Norway sits on top of Europe. Its long shore-line is characterized by a rugged and broken mass of land, as if there is a war going on between ocean and land.The result of this conflict is pure beauty as witnessed by the endless coves, bays, straits and the majestic fjords that penetrate more than 100 kilometers inland. As a northern country with long days and short nights in the summer months, Norway is a great place to visit.So we packed our bags and landed in Bergen, on the country’s south western coast. There are no direct flights from Israel to Norway, making it a bit of a journey, but a worthwhile one.
Bergen sits on the North Sea, protected from the harsh water by a stretch of islands. This geography makes the city pleasant and calm and once you reach downtown, it quickly becomes obvious that this is a cheerful and colorful city. The houses, painted with brilliant colors, climb the hills that surround it, surrendering to a thick forest at its peak.Bergen is a rainy city, getting 150 millimeters a month in the warmer months. Take an umbrella with you and enjoy the rain, clouds and rainbows, which create magically changing light in the city. Without dust or haze, the city sites are washed clean and clear.Bergen is a walking city and everything is close to downtown, including the famous covered fish market where you can “catch” lunch or dinner without calling ahead. Stroll along the main street and then uphill to get to Bergen University.For a panoramic view of the city, climb the winding road to the steps of the Skansen old fire station which was built in 1903. For a little bit of history, wander through the old wooden houses of historic Bryggen that are more than 300 years old. In 1702, the whole area was rebuilt after being ravaged by fire and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the unique architecture, you will enjoy the many shops, bars and a museum.NORWAY IS much more than vibrant cities, so you will want to get out on the road and into the great outdoors that country has to offer. Depending on your visit timeline, you can either make day excursions to Myrdal or Voss, or spend longer on a road adventure along the way. We chose to rent a car and drive on the smaller, but more beautiful scenic roads to get a taste of natural Norway on the way to Voss and Flam. The country roads are very good with frequent tunnels and bridges due to the mountains and abundant waterways.We drove on the E16 as our main route, but turned off occasionally to secondary roads for scenic breaks to catch a glimpse of a waterfall or a lake.We chose to spend a few nights on a farm near Voss for an immersion in rural Norway. Local farmers in cooperation with the Norwegian company Viking Homes AS have created an authentic experience for the visiting traveler.The farm owner provides an old family cabin and Viking Homes renovates and equips it to make it ready for short or long stays. The cabin we visited was comfortable and well outfitted while it preserved the unique family history and artifacts.Just off the highway near Voss, the farm felt remote after traveling a seven-kilometer winding road that passed through natural forests and by some cows along the way. When we reached the farm, we met, Helge, the owner. With his extra-large smile and the handshake of a farmer who is used to lots of hard work, we were on our way to a special adventure. Here on the farm you can relax, be part of nature, hike, enjoy the local stream, fish, experience work on the farm, cook your own food and generally live like a local. This environment is a cure for the soul or at the very least, an opportunity to disconnect from the sometimes unrelenting pressures of our everyday lives.WITH OUR energy replenished, we got back on the E16 road toward the village of Flam. However, before exploring it we first drove up the mountain just past the village to admire the great natural phenomenon of a fjord. Driving up the east rim of the Aurlandfjorden, you will wind your way up to a great scenic overlook of this long and narrow sea inlet between high cliffs. After parking the car, we ventured out onto a overhanging porch to appreciate the magnificence of this landscape that is so familiar in Norway. It is hard to leave this majestic lookout, but we had a train to catch back in Flam.The Flam to Myrdal train (The Flamsbana) climbs up from sea level at Flam to 867 meters above sea level and is one of the steepest railway lines in the world. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the most beautiful. My face was glued to the window as we passed mountains, waterfalls, forests, colorful houses and bridges. The Flam Railway climbs to its peak in only a 17-kilometer stretch and boasts stunning scenery from top to bottom and back.It’s time to get back in your car and return to the starting point at Bergen, or if you have time and are lucky, you can continue your journey in Norway. This short trip is sure to introduce you to the vast experience that awaits you in this northern destination.