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 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.

Day 9: From Minca to Cartagena

Our last few hours in Minca, consisted of eating breakfast at the hostel and then trekking down to the town to get a bus to bring us to another bus station near Santa Marta so we could get to Cartagena.

The bus ride to Cartagena was around 5 hours. When we got to the bus terminal, it was surprising that to us that we just couldn’t find an uber. I guess since Cartagena was such a big tourist spot, maybe taxis just get priority here. Our Airbnb was around 15 mins or so from the main tourist area where everything was. We were pretty much staying at a local neighborhood.

Once we dropped down our stuff and changed to clothes that were more suited for the hot humid weather of Cartagena, we took the taxi to the main area.

I can see why most people only visit Cartagena in Colombia. Cartagena is absolutely beautiful. The photogenic streets and and colorful buildings. There were so many restaurant options. It also seemed like a family friendly city to visit.

We walked around for a hour until we got to eat at La Cevicheria, a famous restaurant that Anthony Bourdian went ate at. Everyone we know was raving about it, but we actually thought it was just okay. Definitely overhyped.

After dinner, we just walked around some more. At this time it was pretty dark out. We decided to just grab drinks at El Baron which was known for cocktails and outside seating. There was a great view of the church as well. After two drinks and a lot of conversation we hopped to another bar/restaurant called El Baluarte San Francisco. It was situated on top of the wall and also outdoors. We got drinks and food and pretty much chilled there until we decided it was time to head back. I was excited to see Cartagena in the morning.

Day 6: Our Last Night in Medellin

We took it pretty easy in the morning as we didn’t wake up too early, around 8-9am or so. Our day was pretty flexible aside from a free salsa class that were going to take at night from DanceFree.

Originally we wanted to do a exotic fruit tour with Real City Tours in the morning however there was no spots left so we explored the fruit market ourselves. We took an uber to Plaza Minorista Jose Maria Villa, which was basically a giant warehouse with fruit vendors. The only fruit that we tried was mangosteen. There were a lot of potatoes, bananas and plantains.

In the market, we found a restaurant tucked in an area where there weren’t many fruit vendors. We decided to get breakfast here since we see a bunch of locals eating and it looked delicious. We got a whole meal which was heavy for breakfast but delicious. The crazy part was that everything we got (a plate each with soup and 2 juices) was less than $10 USD.

We also found out that Guanabana juice was really good. It looked like a jackfruit our the outside and was white and creamy in the inside.

After the market, we walked to the nearest train station to take the Metro and experience Medellin’s public transportation system. The walk turned out to be a bad idea since we were walking in a pretty bad neighborhood. We were lucky that everyone was just doing their own thing and that we only got heckled two or three times.

We took the train all the way up north as we wanted to take the cable car to Arvi Park. The train station was extremely clean and it kind of feels similar to trains in Japan. The only thing that these trains didn’t have was AC.

We transferred from the train to the cable cars to go up to Arvi Park in San Domingo and that was where we saw the Medellin that we envisioned in or head. Homes and buildings in the mountainside, basically how people and Netflix have described Medellin.

Up at the top of Arvi Park, we were going to do a short hike to see a waterfall without a tour guide. We were following a map and we just kept walking along a dirt road. There wasn’t many tourist or even people on the road. Two police on a motorcycle stopped in front of us told us that we were actually heading to an area where theft was common and recommended us to take another route to a hike with a picnic area.

We turned around and took their recommended path. There wasn’t much tourist around the hiking path and it was pretty long. Eventually we finished the hiking path and found ourselves in an area full of tourists. The funny thing is that we ran into the same police again and we chatted more and even took a picture together!

After a long hike back to the cable cars, we took it back down and took an uber to a cafe called Rumah-Soul Up. It was a quaint cafe with a nice outdoor seating area perfect for a nice coffee.

For dinner we went to Cafe Zorba for dinner. The pizza and hummus was amazing. It made sense why the line the night before was so long. Cafe Zorba makes it as the top 5 restaurants we went to in Colombia.

After dinner we went back to our Airbnb and went to drop off laundry to pick up the next day. We headed to DanceFree for our free salsa class and unfortunately the venue was closed. Disappointed, we went to 37 Park for cocktails and got a couple of drinks before we went to another bar and then a club. We were out for a couple of hours before we headed back.

