Day 3: The Beginning of Tour de Mont Blanc

(A day late to upload this post since we had no wifi in the refuge we stayed at on the second day of our hike!)

We got breakfast another nearby hotel before starting our first day of hiking. None of us got in really good sleep after getting to Chamonix so late.

The TMB hike is usually 10-11 days for the full loop, but we are doing a 6 day hike since we don’t have much time in France. That involves a couple of busses, trams and skipping one of the stages on the hike.

We took the bus to Les Houches to take the tram up to Bellevue which was where we were going to start our hike.

The beginning was easy right up until we crossed the bridge with the waterfall. From there it was all incline. The ascend itself wasn’t too bad but with the large increase in altitude within 2-3 miles, that was what killed us. Our bodies didn’t have too much time to adjust to the altitude which made it super hard to catch your breath.

We decided to do a variant path of the hike which was a lot of steep hiking but the views were worth it.

At the peak we took a quick break to enjoy the view before descending down to the refuge for our next rest stop.

It was a long way down and I’m so glad we weren’t doing the hike clockwise cause the incline was probably the longest and highest I ever seen.

Once we descending down to the bottom, there was a refuge called the Miage where we wanted to get lunch but it was super packed and we didn’t have reservations. It was probably the most people we would see at a refuge because it was a starting and ending point of the hike.

We took our rest here by the water coming from the glacier. A quick and refreshing break before we continues our journey. Dipped our toes into the water too which felt amazing but the water was so cold that my feet started to hurt after a couple of minutes.

It’s amazing that after dipping your feet in the water, it basically feels like you just took a shower. It was a much needed refresh before it was our turn to do an incline hike.

It was a rough way up. So much sweat that I didn’t even bother to wipe my face cause it’ll just be full of sweat again. It felt forever but what drove us was that we were starving and there was a refuge there.

Once we got to the peak and arrived to the refuge called Auberge Le Truc, we were hit hard when they told us the kitchen closed… it was only 2:30pm. They did have a small cheese plate, desserts and cold drinks so we got that to keep us full until we arrived at Les Contamines-Montjoie.

We got the cheese plate, blueberry tart and a couple of drinks to share. I’m obsessed with this swapps drink which reminds me of halls cough drops – the citrus flavored ones!

We continued our journey from here and saw a shift in scenery around us. It felt like we ended up somewhere in the PNW with the trees that look like this.

There was a lot of decline from here on out to reach Les Contamines-Montjoie. I was started to feel the soreness in my quads and knees and tomorrow was going to be the day I’ll start using my hiking poles.

Les Contamines-Montjoie was the town we were staying at for the night. We stayed at a hotel called Hôtel Le Christiania which was quaint and cute. We had a nice view to wake up to as well! It was 5:30pm or so when we freshen up in our room and we starving at this point because we didn’t have a real meal all day aside from a tiny selection of bread, cheese and yogurt in the morning from our hotel in Chamonix.

We walked over to Casa Roca which was close by and was open. We thought they were serving dinner early but unfortunately had to wait a hour without food until the kitchen was open. It was honestly the best full on heavy meal we had so far on the trip since we didn’t get the time to do so in Paris.

We got 1/2 rack of ribs, white sesame salad which was BOMB AF, sliders, chorizo and this cheese thing where you dip meat, bread and potatoes in.

After dinner we took a stroll to the nearest supermarket to see what snacks we can bring on the hike the next day. We got some chocolate and crackers, nothing too special.

We ended our day early around 10:40 or so because we all needed a good night’s rest. Especially after feeling so sore after our first day and having less than 6 hours of sleep the day prior.

Day 1 is complete!

Day 2: Last day in Paris and off to Chamonix!

Started our morning with an espresso right outside the apartment and we took a nice breezy walk on the southern side of the Seine towards the Pont des Arts.

We grabbed breakfast at one of the most popular spots – Cafe de Flore.

Got my second shot of espresso, and for food we got a croissant and brioche with apricot to share. We each got our own dishes, I opted for the wild mushroom omelette.

Next stop was Luxembourg Palace and to walk off our breakfast we took a stroll around the Le Jardin du Luxembourg. I’m still surprised at how many gardens Paris has and the amount of people who would work out at the park!

