Saturday, 5 September 2015

Falling In Love With Norway: The Sights and Activities (Norway post #3)

Prior to going to Norway, the only things I had ever heard about Norway were Vikings, trolls, and fjords. And I had no idea what a fjord was. I eventually found out (basically just before I left for Norway) that a fjord is a deep body of water between high cliffs. A fjord was essentially my two favourite things in nature combined into one cool-sounding word! I absolutely love mountains/cliffs/high rocky places because the view is unattainable from any other perspective. It is a view only rewarded to those who are willing to make the climb (except for those times when I’m lazy and take transportation, but the view does feel less rewarding when I don’t work for it). As for water, it is free-flowing and meditative. It is the essence of life, and when I am submerged in water, it literally feels like I’m in a different world. So every time I got to interact with a fjord – whether kayaking, hiking, swimming, RIB, or photographing – it was such a breathtaking experience. Of course, Norway isn’t just built on fjords; there were so many other beautiful sights. As a European country, there was no shortage of beautiful historic architecture. And of course, any place with a lot of natural beauty comes with tons of outdoorsy activities, which are my favourite! Since this post is about the sights, rather than writing about them, I’ll spend more time showing you guys exactly what I saw through my camera.

The main harbour of Oslo, many people come here to enjoy the perfect blend of city and nature.
The Sverd i Fjell monument in Stavanger. It was created to commemorate the historic Battle of Hafrsfjord in which King Harald Fairhair gathered all of Norway under one crown.
This was literally the backyard of hotel Mundal in Fjaerland.
The front side of Hotel Mundal.. This place is seriously a sight on its own.
The street art scene is INCREDIBLE, if you are even slightly interested in street art, you HAVE to go to Stavanger!

Just before the trip in Norway, I backpacked through eleven countries in Europe with my best friend (if you want to read about that experience click here). We rode the train through Europe, and a lot of places resembled each other due to the old European architecture (probably pretty ignorant to say because there is definitely a lot of history behind each place, but by appearance alone even the most extravagant churches became another common sight). The first thing I noticed upon stepping foot into Oslo, the capital of Norway, was that the city was unlike all the other European cities I had been to. Even in the capital city, there was a very visible harmony between civilization and nature. Located right in the city centre was a beautiful harbour that led out to the Oslofjord, which goes out to the sea. Nature was a clear part of Norwegian culture, with a major harbor in each city of our trip. In the other European countries that I visited, I often wanted a break from seeing similar structures repeatedly. But in Norway, I would see a beautiful structure on one side, turn my head and see the vast fjords on the other. Nature was not separate from civilization, but it was very obvious that the Norwegians incorporated nature into their daily lives, especially in the ways they get their food (more about Norwegian food here).

Our view out the window on the train from Bergen to Flam. We thought we were in a fairytale.

The harbour at Bergen, one of the inspirations for Frozen the movie!

A part of the Sognefjord!

Why aren't more cities built like this? This picture was taken in Sognedal, where I got to make a T.V. appearance!

It just feels so right to have houses by water. This is another inspiration for Frozen the movie!
The Otternes farm houses in Flam! Simply gorgeous.
St Olaf's Church in Balestrand, such a beautiful building! Also ANOTHER inspiration for Frozen the movie!
Super cute houses in Stavanger!
City + Nature ALL THE TIME.

Another obvious way that Norwegians lived with nature was through the many activities that were available for nature exploration. One particular experience I remember very well is while I was kayaking on the inner Oslofjord, I saw a bunch of people jumping off the cliffs beside me, so I obnoxiously yelled out to the whole team, “OH MY GOSH CAN I DO THAT TOO?!” before realizing how entitled I sounded, so I added, “do we have enough time to do that?” (as if that made it any better haha). But my team, being super gracious and just wanting me to have the best time in Norway, obviously allowed me to. This was also my second day knowing my team, so doing this helped me open up and become more comfortable with the whole team. After I got to the top, it looked a lot higher than it did from the bottom, and I started to have regrets. But since my whole team stopped so that I could do this, I had to go through with it. As I leapt off the cliff and yelled “DREAMJOBBINGGGGGGGGG!” my whole body was shocked in pure fear, and in response I literally screamed out loud (I didn’t even know I had let out a scream until I watched a video after). When I go on rollercoasters, I don’t get an adrenaline rush because I know that I am secure, but this was my first time experiencing free fall from such a high distance. So for ten minutes (actually only one second), I legitimately thought I was going to die because no matter how hard I flapped my arms, my body was just going straight down. But afterwards, everything was okay and we had a wonderful picnic on the beach.  

Our delicious and fresh lunch prepared by the wonderful ladies of Oslo Kayak Tours, Annett and Tanya. This was after I thought I was going to die HAHA.
Learning blacksmithing from Trym at Fetsund Lenser! I made a beer opener haha. 
Found this little hole on Europe's biggest mainland glacier!

I got to paint a picture at the studio at the Edvard Munch's Ekely. I'm now an artist. I was definitely talking about the colour, texture, shapes, and the deep emotions in my piece.

The world's longest wooden stairs, at 4444 steps, I climbed about hundred to get this picture and my legs already burned...
Our first ride on the Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat (boat), a lightweight but super fast boat. Our driver Simon took us over waves and it was such an exhilirating ride!

The view from the top of Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)! Breathtaking right?!
I was pretty tired after the hike up here.
The nets we slept in after the hike!
This was the backyard of another hotel, the Kviknes hotel in Balestrand.

The market in Oslo, Mathallen, with tons of delicious food!
This is the house of Santa's cousin in Drobak. Look at all the letters! He keeps every single one and actually reads them!
Our first kayak expedition!

One of my favourite nights in Norway. I got to snorkel for my own mussels and oysters! I also learned how to catch crabs here! We also grilled salmon on coals just outside the house and had a delicious meal.

There's even a park for adults in Stavanger! There is a beach volleyball court right beside these bouncy balls!

Homemade cider from Ciderhuset in Balestrand. The apples are growing in the back of this picture. Delicious pear cider in front of the fjords?! Yes please!
Our second cameraman, Freddy, going down the zip line at Holmenkollen in Oslo! 

If you guys have any questions about the things I got to see or experience, feel free to ask down below! Look forward to my next post about another of my favourite things about Norway: the people!


  1. Next time I go to Norway (yes, there has to be a next time!) I have to go to Oslo. Love your photos from there. And I can't believe you laid down on the edge of Pulpit Rock...! After that day of hiking I kept thinking (and dreaming) about how high that edge was and how crazy people were for getting so close. My family "joked" that I was having a PTSD moment. =P

    1. Oh true! You guys didn't get to go to Oslo! LOL how close were you able to get?

  2. I enjoy seeing the familiar sights from your stunning photos! I am still thrilled for you do get the Dreamjobbing. It sure is a dream job! You got to do so many COOL things. And yes, Steph had a traumatized dream (shall we say nightmarish...) shortly after climbing that Pulpit Rock! Bwhahahhha...I LOVE NORWAY, too! That Stavanger's streets are SO fun...I had a great time exploring in the old street area.

    1. Thank you so much for your continual support! HAHA oh my gosh Steph. How was the hike for you guys?

  3. Love this post! And your pictures look amazing. I especially liked reading your cliff-jumping story haha.