02 Sep A Taste of Norway
A Taste of Norway
Mikaela Price- Marketing Assistant
After disembarking from my 10 day cruise around the Svalbard archipelago, I was lucky enough to spend a week experiencing the unique beauty of Norway. This seamlessly organised tour took me through some of Norway’s most breathtaking fjords via a combination of rail, bus, cruising and the scenic Flåmsbana (a historical train that opened in 1940) which was certainly an unforgettable experience.
The journey began from Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, which has an abundance of things to enjoy. Luckily I was in the land of the midnight sun so I had ample time to explore the ‘city between the seven mountains’. This quirky city, which quickly became my favourite in Europe, features colourful buildings lining the old Hanseatic wharf. Over time, fires have wreaked havoc on these historic buildings, so many have been rebuilt using the original patterns and methods. You can easily get lost wandering through the edifices of this age-old area, which has now been converted to local shops and cafes.
Bergen is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy so expect to be eating at some of the most inimitable restaurants in the world such as Restaurant 1877, Marg and Bein or Potetkjelleren. It is also worth visiting the extensive seafood market full of Norwegian delicacies where you can choose your own fresh seafood to be cooked right in front of you. The highlight for me in Bergen was that the surrounding seven mountains are full of beautiful walking trails to suit everyone’s fitness levels, all of which can be explored at your own pace. The most popular mountain is Mount Fløyen, which offers rewarding views of the city and has a café at the top to treat yourself to a piece of cake and a cup of tea after your hike. If you don’t want to do the return hike (around 2 hours), you can take the Fløibanen Funicular in one or both directions.
Sign on top of Mount Fløyen
After two nights in Bergen I embarked on an early train to Voss (a baggage transfer conveniently took my bulky luggage to the hotel in Oslo so I was free to roam with just an overnight bag. Upon arrival I had just enough time to walk beside Voss’s beautiful lake called Vangsvatnet, before boarding a bus to the historical Viking town of Gudvangen which translates to ‘the field of the gods by the water’. The bus ride was a real taste of what was to come. Winding roads with hairpin turns took us past waterfalls as we descended towards the beautiful fjords that Norway is known for. I was blown away by the bus driver’s ability to manoeuvre the large bus with ease whilst explaining to us the significance of the surrounding scenery.
After a short stop wandering through this small but insightful Viking village I boarded the ferry to Flåm. This was no ordinary ferry! Much to my delight, I was travelling on the world’s first zero emission, all-electric, carbon-fibre vessel, which was incredibly futuristic and spared no comfort. Two electric engines receive power from a battery pack, enabling you to travel through the majestic fjords without a carbon footprint. The two hour journey through the narrow UNESCO-listed Naeroyfjord and the idyllic Aurlandsfjord left no shortage of impeccable scenery complemented with plenty of sunshine.
Travelling through the fjords
I certainly wasn’t disappointed with what laid at the end of the Aurlandsfjord – the pleasant town of Flåm. This town, tucked away deep into the fjords, was the perfect place to spend a night with multiple dining options, hikes nearby and souvenir shops. There was even the Flåm Railway Museum, outlining the story of the historical Flåmsbana railway that awaited us the next day. The weather was absolutely perfect, making the local Viking-themed brewery even more enticing for unwinding in for the afternoon.
The following morning, before leaving Flåm I headed to the Stegastein viewpoint for a stunning view of the fjords. This unique viewing platform is as impressive as the scenery that surrounds it, extending out 30m from the mountains at a height of 650m.
Later that afternoon it was time to board the historical Flåmsbana. This 20.2km railway runs from Flam to Myrdal, elevating 866 metres, stopping at 10 stations, passing through 20 tunnels and crossing one bridge. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the windows, with each turn revealing a new fjord or waterfall. I quickly learnt why this is one of the most renowned rail journeys in the world. The highlight for me was the stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall, where a mysterious woman in a red dress appeared and danced to a Norwegian folk song. When the Flåmsbana came to an end I changed trains at Myrdal to travel on to Oslo, and the undulating rolling hills and incredible scenery continued for the full 5 hour journey.
Travelling on the Flåmsbana
Oslo is an urban oasis full of green spaces and has over 50 museums. I strolled through the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, fascinated by the old artefacts and buildings which represented different eras and regions of Norway. The Fram Museum, which houses the historical ship the Fram, which was monumental in voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica is a great way to learn about polar history and even gives you access to walk through the famed ship. These are just two of the many museums of Oslo, there is certainly something for everyone in the artistic city.
Art installation Oslo
Oslo is where my adventure of Norway concluded and what a journey it was! It’s untouched scenery and rugged, rewarding views made it the ideal place to complete my trip in the High Arctic.
With many Arctic cruises begin or end in Norway, providing an excellent opportunity to continue or complete your adventure.
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