A collection of photos from our trip to Norway in the Summer of 2017. Here’s how it went:
After driving from Atlanta to New York over two days, we boarded our flight to Bergen. We left New York at 9pm Eastern Time, and landed in Bergen at 10am Central European Time. Norwegian customs were sweet and simple. The officers were warm and kind and had the best kind of European accents as they let us know just how much we would enjoy our time in their country. We quickly moved through the airport and picked up our rental car. It had a manual transmission, which only Joel knew how to operate. After a few nervous minutes of attempting to get out of the parking lot, Joel got back into a rhythm of driving the stick and we were on our way into the city. We had looked into specialty coffee in the city beforehand, so we made our way to a promising spot, Kaffemisjonen. After parking, we walked by an outdoor store and popped in for fuel. All of the Norwegian people we spoke with were very kind to us. We finished our walk to the coffee shop and had a much-needed restful hour playing chess and sipping coffee. From there we walked around the cobblestone streets of Bergen, which are all tightly lined with colorful houses and businesses, but not at all in a claustrophobic way. It felt very cozy. We found little alleyways where kids were riding their bikes, and moms were holding children’s hands. Bergen is a port city, so you could see the water from many of the streets. We walked up a road where houses climbed the side of a hill. From there we could see all of the clay rooftops of the city huddled close to each other. We stopped at Kaffemisjonen one more time before heading into the mountains around 6pm. The drive from Bergen was unbelievable. Mountains, waterfalls, and tunnels surrounded us during the entire 4 hour drive. Our first stop was on a huge suspension bridge over looking grass-covered mountains on either side. A little bit later we found some sheep in the middle of the road, so I left the car to be up close and personal with them. After driving through many winding mountain roads, we arrived at our camping spot for the night. We set up tent in a dense, mossy forrest at 11:30pm and it was still fairly light outside. The sun officially set at 11:30, but there was enough light to see until after midnight. We made a quick dinner (we had freeze-dried food for most of our meals), climbed into our tent, and instantly fell to sleep.
We slept in this morning because the moss underneath us made such a comfortable bed. When we finally unzipped the tent at 8:30, we made freeze dried biscuits and gravy and hiked down to the car. We drove into a lake-town called Voss and scouted out a cafe. The reddish booth that seated us felt like a compartment on the Hogwarts express. We opened the sliding windows and found ourselves staring at a lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We were pleasantly surprised by the tasty cappuccinos, as such are not usually found in little-nowhere-towns at cafes in bottoms of hotels. After caffeinating ourselves, we wandered about town. Then we started driving toward Aurland for our first real hike. Our hike started at a high altitude, so we drove up a switchback mountain road for several miles. The road was wide enough for about a car and a half, but it was a two-way road. There were very small shoulders at certain points where you could pull to the side to let a car squeeze by, but it was tight. At one point, there was a bus coming down towards us, and there were three cars behind us. So we started backing up until we could pull over enough to let the bus slide through. Trying to make room, both wheels on the right side of our car came off the pavement because the drop from the pavement onto the trench of grass was too far down. So our car sat with its right side resting on the axel while a bus was trying to get past us. The three of us that weren’t driving got out of the car and pushed on the right side while Joel gave it a little gas and we were able to get back on the road. A few minutes later we found the unmarked parking lot for Prest, our first hike. The sky was overcast but didn’t look stormy, so we packed our rain gear just in case. The hike up was incredible. We were on the fjord so there weren’t any trees, and we had sweeping views of the winding roads and the fjord below us, and the snowcapped mountains in the distance. We made it to our first patches of snow about an hour and a half into the hike. Joel took Annie’s rain Jacket and used it as a sled for a couple of runs down the slope. We continued on. We made some more sheep friends, and shortly after we were at the peak. We signed our names in a book that sits in a metal box at the top, which made us feel pretty cool. Right after we had reached the peak, a dense fog covered us and it started to rain. The path wasn’t marked and was not very clear, so we went with our gut and hiked through the fog. After a while, the fog started to clear a little and we knew we were on the right path. By the time we got down to the bottom our boots and pants were sopping, and our bones felt like ice. We put our wet clothes in bags and went back to the cafe in Voss to warm up and plan out our next move. We decided to head towards Odda, where we planned to hike Trolltunga in the morning. It was close to midnight by the time we made it to Odda, and it was still rainy and wet, so we looked for some sort of overhang to camp under, but with no luck. Not wanting to get poured on during the night, we slept in our car next to a waterfall called Latefoss. With four of us cramped in a hatchback, we didn’t get much sleep that night.
