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Hidden Treasure

The drive from Stavanger to Oslo is, without any stops included, a 7.25 hour drive under the best case scenario.  When you’re traveling with kids and a post-kid bladder, 7.25 hours in a car, is never going to work.   The hubby and I planned on  stopping in Kristiansand, Arendal and Sandefjord to break up the drive and find some hidden treasures, but even with those stops the drive was long.

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Soon after leaving Arendal, I saw a sign for Olavskirken on the side of the road (E18) and I immediately asked Luke to stop at that site.  I had no idea the hidden gem that we had stumbled upon in the town of Bamble, Norway.

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Built in the Romanesque-Norman style, the old church Olavskirken dates back to 1150.  The church served as a Catholic church under the name St. Olav’s until the Reformation. Thereafter, it was referred to as Skeidi Church.  The old church was replaced by the new church built in the wooden cruciform style around 1845.

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When we pulled into the lot, I thought we were there to see the cruciform church until I noticed the ruins of the ancient church midway through the cemetery.  We all quickly lost interest in the new church and made our way towards the ruins of Olavskirken.

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The ruins were a complete gem of a find on our way back to Oslo.  We walked through the ruins noting the signs posted that spoke to the old church’s and the new church’s construction.   Moss and grass now cover the remaining walls and roof.  In the middle of the cemetery and surrounded by Norwegian forest, the scenery was magical.

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As we walked deeper into the ruins, we found a stairway that no leads nowhere and a room off to the side.  The room off to the side turned out to be the ancient chapel that is still in use today.  It was small, but beautiful.  After stopping on a whim, we had made a wondrous discovery.  Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a bit of a detour to explore as you never know what hidden gem you may uncover.

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Stopping to Smell the Roses

When I’m back home, my allergies are horrendous.  Here in Norway, they’ve been much better to the point where I can even stop and smell the roses.  My allergies have been present in Norway as there is a lot of pollen this time of year here as well, but they’re significantly less severe.  I enjoyed stopping to smell the roses.

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Even on the worst allergy day here, I can still smell the roses and flowers as I walk by them.  The fragrance of the roses, in particular, is very strong.  The smell is absolutely magnificent.  There is not a candle or potpourri on earth that can replicate the smell of these roses.

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Not only is the aroma amazing, but the flowers on the plants are gigantic, brightly colored and numerous.  Thank goodness for the close up feature on my Canon, which did a pretty good job of capturing the beautiful blooms.

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Last Night in Bergen

We had a brilliant lunch post Bergen aquarium near Bryggen with our family before J&B headed to catch the bus for Stavanger.  Tomorrow they’ll be on the hike of their life making their way up to Pulpit Rock.   Our waiter was incredible and bought us a round when the fryer broke and our food took longer than normal.  This was a great gift as beer and cider are extremely expensive in Norway even by South Florida standards.  The food was worth the wait and I enjoyed my fish an chips along with my cider.

 

Post lunch we hit the shops to find some useful souvenirs.  The Mayor found a nice knife he can use for fishing while Goalielocks selected a viking horn that sounds a bit like a kazoo.  The kazoo piece wasn’t intentional, so we’ll be looking for another viking horn for the house.   Jake got a nice Norwegian flag he can hang in his room.

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After two ciders at lunch, my favorite local coffee shop Dromedor was calling my name.   Not too far geographically from the tourist hub, but miles away in terms of its customer base.  This is a great local spot with quality coffee and pastries.   I have quite enjoyed their lattes these past couple of days in Bergen.

For dinner our kids wanted frozen pizzas, which was a complete godsend.  Food is extremely expensive in Norway and this was a perfectly economical way to feed the kids.        Post Pizza we headed to the wold famous fish market to meet J&M (my older bro and family), my grandma and my parents.

They were finishing up their dinner and afterwards we headed for dessert and shuffleboard.  We ended up at the same restaurant where we ate and drank yesterday as it had several shuffleboard tables where the kids could play and not interrupt all of the diners’ dinners.

