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I captured this image earlier in the summer. I remember being out taking pictures just because I wanted to, not because I knew it was going to be a good sunrise. In fact, I think I remember it raining a little bit after I created this image and being surprised that there was even any color at all. The whole mood was very dark and grey. I was grateful to have gotten this 10 minutes of color because it turned out AMAZING!

My favorite part of the image is that little cloudy-ness you see on the bottom of the image. I don’t remember what that’s from? Is it a hard core cloud reflection? Or some moldy-ness from the reflecting pool? I dunno. Either way, I think it looks really cool and I love how it’s breaking up the reflection to make it look a little different.

Also the birds! They’re so teeny tiny in the image. Can you even see them? At first I thought it was a whole bunch of dust spots that I would have to get rid of, but when I zoomed in on them it was actually it’s just a whole bunch of birds 🙂 A photo trip that lasted only 20 minutes but totally worth the early morning wake up call 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/125th sec at ISO 1600 with my Sony A7II 70-200mm zoom lens. I did not have my tripod with me this morning so the ISO had to be bumped up to help compensate. I’ve also noticed that shooting with a long lens may cause some extra shake. So just to be sure I can capture a super sharp image, I’ll usually bump up my ISO a lot. Plus it was super cloudy, so you know… Gotta do what you gotta do to get the shot!

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If you asked either me or Andrew what our favorite part of the road trip was, we would both say Dalsnibba. I think it was both of our favorites because it was so unexpected. Let me paint you a picture.

So driving from FlĂ„m to Geiranger was our longest day of travel. Not to mention that the day before we had put in the wrong address in our GPS and ended up driving an unintended extra 2 hours. So when we left FlĂ„m we made 100% sure we had the right address and I think we both just wanted to get to Geiranger as fast as possible so we didn’t have to spend another day in the car. Midway through our drive, Andrew and I stopped for lunch which was just a quick sandwich from the grocery store and we switched places driving. It was my turn to drive. Andrew was tired so he put his seat down and took a nap while I navigated the Norwegian roads.

It was rainy, it was foggy and hard to see even 5 feet ahead of me but I made it through all the downhill hairpin turns. We finally got to our cabin that we were staying at and decided to walk around the little town area. That’s when we saw a poster and sign for Dalsnibba. It looked beautiful so we took a picture of it and kept it moving.

The next morning we ate breakfast and went on a little hike. After the hike was over, we knew we still wanted to stay in Geiranger but didn’t know what to do. Our next destination was only 2 hours away so we wanted to make the most out of the the beautiful Geirangerfjord. Luckily we took a picture of that poster and decided that we should just go checkout what it was. When I put the address in the GPS, I realized it was probably off the road we drove in from, but couldn’t see it because it was so foggy. Holy COW. As soon as we started making our way up the mountain, my jaw immediately dropped. I could not believe that both of us had missed out on such amazing views! Like seriously, it was probably one of the most surprising and beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

This was taken on the very top of the mountain at the Dalsnibba skywalk. I used my 70-200mm to zoom in on the snow because I thought the low hanging clouds would bring in this extra moodiness. But I’m also in love with the texture. Man, I loved that long lens while on this trip. There are just so many details that would be difficult to see if it weren’t for that extra zoom.

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/8000th ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens. 

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Just got home from an amazing trip to Norway. It was honestly one of the best trips I have ever taken! The scenery, the culture, the experience was something I will treasure for a long time. But it took a lot of time and research to plan the whole trip. So I thought I would take some time out and lay out everything I did to prepare for the trip to help future travelers.

Side note: This trip was Andrew and I’s big trip for the year but he didn’t plan any of it. He was so great that he let me plan whatever I wanted to do and he was going to be ok about it 🙂 So obviously I planned this trip all around taking pictures. 

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Norway before I booked this trip. Obviously I have seen some stunning images of the country on Instagram but it wasn’t until I was saw this one old episode of the Amazing Race that really got me interested in going. I know, cheesy but true. The very next day I received an email from TravelZoo with a promotion to travel to Norway. I figured that if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is!

Prior to booking, I read that the best landscapes were along the west coast so Andrew and I booked round trip tickets to Bergen for a week. From then on I was all over pinterest and tripadvisor looking for recommendations of what to do in Norway but in the end it was the advice of my friend, Frithjov who helped out the most.

