Life, Travel

Natural Wonders & Utterly Chic Cities: Norway Is Europe’s Best Kept Secret

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The boat docks at Eidfjord, and we transfer to a bus. The bus driver plays a recorded tape that explains the Norwegian countryside and history; it pauses for “Solveig’s Song” by Edvard Grieg, Norway’s greatest composer and a figure whose melancholy presence is felt everywhere here.

Eidfjord, Norway

Voringfossen, Norway

The bus winds around snow-covered peaks, to the top of Voringfossen, which is one of the most visited attractions in Norway. When you’re there, it’s easy to see why–it’s not the volume of water that impresses, it’s the magical, dreamy shape of the valley and the waterfalls from all sides.

Voringfossen, Norway

Afterward, I take another boat to Ulvik, a fairytale town on its own crescent-shaped fjord. I’d picked the village solely based on the enchanting photos of its apple orchards, supposed to be in full bloom right during my trip.

Ulvik, Norway: lunch at dros

Delicious vegan lentil soup for lunch at Dros, the only consistently open restaurant in tiny Ulvik. So simple yet perfect after a day in the mountains.

My hotel is small and modest, but the windows look straight out at the fjord, and I have my own private patio, about seven feet from the water’s edge. I could totally just read a book by the water, but I change into my hiking boots and go for a hike.

Beautiful apple orchards in Ulvik, Norway

Beautiful apple orchards in Ulvik, Norway

As you can see, it’s like walking into a fairytale. The apple trees are in bloom, the sun is dappling, and the only sounds I hear are birds, rushing creeks, mini waterfalls, and lambs.

Walking alone surrounded by this majestic beauty, I think about why I chose to spend my 30th birthday traveling solo instead of at home. I’d wondered if I should spend it with friends and family in NYC, but I’d kept saying to myself “hiking in the fjords of Norway” and that made me the happiest. And here I am, exactly as I’d dreamed for about six months. I feel like the combination of a brave little toaster and a worldly 30-year-old woman.

Wildflowers in Ulvik, Norway

I walk across this soft field of purple and yellow wildflowers back to my hotel. Sigh.

In my room, I work on Peaceful Dumpling, take a hot shower, and sit outside on my patio. It’s so beautiful and calm it hurts. My whole body and soul are being cleansed from all the chaos of my life in NYC.

Ulvik

View from my patio.

Ulvik

At 11:30pm. It is still light enough to see the glaciers. Such a strange beauty.

Day 4

The entire day is spent on the bus and train back to Oslo, but I’m rewarded with an *amazing* dinner at Nordvegan, one of very few vegan restaurants in Oslo.

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Juhea Kim
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.
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