Day 1 of the Norway in a Nutshell (NIAN) itinerary took me from Oslo to Bergen, where after a long but pleasant train ride I had a chance to briefly explore. The highlight of the NIAN itinerary, though, was no doubt day 2, the return trip from Bergen to Oslo. Along the way, I’d be using three modes of transportation – train, bus, and boat – and see the famous waterfalls (which I LOVE), fjords, and valleys that Norway is famous for.
I hopped onto a morning train from Bergen station and set out for the first destination, Voss, where I’d catch a bus to Gudvangen, the start of the fjord boat tour. The bus ride offered some great views to enjoy, and it seemed as if Norway is constantly wrapped in a layer of clouds!
Before heading to Gudvangen, I had Googled the best side of the bus to sit on (assuming that I was lucky enough to get a window seat, and I was) to get the greatest view. From Voss to Gudvangen, it seemed that most people said the LEFT side gave the best views, especially as you’d be able to see Tvindefossen, one of the famous waterfalls of Norway – right there! As I had forgotten the name of the waterfall when I was writing this post, I had to look it up but thanks to the World of Waterfalls web site, I identified it as Tvindefossen by appearance and location. It was almost impossible not to notice it as it was right off the highway, and how impressive it was (even if it was half-covered by the shadow of the cliffs on the other side. Quite a pity that I didn’t get a chance to go closer to it but just seeing it zoom by made the bus ride worthy of its cost.
More breathtaking views as we approached Gudvangen – I mean just how much more gorgeous does it get! A lot of the photos in this post look similar but I can’t resist – such unbelievable beauty ❤
As we arrived at Gudvangen (keeping count of the plainly visible waterfalls encountered during the trip) I spotted another set of waterfalls. Without a guide, I didn’t know its name, but again with the help of World of Waterfalls, I managed to identify it as Kjelfossen. Apparently they’re some of the tallest waterfalls in Norway but they don’t look so impressive in the photo, probably because of the lack of precipitation. But still a surprising encounter!
I had about an hour to kill before the boat tour began so I walked around the docks a bit and enjoyed the views from Gudvangen, which continued to be phenomenal.
Turn 180 degrees from where the previous photo was taken and you’d get this view toward the path that we were about to take through the fjords. Kind of reminds me of the final scene of the Lord of the Rings movie, where Frodo et al. were sailing off from the Grey Havents with the song “Into the West” playing in the background.
At noon, we finally boarded the boat and left the Grey Havens – into the Sognefjord & Nærøyfjord we went, with a Norwegian flag waving proudly in the (rather chilly) wind!
Umm, yeah it was pretty cold, probably something like -7 Celsius degrees. Thankfully there was a heated interior area, but for the brave who wanted to enjoy the fjords to the fullest (like me), the exterior deck was open. I think I managed to last about half an hour out in the cold but gave up in the end and settled for the comfort of warmth.
Do you see what I see? Another waterfall trying to hide itself behind the little houses along the shore! It may look quite tiny and unspectacular but it is possible that this photo only managed to capture a fraction of its overall height, as the source of the waterfall was probably at the top of the mountains.
On and on we cruised toward the next destination, Flåm, all the while being immersed in breathtaking scenery (if you haven’t noticed yet 😛 ) And by “we” I mean “I and the other passengers”, as Norway was an entirely solo trip.
Flåm was the starting point of the Flåm Line, which is supposedly one of the most scenic rail lines in the world (the same was said of the West Highland Line and to that I totally agree). There were a couple of hours of wait time between the end of the fjord boat ride and the beginning of the train trip from Flåm to Myrdal, so I wandered around Flåm a little. Aside from a gift shop, there wasn’t much to do around the train station, but I found a small hill nearby and had just enough time for a quick walk to the top.
The train ride on the Flåm Line was a gradual uphill climb from the valley of Flåm (Flåmsdalen) to Myrdal. The entire trip was only 20 km but lasted around an hour as it was a very slow train that allowed tourists to experience the best of Flåm at a leisurely pace. While the scenery was beautiful (look, another waterfall! 😉 ), I felt like it wasn’t as impressive as I had anticipated it to be. Definitely can’t compare to the West Highland Line, sorry Norway! Then again an hour is a relatively short ride, so maybe it was just over too soon.
The climb from Flåm to Myrdal saw a rise in elevation of 866 m, which is equivalent to a Corbett in Scotland. This segment kind of reminded me of parts of Switzerland, specifically the villages in Lauterbrunnen and those scattered along the rail line from Interlaken to Zurich.
Here’s Kjosfossen, a large waterfall close to Myrdal that was one of the highlights of the Flåm Line. There’s actually a station called Kjosfossen, and the train stops there for about two minutes for tourists to get off and take photos – probably the designated purpose of the station. The waterfall was really close – like, in-yo-face kind of close. You step off the train and it’s RIGHT THERE. Loving the sound of the roaring water, calms and soothes my mind ❤
Final interesting thing that I saw before arriving at Myrdal (could have been before Kjosfossen, actually) were these sharp hairpin turns, with yet another tall waterfall (Myrdalsfossen) tumbling right next to it! The height difference is probably not so obvious here but believe me, the ascent (or descent) was very, very steep. What a car ride that would have been if one had to take those hairpin turns…!
The arrival at Myrdal station marked the end of the NIAN itinerary and the only thing left to do was wait for the train back to Oslo. So, in a nutshell, Norway, you were stunning, but oh how I wish I had more time to explore your hidden beauties and secrets, beyond those I was able to see in two days!