Mt. Fløyen, the Eiffel Tower, and the Yellow House. Bergen, Norway, Day 1.

Planning the trip.

One of the things we had planned to do while we’re in Copenhagen is travel and explore Europe as much as we can. The list of possible places to go has already far exceeded the time we have to do it.

I’m always asking friends and acquaintances what they recommend. And of course asking the girls and MBH what they are interested in. Amsterdam, [anywhere in] France, Iceland, the Balkans are all top of the list.

We also have a budget. Living in Copenhagen is quite expensive – although one huge relief is that we don’t have to worry about going in to debt from health care costs. And for me, the higher taxes (or, investment in the public good, which is what it is) are definitely worth that.

So when I got a notification from Norwegian air about “fall deals,” I excitedly looked for tickets to any of the above mentioned places during the 2nd weekend of the girls’ fall break. The first weekend we visited Legoland with friends who visited us from Rochester. It was also a fantastic weekend. I’ve got a lot of blog post catching up to do!

Anyhow, back to the looking at the “deals” offered by Norwegian air – only to find out that tickets to those places during the week that all Danish schools are closed, were still quite expensive.

Of course they were.

I was sure I could get a better deal, so I kept looking.

The place that had the least expensive tickets was Bergen, Norway.

And while Bergen wasn’t at the top of the list, I had asked friends who visited Norway this past summer – where they would recommend we go in Norway for hiking – and their recommendation had been Bergen (Thank you Lisa and Katie!)

So, I booked tickets for all 4 of us, only to go add this to our family calendar and see that MBH was scheduled to leave for an invited speaking gig in Dresden, Germany Sunday, early afternoon.


Fortunately, I had 4 hours to cancel the flights and get a full refund.

So I did.

Then rebooked the flights for the girls and I same as before, and booked a ticket for MBH for Thursday night to Saturday night. Departure time, 7pm – thinking, “Wonderful, we’ll have 2 full days in Bergen together. “

Or So I Thought.

I’d actually booked him on a 7am flight out of Bergen Saturday morning.

Dammit Dammit Dammit.

Stupid 24 Hour Clock!!!

Or should I say stupid US for not consistently using the 24 hour clock like the rest of the world.

I could also say “Neely, really, how long have you been traveling and known that air travel uses the 24hr clock?”

But I digress.

So when I saw 7:00 – 8:30, I immediately assumed 7pm. If only there had been a 0 in front of the 7 and the 8:30. I didn’t learn about this incorrect assumption until a week or two before our trip, so I couldn’t change it. These are the kinds of travel mistakes I make more often than I’d like to admit.

Next step was to find a place to stay. I did some research, and more research and finally booked our Airbnb right in the city center.

There were 3 options for getting to our Airbnb:

  • Light rail – $8 total – takes the longest – 50 minutes
  • Flybussen – $25 total – 30 minutes –
  • Taxi – ~$55 total- 20 minutes

After much consideration (waaaay too much, honestly), I decided Flybussen was the best option for us – because our flight was getting in at 11:15pm.

In spite of the fact that I lived in Central Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer for more than two years (almost 20 years ago), have traveled a lot since I was 14 (Europe, West Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa mostly), and traveled alone many of these times, I am a really anxious traveler.

Just ask MBH or my Peace Corps post-mate Laura…

All the more anxious when my teen and pre-teen are already off and on not always so happy about the move to Copenhagen, and not excited about this particular trip – as it was nowhere on their “list of places we want to travel to in Europe.”

In addition to that, the first thing Danes and Norwegians and others I talked to said when I told them we were traveling to Bergen was, eyebrows raised, “Bergen, the rainiest city in Norway.” “Oh, Bergen, it’s really rainy there.”

Great. We live in the rainiest and cloudiest European capital city, and I’ve planned a family trip of outdoors activities to the rainiest Norwegian city.

Spoiler alert, the weather was glorious and the trip was amazing.