We realized that we forgot the keys to our Airbnb as we all rushed out earlier. We were locked out of our Airbnb and our host was probably asleep. We tried to break into our own Airbnb but we couldn’t get the last door to open. Instead of just spending the night locked out, we ended up finding a hostel nearby to stay in. It was a horrible end to our night but it’s a story that we would never forget.

Day 5: Day Trip to Guatape

We had an early morning since we were going on a day trip to Guatape, which was 2 hours away on a bus. We made sandwiches in the morning, ate that, hopped on an uber to the bus station.

I was knocked out the entire bus ride to Gutatape. Once we arrived, we were at the bottom of the staircases that led to the base of La Piedra Del Penol. We put on some sunscreen and hiked up. It was nothing but incline up which was tough. We did get some decent views as we hiked up.

What was crazy was that we didn’t know that most people just took the bus up to the base of La Piedra Del Penol which was the main attraction and hike. It’s this big rock below:

It took a little over 700 steps and buckets of sweat and pain to get to the top. Incline is just not my friend. The view from the top was nice and we chilled at the top, getting the nice cool breeze.

Hiking back down was easy. There was a separate flight of stairs for people going down so there wasn’t much foot traffic.

Once we got down, we took a tuk-tuk to the main town.

I fell in love with the town as it was reminded me of Salento a little bit with the colorful architecture and small town vibes. There’s something about being in a small town in the middle of nowhere that gives me the feeling that I’m truly on vacation.

We walked around the town, got lunch and snacks. It pretty much took a hour to see most of the town. The plaza was very much like Salento’s plaza where there were a bunch of tuk-tuks instead of jeeps. After we got coffee, we got our bus tickets back to Medellin. There was half a hour to kill so we stopped by a place with billiards and played some pool.

Exhausted from the hike, we all took naps on the way back to Medellin. For the rest of the day, we were going to take it easy.

We freshened up a bit at our Airbnb and rested until it was time for dinner. We originally wanted to go to Cafe Zorba to try some Medellin Pizza, but the line was huge and there was no way we were going to spend a hour or more waiting. Instead, we walked around and found an area that was pretty lively at night. It was right by a city park Parque Lleras, the restaurant was called Basilica. Basilica had a pretty diverse menu of Colombian, Peruvian food and even Sushi. I got steak with mushrooms and limonada de coco. It was the first time our steak was cooked medium rare which was great. The limonada de coco was one of my favorites. After our long dinner, we called it an early night as the next day, Thursday was going to be the day we explore Medellin’s night life.

Day 4: First Day in Medellin

We arrived in Medellin early in the morning and took an Uber to our Airbnb. As we were driving into the city, Medellin was not at all how I expected. Medellin was a huge city, it looked bigger than Bogota and was much more city-like than I imagined. I hate to say it but Narcos (the Netflix show) had a lot to do with how I imagined Medellin.

Our Airbnb was in El Poblado, which was the area where most backpackers and tourist stay in and often don’t really venture out unless it’s for touristy things. On our block, there were cafes, restaurants and bars which made it pretty lively. It didn’t really feel like we were in Medellin at all.

After showering and freshening up, we went to get breakfast at Cafe Macanas Medellin.

We had a couple of hours to kill after breakfast since we wanted to go on a free walking tour. We decided to walk from our Airbnb all the way up to the city center which took over a hour and allowed us to see different neighbors.

Once we got to the main area of Medellin, it was pretty hard to explore the area since there was a bike race, Tour Colombia that was happening and it was impossible to cross over to certain streets. Finding a spot to relax was almost impossible since majority of the coffee shops were on the other side of street.

A long walk later we were able to find a nice spot with a couple of restaurants and a cafe.

When the time came, we met at the meeting point for Real City Tours. We didn’t make reservations but fortunately we were able to do the tour with Pablo.

Pablo was an amazing tour guide. I thought Juan from our Bogota tour was good, Pablo was in a whole other level. He was knowledgeable about the history of Medellin and great at presenting. He was funny, charismatic and would answer any question we had.

