Norway - A Scenic Journey on the Flåm Railway to Oslo
We booked a self guided tour with Fjord Tours called Norway in a Nutshell, that include a scenic trip from Bergen to Oslo. Our journey begins with a train ride from Bergen to Voss, and then a bus ride from Voss to Gudvangen. In Gudvangen, we board another fjord cruise to Flåm, where we will be staying for a night.
I am a bit disappointed that we didn't get to stop in Voss at all, as I would have liked to explore a bit - that was the drawback of doing the tour we did. It's designed to be able to be done in a single day, but there is the option of stopping for a night at each of the points. We chose Flåm to stay at as that was the location from which we could get to the Stegastein Viewpoint overlooking the Aurlandsfjord.
Gudvangen was quite beautiful, and the Nærøyfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden that we cruised along were very nice - a bit different to the Osterfjorden in Hordaland, although the weather may have been a factor. On this day, the weather was spectacular, sunny with blue skies - perfect for cruising but less so for photography sadly.
We arrive in the mid-afternoon in Flåm and check into the Fretheim hotel, one of very few places to stay in Flåm that originally opened when English Nobility came to visit and hunt.
The hotel is situated at the base of a mountain, and we are so close that we can see and hear the waterfalls as well as the small avalanches.
We are pretty worn out after our journey so I take a bath (Yes! This room has a bath!) and then we head out to explore the town a bit. I found out that there is a Snickers Ice Cream bar, so we get one each and eat them on the waterfront. It's so nice and peaceful to sit in the sun eating ice cream in the middle of nowhere.
The town itself is quite nice, there are historical buildings everywhere, and even viking statues and sculptures. We found a Viking brewery and restaurant called Ægir to have dinner at and it was a really nice and cosy place, the food was good as well as the beer.
After our dinner, we hiked up the track behind the hotel to see if we could get a good view of the sunset from above. Unfortunately, due to the position of the mountains, there wasn't really much of a sunset, and it got pretty cold quite quickly so I couldn't stick around to catch the stars either.
The next day we had booked our tickets to go out to Aurlandsfjord to visit the Stegastein Viewpoint, a 30m long platform that sits 650m above the fjord giving amazing views of the surrounding scenery.
The viewpoint is something not to be missed, and the view is incredible year round, no matter the season. I love the snowy mountains in the background and we can even see Flåm in the distance.
Afterwards, we start our journey to Oslo on the Flåm railway, which is supposed to be a Top 10 Railway Journey in Europe, as selected by National Geographic.
The journey is quite scenic but I feel that we have chose the wrong season, as the many waterfalls we pass are actually frozen over so there's not all that much to see. I'm sure it's a lot nicer in summer when the grass is green and the water is flowing.
The rest of the train journey to Oslo is pretty, but nothing special. Almost the entire journey is through snow covered hills and lakes, and the sun is out, which reflects off all the snow and nearly blinds us.
Oslo is a rather interesting place. It's probably the least nice place we've been to in Scandinavia, owing to the fact that there is an apparent raging heroin issue in the city. We passed many of these drug addicts at the train station and on the streets so it was a little surprising to see this in a country like Norway.
Our stay in Oslo was short, and we managed to wander through the main city area and take another fjord cruise, but this time it was far less exciting. The Oslofjord is quite big so it doesn't look like the fjords we are use to seeing and it's not all that exciting.
The best part of Oslo was probably the Vigelandsparken, a scuplture park filled with strange and unusual sculptures exploring themes of life and death, human form, and movement. The sculptures are very weird but beautiful.
I'd like to visit more of Norway, but I think I'd like to explore more of the small villages along the coast and in northern Norway next time. I've heard that Lofoten Islands are beautiful and plan on visiting Trondheim and Tromsø and spending a good week or so there so I can chase the Northern Lights again.
We are off to our last country of the trip, Sweden, next. I'm really looking forward to Göteborg and Stockholm, it should be really fun!