Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lily visit :)

Lily Comes to Visit!

** Warning ** This post is really long so if you want to just skim for the pictures that may be advisable. I apologize but thank you for reading anyway.

So after having been here in Norway alone for awhile my beautiful girlfriend Lily came and gave me a visit. She is an elementary school teacher and had a week off for their spring break. Even though it was only for about a week (3/22 -3/28) I was so excited to have my best friend come and be with me, and we tried to cram as much activity into the trip as possible. A lot happened and we took a lot of pictures so I will try my best to include everything and talk about what happened along the way.

Lily Arriving

First lily had to get here. All in all her flight took over 24 hours because we found a cheap flight :D. Thankfully Lily was a good sport about it. Gainesville FL > JFK > London Heathrow > Bergen.
Once she got to JFK the  international plane arrived!

Goodbye NYC USA.


Somewhere over the UK.

Meanwhile I was running around Bergen getting ready for Lily to arrive and running errands. It was a beautiful day and I had to take some pictures of the town just to capture it. I was really hoping the weather would hold up for Lily when she got here but the forecast wasn't looking good.

At the lake in the center of the city facing northeast towards Mount Ulriken.


Same lake with some insta filters automatically applied by google. Thanks google.


 The morning lily was arriving in the Bergen airport I took a taxi and got there early. While I was waiting I got some coffee at the cafe in the arrival section of the airport right outside of the international arrival section.

Cafe Americano

 Lily finally got here! Some 30 hours or something similar later! We took a cab back to my place.
Had to take a picture and send it to her parents to let them know she landed safely!

Our cab driver on the way back was from South Sudan. He was a political refuge and the Norwegian government let him obtain residency.


After we got back from the airport we were able to relax and crack into some wine and rest up. We needed to rest up because I surprised Lily with a trip to Oslo starting the next day! The trip is an organized trip called Norway in a Nutshell by Fjord Tours. The link for it can be found here. The trip would take us from Bergen to Oslo, stay a day in Oslo, and back to Bergen. We would take trains, buses, and ferries on our journey and see some pretty cool places along the way. The trip all in all is a little touristy but there really is no better way to cram a lot of stuff in, in a short amount of time. It was recommended by many Norwegians and since Lily was only going to be here for a week we wanted to get as much in as possible.


 Norway in a Nutshell day 1!

The day started off with a train ride from Bergen to Voss. It was a raining morning so the good weather had already gone away. 

Got on the train! We had to avoid several high school aged girls with skiing gear to get to our seats haha.


As you can see it started off to be a rainy day. We didn't let it dampen our spirits and it paid off because it turned out to be a very nice day.


Once we arrived in Voss it already started to turn to better weather.

Bus Trip and Gudvangen

 Once the train arrived in Voss we only had 15 minutes to make it to the bus that was going to take us on our next segment of the trip. So there wasn't time to look around much. Interesting side note about Voss is that it is the extreme sports capital of Norway. Lots of parajumping etc....

The bus however was parked right next to the big lake in Voss which is quite a nice site.

 Once we started the bus ride we began to see a lot more beautiful Norwegian landscape and sights! The bus was taking us to Gudvangen where we were scheduled to catch a ferry ride through some of the fjords of Norway.
Church in voss.
 
Some of the mountains surrounding Voss. Lots of skiing opportunities here.
 
An example of a waterfall along the way. These sights are pretty common in Norway due to melting snow and high cliff faces.

Some houses tucked away into the Norwegian hill sides.
 
Bus ride had some fellow American toursits on it and you can see a frozen lake in this picture.
 
You can see how tall and steep some of these mountains are formed by glaciers and rivers.

Close up view.

    Once we made it to Gudvangen there was a tavern that we had a quick bit to eat at. It had a gift shop for some touristy purchases as well, although we didn't partake in that at this stop. We spent the rest of our time waiting for the ferry by walking around outside and admiring some of the sights.
Made it to Gudvangen! Was raining when we got there.


OMG I'm in Norway!

Cool pedestrian bridge near the tavern.

Selfie time

View from the pedestrian bridge. Such beautiful mountains, if only the sun was out a little more.


