Norway in a Nutshell by yourself
I am not fond of tours and i am in summer also a bit limited with time, so i decided to do Norway in a Nutshell on my own.
If you want to do it cheaply you have to book most things well ahead, Ryan to and from Rygge (there are of course other airlines and other airports but these did not fit into my time frame), the train from there via Oslo and Myrdal to Flåm, the boat fom Flåm to Gudvangen and the train Bergen via Oslo to Rygge you should book. Bus and train from Gudvangen via Voss to Bergen you can´t book ahead.
I was arriving in Rygge at 9 pm. The train ticket Rygge to Flåm included a shuttelbus from the Airport, in Oslo there was juts enough time to buy some food and drinks in a quite well stocked Supermarket, "Rimi", past track 19 near the northern station exit. In myrdal early in the morning onl 4 tourists left the train, 5°C, rain, some snow spots near the station, the Cafe opening only 5 minutes before the arrival of the train to / to Flåm. The train arrives with 6 cars packed with cruise boat tourists (and in Flåm a long line waiting).
The train ride was great, very steep and slow, it had at a waterfall even a fotostop where you could get out of the train for a few minutes. You definately should book this ahead of time, it doesn´t get cheaper but you can get on (but no seat reservation), sometimes there are more cruise ships in Flåm and the all want to take the train.
Arriving in Flåm, lots of people wait to get on the train, lots of shops selling warm clothing and souveniers, somewhere hidden a supermarket "Coop", a quite nice small railway museum and rain. If you want to stay overnight you can find a hostelbed NOK 210-275 or a room from NOK 500.
The boat ride, Fjord 1 leaving at 1.20 pm from Flåm to Gudvanger war really nice past small hamlets with tiny churches and several waterfalls, but somtimes raining, once in a while some sunshine.
Arriving in Gudvangen the bus to Voss came to bus stop next to the boat landing a view minutes after the boat arrived. There is also a bus back to Flåm.
The bus makes a small detour to Stalheimskleiv Hotel and Stalheimskleiv, one of the steepest roads i have ever seen. The bus makes also fotostops at 2 waterfalls, but unfortunately you can´t leave the bus, so the pictures get blurry when ist raining. From Voss you can go by bus, cheaper but slower or train to Bergen, ist commuter nrains, not possible and not necessary to make reservations.
By Train you arrive arround 5 pm in Bergen, a quite interresting town, used to be the biggest town in Norway and a very important Hanse town. If you don´t have enough time like me, there is a train to Oslo leaving just before 11 pm wich gives you enough time for a short glimps.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
I couldn't have been further off the mark when I looked at this beautiful wooden building and thought it was a Church, IT WAS A BREWERY!
Check out the website for photos' of the inside, it looks wonderful, I just wish it was open, but it wasn't!
Ægir Brewery was only opened for business in 2007, and has won "Brewpub of the year" for all of Norway, three year's in a row. It has also won three silver medals at the Australian International Beer Awards, the world's largest beer competition in 2011.
I wondered who was Ægir?
He is all to do with Norse mythology, a giant, the brother of Kari (Wind) and Logi (Fire) and the master of the ocean.
This is part of the story from the website.....
" Ægir’s hall is lit not by fire but instead by bright gold. Every year he invites the Norse gods to a great feast in his hall, Brime, where the beer and the food are magically transported to the guests and the drinking-horns fill themselves. According to Odin, Ægir brews the best ale. He has the world’s biggest brewing kettle, a mile deep, which Tor stole from the giant Hyme and gave to him. In Ægir’s hall the gods were never allowed to fight, and anyone making trouble was banished for all eternity."
No wonder they chose the name of Ægir for their Brewery, it is very fitting!
May – August...Every day from noon.
September: Monday - Thursday: From 6pm
Friday - Saturday: From 4pm. Sunday: From noon
October – November:Every day from 6pm
- Beer Tasting
FLAM'S PETIT TRAIN
I didn't know this petit Train existed in Flam until we happened to come across it away from the majority of the shops and attractions.
