driving Norway, update after the trip


Just got back from my first trip to Norway, and wanted to give some of my feedback for anyone that might be looking for similar info in the future. I posted here a few months back when I first started planning:https://ift.tt/2vrLjeK a quick run down of what the final plans looked like:We flew to Iceland for a day first as it was far cheaper to fly from the US to Iceland and then to Norway. It was also nice to break up the flying just a bit (although the flights home were all one after the other so it wasn't any better).After Iceland, we flew into Bergen and stayed at CityBox for the night. The CityBox was modern and nice but parking and breakfast are not included, so that was a let down. I'm not much of a city person, so we didn't spend a lot of time in Bergen.From Bergen, we got a rental car and drove past Steinsdalfossen waterfall (we stopped for a few minutes for quick pictures... it's not a great waterfall). From there we went southeast to Odda where we saw the Latefossen waterfall which was much better. We walked around Odda some and just enjoyed the smaller town and we stayed at the Vikinghaug apartments which were very nice and large (but again, no breakfast included).Next day, we drove up to Flam and briefly walked around but found it far too touristy so we didn't stay long. A fjord tour is a nice thing to do here (we didn't at this point because we had one reserved in Geirangerfjord). If we'd had more time, I would definitely have done the train between Flam and Bergen. A lot of cruise ships come through here too, which might be nice. All in all, the town of Flam is very overrated in my mind, but doing a cruise or the train for the surrounding areas would be nice. We drove to the Borgund Stave Church for their small museum and walkthrough. This was a neat stop to be able to see some of the older architecture. On the way you get to drive the Laerdaltunnel which is quite neat. We went to Voringfossen but couldn't see much from the lookout points... we didn't hike down but looking back we definitely should have. Basically, don't go to Voringfossen unless you plan on hiking down to the bottom... the views from the lookouts aren't really worth it if the drive is out of your way. We also went up to the Stegastein lookout which was a great view. We slept in Aurland that night. It has a nice small town charm and far less people than Flam.From there, we made a 6 hour drive through Jotenheim national park up to Geirangerfjord, stopping at Vettisfossen for the hike. The Vettis hike was excellent, but not as easy as I expected from reading about it online. There are a lot of very steep parts. My wife has a bad knee and she was pretty sore by the end. Also, expect it to take you 4 hours minimum from the parking lot to the falls round trip if you are in average shape. The locals kept telling us it would take less time... but we noticed afterwards that the signs to the falls specifically indicate it will take two hours one direction. Anyway, I highly recommend this hike, just make sure to account for the time. The drive between the Flam area and Valldal (where we ended up sleeping the night) is breathtaking. You get to see all sorts of varying ecosystems. Jotenheim is a lush green forested area (it is borderline tropical, but doesn't fit the exact definition of tropical... and I don't recall the name for this at the moment)... from there you drive through some very high mountains and there are waterfalls and enormous glaciers everywhere, and then you drive down into the Geiranger area with extremely windy mountain roads and some breaktaking overlooks. Be prepared for some EXTREMELY awful roads... we spoke with some locals who told us it is supposed to be some of the worst roadway in Norway and that's saying something considering most of Norway has terrible roads, but if you can handle the roads, driving through is certainly worth it for the views, and there are plenty of places you can easily pull out for pictures.Geiraingerfjord is beautiful. We went out for an early morning fjord cruise and it was quite nice to cover a lot of "ground" on the fjord in a small amount of time. The town of Geiranger is touristy like Flam, and they also have cruise ships coming in. But I liked the actual town of Geiranger much more than I did Flam. It wasn't quite as crowded. The "Eagle's Road" has a neat overlook at the top to get a good lookout at the fjord and surrounding area.From there we drove to Alesund where we ate, walked around the city, and stayed the night. It's a nice city, but again it's a typical coastal city... in many ways it actually reminded me of a place like San Francisco.We then took an early morning flight from Alesund to Leknes (Lofoten). (Side note, taxis are outrageous in Norway)We stayed in the Gimsoy area in Lofoten for 2 nights where we drove up and down the islands visiting many of the towns (A, Reine, Nusfjord, Ramberg... etc) and seeing the various beaches and sights along the way. We were intending to do the Reinebringen (sp?) hike but had read info online that suggested the trail is in really bad shape and that they are asking people not to do the hike so they can repair it... we stopped at a local hiking shop to ask about it and the girl working there was very hesitant to give us any info about the hike because they clearly don't want people on it... we clarified we just wanted information and she was very helpful telling us about it and the conditions... she then suggested a different hike that is 2 hours to the top instead of the 1 hour for Reinebringen... we opted not to do either since we wanted to respect their wishes to keep off of Reinebringen but didn't feel like doing another 4 hour hike. Lofoten has some amazing mountain and coastal views. Staying in Gimsoy (on the northern side of the islands), it was convenient for us to see the midnight sun from the beach both nights which is a treat.From there, we took the speedboat/passenger ferry from Svolvaer to Bodo, slept in Bodo for the night and flew back to the US the next day.It was a VERY busy trip, but we packed a ton into a small period of time and got to see some great sights of Norway. Choosing to fly from Alesund to Lofoten was a very nice time saver. Norway is not nearly as expensive as people talk about. I was expecting it to be far worse based on the reactions I had always heard from others. Eating out for a nice meal, you will pay about the same as you will in the US once you account for what you would be adding to the cost of the meal by tipping in the US. Gas prices however are FAR higher, and there are a handful of other things that are slightly higher than the US. Hotels cost about the same per night as a standard US hotel.Norway was an excellent trip and I highly recommend it to anyone who might be thinking about it. We spent a decent chunk of change on the flights, rental cars, hotels, etc... but it was definitely worth it.This was a VERY brief overview of the trip and I've probably left out some stuff that might be useful to others, so if anyone has questions please ask. via /r/travel https://ift.tt/2M6YYz6

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