Another view

Look at how clear this water is! Sure didn't want to take a swim though haha.

Lily contemplating it.
   
Got our American tourist friends from Minnesota to oblige in taking a photo of us.


Ferry for scale.

Goodbye Gudvangen.

Oh yeah there was this while we were waiting for the ferry. First Avalanche I have ever witnessed I believe. Lily will probably hate me for sharing this video because she sounds a little freaked out haha. Its also a little hard to see, but you can still hear it. I caught the tail end of it too.



On the Ferry!

The ferry was to bring us from Gudvangen to Flåm along a fjord while seeing some really great views. We got to see small fishing villages and beautiful landscapes along the way. The ferry had a cafe that you could order food and beverage at. It had a covered area to stay out of the rain and you could also go out onto the main deck to take some great photos. I will just mainly let you scroll through the beautiful photos that we took at your leisure. This part of the trip hands down is what makes it worth it. I mean why else do you go to Norway but to see the fjords.

Start our trip to Flåm





Brought the Soco along with us along with some snacks. We ordered a coke and made a mixed drink in my water bottle. We were booze cruising Norwegian style.


Lily taking a photo of me while discretely trying to make our mixed drink.
 
You can see a hint of a rainbow. What a beautiful day!



Rainbow 2.0


Wind in our faces















No cruise shit? we were confused by this one haha.



Flåm!

Once we made it to Flåm we had plenty of time to wander around and explore. Maybe 2.5 hrs? While here we got some food and drink, and did a little bit of touristy shopping.
Add caption

Courtesy of lily. In a Flåm gift shop.

 


 Flåm was a really cool little town. But probably the coolest thing about it in my opinion is that it was the home to a Norwegian micro brew called Ægir. Website here. Unfortunately it was closed when we were here but all of the restaurants in the town had it on tap so we got to try it out. After we grabbed some food we grabbed a few pints and sat down at the bar looking out the window. While there we ran into two American tourists who were very friendly and had a nice chat. They were from Portland Oregon, and were here for a big cross country ski race in Norway. It is an amateur event but you have to qualify and people come for it from all over the world.

Ægir beer is very good and you should try to get your hands on it if you can. 


Waiting for our train to Myrdal!

 Flåm to Myrdal railway.

Next portion of our journey was from Flåm to Myrdal. It is a special rail line that runs between those two towns.








We then got to a point on the rail line where they stop the train and you can get out and take some photos.





It was a waterfall but it is kinda hard to tell from this photo.

 Myrdal to Oslo 

Once in Myrdal we transfered back onto the main country rail lines and had the remainder of the day one trip on that train. We got to take some more great photos as the sun was setting and appreciate the long day we just had.
Waiting for the train in Myrdal
 This portion of the train ride was starting to get dark but also the highest up in the mountains we went. You can see how different the terrain was simply just by how white it was outside.





 



 
Ski Lift near Geilo at night.

Ski Lift two

The rest of the train ride was pretty dark and when we got into Oslo we just made it to our hotel as passed out. It was a long day of travelling and we got in kinda late.

Norway in a Nutshell day 2

We got to spend day 2 all to ourselves in Oslo. Free reign. We had the plan to go get our Oslo pass which gave us access to public transit and museums and go wherever we desired. Well that was what Lily thought the plan was. I also had another surprise in store for this trip and as Lily later found out I had planned to propose :D. I will document the proposal in my next blog post so for this one I will stick to our touristy activities.

Grabbing breakfast at the hotel before starting our day.


Cool old church on our way to pick up our Oslo pass
 First thing we wanted to do was go get our Oslo pass. I pulled up on my phone the address of the Oslo visitor center and off we went. It was supposed to be right next to city hall, but after we walked there we quickly realized it has been moved to another location. Apparently it had been moved right next to the train station and google had not caught up yet. Oh well we just got to walk around some more!

While we were lost looking for the Oslo visitor center took a picture in front of city hall.

The national theater.

One of the main square next to the national theater.
 Before we headed back to the train station to pick up our Oslo pass we decided to check out the Royal Palace first. This is where King Harold V (eller Kong Harold i Norsk) lives when he is in Oslo.
The royal palace.



