Highlight: The train ride through the Flam valley was stunning. It was sunny and I really wanted to explore more.
Lowlight: The constrained feel of the Norway in a Nutshell tour. The views were epic, but there wasn’t any time or flexibility to do any exploring on your own.
Fun Fact: The western coast of Norway, with all of its fjords is very similar to the coast of British Columbia. I definitely noticed a visual similarity while we were touring the fjords.
Money spent: 1567.5 NOK ($315 CAD)
Ben Frustration Index(BFI): 0.
What is backpacking without a bit of uncertainty and a few screw ups? It’s the mess-ups that keep things interesting. Or at least that’s what I like to tell myself when incidents like this morning’s happen.
We arrived at the train station to begin our Norway in a Nutshell tour to Bergen with lots of time to spare. We had picked up the tickets for the 5-leg multi-modal trip yesterday, so we went directly the train platform and searched for the carriage where our reserved seats were. When we found them, we also found a young American couple sitting in them. No problem, we had reservations, so we asked them to move. Turns out they had reservations too. Weird. When we compared tickets, we realized that our reservations were for July 25, not June 25. Oh crap.
The train was leaving in 10 minutes, so we didn’t have time to visit ticket agent to get things straighten out. Instead, we decided to stay on the train and hope things worked out. We closely inspected the tickets and realized the only piece with a date was the reservation for the first leg of the trip, the 4 1/2 hour train ride to Myrdal. We figured if we could make it to Myrdal, then we’d be ok from there on. There were still lots of empty seats in our compartment, so we grabbed two empty ones. However, the train was filling up fast, and we were soon asked to move twice. We moved to a different compartment with lots of empty seats, which was great until the conductor told us we were in 1st class and asked us to move back to 2nd class. Luckily there were 3 seats (2 together) that were unreserved and open for us. Otherwise, we would have had to stand until we arrived.
The trip to Bergen lasted all day and had breathtaking scenery the whole way. After we arrived in Myrdal, we transferred onto a scenic railway that corkscrewed its way through mountains down to the town of Flam. Then we took a boat ride through the fjords to Grungen. Then we were loaded onto a bus to take ridiculously steep road with hairpin turns up to Voss, where we jumped on a train for the last trip into Bergen.
There were waterfalls, mountains, picturesque valleys, and of course fjords. It was a great way to see the countryside, but it was a bit of a tease, especially the train ride through the Flam Valley. There were so many spots with the most amazing natural scenery I’ve ever scene and I wanted more time to explore. However, on the train all you got was brief glimpses. I guess I’ll have to plan a follow-up trip to hike and explore that area in the future.
The only downside of the trip was it made you feel like a sheep being herded from spot to spot. The connections were so tight, there wasn’t any time to explore on your own. At each stop, everyone shuffled to the next mode of transport and jammed to get in. There was a big Chinese tour group that reserved 3 train carriages on the Flam railway, forcing everyone else to squeeze into 2 carriages. Ben and I, and a lot of other people were forced to stand in the aisles for the 1 hour journey.