The main Maison Kitsune was closed so we went to one in the Royal Garden instead. I got a yuzu and honey iced tea and we sat by the fountain to relax and take in the ambiance.

It was gonna be another long day of walking as we walked all the way to the see Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro Gardens which is the spot where everyone takes their pics from.

From there we took the train to the shopping district near the Arc de Triomphe. We didn’t do much shopping but we got to check out the Nike House of Innovation store and the Kith Paris store that recently opened up.

After an exhausting walk to check out a couple more stores, we ended up walking all the way back to the apartment to freshen up and finish packing as we head to the train station at the Paris Gare de Lyon. Next stop – Chamonix, as we start to take on the Mont Blanc hike tomorrow morning!

We took the train to Bellegarde Gare which took a hour and 40 minutes to transfer to the bus that would take us to Chamonix. The bus ride took almost 3 hours which was rough. We pulled into Chamonix around midnight and we just need a good night’s rest before the hike.

At this point, running with too little hours of sleep – I just rushed the first two posts of this trip. Going to try my best with this upcoming 6 day hike!

Day 1: Bonjour de Paris

It’s been a while folks. With the pandemic and all, that meant no traveling and pretty much the reason why this blog has been dead. As things are getting better and crossing my fingers that it’ll continue to do so – it is time for a much needed trip.

I landed at the CDG airport around 11 and took me roughly 40 mins or so to get to the center of Paris where my friend had her apartment. Of course, the first thing I had to do was shower because being on a plane for almost 6 hours feels nasty.

We waited for our other friend to arrive, she landed a hour after I did but in ORY – which was a smaller airport and the lines was much longer compared to what I had to deal with.

We pretty much started first day in Paris with a walk on the Pont d’Arcole to soak in the views of the Seine and Paris.

We were starving and we heard great things about Mediterranean food in Paris so we walked around Le Marais to check out the restaurants and cafes.

There was a popular falafel spot called L’As du Fallafel but the line was too long so we decided to get pita as our first meal at Miznon. We got the rotisserie and kebab kebab to share between the three of us. It tastes way better than it looks!

Then we walked around the city to take in all the boutique shops until we got to Breizh Café Marais to get a savory crepe to share at a park nearby as our second course.

We walked around the area some more – west of Le Marais and to my surprise there were a lot more Chinese restaurants in Paris than I thought, even outside of Chinatown (which was in District 13).

We were planning to do a lot of walking on our <48 hours in Paris so we had to take advantage of the metro system which reminded me of the one in NYC but much simpler to understand.

We took the metro at Arts et Métiers station which had a steampunk feel to it because of the bronze/copper look it had.

We took it all the way to Pigalle station and grabbed coffee at KB Cafe Shop since we were pretty much running with less than 5 hours of sleep. Surprisingly, KB had cold brew which was rare since iced coffee drinks just wasn’t a thing in France, which I think was common in most countries aside from the US.

After getting our caffeine fix, we walked up to see Sacré-Cœur, which was unreal cause it looked like it was straight out of a fairytale book or a game. It’s one of those things where pictures just can’t do it justice.

Here’s the view of it from the bottom.

It was actually a pretty sweaty walk up since the sun was out.

Here’s the view of the city from the top. There was lots of people just sitting and enjoying the view.

The streets around Sacré-Cœur were quaint but I’m obsessed with all the homes around the area.

After a sweaty walk back down, we had to treat ourselves to a blueberry tart from Farine&O. We passed by so many bakeries and we just couldn’t resist so we had to get one at the last bakery down the street we were walking on.

It was one of the best tarts I ever had, it wasn’t too sweet and the blueberries were refreshing.

One interesting thing about August in Paris is that it’s the time of month most people take a couple of weeks off work and travel. According to my friend, the city has been much more quiet since everyone left. We even noticed this as a lot of stores and restaurants were closed. There were plenty of these signs posted up across store windows.

If only the US cares about burnout as much as Europe!!

From the bakeries, we walked to Rue Sainte-Anne, which is basically little Tokyo. I didn’t even know that there were so many Japanese restaurants in Paris! I wish we had the stomach to eat because we saw so many good spots.

