It’s famous for more than just Vikings, you know. Alison Sneyd discovers the wild beauty of Norway
Fjords, mountains and glittering waterfalls – this was what the popular ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour promised. A 14-hour odyssey from the city of Bergen on the west coast to Oslo in the east, the tour was self guided and used public transport.
The day began with an early train from Bergen to the town of Voss. This was followed by a bus journey that featured the Stalheimskleiva, a terrifying 1.5 kilometre stretch of road that winds down the side of a mountain in 13 hairpin bends. The bus screeched down the road, always seeming to want to go faster than the breaks were allowing it to. I was glad the bus didn’t meet any traffic going up.
At the bottom of the road was the tiny ferry port of Gudvangen. I transferred to a boat for a cruise on the Nærøyfjord. A UNESCO world heritage site, the wild and narrow fjord was staggeringly beautiful. Towering grey cliffs rose up on either side of the still black water, their lower halves forested and their upper halves bare and jagged. Pockets of mist settled on the cliff tops, while silvery ribbons of waterfalls gushed down. If I ignored the rest of the tourists on the ferry, it felt like I was somewhere truly remote.
Two hours later, I arrived in the touristy town of Flåm. The next section of the trip, the Flåm Railway, is one of the world’s steepest railway lines and was a spectacular ascent up through the mountains. Highlights were the mighty, thundering Kjosfossen waterfall and the train doing a complete 180-degree turn inside a mountain tunnel. At the terminal station Myrdal, I boarded another train for a four-and-a-half-hour journey to Oslo, tired but exhilarated.
Norway is an expensive country and may be out of many students’ budgets. However, if you happen to be there, a trip to a fjord is definitely recommended. The ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour packed a lot of amazing sights into one day, although I felt quite rushed and I felt exhausted by the end of it. If you are in Norway and short on time, the tour is a good way to see some of this beautiful country.