Norway & Sweden On A Budget by kelsey knoche

10 days in Scandinavia. Stockholm, Oslo, Fjords, and Lofoten for under $2000

Stockholm

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

- Land in Stockholm

- Tour Stockholm

-Tour Stockholm

- Fly from Stockholm to Bergen, Norway

Lodging: Airbnb (best host ever!)

Favorite Activities:

  • Skinnarviksberget - park overlooking the river, this rocky hilltop destination offers scenic city & sunset views. This was one of my favorite things to do! There were no crowds and mostly locals.
  • Biking around Djurgården - an island in central Stockholm. It is quite busy but I recommend getting a bike so you can get away from the crowds and explore the beautiful meadows and small stretches of forest. So much green!
  • Second-hand shopping at Stadsmissionen - I am a sucker for thrift shops, especially in new countries. They are zero waste and you can always find treasures at good prices. 
  • Walk around old town Gamla stan - very busy but beautiful old town area 

Fjords

Day 3 (continued)

Day 4

Day 5

- Land in Bergen, Norway

- Grocery shop

- Drive to Odda

- Explore fjords and waterfalls

- Hike Trolltunga

- Drive to Bergen

- Explore fjords and waterfalls

- Fly to Bodø

 

Lodging: Airbnb (located close to Trolltunga, awesome space but no running water)

Check out this guide to hiking Trolltunga. 10 out of 10!

Here are a couple of stops I recommend for the drive to and from Odda. Google these places, they are beautiful:

  • Voringfossen - 600 ft waterfall in a beautiful valley
  • Låtefossen - 540 ft waterfall with two streams that flow under the road
  • Hardangerfjord - second largest fjord in Norway
  • Folgefonna National Park - park with glaciers

Lofoten

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

- Ferry from Bodø to Moskenes

- Pick up van

- Grocery shop

- Viking museum

- Hike

- Surf Unstad

- Hike

- Fly to Bodø

Lodging: Camper van from Arctic Campers 
Norway has amazing camping laws. Google "the right to access" or "every mans right" in Norway. It means you have access to nearly all uninhabited lands for recreation and camping. As always practice zero trace and be respectful. But as you can see in the second picture we scored an amazing place to camp!

If you head here in the summer it will be midnight sun, which means the sun never sets. So much room for activities!!! I highly recommend checking out 68NORTH for all things Lofoten.

Favorite activities (you can't go wrong this place is insane):

  • Ferry from Bodo to Moskenes - you can fly to the islands, but seeing the islands from the ferry for the first time is breathtaking
  • Viking museum if the weather turns bad - I was slightly obsessed with the Vikings show on the History Channel at the time, so learning some actual Viking history was fun AND I got to try on their armor!
  • Hike to Kvalvika Beach - beautiful beach with turquoise water. We got lucky and had it basically to ourselves
  • Hike Reinebringen - views for days... stunning and unique landscape you won't find anywhere else
  • Surfing at Unstad- surfing in the Arctic Circle is a must. Yes, it's cold but the awesome owners at Unstad have plenty of wetsuits, gloves, and boots to rent. I think they also have a hot tub you can jump in after. 

Oslo

Day 9

Day 10

- Fly from Bodø to Oslo

- Tour Oslo

- Tour Oslo

- Fly home

Lodging: Airbnb

I didn't plan much for Oslo because the Fjords and the Islands were what brought me to Norway. It is a neat city, we spent most of our time wandering around the main attractions. 

Favorite Activities:

  • Catching up on sleep because you will not want to sleep in Lofoton
  • Opera House
  • Sculpture Park

Budget

Budget.png

*This was priced for two people and was priced in 2016

Saving tips

  • Eating out is expensive here - pack snacks and buy as much as you can from the grocery stores
  • Wait for good flight deals
  • Late arrivals, early departures, and opting to nap in airports or ferry buildings - We landed in Bodo at Midnight and had a ferry out to Moskenes at 4 AM, so no point in getting a place. Same story for our flight from Leknes to Bodo to Oslo.

Safe Adventures!

Colorado Gators by kelsey knoche

Did you know there are gators in Colorado? Us either, until we found ourselves wrestling them...

This is no swampland, and it is a couple thousand miles from Florida, but believe it or not, Colorado is home to hundreds of gators. About four hours south of Denver is the picturesque San Louis Valley, home to a reptile rescue facility.

Due to the valley's 87-degree geothermal water, Colorado Gators Reptile Park started as a Tilapia farm in '77.  In '87 the owners bought 100 baby alligators to help dispose of the dead fish. The Gators quickly grew in the warm geothermal water and the farm was opened to the public in '90. Since then, they have become a sanctuary for unwanted and mistreated exotic pets and an education center. Along with alligators, they are home to pythons, tortoises, iguanas and other reptiles. 

One of their education programs is a gator handling class. The class serves a purpose beyond education. Alligators constantly fight so the staff needs to check them for wounds, medicate them if necessary, and possibly move them to a new pond. Since many of the Gators used to be pets, they also need to check on them to make sure they are adjusting to life outside of an aquarium, bathtub, or backyard pool.

Here we are with the 2-4 foot baby alligators. They had us step into a warm pool filled with about 10 baby gators and snapping turtles. We learned the proper technique of how to catch and pick them up, how to check for wounds, and how to medicate them. These guys were really fast and way stronger than they look! Did I mention we were barefoot? I was freaking out. 

Next up were the 5-7 foot gators. See below for a picture of their pond. With these guys, we had to walk into the water and pull them out by their tail. To medicate them we dried and cleaned their wounds and applied Neosporin. 

Last up were the over 8-foot gators. To get to these we had to walk barefoot through a murky pond (see picture below). Imagine being in 4-foot deep, no visibility muddy water with about 50 gators. Apparently, they have never attacked anyone, but when I felt something scaly bump me and swim between my legs it took all of my strength to stay still and not sprint out of the water. Our instructor just told me to stay calm and not to move... HA!

Once the 8-foot gator swimming under my legs situation improved, we watched our instructor catch one. Brave is an understatement. This guy walks up to one in the water and casually jumps on top of the gator. He then proceeds to ride the gator like a bull as it twists, whips its tail, and hisses.  These animals do not want to be bothered and they get pissed when you do. So as he is wrestling this gator, we are still standing in this water (remember there are about 50 gators surrounding us) and I am praying another gator doesn't decide to come over and check us out. Luckily they didn't care too much about us.  

We then pulled the gator our instructor caught out the water and checked her for wounds and took some pictures. 

This was one of the most terrifying and amazing experiences. I am so happy I got the chance to learn more about these incredible animals and I am grateful for people like Colorado Gators that spend their lives protecting these animals and teaching the public about them. I highly recommend this for any animal lover/adventurer.