Norway wasn’t really on our travel list, while we’ve long wanted to explore the country and famous fjords we figured it was out of our price range. But when we started looking at where to travel and found the Bergen City Marathon was on the first weekend of our trip we decided to brave the unpredictable weather and high costs and head north. While it may seem a bit odd to travel to Norway for a race (we both ran the 5k), we’ve traveled for less (aka that one time we flew to Denmark for lunch), and combining running and travel has been a lot of fun. We get to explore areas we normally wouldn’t, and jumping into a local race is a pretty unique way to explore a city.
First, Norway is expensive, though manageably so. We did accidentally spend €70 on dinner the first night in, but then countered it the next night with delicious hotdogs from a popular vendor on the warf for €12. Everything is about 30% more than in Dublin, and it will be by far our most expensive country, but isn’t quite as bad as we feared. It’s a bit frustrating to be limited by our budget for food, we’d love to explore Norweigan food more, but a few meals will have to suffice. I definitely would like to return as established adults.
But it’s worth the food sacrifices for sure. Bergen is a stunner of a city, and though its famed for its rainy weather we lucked out getting two mostly clear days. We arrived on Friday and went from the airport immediately to the race expo to pick up our run packets. From there we ate at Pingiven, a local craft beer bar with excellent local food. This is where we also discovered moderate price meant €35/person instead of €20. Lesson learned, but totally worth it for delicious meatballs, veal sausage and craft beer. We wandered the warf area, enjoying the very late sun, and headed home.
Our first full day was dedicated primarily to the race. We picked up breakfast to go and ate by the warf watching the fastest marathoners finish their first lap of the course. We would start four hours after them, finishing our race with the mid-pack marathoners and half-marathoners. It was a goal race for Alex, and a training run for me. I’d never run a 5k before, unlike the logical progression most people take when starting to run (5k, 10k, half, full) I chose to train immediately for a half, then full, and now a 10k. Because…I have to be different? Regardless, it was fun to run a race that’s over in under 30-minutes! Not to say it was easy, with several unexpected hills, some cobblestone, and sill recovering from Rotterdam it was a tough 3.1 miles. But a fun way to kick off our trip. Plus despite those unexpected hills Alex had a great race and managed to to snag a top 10 finish (#9) and third in his age group!
Day two we took the tram to the top of the Mt. Fløyen, which overlooks Bergen. We decided that while we were up there we’d get in a 5-mile trail run. I’ve never run trails before, but I can see why people love them, it’s never boring, and the scenery is spectacular. Though for this Dublin road runner a reminder how not in shape I am for hills. When mapping out the course we didn’t really think about how to get off the mountain, while we knew locals tended to walk up and down, we didn’t think too much about how. After running around a few lakes we headed back towards town only to discover the trail was an extremely steep path of rock stairs leading all the way back to the water. Going down wasn’t too difficult, but passing all the locals huffing it up made us feel a bit like slackers. Once back down we sailed through the city streets and back towards the center of town. The next morning he winds and rain that had been so thankfully absent for our weekend returned as we took a bus and two ferris south to Stavanger, our next stop in Norway.