Ya can’t afjord not to visit! Jacinta’s adventure to the top of the World. Land of the midnight sun awaits
Jacinta from Travelbiz was thrilled to explore Norway, see the stunning fjords and even travel inside the Arctic Circle! Please take my advice and never miss an opportunity to go to Norway. It is beyond beautiful. A direct flight service with Wideroe (flight duration only 1 hour 40 minutes and staff are delightful) from Dublin into Bergen every Thursday and Sunday, offers the perfect excuse to visit our Nordic neighbours. Bergen is a truly splendid city (approx. 270K inhabitants) with its UNESCO World Heritage waterfront, wooden streets, traditional shops, cafes and pubs, the city is small and accessible. A maritime museum provided the background to local shipbuilding and the incredible history of Stockfish (dried cod which kept communities alive and was then and still is widely exported.) Linn Kjos Falkenberg (Visit Bergen) brought us to the Edvard Munch Museum in Bergen. Although his most famous painting ‘The Scream’ is housed in Oslo, the Munch collection is noteworthy. We rode the funicular to admire Bergen from above, then on to an amazing tasting menu at the Art Deco style “Engen” restaurant.
Our wonderful host, Kristoffer Furstenberg (Fjord Norway) drove us to Norheimsund on the Hardangar Fjord (about 90 minutes from Bergen) and we had an exhilarating rib ride with Hardangar Fjord Adventures. Thor (God of Thunder) was at the helm – our Norse God! Wrapped up like creatures from the deep, we witnessed stunning scenery and the cleanest, crystal clear water imaginable. Waterfalls dot the landscape here and they are really spectacular. Most scenic spots have public toilets, hailed as architectural gems, and some even can be classed as a Loo with a View!
Apple orchards are plentiful in this community and, joined by Hege Vedvik (Hardangarfjord), we sample delicious cider and learn of a successful family business at Sise Gard. Spanning several generations, a proper cottage industry thrives and the farm shop sells all manner of local comestibles and even sheep fleeces! On a branch of Hardangar Fjord, the village of Ulvik is chocolate box pretty with colourful houses tumbling towards the water. It was also a delight to tour a small museum, dedicated to Norway’s foremost poet, Olav H. Hauge.
Flying north to Bodo (pronounced Buda), we’re inside the Arctic Circle and the temperature drops a few degrees. It wasn’t Baltic, maybe a teeny bit Arctic, but we were on top off the world, almost! Incredibly, we see the Northern Lights on our very first night. The luck of the Irish! Personally, I’m beyond thrilled. Our lovely hosts, Rigmor Myhre (Northen Norway Tourist Board) and Julie Abelsen (Visit Bodo) show us what life is like so far north. Bodo will be European Capital of Culture 2024, the first ever city north of the Arctic Circle to hold the prestigious title. Situated in the county of Nordland, 1,000 plus events are planned for Bodo and its surrounds, so what better time to visit? We have another breathtaking (literally) rib ride on Stella Polaris where we sail on Saltstraumen, the world’s strongest maelstrom (where converging tides meet) and have a unique Stone Age experience on shore! Saltstraumen Marine Park (estd 2013), a fantastic dive centre, aims to protect sea creatures and marine life whilst educating and teaching snorkelling and dive skills. Outdoor pursuits are the coolest way to live in Norway. We have a healthy hike followed by a mouthwatering dinner in Fiskeborsen, a sustainable food workshop with genuine folk who advocate natural foods, foraged in their local habitat, promoting a new dining experience. Lunch and beer tasting at Badin Brewery truly is a unique experience and must be a first inside the Arctic Circle!
Back to Bergen and we end our amazing trip on a high note (no pun intended!), to visit the delightfully evocative summer home of the world- famous composer, Edvard Grieg, on the outskirts of Bergen. The Land of the Midnight Sun won’t disappoint.