Norway
"In the world through which we travel, we are endlessly creating ourselves"

It’s been almost 6 months since we’ve taken our family trip to Norway. We’ve been working on these images off and on, but then fall wedding season happened and just like many other private posts, it was put on the back burner. Well, no more, I put it out into the universe (social media) that this post would be coming this week.  So I’m holding myself accountable and I’m getting it out there.

Anyone that knows us knows that we find experiences to be more valuable than material objects. Michael and I promised each other and to our girls when they were little that we would raise them in a way that pushed their minds, pushed their curiosity, and pushed their comfort zones. We want to raise strong, curious, and independent ladies with open hearts and open minds.

Traveling is very important to us. We learn so much when we travel. We’ve been traveling with our girls domestically since they were two and internationally since they were five. We find a way to make travel work within our budget and we just do it.  I have NEVER regretted spending money on a trip.  But I have often regretted spending money on other random things that I didn’t necessarily need. I think traveling is essential. You don’t have to travel out of the country to get the benefits of traveling.

Instead of staying in hotels, which I find would eat up a good chunk of our budget every trip, we find airbnbs to stay in during our trips. So far, we’ve had the best experiences on all of our trips. Staying in airbnbs most of the time forces you to stay off the beaten path and gives you more of an authentic experience.

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We flew into the city of Oslo and spent 4 days there at this adorable airbnb. Oslo is clean and it’s pretty, we liked it.

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The photo above was taken around 11 pm. It never got fully dark in this area, however it was darker than the locations later in our trip.

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Oslo-travel-photo

Oslo-travel-photo

Our official hashtag of this trip was #norwaytrollquest. We were on the search for trolls. We hear they hide in the mountains and in the caves of Norway, so we searched.

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Norway is so incredibly charming. The Scandinavian style is now my favorite style.

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Oslo-travel-photo

Bella and cats have a special and unique relationship. I think she was a cat in another lifetime. Every trip we take, literally every single one, stray cats always end up finding us and walking with us (or just Bella). It’s the cutest thing, but also kinda creepy in a way.

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We loved the Norsk Folk Museum.

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The Opera House

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There are so many swimming holes here. I would have loved being a kid growing up in Norway.  We met a really cute young Norwegian couple and a dog they were babysitting there.  I kinda wish we photographed them while we were there. They were Norwegians/would be Californians if they lived in America. They gave us some great recommendations.

Another thing Norwegians love, trampolines. They are everywhere here. On land, in water, on cliffs (yes), everywhere.

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Their waffles are not only made with love and taste delicious but they are also shaped like love.

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After Oslo, we drove for 7 hours to get to Geirangerfjord. It was here where we ran into a few days of rain. We had one day of beautiful weather before the rain rolled in.

Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

Let me explain this ^ photo. We are a family that deeply cares for life, and while we were driving, this beautiful bird flew into my car and sadly passed away. We stopped to give him a funeral and to pay our respects.

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Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

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Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

Snow in July.

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Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

Gorgeous-Norway-Landscapes

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Once we got to Geirangerfjord, we stayed for 3 nights at Vinje camping.  The fjords are so incredibly stunning.

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This was one of my favorite hikes. We hiked to Westerås farm.

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We had dinner by the water that night (11pm). What I loved about their restaurants was the cozy factor. “Koselig”. It was cool at night and our waitress brought us blankets to keep us warm. I thought it was the most amazing thing. Totally something we should adopt in the US.

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Day two was cloudy and rainy, but that didn’t stop us from getting out there.  I mean we were in Norway.  Somehow Norway rain and fog is better than Pennsylvania rain and fog 😛

We hiked the Storseterfossen waterfall trail. It’s a waterfall you can walk behind.  Taking photos on this hike was pretty difficult. It was heavy rain for most of the hike.

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Me giving the troll here a fishtail braid.  A beautiful braid for a beautiful troll.

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Day three, we hiked the Blåhornet – Kilstisætra trail which has some amazing views, except the fog was so thick we only got glimpses of those views. The fog moves fast and once you have finally have a visual, it doesn’t take long for it to be swallowed up again by the fog. Even though it was incredibly foggy and we couldn’t see the scenery we thought we’d see, it was still very beautiful. The weather made the landscape look so dramatic. The entire time I felt like we were on Shell Mountain from The Never Ending Story. (moment of silence for Artax)

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I was a little obsessed over the beautiful-ness of their trees.

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At some point, we missed our trail sign and ended up making a trail of our own.  We got a little lost, lost some time, almost got attacked by a posse of goats. We ate the last of our snacks, decided that we needed trail names and that only then would we be able to find our way back.  Our names: Ava (puddle jumper), Michael: (troll tracker, which was later renamed by Ava and Bella as the terrible troll tracker since he was unable to track down one single troll), Melissa: Fern Flower Boranna, and Bella (Monster kitty the first). After we established our trail names, we started walking in the direction of the power lines, up some crazy hills and was once again reunited with our trail couple hours later. Clearly the trail names saved us!

