.
We were so happy about making it through, but we also found ourselves in a “so now what?” moment. We had planned on renting a car once we made it into Bergen, but all car rental stores had closed once we arrived. Spending a night at the airport wouldn’t have been ideal, so we had no other option but taking a 2-hour bus ride to our AirBnb in the mountains. After an exhausting day of traveling, we finally made it to our AirBnb in Frekhaug by 2 a.m.
As expected, we didn’t get much sleep. But we were woken up by the most spectacular sunrise from our apartment balcony, which happened to overlook some incredible mountain views. All of our jaws collectively dropped, still pinching ourselves that we actually made it into Norway and had found this beautiful place to stay.
Our first task at hand for the day: finding a car so we can venture off into the fjords finally. The sky treated us well that morning: first a sunrise, and second, a perfect rainbow to gaze at on our way to the bus station.
Once we acquired a car in Bergen, it was finally time for the real adventure. After doing some quick research on the spot, I found that one of the best day trips from Bergen is a trip to the village of Flåm and its surrounding fjords. With no set itinerary in mind, we plugged in “Flåm” into our GPS and headed on our way.
Nothing quite compares to driving with your friends in entirely new terrain, blasting music with the windows down. Before we knew it, our Ford Focus found itself surrounded by picturesque mountain views on all sides. We all felt on top of the world.
I was quite intrigued by the name of one of the towns we’d be driving by on the way: Voss. Voss as in the famous VOSS water? Since some us were in need of a break, we made our first pitstop at the picturesque mountain town of Voss. While the Internet told me that VOSS water actually sources its water from southern Norway, I couldn’t help but try some of the perfectly clear water in front of me. In all honesty, I think natural Voss water tasted just as good (maybe even better) than bottled VOSS water.
While in Voss, we spotted a gondola lift that appeared to be actively running. Out of curiosity, we entered Voss’s visitor center to check out availability and prices. 10 minutes later, we found ourselves on a gondola ride up Voss’s Mount Hanguren. At the top, we were met with some insane panoramic views. Endless mountains… everywhere. There was even a swing at the edge of the mountain we each took a turn to go on. Best spontaneous decision ever.
After a couple of hours of exploring the mountain, we realized it was time to move on with our roadtrip. Before we knew it we were back on the road, back to blasting music with the windows down. On the way to Flåm, the views kept getting better and better from the passenger seat. To my pleasant surprise, we saw plenty of waterfalls cascading down the mountains we were driving past. (We particularly made a quick pitstop to Tvindefossen, the stunning waterfall pictured to the left.)
After an hour of driving through winding tunnels and waterfalls, we finally made it to Flåm and its surrounding fjords. And wow, the view was so worth the drive.
Our roadtrip was quite not over yet, though. To get an an aerial view of the fjords, we drove up an incredibly windy road to get to Stegastein, a famous viewing platform that overlooks Aurlandsfjord. I was left speechless once we got to the top.
With the dark clouds rolling in, we finally headed home to our cozy AirBnb. Thank you, Norway, for an adventure of a lifetime. (And for letting us through your border, of course :P) -F