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After two rousing shuffleboard tournaments, Priya and Zak and I emerged as champions.   Somehow I managed to figure out how to score a couple of points, which was enough for me to be successful.  The kids had a blast and enjoyed their desserts throughout the tournament.

After shuffleboard, we said adieu to our favorite spot, Bergenhus Bryggeri, and headed out to walk the city.   For the first time, we headed up Kong Oscars Gate where X&P found an awesome and cheap hot dog stand.  The group continued to make friends with dog owners and their dogs.   Norwegians love their dogs and take them everywhere.  Their dogs are meticulously groomed and extremely well behaved.

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As the sun started to descend in the sky, we headed back to our AirBnB to pack for our trip to Stavanger.  We have absolutely loved our time in Bergen and will be returning to this wonderful city hopefully soon.

A Little Treat

After a busy day of hiking and sightseeing, it was time for a little treat overlooking the harbor.  While the kids wanted ice cream, pastries and maybe some hot chocolate, the adults were happy to sit down and have a brew.  Better than a lollipop or any other treat, a nice, cold pear cider over ice was exactly what the doctor had ordered.

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My hubby, Jacob and my brothers enjoyed a nice cold brew.  It’s a bit crazy for all of us that Jacob is now able to legally drink with us while in Norway.  It makes us feel a bit old, but the shared experience of a beer overlooking Bergen Harbor and Bryggen is something he will never forget.

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9,000 steps before noon

We started our morning of 9,000 steps with a ride up to Mt. Floyen on the funicular.  Once up the mountain, we hiked around the lake and through the forest. The views of the city, nearby islands and the North Sea were incredible. Thankfully, they had some coffee and cold water in the gift shop for a post hike refreshment.

Post Mt. Floyen, we got on a bus and headed to Mt. Ulricken. We headed up the gondola to see Bergen from the city’s highest peak. Once at the top, we hiked up to the mountain’s peak. The mountain top was home to a farm and several small lakes. The hike was exhausting, but well worth the hard work.

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Living the Bryggen Life

We made it to Bergen after the nice drive from the Flam.  Of all the cities or places we have been thus far, Bergen is by far the worst to drive in especially near Bryggen.  There is a lot of pedestrian traffic, buses and some cars.  This is definitely not a car city; it is a bike or pedestrian city.

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We’re staying in our second AirBnB of the trip and it is spacious and beautiful.  For the first time on our trip, we have two bathrooms!!  We are so excited!   The best added bonus, aside from the full kitchen, is the full laundry facilities. We’ve amassed plenty of laundry during our stay in the fjords, so the laundry facilities are a huge win.

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Bergen is an absolutely beautiful city.  Our AirBnB is quaint and perfectly located.  Everything is within walking distance, which is awesome. Tomorrow we’re planning on taking the Floibanen (funicular) to the top of Mt. Floyen and exploring the city.

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Bergen Bound

We are Bergen bound!  This afternoon we said goodbye to the Aurlandsfjord and Flam area as we headed west to Bergen.  The westward journey was only 2 1/2 hours, which compared to our travels to Trondheim and the Fjords was a relatively quick trip.

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I have to say I was worried that driving in Norway would be disastrous for us, but it has worked out pretty well.  The road are quite narrower than what we are accustom to, h however,  but there is also significantly less traffic.  More importantly, our fellow drivers in here are far more congenial than they are in South Florida.  I can’t imagine South Florida drivers trying to navigate the mountain route up to Stegastein (nobody would survive.)

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The vista were once again spellbinding, which makes for an entertaining drive.  Tvindefossen is a waterfall visible from E16 just outside of Voss and is pictured above.  I don’t think any of us enjoy all the tunnels, especially my husband who has done most of the driving.  Thankfully, he gets a break from driving duty as Bergen is our home base for the next several days.   Bergen is a walking city that we are excited to explore.

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