040118 fjord norway & jotunheimen

Kicking off my series of exchange recap posts with the first trip to Norway! Ever since I saw a picture of the Norwegian fjords for the very first time when i was 14 (or something) or years I’ve dreamt of visiting the place and hiking its mountains and driving through fjord land. My Instagram feed has always been littered with photos of Norway from photographers and to have been able to experience some these places in person and see them with my own eyes is still quite surreal even when I think about it now.

Trip started from Oslo, which was ridiculously expensive and slightly disappointing. Visited a couple of museums which were okay, and the view of the opera house was ruined by surrounding construction. It was thankfully, the only disappointing part of the trip.

We took a bus from Oslo to Gjendesheim in Jotunheimen national park after that to hike the Besseggen ridge; even though I went on so many trips after this one (with some insanely beautiful places as well) I dare say that Besseggen was the single most beautiful place I’ve visited on exchange (and possibly in my life). The hike was on the Norwegian DNT website listed as an intermediate level hike but after this hike and Preikestolen after we learnt that Norwegian hiking standards are probably higher than most out there. Besseggen took 7.5 hours to complete, and last 2-3 hours of which was spent trying to survive and get to the end ASAP. The feeling after completing the hike was reminiscent of the feeling after a route march but for the views and the feeling up there I’d do it again in a heartbeat, blisters and sore legs and ruined knee and all.

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Barely 30min into the first ascent and already getting crazy views

The Besseggen ridge is a mountain ridge passing between two lakes, one a deep blue colour and the other with a greener hue. The views from the top were insane and the feeling of knowing that such places exist and that I was there is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to adequately describe.

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We were really blessed with the weather that day as well, it rained both the day before and after our hike. The hike itself contained many steep ascents and descents; one particular portion was a nearly vertical climb that required us to use all four limbs to ascend the rocks along the thin ridge. It led to the highest point of the hike, and with a 900m vertical drop flanking us on both sides it was quite scary too.

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Triumphant!! After the gruelling vertical climb portion

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Moody scenes on the long climb down (which screwed up my knee for the next few weeks)

Following the Besseggen hike we spent a day travelling back to Oslo by bus and then catching a flight to Stavanger, where we stayed overnight and then headed to the Preikestolen mountain lodge for the next hike. This hike took about 4-5 hours and was considerably easier (and more crowded) than Besseggen, with paved steps for most of the hike and an insane amount of people.

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Taking a break along the path

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Peek of the Lysefjord on the way up

When we arrived at the top it was flooded with people; rain and fog was setting in and we decided to climb even higher to get a nice view of the Pulpit Rock itself. We got lucky, reaching a point of sufficient elevation with a good view just before the the fog completely descended and the rain came in.

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Fog setting over the Pulpit Rock

Once the rain started we started finding our way down, which took awhile because we couldn’t find the path that we took down. After being lost for awhile we found another hiker who was headed down and together we figured out the way down together. Once we got back down to the Pulpit Rock it was nearly empty, probably because every left when it started raining. We really got lucky.

These two hikes were the main highlights of the trip for me; the following days were spent travelling to Odda and then to Bergen. Bergen was a really nice city and I’m glad we decided to spend more time there, not to mention that the airbnb we got there was insane.

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Bryggen

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$30 meal at Bergen Fish Market (worth it)

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The apartment’s living room

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On top of Fløyen overlooking Bergen

The trip started exchange off on an amazing note, really, setting the tone for the next few months and living up to all the expectations I had of Norway as a country.

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