The hiking was incredible, and morale 98% of the time we were there was higher than it’s been in a while. The 2% was after strenuous hiking- hungry, tired, hurting feet. Perfectly understandable.

So, back to my travel anxiousness. Things I get anxious about when planning travel:

  • Booking a place to stay in the wrong city.
  • Booking a place to stay on the wrong dates.
  • Booking mode of travel for the wrong dates.
  • Booking mode of travel to the wrong city (Rochester MN and Rochester NY have the SAME AIRPORT NAME).

I’ve made each and every one of the mistakes above more than once and I absolutely hate it when it happens and this has led to my developing a few travel OCD habits over the years.

Things I get anxious about when actually traveling:

  • Confusing AM and PM Time of Departure: Think 700 with 1900 or 630 with 1830
  • Arriving to airport early enough. My anxiety eases by arriving at least 3 hours early. For domestic flights. I know I know, this is really absurd, but like I said, I’m an anxious traveler. I can usually convince MBH and children to get there a little more than 2 hours early.
    • So for our 2155h flight, I convinced everyone to leave our apartment at 6:45pm. The 150S bus then Metro Line 2 to Kobenhavn Lufthavn. Takes about 40 minutes.
Waiting for the 150s bus at 6:55pm. Also notice the number of bags. We were very limited in our luggage so packed super light.
I think this is the lightest we’ve ever ever packed.
As our bus pulled up, MBH reached in his pocket to get his Rejsekort. And also found his pocket knife. That would definitely be confiscated at security. So he had to go back to the apartment (about a 4 minute walk) – and told us he’d catch the next bus.
This is EXACTLY the kind of situation that *I* think justifies planning to get to the airport 3 hours early. Not everyone agrees with me, but that’s ok…
  • Getting from airport to the airbnb in Bergen and not missing the earliest Flybussen. We had to run a bit through the Bergen Airport, but made it to the 2330h bus. Which runs every 20 minutes. Not a big deal during normal waking hours, but that late at night it makes a huge difference.
We made it! Didn’t have to wait 20 more minutes for the next flybussen!
  • Getting the key and getting to our Airbnb apartment. The host and I had swapped texts – there was a key lock box and he’d given me the code. But I kept thinking “I hope the box will be easy to find”
  • For this small detail, I decided to take a deep breath and just trust I’d be able to find it easily. And sure enough:
I have never seen an Airbnb sign like this before. But it sure was helpful. I absolutely love Airbnb but am aware of tensions in municipalities between neighbors, hotels (Airbnb is stiff competition) etc. There’s often no street-level advertising. Clearly not an issue here! And no, I didn’t take this picture the night we arrived. Too tired and didn’t think to do it. So took a picture on our way out the next morning.

We took it easy on Friday morning. Slept in a bit since we’d gotten in so late.

The plan was to spend the day hiking/exploring around Mt. Floyen. I’d spent [probably too much] time scouring guide books and websites, to get a good sense of the hiking trails so I could plan out the day perfectly.

But the best I’d come up with was: the trail head to get to Mt. Floyen was in the Bergen City Center and the trails were well marked and there were a bunch of trails from the top of the mountain.

And I was not at all willing to just wing this hike to Mt. Floyen for several reasons:

  • my days training with and volunteering for the Southwest Virginia Mountain Rescue Group while an undergrad at Virginia Tech.
  • getting quite lost, hiking alone on a day hike, in the Bavarian Alps in my early 20s.
  • MBH is an Eagle Scout. And what is the Boy Scout Motto?
  • Be Prepared.
  • Quick clarification in case you’re imagining MBH always telling me to “be prepared.” He doesn’t, never has. He is far far too laid back for that. I’m just using this to justify my own OCD issues.

All these things left me unwilling to ever wing a hiking trip – no matter how short or simple.

And the one thing many webpages had mentioned was the Bergen Tourist Information Center.

So that was our first destination.
And I had to take a few pictures along the way.