We checked out the Royal Garden which felt like it was hidden in a random alleyway. The garden was pretty nice but since we were going to see a bigger one later, we didn’t stay too long.

We walked over to the Galeries Lafayette which was a huge mall similar to Bloomingdales in NY but with way more luxury brands. Apparently Paris has a lot of malls, who knew. We only went in to check it out really quick, use the restroom and cool off.

After the mall, we passed by the Opera building and then started to head toward the Louvre. It was pretty late so it was closed but we were still able to walk around it and get some pics in.

From the Louvre, walked over to the Tuileries Garden, which looked like it was 5x the size of the Royal Garden.

From the Tuileries Garden, we continued walking through to the Champs-Élysées Garden, which was super relaxing. It was like a fancier Central Park.

We crossed the Pont Alexandre III bridge to begin our walk towards the Eiffel Tower which was going to take around 30 mins. It was our last stop for the night.

As we walked towards it we decided to look for dinner spots near by as well. We stumbled upon La Fontaine de Mars which had good reviews.

We got a couple of dishes to share – foie gras, escargot, duck confit, beef tartare and tripe sausage. the foie gras and escargot tasted amazing but I wasn’t a big fan of the main courses. The duck confit was the best dish but it was a bit dry and the tripe dish was had a strong overwhelming tripe taste which was too much for me.

Overall, dinner was a bit disappointing but at least there were some dishes that were enjoyable.

After dinner, we were rushing to the Eiffel Tower since it sparkles around every hour and we were cutting it close to 11pm. We made it just in time and there were a lot of other people laying in the grass, drinking and enjoying the view as well.

Afterwards we took the metro back home. It’s crazy how we stayed out until midnight when two of us just flown in and got around 4-5 hours of sleep.

Day 7: Trolltunga

We woke up at 4ish am to get ready and also to pack our things as we’ll be heading to Voss after the hike. We reserved a parking pass for the P3 parking lot, which was the highest peak where you could start the hike. The other spots that you could’ve Park was P2 and P1 but that would mean starting further down. Instead of the 8 hours we allocated to hike it would’ve probably been 10-16.

The drive up wasn’t too bad in the dark. The pictures made it look scarier that it actually was. At 6am, the gate to P3 was open and once we got up to park. It was time to start the hike.

The weather wasn’t too bad when we started and we pretty much warmed up 20 minutes in. The hike itself wasn’t too bad, I think the most strenuous part was hiking up from the very bottom near P1 parking.

There was a lot to take in on the hike!

3ish hours in, we made it to the famous view.

We were one of the first groups to make it. Unfortunately, 10 minutes after…. the clouds started to come in and we couldn’t get pictures with the view anymore.

This was when it started to get really cold and it started pouring when we started to hike back. It was freezing and it even hailed a bit!

We started to see more and more people hiking on the trail as we were going back. Thankfully we started early or else there would’ve been a lot of foot traffic. It’s always a good idea to start a popular hike as soon as it’s possible. That also means no lines for pictures!

It took was 6.5 hours to finish the hike which was a lot quicker than the expected 8 hours. It was nice to finally get back, freshen up a bit before we start driving to Voss. It was the last hike that we are doing in Norway.

It was a nice scenic drive towards Voss. There were a lot of fruit stands along the way. We really wanted to try some plums but we didn’t have change.

The drive to Voss was around 3 hours. We were starving after our hike so we stopped by a town along the way called Lofthus and got food at a small diner like restaurant – Kompaen.

The food was amazing for what it was. We had amazing dirty fries and I got a chicken burger that hit the spot.

After lunch, we got to Voss and did a little shopping around the town since we wanted to get gloves for our day long kayak trip the next day. We didn’t find anything we want but we were surprised at how many stores there were!

There was also a cute cafe that we found where I got a nice iced latte for the walk.

Our Airbnb was 30 minutes away near Gudvangen. There wasn’t much food around there so we ordered Thai food from a take stand to bring back and it was surprisingly really good. We learned that the lady who worked the truck was in fact Thai and that she met a Norwegian man, married him here and moved to Norway!

