I’d smashed my first solo trip to Stavanger and was full of confidence for the next leg of my Norwegian adventure that would take me to Bergen.
Never wanting to be too confident, I made sure there was plenty of time to spare for the airport transfer, check in, bag drop etc. As it turns out, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect and meant I was left with 3 hours to kill in the smallest departure lounge I’ve ever visited. The only bonus was the comfy seating area with sofas, which offered the perfect spot to settle in to watch a film.
A couple of hours and a shaky 30 minute flight later and I touched down in Bergen. Within 12 minutes of the wheels touching down, my bag was collected and I was sat on the bus into the city. Norway, I like your style!
The late flight meant that as the bus arrived in the centre of Bergen, everything was dark. The horizontal rain mixed with my confusion over the location of the hotel meant there were a few worried minutes where I contemplated having to resort to switching on the 4G – pre EU roaming! – to access Google Maps rather than spend the night on the streets of Norway and risk being eaten by a bear. There are bears in Norway…right?
Thankfully I avoided having to wrestle with any Norwegian wildlife as the hotel finally came into view, checked in and ventured back out in the rain to get supplies. Rookie mistake. I thought it rained bad in England, but that’s nothing compared to Bergen. After 15 minutes of trying to find somewhere to buy water and being offered a napkin by one shop owner to mop my face off, I squelched back into the hotel absolutely drenched. Room service would have to do.
The next day was my only free day in Norway, and I took full advantage of not having to work by exploring this amazing city! Before leaving for Norway, I was full of nerves for my first solo travel experience, and the only thing that calmed me was the opportunity to explore what people had said was a stunning part of Norway.
First stop of the day – a wander around the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Bryggen. Wooden buildings that look like they could topple any moment, I had a good look around, snapped a few photos and continued along the harbour. Seeing Bergen in the daylight, with blue skies overhead, I could see why people thought it was pretty here. But stunning? I wasn’t sold just yet.
It would be fair to say I enjoy wandering around, and being by myself meant I could go whichever way I fancied without worrying about annoying someone else or ruining their plans. And as I wandered around the city centre, I spotted the funicular train snaking its way up and down the side of the mountain. If there are two things I love, it’s mountains and amazing panoramic views. Paying about £7 for a ticket, I jumped in the near empty carriage and took the prime seat at the front. It’s a short ride up the mountain, stopping a few times along the way at a couple of stations before reaching Fløyen at the top.
One of the perks of travelling out of season is that there are hardly any other tourists around. Stepping out to the viewing platform, there were just a few other people, which meant endless numbers of uninterrupted photos weren’t a problem. Really wanting to have a photo that wasn’t a selfie, I plucked up the courage to ask a man if he could take a photo. Not having a point and shoot with me, I tried to preset my camera to the right settings before handing it over. It didn’t turn out too bad, but having an average photo is better than no photo at all!
After I’d taken far too many photos, I had a nose around to see what else was about. There was a fair bit of building work going on, but just behind that was a sign to a lake, about a 10-minute walk away. Well, I do love a good lake, so how could I resist? It was only as the noise of other people faded into the Norwegian wilderness that it struck me…no one knew I was here. What if I tripped and broke my ankle? What if someone jumped out and tried to kidnap me (good luck with that one…)? What if I got eaten by a bear – still not sure if there are bears in Norway...?
Debating whether to turn back to safety, I spotted some people further down the track. Feeling slightly reassured that there were in fact other people around, it felt safe to carry on. And at the end of the pathway, I was greeted by the sight of a stunning, half-thawed lake. So glad that I’d stuck with it, I took advantage of the amazing surroundings and snapped yet more photos. There’s a path that circles the lake, but not wanting to push my luck and also being slightly freaked out by the only other person at the lake, I made my way back. I was still on edge, pretty much convinced something was going to happen to me, and jumped at every tiny sound.
Spoiler alert: I was totally fine.
Once I’d caught the train back down to the harbour there was still time to carry on exploring the city. Making a beeline for the cathedral, it was sadly having work done to it so I couldn’t pop in to have a look around. I also managed to visit the deserted fish market before deciding to turn in, hoping to avoid the next rain deluge. I had definitely learnt my lesson from yesterday, and didn’t want to get caught in it again. Grabbing a bite to eat for dinner, I relaxed in the hotel for a bit before getting an early night, ready for the work that had brought me to Bergen the next day.
I was so lucky to have such a lovely and sunny day free to explore Bergen. The next two days were consistent, ridiculous levels of rain, and I got so wet on my first day trying to find the conference venue that I had to take my soaked shoes off when I got there! The second day wasn’t a great deal better, and as I tried to tackle the 20-minute walk in the morning the rain decided to show just how much worse it could really get. My umbrella didn’t stand a chance, and was nearly bent in half from the wind.
I had no idea what to do. There wasn’t time to turn back to the hotel and get a taxi. Next best option was to catch a bus, but I couldn’t work out from the info board which bus number to take, or even the name of the stop I needed. Deciding to try my luck, I jumped on the first bus that arrived and tried to point on the map where I needed to go. Although the bus driver didn’t speak any English, I was touched by how kind he and the other passengers were. Not only did he let me ride for free, he also pointed out on my map where he was letting me off and tried to explain which way I needed to go.
As it turns out, it wasn’t typical Norwegian weather that I was experiencing, but the beginnings of Hurricane Thor. Yep – they named their storm after Thor. With everything in Bergen closing early and people being advised to go home early from work, the conference ended early and people around me panicked trying to find out whether their flight was being cancelled. Me? Well, I had a night in my hotel to look forward to, where I watched the storm hit before turning in to catch my flight home the next day.
Although the hurricane passed with no serious damage, Norway hadn’t finished showing me the ridiculous range of weather it experiences. From checking out of the room to walking to the bus it went from beautiful blue skies to hailstones. Luckily the bus was ready and waiting, so I took shelter and watched as the snow came.
Two of the things everyone warned me about before going to Norway were the cold and the snow. However, despite all the preparations, it hadn’t been that cold, and there wasn’t any snow! But as the bus drove along to the airport, the snow came thick and fast, and I hoped Norway would be so used to the snow that it wouldn’t affect my flight home. Hey, at least I’d finally seen the Norwegian snow!
After a fun, exciting and totally new experience, I was a bit sad to be heading home. While I didn’t exactly want to attend any more of the conferences, I’d really enjoyed being around the Norwegian people and exploring the new cities in the small amount of time I had. I still felt like I hadn’t really experienced everything solo travel entails, mostly eating dinner alone, and I felt like I still had to prove to myself that I could do it. But considering that a week before I’d had a huge freak out because I was convinced I’d never be able to manage a whole week on my own, I was so proud of myself for successfully tackling my first trip alone.