Fall colors were gorgeous. We’re ready for a day of hiking.

“So Mom, how will we find the tourist information center?”

Just look for the big “I” sign…It’s pretty universal…

Another tip for traveling through [maybe much of? maybe not?] Europe:

In many places, instead of a physical line, there are these little machines where you get your number:

Tap the screen. A piece of paper with a number on it comes out. You look above the counter and wait for your number. I like this system. I have one of these “clearly I’m not from here and don’t know the ropes” moments about once a day. Whenever I’m traveling and in Copenhagen

Maybe this is in other parts of the world too? Maybe in the US? I just haven’t seen them in very many places, but they are everywhere in Denmark: Pharmacy, Bakery, Library.

The tourist information center staff were so very helpful. Gave us a topological map, directions to the trail head, recommendations for taking the more scenic (but more strenuous) route to Mt. Floyen.

It was time to head up the mountain.

Trail head a 5 min walk from Tourist Information Center

In the winter, this is an ice skating rink. What an incredible view ice skaters have.
10 minutes in to at least 5 hours of hiking…the oldest: “Daaad, is this going to be all hills?” hahahahaha.
Oh Eldest…
Although I must say, she is quite the hiker. Her sister has done a whole lot of hiking in the last several years and has the gear, boots, pants.
The eldest hasn’t done much hiking at all – and for this hike wore her [brand new] jeans and sneakers – not exactly ideal hiking attire, but she’s fast, and agile.
And I have to hand it to both of them, we didn’t hear another complaint until we were about 30 minutes from getting back. And by then we were all pretty beat.
So we are here…
First shot of Bergen Harbor. A gorgeous day.
Thanks, youngest…
Same shot.
It was a selfie or picture of the view. I tried multiple times and just couldn’t get both in one photo…
We stopped a lot to take pictures.
I’ll warn you now, there are lots and lots of pictures of mountains.
“Why can’t Copenhagen have this? Also, can we just move here instead?”
“If Copenhagen had this, I’d be happier” The youngest loves hiking and camping and backpacking. Due in no small part to Girl Scouts, and Tori’s wonderful leadership in planning such outings for girl scouts.
Dad! Get DOWN! You’ll FALL!
Mom! Tell Dad to get down!!! Standing there isn’t safe!!!!
I took this trying to convey how not scary/high this particular rock was. Big fail. Because this actually looks scary. In truth, it was only about a 6 foot drop to a big ledge.
A little bit of scenery included in this photo. Kinda blurry though…
Bergen from trail to Mt. Floyen.
Many of the websites and books I’d read said the trails were well marked. Here is an example. Trail signs at the top of Mt. Floyen.
Another quick break. Almost to the top of Mt. Floyen. All smiles.
Dad telling the girls about his hike from Chamonix, France to Zermott, Switzerland – including the part about his falling down a glacier. I try not to think about that story.
European playgrounds are awesome.
Super excited to hike the Vidden Trail!!
A bit of history on the Vidden Trail.
First break on the Vidden Trail. Bergen is getting further and further away.
Steep, but wide path
Time for lunch! A perfect spot.
Until just now, I’ve been calling these birds (very common in Denmark and apparently Norway as well) “some kind of crow.” Without knowing for sure.
Well, I finally got around to googling it – and this is a hooded crow,
AKA “Hoodie” aka “Scottish crow” aka “Danish crow”
In any case, these two hoodies stayed very very close to us. Waiting for some food to be thrown at them (which we did not do) and/or waiting to clear out any scraps we left behind (we did our best to not do this either).
Lunch view. And the avian opportunists.
All smiles. I think we can get to that cairn up on top of that ridge. The building in the back is a cafe that I’m guessing is open during the summer, but closes in August/September until spring. Or maybe cross country ski season?
Trying to convey how big these mountains were.
Yes! We will make it to that cairn at the top of that ridge! We are strong and mighty!
Above tree line. To her right (not in the picture) is a structure that henceforth will be referred to as “the Eiffel Tower” Not sure where that cairn we saw an hour or so ago went…
Darn, this photo didn’t turn out. But still putting it here. A small side trail just away from the Eiffel Tower.
Just to give you a sense of scope and scale. That’s our trail and is about a 15-20 minute walk from where I was standing.
Somewhere in all the websites and guidebooks I read, I remember someone saying on clear days you can see a glacier from the Vidden Trail (it’s between Mt. Floyen and Mt. Ulriken).
I can’t remember the glacier name and can’t remember the webpage either…
This is the trail we were on for much of our hike. Because it was a clear day, and clear days are rare in Bergen, we were pretty determined to see this glacier.
Martha and Doug up ahead.