By this time we had walked the main part of Flam that we wished to see. Usually we use these Trains because of walking problems, but here in Flam, the distance isn't great to cover.
If you wish to use the Train, then head around to the tip of the fjord, and it will be parked alongside.
Prices and details were there. Sorry, I can't find any information on the web to help you.
- Budget Travel
Round trip on Aurlands and Naeroyfjord
One of the two great attractions of Flam is a cruise on Aurlands and Naeroyfjord. It's quite expensive - 195 NOK per person one way - but it's worth it. You get the ticket as you embark - no need to make reservations for individual passengers. If you are in a hurry and don't want to spend more than that, take a bus one way. It takes only twenty minutes from Gudvangen to Flam, but you don't see much: there are two tunnels on the way - one of them 11.5 km long.
The views from the boat are stunning as it goes first along the Aurlandsfjord, which is really part of the Sognefjorden, the longest and grandest fjord in Norway. Soon you come to pass Aurland where the famous steep and winding Aurlandsvegen starts, which you will find described in some other tips.
Update: Apparently, the boat fare has gone up to 285 NOK/person since we took it.
The last section of our Norway in a Nutshell tour was the Flam Railway which runs from Flam to Mrydal or in our case from Myrdal to Flam. The 20 km train ride takes about 40-50 minutes and makes one photo op stop at Kjosfossen, a beautiful waterfall. We asked our guide which side of the train to sit on, at 1st he said either side but when pressed he said the left side was better going from Mrydal to Flam.
Before we booked the Cunard excursion I had looked into taking the Flam railway on our own. Many suggested that it would be sold out if we waited or that there would be huge lines to buy tickets so I opted to do the excursion which was a full day, only part of which was the Flam railway. There were a lot of empty seats on our train so perhaps we would have been fine waiting until we got there but it was the one excursion I really wanted to take.
The Visit Flam website has a really good description of what you will see along the journey.
Train from Voss to Mrydal
The second part of our Norway in a Nutshell tour was a train ride from Voss to Mrydal. It's a nice train ride but the section most people do is the Mrydal to Flam leg of the train ride. We thought the right side of the train, from Voss to Mrydal, was the better side to sit on.
The train from Flam to Mrydal or vice versa makes a photo stop at the 93 meter tall Kjosfoss waterfall. When the train stops, everyone piles off for a photo op, in tourist season, over to the right of the waterfall you may see a Huldra, a seductive forest creature in Scandinavian folklore, dancing and singing in front of the waterfall. The Visit Norway website says it's only accessible by train although I wonder if you could get there on foot.
Flying over Norway’s fjord country is exciting when the weather cooperates. Flight from Bergen to Trondheim with the sun on the opposite side of the plane can produce perfect results. Example: noon flight with a seat facing east. While cruising, one appreciates the relief of the land - the height of the mountains and depth of the water but the views are limited to the next “turn”. The aerial angle has the advantage of showing the huge scale of glacier work during the centuries. Thanks God, there are no refreshments on board to distract the blessed with the occasion souls from this spectacle!
- Hang Gliding
- Adventure Travel
- Sky Diving
Do not have to do anything
The Norwegian railway company has moved into the tourism business and makes big waves. It advertises relentlessly its “Norway in a nutshell” tour. And for the non groupies this remains one very attractive option. The train-bus-boat-bus-train connections are functioning flawlessly. One of the highlights of the train portion of the journey is the trip from the mountain station Myrdal to Flam on the sea coast. Surprisingly, it is a regular gauge affair despite the steep incline. The cars are equipped with high tech and more traditional visuals leaving the surrounding scenery explained to the minutest detail. The apogee of the journey involves a stop in front of a powerful waterfall in a valley so narrow that some of the train cars are in the adjacent tunnel. Quickly it becomes clear that the waterfall is not the centerpiece but the background of a Norwegian story. From the “ruined” dwelling up the hill suddenly appears a diva of some sort in a red dress and starts to contort gracefully under the splashes of the water on one side and the powerful speaker system on the other, providing a tangible example of how female spirits dwell in this seemingly barren country. Similar enactments of folklore amidst nature are a vivid reminder of Peru’s Macho Picchu and one begins to wonder who the original genius behind such renditions was.
