Travelling abroad is never easy, but most of the time the return journey home is more difficult. Throughout the trip we are constantly exhausted yet the thrill of being in another country keeps our energy high. As our return flight approaches, the thrill is replaced with fatigue. Additionally, we always book weird flight paths and that doesn’t help.
Since this trip was planned spur-of-the-moment, our return journey home took us first through the small town of Trondheim, Norway. Here we stayed briefly overnight so we could catch an international flight home. We didn’t have time for much, just a good dinner and a stroll around the city in the rain.
We awoke in Bergen very early in the morning so we could catch the bus for our 7am flight to Tromso. Tromso lies in the far north region of Norway and is the third largest city in the Arctic Circle. Although remote, this city offers a gateway to the premier Arctic landscape that can’t be seen elsewhere in the world. And we were hoping to catch the Northern Lights on a clear night.
Our ferry from Flam arrived in Bergen late in the evening and we were too tired for nightlife. So we found our condo and took some good pictures of the cityscape from our balcony, before going to sleep. This was the end of the trip for Matt and Chris and a quick stop for all of us. From here, Katie, Lyle, and I were heading up north to the Arctic Circle.
The next morning, we made our way down to the iconic harbor where we got coffee among the smaller shops. We walked along the district before heading to the mountain tram that took us to an overlook of the city.
From Oslo, we caught one the rail services westward to the small town of Myrdal. From there, we hopped on a smaller line called Flamsbana. Ever since researching for my first Europe trip, I had heard of this train ride as it is consistently listed as one of the most scenic in the world.
Lyle, Katie, and I woke up in Stockholm at about 4am to catch the first flight to Oslo. We navigated our way to city center on a high speed rail and found our hotel easily enough. After meeting up with Matt and Chris again we decided to start exploring the sights nearby.
Our hotel happened to be next to the Oslo Opera House which was an architectural oddity with massive glass walls and granite exterior. We walked around it with care because an early morning rain made the granite a little slippery.
After Copenhagen, we split up. Matt and Chris headed up the Swedish west coast to the small city of Gothenburg. The rest of us boarded a short flight and landed in Stockholm, which sprawls over 14 islands along an archipelago on the Swedish east coast.
We didn’t have much time to see the city, so we immediately set off toward the Gamla stan (or Old Town) district of Stockholm. This district has been around since the 13th century and is sort of the cultural hub of the city. On our way to the Swedish Royal Palace we happened upon a marching band.
Katie and I landed in Copenhagen on Thursday morning to a clear day. After checking into the hotel and grabbing coffee to fight the jetlag, we met the rest of our party (Lyle, Matt, and Chris) and headed to our first destination: Tivoli Gardens.
We didn’t mean to visit Scandinavia – it was sort of by accident. Originally, Katie and I planned on attending Oktoberfest in Munich and sightseeing around Germany. I guess we enjoyed the country so much last summer, we couldn’t wait to go back.
One thing lead to another; Matt and Lyle decided to accompany us and then flight prices ballooned across mainland Europe. We already planned on taking the vacation days and as September was approaching we started to get desperate for an alternate destination. Matt jokingly checked the flights to Copenhagen and they were reasonable. So in the words of Hunter S Thompson, we decided to just “buy the ticket, take the ride”. Because of that, this trip might get a little weird. We didn’t do a ton of planning and our expectations are a little vague. All we knew was that Vikings used to roam in that area, but they haven’t been around for hundreds of years so it shouldn’t be a problem.
On top of that, we have a new addition to our group. Matt’s friend Chris decided to go globetrotting with us. He helps run an amusement park in Kentucky and had been wanting to visit some of the parks in Denmark and Sweden. It seemed perfect so he had to come.
Ever since Katie and I moved to Utah, we’ve been slowly losing touch with friends and family back home. Although we visit a few brief weekends every year, it’s hard to see everyone we’d like to. In August, a couple old friends from high school wanted to get out of town for a weekend and I quickly recommended the Maroon Bells-Snowmass area in western Colorado. Firstly, this pristine wilderness outside of Aspen is lightly traveled and would be perfect for a three night backpacking trek for us. Secondly, western Colorado is directly between SLC and Lincoln so I could easily meet them there.
Right out of the gate our plans had to change: an increase in bear activity caused the park service to require bear canisters instead of bear bags for all backcountry trips. We called every outfitter in a 100 mile radius and they were all sold out so we settled on some local tent camping with a few light dayhikes in the area.
From Banff, we hopped on the highway and immediately missed an exit or two and got lost in Calgary. Eventually we made it out and after a long stop, courtesy of the US Border Patrol, we arrived at our rental house on the edge of Glacier National Park. We were pretty tired from driving and spent the rest of the day lounging, before heading into the park the following morning.