Earlier this year Kevin and I found a good flight deal to Oslo, Norway, and jumped at the chance to see a new country. We weren’t really sure what to expect before we left, but we came back with lots of great memories. Here are my top four.
1. Spending our 5-year wedding anniversary at a fancy hotel
We had originally booked a hostel for our two nights in Flåm, but after the first night of listening to the other guests opening the creaky bathroom door and coughing in the nearby rooms, while also trying not to fall off the teeny bed, we were so over it.
The next morning, which happened to be our fifth wedding anniversary, we rushed over to the fancy Fretheim Hotel to see if they had any vacancies for that night. Thankfully they did, and we jumped ship/hostel.
The room was infinitely better (not hard to do), and they even gave us an anniversary card!
Later that night we enjoyed a delicious buffet at the hotel, with so much to choose from and the most amazing brownies!
We finished our evening by relaxing in bed and watching The Office with Norwegian subtitles. It was perfect, and even though we paid for two accommodations that night, it was so worth it!
2. Borgund Stave Church
One of Norway’s native types of architecture is the stave church. At one point in the country’s history, there were about 1000 of them, but due to their flammable wooden structure, they are now quite rare, and sadly only 28 of them are left in Norway.
Borgund Stave Church is considered the most original stave church in Norway, undergoing the least amount of changes and restoration. It’s a bit far away from any other tourist draws, but Kevin just had to see this one in particular. We rented a car for the day, just to see this one building.
At the site, there is a separate modern building for the small museum which is very informative, and they also have a guide posted outside who can answer questions. The young woman we talked with was very knowledgeable.
We enjoyed slowly walking around and inside the building and taking in all the little details. It’s such a weird feeling to stand in a building constructed in 1180 and contemplate the amount of time between you and the people who built it. It’s hard to explain, but it feels pretty cool.
Every few years, they need to redo the tar on the outside by hand.
This photo below really shows the difference between the old and new tar.
The details inside are astounding. And it’s much smaller inside than it looks from outside. It’s also really dark inside because there are very few windows. Apparently they used a lot of candles, which helps explain why so few of these beauties are left.
On our drive back to Voss, Kevin and I decided it was definitely worth the extra effort to see Borgund Stave Church.
3. Trying out a sleeper train for the first time
We only had a week to see as much of Norway as we could, so on our longest train ride (from Bergen back to Oslo), I decided we should take the overnight sleeper train. This way we wouldn’t have to miss out on a huge chunk of a day that we’d rather be outside and walking around.
We’ve taken overnight trains before, but in regular seats, which is not very fun (very similar to sleeping on a plane, but with bigger seats and less customer service). So this time I booked us sleeper bunks.
Compared to a hotel, it is not much. But compared to a seat, it is downright luxury! Each compartment has two bunks, a sink, a space for luggage, a folding ladder, and a locking door!
Plus, you get to board before and debark after all the other passengers.
I slept in the top bunk because Kevin was afraid he was going to fall out. But they have even thought of that, and there is a piece of fabric that buckles to the ceiling that can catch you if you roll.
We had an excellent sleep that night, with the train motion rocking us all night long. It was quite fun, and something I’d most definitely do again.
4. Harald’s Vaffel
Before we went to Norway, I’d researched Norwegian foods to try. A lot of it was seafood, which neither of us eat. But the thing that most intrigued me was the traditional Norwegian waffle, prepared with jam, sour cream, and brown cheese! It sounded like such a weird combo, which I love about trying cultural food! They must know something we don’t, right?
So we asked around Oslo where to find the best waffles, and were pointed towards Harald’s Vaffel, which is a literal hole in the wall shop. It’s really really narrow inside!
The only table is outside!
While I was trying to figure out what to get off the menu, a nice expat began chatting with us, and told us this was her favorite place!
She got a hotdog waffle!
We enjoyed sharing the one and only table with her.
I had tried brown cheese by itself earlier in the week, and wasn’t too keen on it, so I asked for the brown cheese to just be on half of my waffle.
And was glad I did. It was good to try, but I preferred just sour cream and jam.
Such an adorable little place, and I’m so glad we found it!
Have you been to Norway? What are your favorite memories?