Flamsbana railway...

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
Trip End Jul 07, 2006

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Thursday, July 6, 2006

Originally, and rather optimistically, I'd planned to travel south through Sweden after my trip to Svalbard. However, it became clear to me a couple of weeks ago that my budget wouldn't stretch that far, and even though I've got the trusty credit card, it would be stupid to get into debt on a country that looks far less exciting than Norway anyway (sorry Kristian!). So, I booked a flight from Tromso to Oslo with the aim of finishing my jaunt on a high...

My only regret on this trip, as mentioned previously, was that I didn't do the Myrdal to Flam journey when I was travelling to Bergen. I saw someone's photographs of it, plus the connecting boat trip along Aurlandsfjorden, and it looked very scenic indeed. Well suddenly I had two days in Oslo to spare, and some free travel days on my Scanrail Pass remaining, so I went ahead and booked myself onto the trains.

I didn't actually arrive in Oslo until 1am on Wednesday morning after a long day travelling from north to south on two separate aeroplanes, and after checking in at the hostel at 2am, I checked out again a mere five and a half hours later! My first train departed at 8.11am, so after storing my main backpack in a locker at the station, I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery on what was a glorious day (I'd gone from 2 degrees to 25 degrees in the space of 24 hours!).

After 4 hours the train reached Myrdal, and I, along with many many tourists, got off and waited for the train that would take us down the famous Flamsbana railway line. It was great not having any real luggage as I just hopped on and easily got a window seat, while everyone else fought to find space for their suitcases! It really had worked out well again, and it always seems to be the case...

The one hour train journey definitely lived up to its billing as one of the most scenic in the world, as we passed waterfalls, lakes, valleys and mountains. We even had a brief stop at one of the more spectacular waterfalls, although it was a bit hectic with all the tourists trying to get a photograph. I couldn't balme them though as it was really nice...

Once in Flam, we boarded a large ferry that was to take us on a relaxing two hour cruise along Aurlandsfjorden, and in this instance I was more than happy to be accompanied by hundreds of tourists - the mad rush to get on board meant that I got on for free, saving me a handy 18! I certainly didn't feel guilty after weeks of being charged 1 to go to the toilet in public.

My opportunism and lack of luggage meant I got the best seat in the house, although I got slightly annoyed when a couple of gormless Japanese women spent the first twenty minutes of the cruise feeding the flock of seagulls that were following us. It was funny to start with but they definitely overdid it, and I was glad when they ran out of bread so I didn't have to worry about a bird shitting on me anymore! (video clip included)

The weather was the best it had been on any of my fjord cruises, and it was really pleasant sitting in the sun surrounded by 1000m sheer cliff faces and bright green water. One guy at the front of the boat was lobster red by the end of the journey, though I don't think my zoomed in picture (included) really highlights the brightness of his skin that well. Judge for yourself...

A bus then took us to Voss at the other end of the fjord, and this was an unexpected treat in itself. Moving at about 5 miles an hour, the bus slowly weaved up and around the many twists in the road, giving amazing views of the fjord we'd just travelled along. When we finally reached the top, we had half an hour to wander around the grounds of a posh hotel, take pictures and buy souvenirs. It was turning into a brilliant day, and it had barely cost me a penny thanks to my Scanrail Pass (and other methods!).

The train from Voss arrived in Bergen at about 8pm which gave me enough time to check into the hostel and grab a Burger King, before watching the cheats (Portugal) lose at football. It's not often that I'm cheering on the French at anything, but this time I was desperate for them to win, and thankfully they did. Cheats never prosper, remember that Ronaldo!

I took a direct train back to Oslo the next day before having a final wander around the city where it all began nearly four weeks ago. Again, I had some interesting dorm mates, including a couple of Swedes who'd brought a ghetto blaster with them, and we listened to their own brand of europop for a couple of hours. The Brazilian guy wasn't so enthusiastic about it as it was a far cry from the samba music he was used to. They were good fun though, and I didn't mind the fact that I got to sleep well after midnight, just a few hours before my alarm was due to go off...

Thankfully I managed to wake up with the alarm at 5am as I had a bus to catch to the airport, a plane to catch to Newcastle, a metro train to catch to the city centre, and a train to catch to Doncaster! It was a long day and I slept like a log that night in my lovely double bed, with not a snorer to be seen or heard anywhere.

It's a tiring business this travelling lark!
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Tess on

Sounds like an amazing trip! Can't wait 'till I get a chance to go to Norway as well!

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