Norway

Some of my Favorite Norway Photos and Where I Took Them

Norway has a ton of exciting places to visit that I haven’t had the time to see yet. Like the tallest mountain in the country which apparently has an ice tube carved into it by adventurous climbers where you can literally slide down the mountain once your reach the top. Or what about the famous rock left balancing between two cliffs overhanging a fjord (Kjeragbolten)? Even Pulpit Rock, which is often super crowded, is supposed to be an amazing site to see. But guess what? It was covered in fog when I spent 4 whole hours strenuously climbing to the top and I didn’t get to see a damn thing!

The following destinations are all nearby to Flåm, a popular tourist and vacation spot on Norway’s largest fjord just a few hours away from Bergen.

Stalheimskleiva

20160717_165855-01

Stalheimskleiva is a scenic spot on a narrow winding mountain pass near Flam Norway. The valley below is green and fertile with innumerable waterfalls flowing off the sides and grassy farmland filling the middle. This was one of my favorite views in all of Norway that did not involve a Fjord. To get here you have to leave the main highway which tunnels under the mountain before resurfacing in the valley. You will also get stunning views of Stalheimsfossen (126 meter horsetail waterfall) and Sivlefossen. At the bottom of the hill there is a small parking area and some hiking trails which I’m sure are beautiful although I haven’t done them yet myself.

 

Kjelfossen

20160717_175335-01

Continue following the main road (E16) for another couple of kilometers and you will come to Kjelfossen, one of Norway’s tallest waterfalls. This photo hardly does it justice but I thought the clouds midway up made the scene absolutely epic. The falls is approximately 755 meters tall or 2,477 feet tall. Apparently it is a popular ice climbing destination in Norway. The entire area is breath-taking and to the east is a harbor for the ferry to Flam. Or if you prefer you can take the E16 as I did.

Stegastein

20160717_210905-01

Stegastein is a view-point overlooking the part of the Sognefjorden fjord where Flam is. This fjord is the largest in Norway and the second largest in the world and is absolutely beautiful. You must see it and this is one of the best viewpoints. In fact all along this road are numerous overlooks and pull outs to get a better idea of the land’s beauty.

All three of these sites can be seen and enjoyed in a single day trip from Bergen as we did this summer with time to spare.

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Follow JELTOWN on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and now on YouTube!

Save money by traveling like I do

$35 off your first Airbnb booking!

Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

country profiles, Norway

A Quick Guide To Norway

20160717_210905-01

Norway is one of the most beautiful, clean, advanced countries in the world. The natural landscape is second to none. The cities are advanced and so is the economy. However, it is also one of the most expensive countries in the world, certainly that I have ever been to.

What I hope to provide you in this post is bit of advice on how to do Norway in an economical fashion without missing out on the beauty of the country.

How to get there:

From the US you can fly to two main cities: Bergen and Oslo; or perhaps a slightly smaller one Stavanger. Oslo is the largest and most common but I would personally recommend Bergen as it is closer to most outdoor activities. One economical way to get to Norway which I used in 2015 is to fly to Reykjavik with Wow Air and then from there to Norway with Norwegian.

From Europe, Norwegian is a budget airline that goes to most cities in Norway and from most cities in Europe. Once again I’d recommend Bergen over Oslo.

Where to stay:

There is so much to see in Norway, and unlike some other European countries, you really can’t see it all from one base point. If you just have a few days, stay in Bergen and take day trips (this is what I did in 2016 on a 4 day trip.

If you have more than 4 days (I’d recommend 2 weeks if you can afford it), I’d start in Bergen and than loop around the country, perhaps heading south to Stavanger or even further to Egersund where I stayed in 2015. Then make your way back up north to Oslo before cutting back to Bergen. For a longer loop, continue from Oslo all the way north to Trondheim, before heading back down through the fjords to Bergen.

Lodging:

While there are of course many hotels and a few hostels in Norway, Airbnb is by far the most economical. In 2015, my two friends and I booked a private Airbnb apartment for 3 people with a kitchen for about $70 total.

In 2016 I rented a private room for two in an apartment for 4 nights for about $170 total. The owner was hardly ever home, super hospitable, and allowed full use of her kitchen for us to cook.

Oslo is extremely expensive, hence I don’t recommend staying there unless absolutely necessary.

Transportation:

There isn’t really any public transportation in Norway. You can get around the cities by buses and a friend of mine took a bus from a major city to a popular hiking area, but if you want to see more than just the top tourist attractions and the city centers, you need to rent a car.

That being said: renting a car is extremely expensive. The car rental itself is fairly reasonable ($50/day or so but varies). Make sure you get a diesel (its cheaper) and something with good gas mileage. Unless you are there in the dead of winter you don’t need a 4X4.

Getting Around, the roads and fuel:

Gas is approximately $8/gallon or 1.74 EUR/liter. Tolls are outrageous. If you can plan your trips to include minimal back tracking (so you don’t pay the same toll twice) and try to avoid toll roads (Google Maps isn’t quite up to speed on which roads in Norway have tolls and which don’t), you may save a bit.