A statue of King Christian out front

Close up of the palace.



Lily taking surprise shots of me while pulling out the map haha


A view looking back at the city


They have guards marching back and forth. Not as famous as Buckingham Palace but still cool.
On our walk back to the Train station to pick up the Oslo Pass.

University of Oslo

Great view of a typical street in Oslo

Public ice skating rink

National Parliament. There were actually protests going on out front. We had no idea what they were about, but there was TV there.

Main street in Oslo.

A view of Karl Johans Gate

 After we got our Oslo passes we went straight to the Nobel Peace Center. We took hardly any photos at all because we were just soaking it in. If you ever make it to Oslo this is a must see on you list. Really puts a lot of things into perspective and the exhibits are really well done. It doesn't even take much time out of your day.




Great visit must see.


 After the Nobel Peace Center we walked around the harbour and took in some of the views. This is also right about when I proposed to my now fiancée. It was a beautiful day and the perfect moment. I will share some of the photos from that in my next blog post.




 








These must be some high rent condos

More high rent living


Aker Brygge district. Used to be old shipping warehouses.


FDR statue outside of the fortress.
 We later found out that the FDR statue in Oslo is due to a speech he gave supporting the Norwegian people during WWII. It turns out there was a lot of world angst against the Norwegians as it was believed that they just let the Germans in during the Occupation in WWII. More Here.

Site of my Proposal.

Another view from in-front of FDR.

 After the proposal we spent time calling family and friends and grabbed some lunch after all of the emotions. So after that we decided to take a look at the Fortress and the Oslo Opera house. Oh and the National WWII resistance museum.

View from the fortress

Close up of the fortress. Still used as a military office building today.


That tall curvy building way in the back... thats the ski jump from the 1994 Oslo winter Olympics

Is this where the jail was??

Inside the fortress

The WWII National Resistance museum was really good and worth the visit for anyone that is interested in WWII history. Wish I had take more photos. Cause I just ended up with a swastica on a map lol.

View from the fortress as the sun is starting to go down.
  Next we took the walk over to the Oslo Opera house. I really cannot say enough about what an architecturally cool building this is. It is designed so anyone can easily walk up onto the roof. It is free flowing in the process too. It almost seems as though it was designed to have people on it. My only regret is not being able to see a performance here.


  


Views from the top.








The walk up
   



Nightly News?
Got to go inside. Just not inside the actual performance hall.


I dont normally take pictures of urinals but these were pretty frickin cool.

Same with the bathroom stall doors.

From inside the building

Coat rack room


Inside the building

After that we went back to the hotel room and took a little nap before going out to dinner.

View from the Hotel room.

 All in all that day we walked close to 13 miles. We made reservations at a cool restaurant a little outside the city center called Olympen. Website here. Absolutely great beer selection and awesome food.

Beer specials of the day

Had to try the Ægir beer again

Beautiful bride to be.

Before.

After

All in all it was a magical day in Oslo. I just wish we had more time to spend. I got to go later on with my family and will post that in a blog update.

Norway in a Nutshell day 3

The 3rd day was simply a 7 hour train ride back from Oslo to Bergen. But it was simply beautiful and worth it if you want to see A LOT of country side in a short time. Plus its cheap.

Was snowing in the morning before we left.





 
High up in the mountains

That's somebody's cabin

You can see how some of these houses are built in really peculiar places.

 




Frozen dock in a fjord or lake


 
Ski slopes that were lit up on our ride into Oslo.
 

What a ride!

Outside the train station in Bergen. We made it!

Dusk in Bergen


   Bergen Visit

Lily took the remainder of these from her travels in Bergen. I had to work a bit so she got to go exploring without me. I did get to join her a few times for food. I will say this... Lily has quite the eye for good photographs. Enjoy and sorry for the long post :) Thanks for reading.







Never too far north for good Louisana Creole.



Bryggen historic old warf district.



































We had such an amazing visit and I was so glad I was able to share this experience with the woman I love the most. Stay tuned for the engagement post!

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