The Goal:

  1. To drive as much of the Norwegian coast as possible without being in a car all day
  2. Not have to drive past the same sights when traveling back to Bergen
  3. Some short hikes here and there would be great

Frithjov asked one of his friends for recommendations and laid out an ambitious itinerary for us including Kristiansund, DombĂ„s and Odda.  But I did not want to have to be on a very strict time table. So after a lot more research and several changes, here’s what our more relaxed schedule finally ended up being

Side note: Booking a ticket on the Hurtigruten was key! It’s a cruise ship that stops at many ports along the west coast of Norway. Luckily you can customize your travel with shorter segments. I’m so thankful for that ship and the ability to bring back the car with us back to Bergen. So booking this ship was the first thing I did and the rest of our travel based on the fact that we were going to take it from Ålesund to Bergen at the end of our trip. Consider goal #2 accomplished.

Day 1: Land in Bergen

Pick up rental car from Rent-a-Wreck – we rented a small automatic car (Helloooo Americans!) Having a small car definietly worked in our favor, especially in cities like Bergen and being able to navigate through the streets easily. If we traveled in the colder, winter months, I don’t think the small car would have sufficed.

Make way to hotel. We stayed at the Scandic Neptun which was in a great location. It was right by the waterfront and an easy walk to FlÞibanen Funicular which is a tram that will take you all the way up to Mount FlÞyen. We just bought an one way ticket up so that we could walk down the mountain (goal #3). The views are spectacular.

Bergen, Norway, FlĂžibanen funicular, mt flĂžyen, landscape, rain, weather, travel, visit, scenery, west coast, mountain, hike,

Left picture: View from the top of Mt FlÞyen  Right picture: Saw some cute goats on top

Then we walked straight to a grocery store so we could pick up food and snacks to start our road trip the next day.

Day 2: Bergen -> FlÄm (2.5 hr drive)

The official start to our road trip! To ensure we had good internet accessibility while on the road, we rented a Tep Pocket Wifi. It was so great! The unit itself was about the size of my iphone but it came in a little traveling case that kept the cord and all the necessary information we needed all in one place. If you’re traveling anywhere internationally, I’d highly recommend getting one of these. It’s worth it for the peace of mind.

Pro Tip: Make sure you plug in the right hotel address into your GPS. We ended up driving somewhere an hour and a half out of the way. It all worked out because the stops we made along the way were totally worth it. What should have been a 2.5 hr car drive ended up being 5 hrs.

While in FlĂ„m we stayed at the Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri. It an older hotel but the shower’s water pressure was amazing and the beds were comfortable. What really more could you ask for?

It’s also conveniently located right at the base of the road to Stegastein, the ideal viewing point for the Sognefjord. The view is incredible!

Sognefjord, norway, travel, visit, fjord, rain, weather, hairpin road, norwegian, flÄm, Stegastein, flam, landscape

View from the top. It was drizzling while I was capturing this image so that is the reason for greyness but we were the only ones there! I think the weather must have discouraged people from visiting.

Day 3: FlÄm -> Geiranger (5 hr drive)

The next morning we woke up, ate the hotel breakfast and headed to the FlĂ„msbana which is a train that goes right through FlĂ„m valley all the way to Myrdal. It’s about an hour long train ride one way with beautiful views of the valley and waterfalls. To be honest though, if I had to do it over again, I would try to either just do the one way (we couldn’t because of we still had our rental car) or just skip it entirely. You see pretty similar views while driving.

Left Picture: Seen from inside the FlÄmsbana Right Picture: Kjosfossen stop

But you do get to stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall which is the definite highlight of the entire ride.

There are plenty of seats going at all different times of the day. We booked our tickets the night before but I don’t think it would even be a problem to book them the day of.

After the two hour train ride, we headed to Geiranger. Our longest drive of the entire trip but my favorite stop out of all the places that we went to. Along the way we stopped at scenic areas to take pictures. But after a while, everything was super foggy! Imagine driving downhill, on Norway’s hairpin turns in the fog not really being able to see more than 5ft ahead of you. Yea! It was a little nuts. But we also had no idea about the beautiful views we were missing out on because of the fog! More about that later though.

Pretty much U-Turning all the way down.