However, you cannot fully avoid them. Most car rentals charge by plate or by chip on the windshield and you get the bill a few weeks after your vacation. I spent $100 in tolls in 4 days on my last trip. If they have an option for a fixed daily rate to go through unlimited tolls, take it! I did that in 2015 and it probably cut my toll costs in half.

Norway doesn’t have many traditional 4 lane highways. Many of its roads are single lane roads with turn outs for passing and some of these sketchy passes still charge you for a toll. There are also tons of tunnels which is nice because it helps preserve the external landscape. Just drive with care and watch out for other drivers.

DON’T SPEED. Seriously. They give out tickets in some places for just a couple of km over speed limit. Plus it’s not very safe to speed on the curvy roads of Norway.

What to see in Norway

There is too much to see in this beautiful country. Stay tuned for more coming soon!

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Follow JELTOWN on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and now on YouTube!

Save money by traveling like I do

$35 off your first Airbnb booking!

Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

travel tips

Travel really IS for everyone, and don’t let people tell you otherwise

lrmobile2902-2016-065935913434522648-01

Matador Network (whom I frequently read and enjoy) recently posted an article entitled LET’S STOP PRETENDING THAT TRAVEL IS ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE.

Sounds intriguing right? I am well aware of the numerous posts out there saying that anyone can travel! And I’ve much enjoyed learning their tips on how to make it happen.

However, this author apparently feels that this is unfair to many people whom he believes just aren’t privileges enough to travel like him.

I could not disagree more. Sure there are a few situations that may temporarily or very rarely permanently inhibit travel. However, for people in the west (whom his audience is directed), really have very few excuses not to travel.

Having children is one of the most frequent ones I hear. And yet I know penniless young single mom’s who travel the country, child in tow. It takes resourcefulness and hard work, but in no way is a privilege.

The author states that if you didn’t come from money than you probably never thought of traveling. I completely disagree. I came from extreme poverty (by American standards, though I never lacked what I needed). And yet from a very young age I dreamed of travel. And the desire awoke even more fully when I was working and paying my way through college.

Some of the most traveled people out here in the west coast are homeless hobos, hopping from city to city. While I don’t condone their lifestyle, it just shows that money isn’t the privilege that make travel a possibility.

And on top of that, travel is super cheap! If you are willing to put in the work and discipline, you can literally do a trip for about the cost of buying the latest smart phone.

The biggest problem that people have is not living within their means. And this problem affects people of all level of income, privileged and oppressed. Its part of the curse of the so-called American Dream (which in my opinion is more of a night mare).

I am a travel nurse at the age of 30 and finally make a good living by most people standards. I know how much it costs to live where I do and how much most nurses make. There is absolutely no reason why any nurse in my area should not be able to travel fairly often. And yet all the time I get the question “how on earth do you travel so much? how do you afford it? I’m so jealous”.

I will go into more details on how I afford to travel so much in future posts. So stay tuned.

But suffice to say, I went overseas raising my own money, on a humanitarian trip for 10 days at the age of 16. At the age of 23 I did 3 weeks in Costa Rica using my own money while waiting tables (only 25 hours a week) and paying for college. Granted I took out some extra loans which I later paid off, but they were interest free student loans so I figured it was worth it.

I have never had the privilege of money. Certainly I am aware of numerous other privileges and understand how not having these can make it harder to travel. But don’t let that be a crutch.

If you are truly serious about traveling the world begin thinking about ways you can eliminate expenses and increase your income. Don’t get into a serious relationship. Don’t have a kid. Don’t buy a house. Don’t get that new car. Learn how to leverage credit cards to your advantage. Don’t go out to eat. Don’t buy drinks at bars (especially fancy cocktails…what a rip off!). Don’t buy name brand clothing. The list goes on.

When someone writes an article about how not everyone can afford to travel or has the privilege of being able to, I just think about how many people I’ve met who I know make way less than I do and yet drive a brand new $30k car or have expensive designer clothing. There is nothing wrong with that. But don’t tell me how you can’t afford to travel.

And yes there are still some people in our country who are destitute, hungry, trapped in their circumstances. These are people who need a hand up from society to get back on their feet…but this is a travel blog, not a political blog.

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Follow JELTOWN on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and now on YouTube!

Save money by traveling like I do

$35 off your first Airbnb booking!

Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

country profiles, iceland

Epic spots off the beaten path in Iceland

One thing I’d like to say here before I give you guys a few more awesome adventure to behold. All these places in Iceland I’m suggesting are aboslutely free. Just show up and enjoy. That being said: please take care of the environment. Pick up your trash. Stay on the trails (ok mostly, just don’t damage things). And leave the place better than you found it.

 

Dettifoss, Selfoss, Hafragilsfoss, and the Jökulsa Canyon

dsc_4768-01

Pictured above is me jumping over Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss. Ok not exactly jumping over it. But pretty damn close to the edge. This spectacular site can be reached in the north west corner of Iceland about 7 hours from the capital Reykjavik.

