With somewhat sore and slightly painful feet (after our hike to Pulpit Rock the previous day) we left Stavanger early in the morning for our long drive to Bergen.
A trip to Norway is incomplete without at least one hike in its beautiful mountains for stunning views of the fjords and the surrounding countryside. We wanted to do one too and while planning for the trip did a quick research on some of the famous treks enroute our driving route in southern Norway. From Stavanger we came across two popular hiking points – Preikestolen / Pulpit Rock and the Kjeragbolten. Since we were not sure of the difficulty and fitness levels required (we do hike but are not regular hikers nor very fitness conscious), we decided to go for the shorter and slightly easier one of the two i.e. the pulpit rock.
Bidding goodbye to our host at Villa Baneheia, we left Kristiansand early in the morning and joined E39 again to drive towards Stavanger. Our plan was to reach Stavanger in the evening with one brief stop in between. We had quite a few options for this stopover but ultimately decided to visit the southernmost point in Norway at Lindesnes to see the lighthouse here i.e. the Lindesnes Fyr.
Morning of our second day in Oslo was cold and cloudy and the streets empty when, armed with our backpacks, we left our hotel to pick up our rental car. On this trip we wanted to spend a lot more time in the countryside and were to drive south from Oslo along the coastline to Stavanger and eventually Bergen. We were super excited as this was our first driving holiday in Europe and we couldn’t wait to be on the way.
When the pilot announced we had started our descent I kept the book I was reading aside and looked out of the window to get my first glimpse of Oslo, the starting point of our two-week vacation in Norway and Sweden. I was expecting to see the suburbs of a big city but my first sight of Oslo was a complete surprise and something that grew to be so familiar with every place we visited in Norway – hilly landscapes, meandering water bodies, lush green fields and colorful houses.
Dramatic landscapes, mountains with stunning fjords, lakes mirroring colorful wooden houses and to top it all the stunning aurora borealis. Norway and Sweden were full of these beautiful surprises literally everywhere and as far as the eye could see. But when asked how I would describe these places – I was somehow always at a loss for words to describe the beauty. The normal words of such as “beautiful”, “stunning”, “gorgeous” and the likes are somehow insufficient to describe what you feel for this landscape. Traveling here we finally understood why these countries and its people are repeatedly voted as the happiest countries and people in the world.
Cologne or Koln is one of Germany’s oldest cities on the banks of the River Rhine. On quite a few occasions in the past I had transited through Cologne but somehow never had a chance to explore it. However in April this year on my trip to Germany I spent 2 days here and discovered quite a few of its interesting facets. I felt this city has a lot of opposites interspersed really well with each other that lent a unique character and vibe to it. There is a lot of ancient to complement the modern, loads of traditional breweries coexisting with Michelin star restaurants, quaint contrasting with trendy, Romanesque Churches alongside modern creativity, cultural and artistic etc etc. But even more than the city per se, it’s the people of Cologne with their friendly greetings and openness for everyone that left a lasting impression on me.