We stayed in these great cabins by the water hosted by Geirangerfjorden Feriesenter. Out of all the places that we stayed, this was definietly my favorite. Although we didn’t get free breakfast, we did have a fully equipped kitchen that made dinner and breakfast morning super easy. We just went to the grocery store and bought some chicken wings and other things you can easily heat up in the oven and had a great dinner. Breakfast was leftovers 🙂 There was something about making our own meal that made it feel so much more like home. It felt so comfortable and the view was absolutely amazing. I’d definietly stay here again. I actually wish we stayed one more night in Geiranger because this was my favorite stop of the entire trip.

Day 4: Geiranger -> Molde (2 hr drive)

Geirangerfjord is amazingly beautiful. Too bad it was so foggy that we didn’t see everything when we were driving in so we really didn’t get the full magnificence. Either way, we woke up early so that we could maximize our time in Geiranger before the “short” drive to Molde. We started off with a hike in VesterĂ„s. It was a quick 30 minute hike with beautiful views of Geirangerfjord. The highlight of the hike, at least for me, was running into 5 cute little alpacas! It took everything I had not to drop my camera and cuddle them.

*SQUUEEEZZZEEE*

Afterwards, Andrew and I remembered we saw this sign for Geiranger Skywalk: Dalsnibba. We didn’t really know what it was but decided to go for it. HOLY COW if you asked either one of us, this was definietly the highlight of the entire Norwegian trip! We drove up the road that we had driven the day before but without the fog. We were missing out on some crazy beautiful views! I was shocked.  Literally my jaw dropped and didn’t close until we were back down the mountain.

Getting into Dalsnibba there’s an entrance fee. The only time we had an entrance fee for anything and I don’t exactly remember how much it was in kroner but it turned out to be about $15 USD for the car. WORTH IT. Still driving up the mountain, we were surprised to be driving through the snow as well! Surprised in a good way though. We were fully prepared for cold, wet weather so it was perfect. At the end of the road, you’re on top of the mountain. It’s windy, cold, and extremely beautiful. I loved every second we were up there. Seriously, if you don’t do anything else that I recommend from this trip, you should do this one! I can’t say it enough but it was absolutely stunning.

After taking about 500 pictures, we drove back down the mountain and started our drive to Molde. Luckily on the way over we had to drive past Mehdi’s viewpoint which is on the other side of Geiranger. After Dalsnibba, it wasn’t as spectacular but worth the quick stop.

2 car ferries later, we ended up in Molde. I had booked two nights at the Thon Hotel Moldefjord through orbitz.com thinking that we would be close to Åndalsnes. That was when I realized that orbitz is probably only good for bigger towns/cities in Europe or America in general. We were actually 1.5 hrs and 1 ferry ride away from Åndalsnes and I wanted to be closer. Luckily I purchased trip insurance and was able to cancel our second night and booked another cabin close to Åndalsnes through booking.com. One of the best last minute decisions I’ve ever made. 

View from Varden

Turns out Molde is one of the bigger towns that we visited and luckily there was plenty for us to do with our unintentional visit there. Andrew and I drove up to the Varden viewpoint and spent the best sunset we had (the only sunset we had without rain) looking down Molde from above. Both of us left the mountain smiling.

Day 5: Molde -> Åndalsnes (1.5 hour drive)

Woke up the next morning to our free breakfast and then we were off! Andrew and I didn’t waste any time and headed straight to Åndalsnes. The road to Åndalsnes was beautiful. I especially loved the Romsdalsfjorden. It was so reflective. Luckily I was driving so I was able to make the immediate decision to pull over and grab a few shots.

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Our first real stop was Trollstigen. Based on the many comments I’ve received when posting this image on social media, it’s a pretty popular destination for car people. I can see why! But there are so many roads in Norway like this (the foggy road in Geiranger for example), I just think this is the most famous one because there are several viewpoints which make it easy to photograph. Again, it was raining but it was still really cool to see.

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Afterwards we went straight to our cabin, Trollstigen Resort. I can’t tell you enough how much I loved this cabin life while in Norway. We had so much more room to “live”, our views each time were absolutely incredible and they have been in the most convient places. I would not have done it any other way. Both of us were pretty exhausted so we spent the rest of the afternoon just resting. As sunset approached we tried our best to find a hike but got lost and ended up missing it. We went back to Romsdalsfjorden. Dinner was another grocery store food reheating session in our kitchen, but it was a great way to end the night.