Personally I like the less famous but in my opinion more beautiful Selfoss just a short walk upstream from this waterfall. Its the same river with the same volume of water spread out in a horseshoe shape with numerous falls separated by small rock islands.

Further downstream from both is the Jokulsa Canyon and the Hafragilsfoss, both of which I haven’t visited yet. Supposedly the canyon is one of the most beautiful spots in Iceland and I will be sure to update you guys when I go!

Even further down is the Ásbyrgi Canyon which is supposedly amazing too (the pictures appear so!).

Learn more about this are on the official website here

 

Glymur

lrmobile2408-2016-071872797622431995

Glymur is arguably the tallest waterfall in the country of Iceland. It is also an abdolutely gorgeous canyon with well marked, excellent hiking trails and is not too far from Reykjavik to the north. The photo above shows me looking over the cliffs downstream from Glymur itself. The gorge is filled with greenery and flowers, and up above is a beautiful stream cutting its way through a large meadow surrounded by mountains. The hike is about a two mile loop that involves a river crossing if you want to see both sides and a lot of uphill climbing. Not for the fain hearted but requiring no special skills either.

Jökulsárlón – Glacier Lagoon

dsc_4619-01

Jökulsárlón is a large lake at the base of Iceland’s largest glacier, Breiðamerkurjökull. The lake then spills into the ocean allowing icebergs of various sizes to float into the oncoming waves. The waves the wash these icebergs onto the beautiful black sand beaches of Jökulsárlón Ice Beach. Its a spectacular site. Off in the distance you can see the tallest mountains of Iceland towering over a mile above the beaches below (see the photo above). \

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Follow JELTOWN on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and now on YouTube!

Save money by traveling like I do

$35 off your first Airbnb booking!

Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

country profiles, iceland

More Must See Locations in Iceland

I could probably write ten posts or more outlining the most beautiful spots in Iceland. I want to tell you guys about all of them but I may do a few more than move on to another travel destination 🙂

Skógafoss

dsc_4255-01dsc_0052-01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s most famous and beautiful waterfalls. Supposedly a Viking hid his treasure beneath the falls nearly 1000 years ago and it was nearly recovered by a farm boy within the last century but as he tried to bring it up from under the falls the handles to the chest broke and it was again plunged beneath the water.

Whether this story is true or not, the falls is certainly a treasure in and of itself. That spot where you see the guy sitting is a soft, flimsy tuft of dirt overlooking the falls. Wouldn’t recommend climbing it as you could fall but its an epic shot.

Pro tip: climb the stairs on the right side of the falls and hike up a ways. There is a nice trail that leads to another falls in less than a quarter mile and then if you continue onward you get some incredible mountain views.

 

Black Sand BeachDyrhólaey Arch and Light house, and Kirkjufjara beach

dsc_4397-01

Iceland has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches outside of the tropics. My favorite so far is the Black Sand Beach area near Vik in southern Iceland. What you see in the photo above is looking west from the Dyrholaey Lighthouse on top of a large cliff between two of the black sand beaches.

There are several attractions here. The long, straight, volcanic beach above is the official Black Sand Beach, although there are plenty of others. Starting from the west this is the first location you come to.

Next is the Dyrholaey lighthouse which you can drive nearly to or hike up the hill along a sheep path (meeting some friendly and some not so friendly, fluffy creatures along the way). Also on this hill is the Dyrholaey Arch, a huge arch with formidable cliffs jutting out between two black sand beaches. I believe there are signs suggesting one shouldn’t walk out there any more, but I’ve seen people doing it nonetheless.

Continuing East you reach Kirkjufjara Beach which is fill of more arches and more black sand. I think this is one of the most picturesque scenes in Iceland. Beyond that is the Hálsanefshellir Cave which is rumored to have contained a troll until its depths were sealed by falling rock.

Gljúfrabúi and Seljalandsfoss

dsc_4474-01 dsc_0027-01

Seljalandsfoss is another one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. If you are going to Skogafoss and Black Sand Beach, you will inevitably pass this waterfall on your way and must stop (you can see it from the main road, hard to miss!).

The main attraction is Seljalandsfoss. This spectacular waterfall has a trail that you can walk behind the falls for a unique view of the fields beyond. Another trail follows the cliff to the left of the falls heading north. Several small trickles of water create green, lush, cliff side landscapes.

After about a quarter mile you will come to Gljufrabui. This waterfall is easy to miss because it is actually inside of a cave. The waterfall has essentially cut through the roof of the cave and careens into it before cutting its way back outside of the cliff. The only way to see the entire waterfall is to walk through the stream into the cave and look up.

I guarantee you that you will not leave dry but it is an amazing site. Another (more adventurous) option, pictured above, involved scaling the cliff with the help of a few well placed ropes and looking over the edge into the hole beneath where which the water plunges.

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Follow JELTOWN on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and now on YouTube!

Save money by traveling like I do

$35 off your first Airbnb booking!

Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II