When planning our trip to Norway, we saw that Rick Steves recommended the Norway in a Nutshell itinerary – and you know that what Rick says goes with us! We looked into this and decided to do our bookings through Fjord Tours. Although it is very possible to book each leg of the journey on your own, it was only a few dollars more to do one stop shopping – quick and convenient to book.
Norway in a Nutshell can be done in a single day – or you can make overnight stops along the way and add extra activities. We chose to do the one day trip as that fit best with our schedule – and also, accommodations in the stops along the way didn’t suit out needs.
The day basically was Walk…..Train…..Train…..Boat…..Bus…..Train…..Walk.
During this trip, you need to handle your own luggage from transport carrier to transport carrier – but none of the distances are far. Harvey & I just took a small duffle bag for the weekend, leaving our luggage at the wonderful Hotel Thon Rosenkrantz in Oslo, but the girls needed to bring their luggage to carry on with their trip and they had no problems transferring it during the day.
We started the day with the brief walk to the Oslo Central Station where we caught our first train. The Bergen Railway train left at 0825 h from Oslo to arrive in Myrdal at 1259 h. This railway line was started in 1894 and is an engineering feat, completed in 1909. Leaving Oslo, you pass through a six mile long tunnel and then for the first 3 hours, you travel by forests and lakes, which reminded us very much of travelling through British Columbia (think of the journey from Cranbook to Radium).
After that, you climb in altitude to 1222 metres at Finse and you are into barren, windswept plateaus and glaciers. Before reaching Myrdal, you enter the longest high-mountain stretch of railway in Europe. The scenery is very dramatic! However, I must caution my Western Canadian readers – don’t expect the Rocky Mountains! We are so lucky to live next to those amazing mountains. The Norway mountain plateaus were dotted with chalets and cross-country skiers were abundant, enjoying the beautiful sunny day!
At Myrdal, we switched to the Flamsbana – the Myrdal-Flam Train – leaving at 1327 h for an ~55 minutes ride. This 12 mile spur line winds down to Flam at sea level through 20 tunnels. You pass a number of waterfalls, which I’m sure would be more impressive in the summer when they are flowing at full volume.
After a brief stop at Flam, our fjord cruise boat departed at 1500 h. We cruised through the majestic Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. These fjords, like any true fjord, were created by glacial action. The creation of a fjord requires coastal mountains, moisture and a climate cold enough for glaciers to form and advance, carving down to the sea. The Aurlandsfjord is a part of the World Heritage area surrounding the Nærøyfjord, a 17-kilometer arm of the world’s second longest fjord, the Sognefjord. It is surrounded by high mountains that reach heights of over 1,400 metres and is considerd to be one of the most picturesque fjords in the world.
The west coast of BC has fjords, and we were reminded of visiting Knight Inlet Lodge, a fabulous resort owned by our good friends, Kathy & Dean Wyatt. Knight Inlet is one of the longest great saltwater inlets/fjords on the BC Coast at 125 km in length and about 2.5 km in average width.
The cruise ended in Gudvangen and we transferred for a bus departure at 1725 h. This 25 minute bus ride to Voss takes you through a couple of long tunnels, and down a winding road – with it’s 18% grade, it’s the steepest road in Norway.