Day 6 Åndalsnes -> Ålesund -> Hurtigruten (1.5 hours)

Probably my second favorite day of all. A very close second. We finally woke up to a beautiful morning with barely any clouds in the sky. It was the perfect day to tackle the longest and hardest hike of our entire trip (and maybe my life), Rampestreken. It is only 550m (about .35 miles) but you’re going straight uphill the ENTIRE time. Some of the hike has stone steps or a little wooden walkway but most of it was straight up dirt trails and walking across tree roots. I was definietly not used to the elevation and it was a little ego crushing seeing these Norwegian grandmas crushing the trail and actually passing me. Props! I want to be like you when I grow up.

But the view on top is AMAZING! Different than Geiranger and almost as breathtaking. Definitely bring plenty of water and wearing 3 pairs of pants and 4 layers on top was not needed at all! After 100m, Andrew and I were undressing and shoving all our warm clothes in my backpack.

It was difficult but there’s no doubt in my mind that I would do it again! The reward was way too sweet not to.

After the hike, Andrew and I were ready for lunch. We had some left over food from our grocery hauls so we ended up driving to a scenic spot with a bench and finished everything we had left.

Our final destination for the day was Ålesund to hop on to the Hurtigruten. We thought that we could spend the afternoon in Ålesund but it ended up being really rainy (the most rain we had seen the entire trip) and on a Sunday. We didn’t put 2 and 2 together that many things would be closed on a Sunday. So we ended up enjoying a really long, relaxed dinner and found a Best Western hotel that we were able to sit in their common area and relax until it was time to hop onto to Hurtigruten. I’m so thankful for that Best Western. We were able to sit on their comfortable couches, use the bathroom and generally relax and stay sheltered from the rain and wind. Otherwise we would have had to wait in our car until 12:00a to board the Hurtigruten.

The Hurtigruten was scheduled to leave Ålesund at 1a. We had to be at the port by 12:30a. We were there by 12 and was able to drop off our car, head to our cabin and in bed by 12:45. It was a great way to end such a long day.

Day 7 Hurtigruten -> Bergen

We woke up on the Hurtigruten and took full advantage of the breakfast. Another breakfast buffet that offered the typical foods you would see in Norwegian hotels. Not to sound like a broken record, but it was raining. So Andrew and I took our time exploring the ship, walking on the different floors (I think there were 7 or 8 total) and finally ended up sitting at a table by a window and just watched the view. We docked in Bergen at 2:30p and it was really cool to see the city from the water.

Captured from the back of the Hurtigruten

Getting off the boat was a breeze and so orderly. We drove straight to our second hotel in Bergen, City Box and I loved that fact that it was in a different part of the city as our original stay in Bergen. This time we were about a mile away from the water but it was far enough that we were able to walk around and enjoy a different part of the city, a more central part. From then on, we didn’t have an agenda. We just wanted to enjoy our final evening in Norway and just take our time. We ended up eating at Pingvinen which I’m assuming is Norwegian for “the penguin”. It was the top recommended restaurant on TripAdvisor so we walked over and both really enjoyed our dinner.

Guess what, it was raining so we ended up walking in the rain for a bit but ultimately called it an early evening and went back to the hotel.

Day 8 Bergen -> Home

The only downfall of City Box was that there was no free hotel breakfast 🙁 We ended up walking to another Scandic hotel that was close to City Box and paid for the breakfast buffet there. We had to catch our flight back home so we dropped off our rental car at Rent-A-Wreck and went straight to the airport.

Tips I learned along the way.

