Saturday, April 30, 2011

Norway in a Nutshell

I have no idea why I think it's so fun to schlep around on multiple forms of transportation but I do! Similar to the loop in Hakone Norway is quite famous for their "Norway in a Nutshell" tour which cuts across the country and showcases spectacular views.
Snowy Countryside Outside of Voss

We left Bergen at 8am and took a pretty standard train to the small ski town of Voss. Here we boarded a bus for a scenic drive to Gudvangen. Since we were traveling on very snowy winter roads we bypassed the 22 some odd hairpin turns that the old highway has and arrived at the mouth of the Nærøyfjord in just under an hour. We passed our first of many frozen waterfalls we would see that day, they amazed me! And then we pulled up to this:

Everything was still and quiet and sooooo beautiful! There is pretty much nothing in Gudvangen except for the small ferry that comes a few times a day. The captain told me there wasn't much on board as far as food goes so we walked a short way to the gas station and loaded up on hotdogs, chips and chocolate! Arriving back in time to board the boat we grabbed a table and settled in for the ride.

For 2 hours we cruised through the Nærøyfjord, an arm of the Sognefjord. It's one of the narrowest fjords in all of Europe, at one point it's only about 820 feet wide, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it is stunning! The water was so cold it looked viscous.

At one point the ferry pulled up to a small town and a family disembarked. They had told us that they were vacationing there for the week and had to bring everything they would need as there was no store, phone, tv, etc. Their kids did not look happy but the adults were excited to ski and relax.
We continued on to the town of Flåm which boasts all of 400 people and left our tiny ship, grabbing $25 beers (for 2!) to wait for our next mode of transportation.
The Flåm Railway has pretty old style wood walled cars and is one of the steepest railway lines on normal tracks in the world. For the next hour we climbed up the mountain, peered down on tiny villages, went through 18 tunnels and saw the Kjosfossen waterfall, normally falling over 305 feet down and now frozen solid.

We arrived in Myrdal which isn't really a town but rather a train station in the middle of no where, around 4pm. It's used by most to change from the Flam rail to the Bergen rail which goes into Oslo. There was a small group of us at first but quickly a train came headed for Bergen which they all got on. And then there was just us & one other couple, a completely closed and locked up train station, a hot chocolate machine, Scrabble on the iPad and a few flasks of rum- waiting 2 hours for our train to Oslo.
Scrabble Competition
Outside the Myrdal Station

Our train finally came, a 4 hour ride to Oslo allowed us all to doze after the busy day. We had sent our luggage ahead so it was waiting for us when we arrived at the Hotel Bristol where we had stayed our first night in Norway. It was 11pm.

Official mode of transportation count, 3 - 3 trains, 1 bus, 1 ferry (if only they would have had a funicular or a pirate ship!!)

Full set of photos here

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