Maybe you’re wondering about the yellow house by now?

Here it is. I took this as we were walking down the trail from the Eiffel Tower.

So to get to where we thought we’d have a better view of the glacier, we had to hike down a bit from the Eiffel tower – back to below tree line.
The yellow house became our point of reference for where we thought we needed to hike for the glacier view.
Hike towards Yellow House. It was a bit muddy.
The little sign to the left of Doug says “Viking” which confused (and amused) me.
Oh – so we’re going to find a viking in this land of vikings if we go this way…
Turns out it was a sign for the Vikinghytten “Viking hut”
At this point we had veered off of the Vidden Trail onto a side trail, marked on our topological map, in search of a glacier view.
Still on the way to the yellow house. Plenty of ups and downs and rocks and mud. We were now doing some pretty technical hiking.
Overheard from the oldest in this rather steep (and muddy) section “UGH, This is like Parkour!!”
Her sister has been taking Parkour for a couple of years now and also the oldest is a huge fan of the Office.
If you haven’t seen their Parkour Parody, you should watch it. Pretty hilarious.
Ok, I can stand up a little now.
We made it to the top! (one of the *tops* at least)!!
Photo from the top. Couldn’t stop taking pictures…Even though I recognize that after a while picture after picture after picture of mountains (that’d can’t fully convey the vastness and beauty of it all ) gets a little boring and repetitive.
Just wait until my post about our boat trip up the Fjord…
See the brown building in the back? Yeah, I know, not the yellow house. It’s the Vikinghytten.

And alas, no picture of the glacier because there was at least one ridge between us and that view…

Exchange between the two siblings that I’m still laughing about.

Oldest sibling “Does anyone see a stick? I need a stick? Dad, do you see a stick?”

Youngest, immediately: “Sibling, we’re above tree line, there aren’t going to be any sticks.”

And also,




In all seriousness, if there’s one-lesson I re-learned yesterday is how easy it is to get lost in a place like this. Looks are very deceiving, and can be dangerously so.

Camera Trick. I zoomed in to make it look closer.
It wasn’t.

So we’re on the top of this one ridge and hadn’t seen any signs of animal life (human or otherwise) since the Eiffel tower. And we’d had convos about what animals might be living up here, how the streams and lakes we kept passing were likely super clean and free from giardia because there weren’t any cattle around.

But as we’re taking in the views, a jangling sound entered my consciousness.

So I started looking around, and sure enough across the valley (opposite from where we’d come from) there was a herd of something – sheep? cattle? that had cowbells on.

From the bells (*cow* bells) and the color and the shape I could make out from a distance…I’d say the animals were cattle (and yes, I know that not all sheep are white).

But I’ve never really thought of cattle being above-tree-line-grazers. But really I know next to nothing about this.

Even though I was an animal science major in college, “alpine animal husbandry” wasn’t a lesson or class I remember taking.

In any case, I took a picture.

As I’m typing this out I’m realizing I did not get a picture of myself or the oldest at the top. Darn it.

But I did take a few pictures of our view.

Another scenic photo as we started the hike back to Mt. Floyen.
This is the Vidden Trail Eiffel Tower.
This photo is taken from the Vikinghytten as we started on our hike back..

