For those who know me, it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Scandinavia, and I’m not just talking about the fashion (although what outfit could possibly be greater than black skinny jeans, black jumper, black coat and an expertly-wound black scarf, with a colour pop of white blonde hair?)…
In love with Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a beautiful place. I was 10 years old when I decided I wanted to visit Sweden… I can’t exactly remember why, but I pestered my parents for years until I finally convinced them to take me to Gothenburg for my 15th birthday.
I pretty much fell in love with the place, came back to the UK and taught myself Swedish, vowing I would return to live there. Fast forward five years and I’d visited Gothenburg for a second time and gone to Copenhagen twice. Then, wanting to discover more of Scandinavia, I planned a route through Norway, Sweden and Finland named ‘Scandi Adventure’; convinced my friend what a great idea it was; and we booked it!
When I was at University, whenever I told people I wanted to move to Scandinavia, they’d laugh at me. I’m not sure why: maybe they thought I was joking? When I told them I was planning a holiday there, they asked why.
I think that Scandinavia definitely gets a hard time. A lot of people (especially my age) don’t seem to really care about travelling any further than to Magaluf or Kavos so they can go to the tacky strips with tacky clubs and tacky drinks. People tend to judge places even if they’ve never been – I guess people think Scandinavia is full of trees and elk, and that it’s ridiculously overpriced and no one could possibly afford to visit.
Having spent three weeks travelling across Scandinavia, I can safely say that this is definitely not the case (although Finland was inundated with trees!). So I thought, seeing as my holiday, which took me through four countries and nine cities, was without a doubt the best of my life, I would share it with you as a series of city guides, and maybe inspire you to visit Scandinavia too… although keep it a secret, it’s just between me and you!
My friend and I set off on our adventure on Monday 9th June 2014, flying from London Gatwick to Bergen, Norway. Stepping off the plane and into passport control the first thing I noticed was how happy everyone was. People were smiling at us (even passport control!) – it was a shock having come from England where everyone had their heads down!
We collected our luggage and caught the bus to central Bergen which was bustling with tourists although no one, except us, were British. After a wrong turn finding our hotel (which always seems to happen to us!) we changed into summer dresses as it was about 20 degrees, and set off to explore.
The Scandi adventure begins
Bergen is quite simply beautiful: its centre is mainly focussed around the harbour filled with boats for cruises, fjord tours and fishing boats. The ‘fisk torget’ or fish market is located at one end, with pretty coloured wooden buildings either side of the harbour.
Our first day consisted of us taking lots of pictures and visiting the tourist shops (one of which has a resident cat called Lars who is soooo cute!). I’m told that Bergen is the Manchester of Norway – in other words, it rains a lot – so we were really lucky with the weather; and I can see that if it did rain, Bergen doesn’t have that much to offer.
In any case, the sun was shining and we enjoyed a drink out by the harbour, before setting off for dinner and finding the perfect chicken burger. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Holberg, set just back off the harbour and the view from our window were more pretty wooden houses – residential-looking. We decided to have a wander up the hill behind us and were so glad we did – the views of the sea were beautiful and we found our own secret jetty where we stayed for two hours, watching the world go by and feeling so lucky that we had three weeks of exploring ahead of us.
The second day was really sunny again, so we bought cinnamon buns for breakfast and sat out on a bench in the sun. We had a look round the shops (to be honest, they weren’t that great in Bergen!) but I was excited to visit Moods of Norway.
We then went on a boat trip to see the fjords – the tour lasted four hours in total; and the sights we got to see were breathtakingly beautiful, although it was freezing cold. The funniest thing about the trip though, was a group of four sitting next to us who played dominos for four hours solid! They never once stepped outside the boat or looked out of the window – they carried on playing dominos and then when they got off the boat at the end, they took a picture of the harbour and left!
Craving pizza, we found possibly the best pizza parlour of all time: Peppe’s Pizza. I had a chicken satay pizza for only £15 (who can claim Norway is expensive?!); then we bought a block of chocolate and headed back to our secret harbour. Unfortunately, we then witnessed Bergen’s infamous rain; and a cloud of fog descended on the city so you couldn’t actually see a thing.
We escaped the torrential rain in our hotel lobby as we collected our cases and ventured off to the station, ready for an overnight train to Oslo.
Bergen was charming and cute, and a brilliant place to begin our Scandi Adventure. Admittedly there wasn’t a huge amount to do, unless you wanted to explore the nature in the surrounding areas. However, it’s certainly worth tagging onto a trip to Oslo – you can catch an overnight train which takes about 8 hours; or a flight only lasts 40 minutes.
Fingers crossed if you do visit, you get to visit Bergen in the sun, and not torrential rain!