We spent the rest of the night chilling at our Airbnb and just relaxing since we had a full day of kayaking. Nothing like a relaxing night after a long hike.

Day 6: A rainy day in Bergen

Unfortunately for us, our full day at Bergen was full of rain. Instead of driving into the city, we walked a good 20 minutes from our Airbnb and started our day with breakfast at Kaffemisgonen. It was a nice cozy cafe with amazing coffee and great sandwiches. I had the best iced americano ever.

After breakfast, we went to Bryggen – a historical block with colorful houses by the pier with a bunch of shops.

We went souvenir shopping and found a great photogenic alleyway with a bunch of great boutique stores.

Afterwards we went to a cafe called Vagal for a quick caffeine fix and to dry off a bit.

The cafe has a great ambiance and pretty cool glasses for iced coffee!

For a quick snack, like every other country I have been – I love trying the local exclusive menu from McDonalds. There was one nearby and we were all craving a snack so we went and got a bunch of things to share.

We got a vegan McSpicy, sweet potato fries, vegan McNuggets and chili cheese pops. The vegan McNuggets was so gooood and it tasted like falafel. I really like the McSpicy too, it didn’t even taste like it wasn’t meat. It was a satisfying snack.

We went to the outdoor fish market afterwards where they were selling meat, cheeses and of course a bunch of seafood.

We couldn’t go to the fish market without trying anything…. so we got shrimp and scallops.

And then for the grand feast, blue fin tuna steak and king crab legs.

To my surprise, I prefer blue fin tuna raw but the king crab legs were amazing.

To walk off the big meal, we went shopping around Bergen specifically looking for a Helly Hansen store or jackets but didn’t find much. I ended up buying a HH beanie though!

We didn’t have much time in Bergen since we had to drive 2 hours to Odda for our Trolltunga hike the next day. We went to get early dinner at Munken Bistro, which was a popular Peruvian restaurant. To our surprise (since it was Peruvian food) it was one of the best meals we had in Norway so far. We got the lamb shank, sashimi of white fish, marinated with lime, spicy fillet of white fish and braised leg duck.

We pretty much ate all day in Bergen. But hey, we have to store energy for tomorrow’s long hike! Our ride to our next Airbnb was 2 hours long and there was a quick 15 minute ferry ride too. We drove passed by Odda which was a bigger town that I thought. Too bad everything was closed by the time we got there.

We’re ready for our 8 hour Trolltunga hike tomorrow! We went to sleep early since we had to wake up at 4am.

Day 5: Rough start but we made it to Bergen

We woke up at 5am to catch our ferry to Bodø. We were all ready to take a nice nap on the boat but instead all we got was bad news. The ferry was cancelled because of the weather. Now this was frustrating because we had a flight to catch to Bergen.

We were googling different ways to get to Bodø to make our flight. The closest airport was the Svolvaer airport and we saw that there were available flights but not enough for the 6 of us. We took a taxi over to ask anyway since it was only 8 minutes away.

Unfortunately there was no room left but there was a flight at 11:40am at another airport that was 2 hours away. The guy who worked at the airport was able to help us check for a flight that would allow us to make our connecting flight. 2 hours on a taxi wasn’t cheap but it was our only option to make our itinerary.

Fortunately for us, we made it, got the flight, was able to fly to Bodø to catch our flight to Bergen. We had another connecting flight to actually get to Bergen but we were lucky enough to make all of them. We were grateful that everything worked out for us even though we had a few setbacks. (We also had some issue with the car we rented that took us over a hour but it was nothing big!)

The drive itself to the city wasn’t bad and our Airbnb was located north of Bergen, which was around a 20 min walk to the city center.

Our first activity was seeing the city at the top of Mount Ulriken. We took a tram up and got an amazing view at the top. There were two great view points of the city.

We just sat there for almost a hour watching the sunset and seeing people jump off the cliff to paraglide. It was kind of nice to just sit down, relax and enjoy the view.

We were starving afterwards and went to a famous restaurant called Enhjorningen for dinner (unicorn fish for a translation). It dates back to the Middle Ages which was crazy how much history there was to this place. The restaurant had a couple of old master paintings on its red and green walls.