  • Almost everyone speaks english. We were actually surprised how seamless it seemed for some to switch from Norwegian to English and it made travel that much easier.
  • Norway, especially the southwestern coast is rainy even more so than Seattle and it comes out of nowhere. Bring plenty of layers and waterproof outerwear. An umbrella is a good idea too.
  • Orbitz is a great place to look up hotels and places to stay in bigger towns/cities in Europe. If you’re visiting some smaller areas, I’d highly highly suggest looking into booking.com. They have a much larger selection of places to stay at a better rate than Orbitz. I also saw many other travelers in Norway camp and car camp along the way, especially in the more rural parts of the country.
  • I first noticed while we were in Bergen that there are seating benches anywhere scenic.
  • Food is expensive but found it a little more manageable by eating free hotel breakfasts, eating a majority of our lunches/dinners from grocery store hauls and being selective when we ate out.
  • Car ferries. Being from America we weren’t used to anything like this but it was a pretty cool experience. Luckily, we never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a ferry to arrive. The summer time could be different.  If you’re wondering, all you really have to do is wait in line for the ferry to arrive. You drive up onto the boat and sit in your car until the man comes to collect your money. The fees vary from ferry to ferry but in general they were about $15 USD. Once you’ve paid, you’re free to walk around the ferry or sit in your car. All the ferries we were on had at least a place to buy some food, bathrooms or at least had a scenic view for us to enjoy. It was a great way to still travel and stretch our legs at the same time. If you do leave your car, there will be an alarm that sounds when you’re approaching your destination. At that time everyone hops back in to the car and you’ll be guided off the ferry once you’ve docked. Prior to leaving to Norway I read forums of people asking how to avoid ferries. I think it was a time issue that actually disturbed them about the ferry, but it was an experience that I was indifferent about and wouldn’t have really changed the route just to avoid them. I can see how it saved us a lot of time.

Checking out the views from the car ferry

Overall, I loved our trip to Norway. It was probably one of the best trips Andrew and I have had in awhile. I’d absolutely do it again but visit other parts of Norway, specifically Lofoten and more northern parts while taking more advantage of the Hurtigruten. So if you’re planning a trip to Norway, I hope this helped. If you have any additional questions, I’ll try my best to answer them so feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Sees.

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If you haven’t already, check out the travel guide I created for Norway. It basically lays out everything that we did on the trip including all our stops, hotels, and things I would have done differently. I loved our trip so much that I really felt the need to share all this information with future travelers. So if you know anyone who is planning a trip or wants to go, please share it with them. I know there are things I probably forgot to mention so if you have any questions about anything, please let me know. Otherwise, I envision myself updating the guide as I edit more images or if I can remember some details that I think are important.

This image was taken on Day 5 during “sunset”. I say “sunset” because we really didn’t see much sun while in Norway. It just so happened to be around the sunset time but it was raining. Andrew and I were a bit lost in finding a hiking trail so we decided just to just take some pictures around the Romsdalsfjorden. We pulled over near what looked like some office buildings but found this beautiful dock instead. I immediately hopped out of the car when Andrew said that he would sit this one out. I told him “10 minutes, tops” as I ran over to this scene. I took captured several images but was not happy with them. I felt like there needed to be some kind of foreground element. I ran back to the car and asked Andrew to come up. Being the amazing photo husband he is, he parked the car and came out to stand in the rain. I think adding the human element really made this image stand out. Thanks to him for standing there- but don’t feel bad. He knew what he was getting into when he married me 🙂 HAHA

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/250 ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.

 

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As you can tell by now, it’s really rainy in Norway or at least while we were visiting. Way more than I had expected. But in some ways it was a good thing and it definietly did not prevent us from doing anything we would have normally done. I think the clouds and rain brought a certain moodiness to all these images and I’m really liking it. For example, this image that I captured at “sunset” in Sognefjord in FlĂ„m, Norway.

Sognefjord was our first fjord experience while in Norway and I was super pumped to drive up to Stegastein to see it. Stegastein, is this beautiful outlook area where I expected to see tons of people. You drive up this really windy road with the famous Norwegian hairpin turns and at every corner was a beautiful viewpoint. To my huge surprise when we finally reached the top, Andrew and I were the only ones there! No bus full of people or anything. Literally the only car in the entire parking lot. I think all the rain, fog and drizzle chased everyone out. Honestly, there was a moment there where I thought we were in the wrong place because there was no one there. The other people must have found the real Stegastein or something better? Because how could no one be here? *Confused face emoji*

Anyways, it was beautiful and larger than life. It was really cool to see this up high perspective because being down by the water you would have never imagined there were so many layers to it. It may be difficult to see but there’s actually several waterfalls in this image too. I think there’s at least 4 captured. Can you see them?

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 1/320 sec at ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.