I think it was a 45min – 1 hr walk from the Vikinghytten to the Eiffel Tower.

In hindsight I wish I’d kept a better eye on the timing of all this hike. But I was so taken with the day and the beauty of it all, I just didn’t think to keep track. I do know that we left the Airbnb at 1o:30am and made it back to the Mt. Floyen funicular right at 5pm.

This was a super super muddy patch and although we didn’t see a single person on this side trail, clearly it’s hiked enough that someone took the time to kindly put planks and big rocks down so hikers don’t sink to their knees in mud.
I was hiking in my keene sandals, so was very grateful.
Don’t judge, I know hiking boots would have been better, but I’ve been having trouble with ankle tendonitis and plantar fasciitis in the last couple of years and the Keenes are the one pair of shoes I own that feel the best on my feet. Even hiking for 14 miles.
Except they’re sandals so no protection against wet and mud.
Viking, that way —>

If you recall, at some point we had decided to try and get to the yellow house because we thought we’d have a better view of what we thought was the glacier.

If only I’d looked carefully at the yellow house on the hike up, I’d have noticed the big ridge behind it that would block any glacier view. Sigh.

Another annoyingly blurred photo.
I do not know what I do to make some pictures turn out crisp and clear and others that look like this one.
If you have an inkling, please let me know.
I took this one the hike down.
Silhouette of the girls as sun is setting. It was about 3:30pm. Days are getting noticeably shorter throughout Scandinavia. However, although sunset starts early, it takes a long long time to fully set. And as MBH pointed out, although Bergen is more north than Copenhagen, it’s much further west, so sunrise and sunset will be later…
Sun setting on our hike down. That’s Bergen in the distance. And the Atlantic ocean beyond that last line of hills.
My hero, waiting for me.
At this point, we’d been walking/climbing hills for about 5 hours and in spite of mass quantities of Advil for a seriously pulled muscle in my neck (had happened that morning- I was just getting out of bed. Ugh.), my feet were very sore and my legs were very tired.
And under those conditions, I find hiking down a steep hill more challenging than hiking up. So I had slowed way way down.
Girls were walking on ahead.
Bergen is getting closer and it’s getting darker.

I knew I was close when I passed this troll forest.

This adorable troll forest is about 100 meters from the Mt. Floyen cafe. The Danes and the Norwegians love their trolls. And I find them fun and interesting as well. We’ve got giant trolls throughout Denmark, this troll forest, and other cool troll-things…
Post 12 mile hike snack at the Mt. Floyen cafe.
Thank goodness at some point MBH walked ahead with the girls to get to the cafe about 6 minutes before they closed. If they had waited for me it would have been closed.

We decided that it was in everyone’s best interest to take the Mt. Floyen Floibanen (funicular) down.

Even though it was scary steep.

Waiting for the Floibanen.
Oh Dear Lord that funicular is at a scary angle.
If we hadn’t already paid for our non-refundable tickets I’d have walked on out of that station, popped a few more Advil, and walked down the mountain…
On the funicular. I felt even more nervous than the eldest’s facial expression is conveying.
The youngest’s smile says “I’ll smile for the camera but i’m super nervous about this funicular ride.”
Thankfully the trip is only 6 minutes.
I can practice deep slow calming breaths for 6 minutes.
Post hike shot of Mt. Floyen.
Super duper grateful to the Tourist Information center for giving us this topological map. Also, fun fact, in the wintertime, Norwegians use these trails for, wait for it, wait for it, CROSS COUNTRY SKIING!
That is hard core right there.

So I’m 1/8th Norwegian. My paternal great grandfather was Norwegian and I believe it was his father who immigrated to the US- South Dakota- in the mid 1800s.

And while I often attribute my love of cold weather and winter to that 1/8th Norweigan blood, I give a hard pass on “cross country skiing on the Vidden Trail.”

My palms are sweating just thinking about it.

