The day started with a quick, tasty meal at Smakverket, which is a restaurant within KODE 2 (an art museum). They’ve got an interesting selection of coffees, sandwiches, as well as traditional egg breakfast dishes (I had an eggs benedict) with fast service. Following breakfast, we wandered about Bergen, relaxing on park benches, taking in the locals, listening to accordions play, wharf exploration, and waiting for our fjord cruise reservation at 14:30 (2:30pm).
We slowly made our way closer and closer to the fisketorget (our boat picked us up right next to it), which has AMPLE food options for lunch or a snack. We’d seen fish markets like this in Helsinki, as well, with plenty of picnic tables surrounding for patrons to sit and enjoy. It’s a prime location, and I’d recommend checking it out, and even eating some food from there.
Then it was time to board. If you’re thinking of doing something similar, we fully recommend, but also have a few tips: (1) sign up for the afternoon tour (it offers an additional stop by the Heskjedalsfossen waterfall), (2) queue early (we didn’t end up getting a seat on the top deck), (3) take a raincoat with a hood (it’ll double as the best windbreaker you could possibly have), and (4) dress for cold weather or in layers, even if it’s warm outside (that wind makes it COLD).
The tour lasted for 3.5 hours on a catamaran from Bergen to Mostraumen through the Osterfjord, which is about 75 km through some of the most beautiful scenery. In many ways this stretch reminded me of the waterfalls/mountains in Hawaii as well as the jagged mountains in Yosemite (neither a bad spot for comparisons).
The weather that day was all over the place. We had moments of sunshine, a 30-40 minute rainshower, heavy clouds, as well as clear skies. As such, I didn’t take too many photos, and many of the photos I took didn’t do the landscape justice as it doesn’t come close to painting just how majestic this ride really was.
We saw a great deal of salmon fishing, as the brackish water here is perfect for salmon as well as fishing villages and homes that are only accessible via boat along with little areas where you could see school children’s boats docked near the school house. It was just unlike any other place I’d ever seen. And so green, unbelievably lush and untouched.
The tour was said to last 3.5 hours, but it was a little over 4 hours when we arrived at the dock again (we think this was due to the unexpected rainstorm at the end of the tour). Well worth the money and visuals to last a lifetime.
We’d worked up an appetite with all the touring and decided to dine at the Fjellskal Fisketorget. When you enter the area, you’re greeted with a huge fish market, but if you walk beyond that, there are seats and it operates like a restaurant, where they hand select the seafood you walked past for each patron. It’s fun and a little novel. Jim had the fish of the day while I had monkfish. I’m a monkfish fan (love it, actually), but I’m not sure I’d recommend it at this place. Something tells me sticking with shellfish might’ve been the way to go here.
After dinner, we opted for a couple of cocktails at The Tasting Room, back closer to the train station and the center of town. If you’re looking for a good cocktail, this place is legitimate. We recommend ordering their most popular drink (it’s listed that way on the menu), as it is the most popular for a reason – it’s outstanding. We only stayed for 1-2 drinks, but it looks like they offer a number of tastings, which could be interesting if were sticking around.
Following our cocktails, we made our way back toward the train station, to catch our overnight train back to Oslo and then onward home to Toulouse. When I booked the train, I didn’t realize Bergen had an airport (hindsight, we probably should’ve just flown out of Bergen), but neither Jim nor I had ever taken an overnight train ride, either, so that was also part of the fun/adventure.
If you’re thinking about taking an overnight train ride, I’d say it’s actually pretty interesting, but will ultimately leave you with a similar feeling to a red eye flight, aside from the fact that you have a bed. Jim, actually, found it harder to sleep on the train than he does on planes (and he can sleep anywhere). Regardless, it was an interesting adventure. One thing that surprised us was that NSB has an agreement with local hotels to offer riders the option to (1) shower – $25 and (2) eat breakfast – $18. We were not expecting the opportunity to get cleaned up before our flight home, so this was a treat. Interestingly, we seemed to be the ONLY people on the train who did this.
All in all, Scandinavia proved to be a trip of a lifetime. We’d love to go back and explore more!