I can say without a doubt that Norway is without a doubt the most expensive place I have ever been to. It makes Japan look cheap. Even if you camp and do it on the “cheap” it is still more expensive than SE Asia and a lot of places in Central/South America. I think that if you dwelled on the fact that a beer cost $10-20, a bottle of water/soda $3.50-$5, a ferry ride $30+, an intercity bus ride $8, a small whopper value meal $16 (did not partake), air=free, museum entry $10-$30, bike rental $50 for 24h, and a really cheap hostel $50+ it would take a lot of the fun out of the trip.
Our first afternoon in Balestrand the weather was pretty temperamental and I walked around town for a bit and rented a bike for the next day. My strategy (George W pronunciation) was to take the fast ferry for 15 minutes across the fjord to Vik, see a stave church with my parents and then split off and ride 26k on a road that dead ends after passing a couple of non touristed villages. I was then going to retrace my steps and continue onto Vigness (please note I am omitting several letters of the town name) and take the car ferry back across the fjord to Dragvik and then ride back to Balestrand for about a 50 mile day. The weather forecast called for 0mm of precipitation, score
Well when Saturday arrived I had a lackluster breakfast at the hotel and we grabbed the ferry. We then managed to find the church and of course it started to rain. We chatted with a 17yo who worked there for about 30 minutes until the rain decreased to a drizzle and then I set off on the bike. I successfully made it through the 1km tunnel without encountering any cars (win) and stopped to shovel some cake like substance and weird orange cookies (the cheapest snacks at the grocery store) down my mouth. The end of the ride took me to a small fjord that ended in over 10 waterfalls over a small village. It was one of the coolest things I have seen in mainland Norway.
The next day we grabbed the 8am, 4h, express ferry to Bergen. Bergen has about 80 sunny days a year (the opposite of Boulder) and we ended up having a mixed day between sun, clouds, and rain so heavy it bounces off the ground and gets you wet again. We hung around Bergen which is a pretty cool city, I imagine off the beaten path with less tourists it would even be cooler, grabbed some ice cream. We then parked ourselves at a beer bar serving Norwegian beers, two Belgian sours (common ones), and Rouge Chocolate Porter and watched the world go by. I realized at that moment that if cruise ships docked at Boulder and discharged a boat load worth of people off I would not like it. Our stay involved 3 beers and running inside twice to avoid some heavy rain. I was in charge of dinner and picked an area a little away from the harbor, hoping it would not be all tourists. We ended up in a bar/pub that had a good selection of beers and turned out to have really good food. We had previously had really, really bad whale in Svalbard which was cooked well done plus some. You need to cook whale like a mammal since it is one and has a high iron content, transforming our first serving into something tasting like over cooked liver. We noticed another person who got whale and it was cooked well so we asked our server if there were different ways to cook it and I ended up with some medium rare whale which was really good (Norway harvests a small number of whales a year, not like Japan, and there is not a lot of controversy over their whaling practices). Dinner was really good and we headed back around 930 at night, in bright daylight.
This morning we headed to the airport and I am on my way back to the states after another good vacation.