24 November 2014

Norway: Day Two, Norway in a Nutshell

Today was one of the things I was most looking forward to on this trip: the Norway in a Nutshell tour. It's supposed to give you a taste of everything for people on really fast trips, hence the name. It's a very ingenious idea: put together a "tour" on regular public transportation, and hand the tourists a guidebook and that's that! You shuffle yourself off to different places and you see amazing scenery. And I took so many pictures, it's going to be hard to decide what to post!

Here is a map of the route...it went Bergen - Voss - Gudvangen - Flam - Myrdal - Bergen
The day started off drizzling again. I read in the guidebook that it rains at least 260 days a year in Bergen...but I was really hoping I'd be lucky and have a non-rainy day! It did stop on and off throughout the day, and turned into snow up on the mountains. Sadly though it means that most of pictures taken on the train and bus have water droplets in them:
The first part of the day was taking the train from Bergen to Voss. I was being a total tourist and changed seats multiple times; of course I would first pick the side that runs against the side of a mountain and you only see rock. So I had to move to a seat on the other side, but that window wasn't clear, and then when someone else got off, I grabbed their seat! I started thinking it would be nice if they mentioned in the guide what side to sit on for best views, but then that would be crazy in the summer with people pushing to get on the train first. This route is extremely popular in the summer, especially with tourists on cruise ships who only have a day to explore. We started with about 20 of us, and some people got off along the way to spend an overnight at one of the stops, and ended with about 10. 

The next part of the journey was to take a bus from Voss to Gudvangen. This was the start of the best part. As the bus drove on, deeper in the mountains, the world gradually turned into a magical fairy winter land. It wasn't snowing at the time, but it looked like you had just stepped onto the set of Frozen, everything was perfect from the fresh snow to the most perfect Christmasy trees:
It was a grey and white landscape, dotted with yellow and red houses. 

The bus (side note because I think its funny: I keep typing buss which is the Norweigan word!) dropped us off at the ferry terminal at Gudvangen. This was the part I was most looking forward to - traveling through a fjord. And it didn't disappoint:
This little village used to not be accessible by road, and then when it was, the road frequently was blocked until a tunnel was built. Speaking of tunnels, I have never been through so many tunnels in buses and trains in my life until today! One train trip went through 20 tunnels!
While Iceland had the most stunning waterfalls, I think Norway might have the most; it seemed every mile or less there was a long, skinny waterfall emerging from the mountaintops. 
While I would love to come in the summer, I don't think it would have the same atmosphere, with the low clouds concealing the mountaintops and the snow coming further down from the top. Plus, then there would've been a completely full ferry to contend with, and it was perfect being able to sit outside for a bit, then go in and warm out, to go back out to an empty deck. 

The ferry stopped at Flam, which is where we got on the Flamsbana, the third most visited attraction in Norway and has been called the prettiest railway journey. It starts down at the base of a mountain, and climbs up the mountain to Myrdal. It's pretty much only used for tourists now, but at one station the train dropped off a delivery of something. I can't imagine living in those remote villages, you would really have to plan out your life, because going anywhere was a journey. In Flam, there was no snow on the ground. Half way up, we stopped at a "waterfall" which wasn't flowing today, and there were 6 inches of snow on the ground. At Myrdal, it was a foot! 
The "waterfall". You can see the Australians in the background having fun with the snow, they were fascinated by it! They kept saying they'd never seen so much snow...I wanted to tell them to go to New England after a storm, there's plenty there!
So many of my pictures have reflections from the lights of train, it was hard to pick out good ones! The last part of the trip was another train, from Myrdal to Bergen. This one was less scenic, going through many, very long tunnels. Just one last picture of the winter fairy land:
I got back into Bergen at 6pm, which was perfect timing to grab dinner - I had to go to the pizza place called "Dolly Dimples" (someone tell Nana I took a picture of the sign for her!) It was good pizza too!

Tomorrow I'm going to explore a little more around Bergen, and if it isn't raining too much I might try to visit a stave church. Then in the afternoon, I fly to Trondheim, which is more north of Bergen, kind of in the middle of the country. And the weather forecast is looking sunny! I won't even mind the cold as long as its sun. 


  1. Gorgeous scenery - mountains, snow, trees, unbelievable. So glad to see you too! Love you much,
    Mom and Dad :)

  2. Loved the picture with you in it. Send more :)
    Great post Bonnie.