I’ve always wanted to go through the Fjords. When I was 23, I wrote up a list of places I wanted to see before I kicked the bucket, and “Norwegian Fjords” was on that list! I wasn’t sure how to approach it though. My friend in Oslo gave me a wonderful itinerary for 3-4 nights in the Lofoten Islands, but there were many moving pieces and I didn’t have the time or energy (or money, frankly) to do something that cool and adventurous. So instead I went for the self-managed (no guide) 1 day trip from Bergen to Oslo, arranged by the Norwegian State Railways (NSB) called Norway In A Nutshell. Essentially the NSB sells you tickets for a train from Bergen to Voss, a chartered bus to take you from Voss to Gudvangen where you catch the waiting ferry (see below). The ferry takes you for 2 hours along the Sognefjord and drops you off at Flåm where you take a special train waaaaaaaay up the mountain to Myrdal, which is just a rail way station, sitting at about 2,800 feet. Then you catch the regular train back to Oslo. 8:30am to about 9:30pm. Long day but as you’ll see below, MUCH fun!
Greener Than Morocco
Flew 3.5 hours from Barcelona airport to Oslo airport. Our flight plan took us over France, and even Paris, which was fun. The plan was to meet and stay with my Michigan PhD friend, and she had given me instructions several trains to take to get to her. My problem, was that the Spanish SIM card I had acquired in Granada didn’t have roaming turned on, so I had no mobile data network access. So I’ve been learning to be super prepared to find a place before, and to download any maps before I leave wifi. Anyway, I find her and her husband, who I also know, drove me around town being really good and hospitable hosts! They even had a picnic packed so we drove up to the site wehre they hold many international winter sports events, a big old ski jump, cross country track…fun. Stayed at their very nice house out in the suburbs so I got to see how Norwegians live. I like how they live. Other highlight: visited the Viking Museum, toured the outdoor village of traditional Norwegian homes and buildings, went to the Edward Munch museum where I saw his painting, the Scream, along with Van Gogh paintings, which were in special exhibition. I was impressed also by the price of everything – a glass of beer was $10! Hard to get on a cheap drunk at those prices.
On the trip I took from Bergen to Oslo, via the fjords and valleys through the mountains, the Flåm train makes a stop halfway up the hill. We all pile out to look at the really cool waterfall, but it seems a bit odd. All of a sudden, music blares out from what looks like an abandoned hut on the hillside up o the right. And then…out pops a woman who does a dance, and then another one pops out on the other side of the house, then another pops out on top of the house, then another pops out in front of the house. I don’t think ANYONE had any idea what was going on. I think I heard a loudspeaker from the train saying something but it was so garbled, and probably in Norwegian, that we got no information. More dancing and music. Then it stopped and we all got back on the train, puzzled.
Next day, in Oslo, I go to his museum and start talking with this woman, as i am won’t to do. (I’m behaving more like my dad every day, which is frightening). Anyway, she’s a docent here, and seems to know a lot about Norwegian “stuff”, so I ask her if she has any idea what we saw on that hillside. Well! She does! In fact, she’s a dancer by profession and was one of those hillside dancers for three years!!! What are the odds? So she happily explains that it was the dance of the Hulder, sirens of the underground troll who lure men to their deaths. Good thing I didn’t know that then. So, I guess my Dad is on to something….talk to strangers!