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Adventure Travel
Our bus tour destination was the Stegastein viewpoint. Here, there was a parking lot that our tour bus pulled into, and some toilets if needed.
Our group headed to the viewing platform, which at 650 meters above the village Aurland, it juts out from the side of the mountain and gives wonderful views over the fjord.
The architects' desire was to lift the visitors out into open space, and thereby enhance the experience of the panoramic view over this unique fjord landscape, it works perfectly!
Incredible views and experience!
- Road Trip
BUS TOUR TO STEGASTEIN VIEWPOINT
The Stegastein viewpoint I had seen photo's of before leaving home, and had decided to do the tour.
On arrival at Flam, I went to the Tourist Information centre which is located in the Train Station, and booked the tour. We were told where to wait for the bus, which turned out to be a comfortable mini-van, great!
Our guide was very pleasant, and pointed out interesting sights along the way.
Our tour began by following the road by the side of the Sognefjorden fjord to Aurland. From here, the Bus followed the road up the mountain-side. Lucky we were passengers and could look and take photo's of the fjord as we went along! The views became better and better the higher we went, until we finally reached our destination.
The tour is a round tour from Flam-Aurland-Stegastein and return.
THE TOUR PRICE IN 2012.....Adults 190nk
DEPARTS FROM FLAM... 10:00, 12:00 and 2PM.
From Aurland 10 minutes later.
- Road Trip
This is the name of the Waterfall where the Flamsbana Train stops for people to walk to the viewing platform to see the waterfall.
The Train Line actually passes in front of and over the lower part of the waterfall.
The waterfall was good, but in my opinion, was spoilt by the actress dressed as a legendary Huldra (a seductive forest creature in Scandinavian folklore) dancing and singing by the waterfall. It plays over a loud speaker, spoiling the peaceful area.
VANGEN CHURCH @ AURLAND
This was our last stop on our bus tour to Segastein.
Located in Aurland is the lovely white Vangen church, which was built in 1202 by a wealthy family that lived in Aurland. It is surrounded by lawn with many graves situated in the lawn.
English merchants used to stay in Aurland, and took part in the building of the Church, hence that is why some of it looks English.
The church is built in an early Gothic style and has been restored several times, the last time in 1926. The pulpit dates back to the 17th century, the two candlesticks on the altar date from 1637.
In 1725 the Danish-Norwegian King sold the church, and it was privately owned until approx 1900, when it was taken over by local administration.
OPEN ....January - September 9 - 4pm only Monday - Friday
ADMISSION IS FREE
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
Another reason to take the Flam Railway, is to see all the waterfalls along the way.
Many are named, but I am not sure which is which! They weren't at there best, as we were here in August, which meant some of them were just trickles.
The best time is when the snow and ice melts at the beginning of May or a little later, then you will see thundering waterfalls.
Ones you will see along the way are the famous Kjosfossen and Rjoandefossen, and other named falls........ "Myrdalsfossen", Kardalsfossen, Tunnshellefossen, and Brekkefossen, along with many other unamed falls.
Even though the Flamsbana is quite expensive, I think it is a MUST DO, especially as we will never be back to this part of the world.
We travelled by Train for 20kms, along the way seeing untamed wilderness, many waterfalls, houses that seem to be in the middle of nowhere, fishermen, snow-capped peaks, Gorges, cattle grazing and more.
Finally, we arrive at Myrdal, 865 meters above sea level.
Very little to do here, but not long before we are returning to Flam. This time, we see different scenery, as we make sure we sit on the same side of the Train.
I found a good spot for photo's, this was inbetween two carriages. I stood there most of the way, and was able to take photo's through quite a clean window. Toilets were in this area too.
The Flam Railway is one of the world's steepest railway lines on normal gauge tracks. Nearly 80 percent of the route is on a 55% gradient. We went through twisting tunnels that must have been built at a challenging time of history.
The Flam Railway journey is listed as one of the most beautiful out of 25 scenic rail journeys around the World.
We enjoyed the journey, and thought it was worth the money.