We got majority of the menu (not the tasting menu) to share and the food was decent but we didn’t get enough to satisfy our hunger. It was a great atmosphere as we were able to hear a live performance from the pub downstairs and the floor shaking from the music.

To end our night we grabbed two hotdogs from a famous spot called Trekroneren. They served so many different types of hotdogs from reindeer to lamb. We got the cheesy hotdog and the reindeer hotdog with lingonberry sauce and fried onions.

Honestly one of the best hotdogs I ever had. And I know I’ll be craving this hotdog every time I think back to this moment. We ended the day pretty early since we were exhausted from all the traveling.

Tomorrow we’ll be exploring Bergen by foot! I’m honestly excited since this was the first place we have been with so many people!

Day 4: Last full day in Lofoten!

It was our last full day in Lofoten and we took it a bit easier. We went to get breakfast in Svolvær at a bakery called Kringla As. I got a chicken sandwich that had a curry-like kick to it which was delicious and we shared a pancake/crepe-like sandwich with butter/cheese filling in the middle.

It was a rainy morning and since two of us weren’t able to hike – they dropped off the trail entrance for Djevelporten (Devil’s Gate). The four of us hiked up with our sore legs and it wasn’t too bad since it was a bit more fun. The hike involved us using a rope to pull ourselves up from a steep rock, and climbing rocks. All these different things we had to do, kept the mind off the soreness.

The views that we had when going up wasn’t too bad either!

It took us a hour and a half to get to the Devil’s Gate… and it was super windy up there. The wind was so strong, we were nervous to try getting the famous picture. Luckily, someone else gave it a go first and told us that the wind wasn’t so bad. It looked harder than it seemed. The pictures we had came out great and I was happy to cross one thing off my bucket list since this was one of the spots that captured my interest in Norway initially back when I was in high school!

The hike back down was bad. We got lost and ended up taking a completely different wrong path down. It was much steeper which made it hard for our calves and it was just so darn muddy. The path took us to a lake which put us all the way east from where we originally started. Good thing two of us didn’t hike and was able to pick us up for late lunch.

We got late lunch at Bacalao – a bar-ish type of restaurant. I was craving a burger so I got that. Didn’t even get to take a pic since I was so hungry.

It was going to be a light day since we had to wake up at 5am to catch our ferry back to Bodø to fly to Bergen – so we explored Svolvær a bit and went back to our Airbnb to rest. We made a quick and easy light dinner with ramen and veggies, packed and relaxed a bit. It’s going to be another day full of traveling!

Day 3: Off to Kabelvåg, but first we hike!

We all woke up with sore legs – we felt it our calves and quads which was insane for me since I never had this feeling after hiking before! We were leaving our Airbnb at Tind, as we wanted to be closer to Svolvær as we’ll be catching the 6am ferry back to Bodø on day 5.

We made breakfast before saying goodbye to our cozy home.

We were making a couple of stops before our Airbnb at Kabelvåg – starting our morning with a hike.

Offersoykammen was the one and it was no easy feat. It was nothing but steep incline which would’ve been tiring even if we weren’t sore. The incline + the how warm the weather was was a double whammy.

I didn’t get too many pictures but here’s a couple from my IG story.

It took us a hour+ to get up there which was average. We did see a lot of native hikers who were doing the hike like it was nothing! Jealous of how easy they were doing it.

Not surprising but the view at the top was amazing. Windy but beautiful. We took in the view, rested and took some time to take photos but we had to trek back down.

Usually I’m more of a decline type of guy since I felt that going down was way easier than going up. With all the soreness, I felt that incline was less painful than decline. I did not enjoy going down at all especially if it’s steep. At one point I was thinking to myself that if there was a safe and foolproof way to roll down the hill it would be the option I would take.

After that exhausted hike, our next stop was Leknes. A small town where almost everything was closed since it was 5pm on a Sunday. We stopped by a cafe called Huset Kaffebar for some caffeine and snacks before we continued our drive north.

45 minutes or so later, we ended up in Henningsvær to grab dinner at a restaurant called Lofomat. This was the best meal I had so far and I definitely recommend it for dinner if you’re even in town.