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After our long, wet, but thrilling hike, we drove up a really foggy mountain to  Westeras Gard for some fish soup, which was out of this world. I still crave for that soup. They also asked Ava and Bella if they’d like to feed the baby sheep. My heart all but exploded during those moments. Cutest. Thing. Ever!

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We loved our time here. I wish the weather was nicer so we could have done more hikes and that we would have stayed longer, but we made it work and it was a blast. We left for a 17 hour car ride to Bodø, Northern Norway, to catch a 3 hour ferry to the main reason we came to Norway and that was to visit the Lofoten Islands. We’ve been road tripping with our kids since they were tiny, so we look at road trips as an adventure.  We had no portable dvd player for them, and we didn’t have internet service. All they had for those 2o hours was books, a few apps on their ipad and two stuffed animals to play with (we also only had 1 playlist with 20 songs on it, haha). I think our eight year olds did better in the car than I did.

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Norde-Norge-photo

#pandasinnorway

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The colors were pretty crazy.  It rained a lot, so naturally everything was so colorful. The light from the sun and clouds also made everything more dramatic. Another thing we really loved about this country were the people. There is so much love for the outdoors there.

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We decided to wild camp two nights in our trip. It’s “free” in more than just one way.  It doesn’t cost you money, and it allows you to be free with your travel plans. Also, just being surrounded by nature feels so freeing.

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That ferry ride was cooooooold and windy.  We were inside for 90% of it, but we had to go outside a few times, you know for the wind drama.

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This place exceeded every expectation we had of it. Lofoten is the most incredible place we’ve ever seen. With every new bend in the road, it continued to take my breath away. My only regret this entire trip was that we didn’t stay here longer. We could’ve made an entire trip just here. Norway is just so beautiful. I don’t think we could ever spend too much time in this beautiful country.

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Our cute little airbnb shared a private lake, which we canoed in. I loved this place and the host was amazing.

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Midnight-sun-Norway

Mountains being kissed by the midnight sun.  During the Norwegian summer season, the sun never sets north of the Arctic Circle and for a couple of months the sun is visible all day. We set out on a hike to see and photograph the midnight sun around 11:30pm.  The colors were insane. This is a photographers dream. It’s like having golden hour for 8 hours long.  Had we only visited southern Norway, we wouldn’t have seen this. This alone made the 20 hour trip to get here worth it. Our girls thought they were super cool staying up way past bed time. Plus bed times don’t apply on adventures.

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Midnight-sun-Norway

*sheep kissing alert*

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Talk about a great wild camping spot!

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We got back to our cottage at 2:30 am. It’s hard to remember to sleep when you are not used to daylight like this. Your body and mind just say nope nope not doing it.

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Day two we went to the Lofotr viking museum. This place was awesome. We learned a lot about vikings, threw axes, got our elf on with some archery, and sailed in a viking ship. The safety regulations were tough though.  “Kids, just don’t throw these axes at anyone”. That was it, ha.

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Obviously those boys were trying to learn a thing or two from this guy. He is actually quite good at throwing axes. So impressive. He would have made one sexy viking.

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Thanks Ava & Bella for these photos!

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Day 3: Kayaking. I highly recommend Reine Adventure. They were really great. We chatted with the owner a bit. He told us how his work is very seasonal and in the summer time it’s non stop. We talked about winter and I loved his outlook on it. He said work is really slow, practically nothing at all for months. During that time, you have mostly darkness, but you have family and you drink warm drinks, alcohol helps, and you have the northern lights. That sounds lovelier than the winter here in Philadelphia, but we took something away from that. We have the luxury of having all the seasons in PA. Winter is just another season and a gorgeous one when it snows. It’s a time where you can get cozy inside with loved ones. We are absolutely adopting the term Koselig in our house.

This was the girls first time on a kayak. It went awesome and no one tipped. Except Bella and I almost tipped because a small jelly fish distracted her and she thought it was cute and leaned hard to the one side and almost tipped us. But all ended well and taking a dip in Arctic water in Norway wouldn’t have been so horrible.

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Once again, we lost our trail, how? I have no idea.  We’ll just say we are the type of people that make their own trail.  😉

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This photo ^ was taken at 12:40 am. Yes A.M.! ……as in just after midnight.

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It’s quite challenging to sleep in a tent with so much light.  Again, this photo ^ was taken around 11pm.

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Our last stop was Lillehammer. The home of the 1994 winter olympics. My favorite, (team Kerrigan all the way).

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-Happy Place-

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We made a circle of our family’s rock stacks in the Artic Circle.

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We left these little inspirational cards designed by our inspiring friends from Hello Happiness Card C0. all around Norway.

This trip was a once and a lifetime trip.  We do hope that one day we can go back. Pictures sure do help tell and show the beauty of this country, but experiencing it with our own eyes was different. If Norway wasn’t on your bucket list, you should change that and stick this amazing country on there. For those of our friends that love to camp and hike, this place is a dream. Having been there, I can now understand completely why this country is one of the happiest countries in the world.

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