Celebrating a Birthday in Bergen, Norway

One of the most interesting things about traveling for a year is celebrating holidays and special occasions in foreign locales.

My birthday fell during our stay in Bergen, Norway, and as a special treat, Mike booked a beautiful house overlooking Vågen Bay. We got to sleep in the same bed for an entire week. After traveling nonstop for nearly three months, you have no idea what a luxury that was!

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Our flight landed late at night, and by the time we arrived at the house, it was well after midnight, which made it officially my birthday. Taking a tour of the place, I walked into a charming little room and saw something serendipitous: blocks with my new age.

It felt like a sign that this was exactly where we needed to be at this moment.

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We slept late and spent the day cooking, writing, and enjoying the spectacular views from the multi-level deck and the floor-to-ceiling picture windows. Catching our breath was what we both needed, and it gave us the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy this beautiful part of the world.

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Our second day in Bergen was spent wandering around Bryggen, the famous dock area featuring colorful wooden storefronts that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There was a marketplace with local produce, fish, honey, and other regional goods, as well as a variety of shops and restaurants.

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Seeing a bar with waterfront tables, we decided to have a beer and do a bit of people-watching. We ordered two locally-brewed drafts, and the bartender told us it would be 123 Norwegian krone. That’s $15 USD. For two small beers. Yikes!

The initial “sticker shock” never wore off during our time in Norway. Everything — restaurant meals, groceries, alcohol, toiletries — was incredibly expensive, even more so than Iceland and Switzerland, which were our two priciest countries thus far. Since Norway has its own oil supply, even the thing that should’ve been affordable wasn’t; Norway has the highest gas prices in Europe.

But it’s a beautiful part of the world, and our week at the lake house was incredibly relaxing and happy. We had a rental car and plenty of time for road trips, including some spectacular hikes.

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And it turns out that we were our host’s very first Airbnb guests. Stephen works on a Norwegian oil rig, and he was back in town for our final night and insisted on making us a traditional fish and potato casserole. We enjoyed sharing a meal and getting to know him as we learned more about life in Norway, and we hope to return again soon to explore more of this part of the world.

Next time, we’ll budget more money for beer.

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