We got mussels, both specials of the day which was pan fried fish, king crab soup, seafood pasta, beer tenderloin, lamb shank and the risotto. The risotto was my favorite but their mussels were one of the best I ever had.

After that big meal, we had to walk it off and there was no better way to do so than exploring the town a bit. To my surprised, despite a lot of stores and shops being closed because it was a Sunday evening, I haven’t seen this many people walking around since the Oslo airport. The town was cute too!

We were heading to our Kabelvåg Airbnb but we couldn’t help but to make two more stops to see the sunset. The first was along the highway of E10 which had an okay view but we saw this beach Rorvikstranda and just had to stop there.

The colors were beautiful and those clouds completed the whole view. It was a great last activity before getting to our Airbnb.

Day 2 – Back to back Hikes in Lofoten

We woke up early to a rainy morning and a beautiful view from our Airbnb.

The smell of eggs in the morning, the sound of rain, the view and the homeliness of the home gives you that warm fuzzy feeling of coziness.

Despite the rain, we were determined to hike. Judging from the weather reports we should the rain should stop and all the clouds would be gone by the time we reached the peak.

We drove north to Reine and parked in the town before we began our trek to the trail. I was so glad I got my new hiking boots and trekking pants – I was completely dry even with the down pour!

It probably took us 15 mins to get to the Reinebringen trail and from there it felt like there was an endless amount of stairs to the viewpoint.

It took us a little our a hour and more than 1500+ steps. The rain stopped when we were close to the peak and the clouds were clearing. It couldn’t be more perfectly timed – when we reached the top.. we had an amazing view. Pictures couldn’t do it justice.

It was a breathtaking view of Reine. Worth all the stairs and rain that we endured. Going back down was actually the hard part especially with all the mud. It took a lot of time to get down slowly without slipping. By the time we got down, all of our legs couldn’t stop shaking when we stood still. It was that exhausting!

We trekked back to Reine to grab lunch and rest a bit. There was only two restaurants in town and we picked Gammelbua because of the reviews.

We enjoyed our feast outside with the view.

We got the Hjemmelaget fiskesuppe (homemade fish soup), grillet torrfisk (grilled stockfish), grillet lammepolse (grilled lamb sausage), elgbiffsnadder (moose chopped steak) and vegansk sjoplante burger (vegan seaweed burger).

It was a satisfying meal after a long hike. Kinda wished we had more food since we were off to the next hike!

The next hike was Ryten mountain and getting the view of Kvalvika Beach. It was way more scenic than our first hike and distracted us from our sore legs.

It took us over a hour but we made it to the beach!

Originally we were going to do the longer hike that was past the beach but due to timing we decided to just relax at the beach before heading back.

The hike back was pretty rough. More incline does not help the calves. We are definite feeling it in the morning.

Before we head back to rest, dinner was next. We stopped by a small town called Å to eat at a restaurant called Brygga.

A great dinner to end the day of back to back hikes!

Day 1:

7 hours later we made it to Oslo and we had to kill 3 hours before catching our next flight to Bodø. It was lunch time when we landed and there weren’t many options at our terminal so we all got different things from the airport stores.

There was a sale going on at Salmon house so we picked up some smoked salmon and bread. A pretty decent meal to start our day .

We were catching a flight to Bodø to take a ferry to Lofoten Islands. It only took a hour to get there and a 5 minute cab ride to the ferry terminal. We were excited to get some fresh air and see how beautiful Norway was.

It was one of the best ferry rides I ever been on. There was so much beauty to see and I couldn’t help but snap as many pictures as I can. I spent 2 of the 3 hours above deck because I didn’t wanna miss a view and I only went back down because it was getting dark and cold.

We arrived to a breathtaking view of Svolvær and went to pick up our car and do some shopping at the supermarket before we drive for 2 hours.

Unfortunately majority of the restaurants were closed so we had to settle by grabbing something quick at a local pub. It wasn’t too satisfying but we got to try whale jerky!

We were staying at Tind and that was a 2 hour drive in the dark. We were so glad when we got to our Airbnb as we were exhausted from traveling all day. It was 1am and we had to get up early to hike the next day. I had no trouble sleeping.