Trip Start May 01, 2007
Trip End Dec 11, 2008

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Flag of Norway  , Western Fjords,
Monday, May 26, 2008

A trip to Norway would not be complete without seeing a Fjord. So we decided we'd splash out and get the train to Bergen, making a stopover near the Fjords. We had heard that the train journey from Oslo to Bergen is not only one of the most spectacular in Europe, but in the world. I love traveling by train, and was really looking forward to this one.

After a great couple of nights in Oslo, we got the train on the Monday morning from Oslo and managed to find ourselves a seat opposite some friend and not-so annoying Americans. They were a father and son combination, tracing their heritage in Norway. They came from Washington State and we made interesting conversation with them for most of the journey. It was not long after leaving Oslo that the scenery becaming stunning and then into the snow. I was excited about reaching Finse. Finse is the area where the Planet Hoth featured in The Empire Strikes Back was filmed. Hence I was very excited about going there - my first Star Wars film location! Once we approached that area, the snow covered landscape to me was recongnizable from the film. Not dramatic mountains, but more like rolling hills covered in snow. It was a tick of my list anyway! Finse is also the highest train station in Norway at 1222m above sea level.

Our stop was at Myrdal, where we chain trains to hop onto the Flam railway. The Flam Railway is one of the steepest non-cable railways in the world and passes some very dramatic scenery. The rail drops 866m over a 20km journey to give an idea. The train was older than I expected, which made all the more fun. The train made a stop halfway down to the Fjord, at a majestic waterfall called Kjosfossen, which was surely one of the best I've seen in the world. It was a pity there were so many damn tunnels blocking the view! The Flam railway was a great wee trip, which took us onto the next leg of our journey to Bergen - a Fjord cruise.

We arrived at the tourist stop of Flam, where there is little more than the train station, a small port, and tourist shops. We hopped on a boat an soon began cruising through the Aurlandsfjord. Tourists were in abundance but it didn't detract from the scene. The seagulls were mighty annoying however. The fjord was beautiful. We spent about 2 and a half hours cruising thought Aurlandsfjord, and then Naeroyfjord. Waterfalls were abundant, more than I could count and bigger than I had ever seen. The weather was nice, especially in the back half of the journey. Some of the mountains seemed to rise nearly 1000 meters straight out of the sea water of the Fjord. It was a majestic journey, and one which I am very glad we did. We met a couple of Aussies on the boat to, who were doing a similar thing to us, only they had a car to drive around Norway.

We arrived at the spectacular finale to the cruise in Gudvangen, which is a small mountain at the bottom of a very steep sided valley. Our next fun trip then commenced - a bus trip up Stalheimskleiva to Voss, where we stayed the night. The bus journey was crazy, a steep, narrow and very windy old road up and out of Stalheimskleiva. The views were spectacular again, and it seemed to take us an hour to go about 5km. I was now convinced the that Norway is one the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. If only I had enough money to stay longer!

We spent the night at Voss, a small town situated by Lake Vangsvatnet. We stayed at the YHA, which was a beautiful building situated right on the lake. We managed to cook ourselves here too which was a bonus. We met a couple of Canadians who were from Montreal and were holidaying in Norway for 3 months. Montreal must be rich. Anyway, it was a pleasant stay with beautiful views. The lake was crystal clear and still, and was a great place to relax for the evening and following morning.

In the morning we headed to the train station for the final part of our journey to Bergen.
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