Anyhow, back to the hike. Our first leg of the hike was from the Tourist Information Center to Mr. Floyen.

And from Mt. Floyen along the path marked in red to Vikinghytten.

The smallest red circle is where we left the Vidden trail in search of the yellow house and a view of the glacier.

While there were trail markers, with this kind of hiking, hikers should always have a topo map.

Day 1 in Bergen concluded with take out from Pingvinen Restaurant. I knew we needed some heavy food for dinner and this seemed like a good one. Good reviews on yelp.

Turns out it’s fine dining and fine dining restaurants often don’t like to do take out. The hostess kind of gave me a hard time about this. But the youngest was adamant about getting take out.

I thought our dinner was delicious and filling. But it was very Scandinavian. So different than what we’re accustomed to. Mashed potatoes mixed with flakes of roasted fish and covered with bacon.

Baked hake with mashed peas and lingonberries (may sound weird – who eats mashed peas!?!?!? with lingonberries?) And I learned a few new ways to prepare peas and potatoes and fish.

I know why this photo is blurry. I had to take it quickly because everyone wanted to start eating already.
As I took it the oldest was giving me dagger eyes “Seriously mom?”
(Ok, confession, she was giving me dagger eyes because 10 seconds before I took this picture, I had fussed at her to get off the couch, and off her phone, and come eat dinner.
Then I said “hold on, I have to take a picture.”
I think I earned those dagger eyes…

So, to conclude Day 1 in Bergen Norway.

It was extraordinary. I’m ready to go back. And highly recommend it to anyone who can make the trip.

If we’d finished the trip with just this one amazing day, it would have been a success.

But [spoiler alert] we had 2 more amazing days where we:

  • explored old Bergen,
  • walked through the Bergen fortress,
  • took a stunning fjord boat cruise,
  • took an early morning hike to the top of Mt. Ulriken (tallest peak in Bergen)
  • visited the largest aquarium in Norway

Stay tuned!

Join the Conversation


  1. Great stuff Neely! Pictures were amazing and I loved that the weather behaved!! Keep these coming!

    1. Thanks so much Conoly:) Am working on the fjord cruise-post today – Give the hounds a hug and kiss for me: )

  2. Thank you so much for taking me on this hike with you (minus the actual walking :D) What a beautiful place.

  3. Love all of this. Makes me happy seeing you and family enjoying the hike and Bergen. Precious time in your daughters’ lives and therefore for you too. No Adirondack style trails. They look like highways, for the most part, by comparison, in Norway. When does it start getting dark in Bergen? Thanks for including me.

    1. aw, thanks Monique! And certainly a good portion of the trails were paved – but once we got past the Eiffel tower, things got more technical..

  4. I love it all! And that one photo of you and M. is absolutely gorgeous. I love hearing and seeing all your adventures! XOXO

  5. remember when we had to wake up the finance guy in lbv in the middle of the night to get our passports because i bought 6 a.m. tickets but i thought i bought 6 p.m. tickets? i will never forget you casually sitting on the top bunk and asking, what time is 0600 in repeating levels of panic?!? travel is so good for the soul. glad you guys are able to share this with the girls.

    1. oh yes I remember that. lying there on the bunk falling asleep, remembering that moment, months earlier, you had come back to Pana with the tickets, telling me our flight is at 6pm, showing me the ticket, that I only skimmed, saw 0600, but didn’t actually connect the dot until about midnight the night before our flight – and I remember running through the streets of Libreville at 1am sweating and yelling omg omg omg…and THEN, arriving at customs in South Africa and being denied entry because we HADN’T BROUGHT OUR WHO CARDS BECAUSE I’D ONLY READ THE FIRST SENTENCE IN THE GUIDE BOOK that said “you’t don’t need any special vaccinations to visit South Africa.” aaaand I just stopped reading there. When the next sentence read “Unless you are coming from one of these countries where yellow fever is endemic” and Gabon was at the top of the list…oh memories…

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