In our tour we went to the following places:

  • Medellin city center
  • Old railway station
  • Alpujarra administrative center
  • Square of lights
  • Vasquez and Carre buildings
  • Palacio Nacional
  • Veracruz Church
  • Botero Square
  • Murals and Berrio Park
  • Shopping arcades/labyrinth
  • Coltejer Building
  • San Antonio Park

The tour itself took 3ish hours and the most interesting part was when we went to the city center. It was definitely an area where we wouldn’t have wandered in ourselves. We had to be very cautious and aware of our surroundings even in a big group.

We ended the tour in San Antonio park and got some good recommendations from Pablo on where to go out at night. We stopped by one of the oldest bars in the city called Salon Malaga before we went back. The bar had a good ambiance and antique decorations. We only had a beer each before we left.

For dinner we went to Mondongo’s which was a popular restaurant. We got their signature dish the Mondongo and two other dishes to share.

We wanted to see the local night life after dinner and Pablo, our tour guide recommended an underground salsa bar that only opens on Tuesdays. It was called La Papayera – Eslabon Prendido. Pablo gave us the heads up that the area is going to look very sketchy but safe. When we went got off the uber, it was very sketchy. There were a of shady things going on but once we found the venue it was pretty safe inside.

It seemed like everyone knew how to salsa even the tourists who went. For us, we just grabbed beers and watched. It amazes me how good at salsa some people are.

Day 3: Cocora Valley & Las Acacias Coffee Farm

I had a great sleep despite waking up in the middle of the night a couple of times because I kept hearing bugs and mosquitoes flying around me. For majority of the night I submerged myself into my blanket but I had to come up for air and the breeze.

Aside from getting a misquote bite, I had a great sleep. I liked waking up to the sounds of nature. The sound of leaves, birds and bugs. It was perfectly tranquil.

We had free breakfast at the hostel and decided to walk to Salento instead of taking the Jeep since it was early.

Once we got to the plaza, there was a huge line of people queuing for the Jeep service to Cocora Valley. We were packed in the back of the Jeep and had three people standing at the rear of the vehicle holding onto the roof.

The ride from Salento to Cocora Valley took around 30 mins. We got dropped off in an area with restaurants, basically where everyone who wants to hike Cocora Valley would start off and end.

We took the counter clock wise hike, which was recommended because there was less steep decline. I believe that was the main reason why it was recommended. The hike was going to be 5 hours, and we ended up finishing it in 3.

The beginning of the hike wasn’t too bad. It was mostly flat and we were surrounded by good views. It wasn’t until we got deeper in, scenery started to change.

Eventually the hike was mostly incline and I am so out of shape that it was honestly one of the hardest hikes I have done. It didn’t look hard, it physically was hard because I haven’t exercised in so long. The views were definitely worth it though.

I love the gigantic wax palm trees. I’d imagine it was the same feeling as being towered by dinosaurs.

We were exhausted and hungry but proud that we finished the hike 2 hours early. We got some refreshing cold drinks before we took the Jeep back into Salento.

We got lunch at some restaurant below Fika Cafe Salento and I ordered the Bandeja Piasa.

Bandeja Piasa is a big plate of rice, beans, shredded meat, chicharron, chorizo, fried egg, avocado and plantain. It’s A LOT of food but its delicious. I couldn’t finish it myself if I tried to. It’s an insane amount of food. Would definitely recommend this dish if you’re in Medellin.

After a good meal, we had time to kill before we took the bus to Pereira to spend the night before our flight to Medellin. Salento was known for coffee farms and we decided to go to Las Acacias Coffee Farm to do a tour.

I enjoyed learning about coffee, how it’s grown and all because I LOVE drinking coffee. The tour was very informative and I wish we had the time to do multiple coffee farm tours. If you’re in Salento, you have to do at least one coffee tour.

After the tour, we took a Jeep back to our hostel to pick up our bags and head to the bus terminal to Pereire. We caught the 5:50 bus out of Salento and the ride itself was around a hour long.

Pereire was way different from what we saw of the city when we were in the car heading to Salento. It didn’t feel exactly the safest, especially when the hotel we got was in a really bad neighborhood. We were lucky that our hotel was safe at least.

We only had to stay in Pereire for the night as we were flying out 6-7am in the morning. We only went out for dinner because we were starving and uber was the safest option. We got pasta at an Italian restaurant across the city which was actually pretty good.

There wasn’t really much for us to do in Pereira at night, so we went back to our hotel and just relaxed. We’re flying to Medellin the next day!