We got up around 6am and made breakfast by the falls, then drove into town. Odda is incredible. Next to Folgefonna National Park on a little strip of water coming off of Hardangerfjord, it sits in a valley between mountain and glacier. Not surprisingly, our first stop in Odda was for coffee. Hanging out in coffee shops was a perfect chance to rest, and to use wi-fi to plan our next hike. We were planning on hiking Trolltunga, one of the most famous and photographed spots in Norway. However, after talking with locals and realizing that there would be around 2,000 other people on the hike with us, we decided to go another route. So we asked around to see what their favorite hikes were in the area. We went with a hike to the edge of Folgefonna Glacier, which was only a 20 minute drive from Odda. The weather was beautiful, and when we drove up we had an incredible view of the glacier, framed by tree-clad mountains and a bright blue river running from it. The hike didn’t take too long, probably about an hour and a half to the edge of the glacier. It was windy and cold by the glacier, so we made coffee with an aeropress and some coffee that we bought from Toby’s Estate in Brooklyn. We hiked back down and when we got to the bottom, we asked someone about another trail that we saw that started at the same spot, but went to a different peak. He said it had the best view of the glacier in the whole park. We drove back to the coffee shop in Odda to figure out what we were doing that night. We decided to do the hike to the other peak, so we drove back to the base. We started the hike at 7pm, and it was a 3 hour hike to the summit if you don’t stop at all. About halfway through the hike, we came across some highland cows. I got so excited that I almost dropped my camera off the side of the mountain. I put my pack down and went off path to try to get as close as I could to them. I was probably 5 feet from them when they galloped up the mountain away from me. Then the bull, whom we can only assume was their dad, blocked our path. So we maneuvered around him and back to the path. We were almost out of water because we assumed we would come across a glacier stream where we could fill up, but we never did. And without water, we couldn’t make the freeze-dried meals that we had. When we got above the tree line we were rewarded with unbelievable views of the mountains and valleys around us. We were also rewarded with patches of snow that we boiled and used for drinking water and for our dinner. We set up our tent and found that there were probably 20-30 sheep around that spot on the mountain. They were very friendly, especially when we were eating. I’m pretty sure a few of them would have slept in the tent with us if we had let them. They’re baa’s were much deeper than sheep the I’ve heard in the U.S. Joel picked up one of the lambs, which didn’t seem to bother any of them. We tried to take a family photo with them but they moved on before we could get the shot. We went to sleep a little after midnight. The temperature was chilly but very bearable – probably in the low 40s.
It drizzled during the night, but everything was dry by morning, and our rain fly kept us and our things dry. After we packed everything up, we continued our hike to the summit. After a few minutes, we were high enough to see over a hill to some glacier lakes that were on the other side of where we camped. They were a deep turquoise blue. The view just kept getting more and more unreal. After about 45 minutes of hiking, we reached the summit. We walked across a patch of snow that sloped down to the cliffside, so we treaded carefully. When we crossed to the other side, we were looking down at the glacier. A beautiful, massive formation of brown rock and blue ice. It almost looks fake in the pictures because it was so unbelievably beautiful. It was cold at the top, especially with the windchill. We hiked back down, seeing the highland cows again on our way, and made breakfast on a picnic table near the parking lot when we got back. We started heading towards Bergen, where we had made a reservation at an airbnb for our last night since we had to be at the airport in the morning. Our host’s name was Ane (ah-nuh) and, funny enough, she looked like Anna from Frozen. Our place was right on one of the cobblestone streets that we had walked on the first day, and we could see the harbor through our window. We showered, ate, and then slept in real beds and it was wonderful. In the morning, we went to Kaffemisjonen one last time on our way to the airport. Then, we travelled for 23 straight hours, and finally we were home.
I took two rolls of 35mm film with me. Here are my favorites from those rolls.