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Venturing through The Fjords

Venturing through The Fjords

Sojdefjord, Norway

June 12015

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!





Shot from a racing train, from Bergen to Voss. Not a shabby front yard view, is it? Of course, this is JUNE.


Once you get to Gudvangen, you hop aboard this mighty vessel, the Fanaraaken. It’s a working ferry, taking cars and cargo, but mostly tourists.


We hadn’t even gotten on the boat yet and look at what we see!


Also at Gudvangen, notice the Viking Ship in the middle distance with Viking tourists hanging off it.


Random Sognefjord view. The day was overcast and occasional rain, but that just added to the atmosphere. Cool too, around low 50s.


More fjord! Did you know that there live sea mammals here? Seals and porpoises. We didn’t see any, but I could just tell they were underneath the surface, mocking us.


No roads can reach these fjord side villages, the only way is through the fjord. I’m not sure what they do for a living but this was one of several villages along the way.


Seagull in the fjord! National flag of Norway too.


Another village. I liked the red houses.


Early June, time for the fruit trees to blossom!


This may be out of sequence, but this is the view from the bus we took to catch the ferry. That there’s a farm down there. With the height of the flanking mountains, and the fact that they are so far north, these folks have figured out a way to live with out sunshine.


Taking the special train from Flam to Myrdal, we passed lots of amazing waterfalls, this being one of them. The water was, as you might guess, cold and clear. I could see the bottom of the fjord clearly when it was only 10-12 feet deep.


And then there was this. A hulder dancer!


Up at Myrdal, 2,800 feet, it was still winter! No roads come here, the hardy people who inhabit these cottages have to take the train to get here.


Stark. Bleak. But strangely beautiful.


June in Norway. Remember Munch?

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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.



My friends took me up here for a lovely salmon sandwich picnic after I landed. They claimed that the sunny clear skies would not last, so no time to waste! This is looking southwest over Oslo.


No surprise, but the sun stays up very late in the summer in Norway. Just 200 km north you get midnight sun. This setting of homes in the10:00pm “dusk” struck me as lovely.


What you’re looking at is the international ski competition venue here in Norway. In winter, this is covered in snow and is the cross country skiing course.


And this is the ski jump and biathlon shooting range.


And these are Olympic hopefuls, practicing their technique. They didn’t just shoot, they practiced unslinging their rifles, setting up, breathing and then shooting, and then packing everything. They’d do the whole routine, which makes sense. Just cause there’s no snow doesn’t mean you can’t practice!


My friend Marianne took me to the Viking Museum which houses two Viking ships discovered in the 1920s here in Oslo. It was a burial site, and a veritable treasure trove of these boats, food, art, tools, clothing,…everything a departed hero might need in the after life. Even a few sacrificed bovine. These boats were NOT that big and yet…..

Viking Ship Museum, Oslo


….this is the range these Vikings took back in the years 800-1100, ish. Great distances!


Viking shoes! This was before their contract with Nike began.


Along with the many folk art found with the boats, were four posts with animal heads, like this. The curators still have no idea what they meant or were used for. But they’re pretty cool.


Obligatory, “See, I WAS there!” picture.


The Outdoor Museum is a really nice reconstruction, with original buildings, of traditional Norwegian villages from around the country. I can’t really add much value by way of description that you can’t see for yourself, so I’ll just present a few pictures.

Open-Air Museum, Oslo


I can say, about this one, that they raised the farmouses so rats and other vermin would have a harder time of eating all the stored food.


I like grassy roofs!


Crazy story about this woman. See below.

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!


What visit to Oslo would be complete without viewing of Munch’s “Scream”? And so here it is. The reason it’s a little tilted is that just as I shot the picture a guard game up and startled me by telling me picture were not allowed. The nerve…





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