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Norway in a Nutshell

June 15  continued ...

It was early morning when we walked through the park on our way to the Bergen Railway Station, but the sun was already well up in the sky. The 75 minute train ride from Bergen to Voss took us through pastoral scenes of patchwork crops which were reflected in lake waters backed by green treed hills and mountains still showing snow.


We are heading to the Sognefjord, Norway’s deepest and longest fjord. Fjords were formed during the ice age as glaciers, carrying abrasive rocks and sediment broken away from bedrock, cut "V"-shaped valleys. When the earth warmed up, the glaciers retreated and the sea level rose (over a 100 metres after the last ice age), letting the seawater flow into the vacated valleys.

The trip we were on is called, "Norway in a Nutshell". It can be done by joining and paying for an organized tour, or, like we are doing, going on our own. Same trains, same boats ... only the buses differ.

From Voss we took a 90 minute bus ride to Gudvangen. The bus driver was very proud of his part of "Norway in a Nutshell" and gave commentary on what we were seeing and even slowed down so we could capture some of the waterfalls on film or card.

He made a stop at the Stalheim Hotel, so we could have an opportunity to snap pictures of the mountainous Naeroydalen valley. After we loaded back on the driver maneuvered the bus through 13 hairpin turns as we twisted our way from the top to the bottom of the valley.

At one point we met another bus coming up. Some skilful backing up of the lower bus and then some back and forth adjustments by both drivers cleared up the situation.

At Gudvangen we boarded a boat for a two hour awe-inspiring sail through two of Norway’s fjords.

The Sognefjord is the second largest in the world, the largest in Europe, the narrowest and perhaps the most dramatic fjord in Norway with a maximum depth of 1308 metres below sea level . The whole fjord landscape is a conservation area. At the start of our boat trip we were on the Naeroyfjord branch of the Sognefjord with its sheer cliffs and steep mountains rising from the water to heights of more than 1000 metres and narrowing to a mere 300 metres (the world’s narrowest fjord).


Since Viking times, people have been traversing this fjord. There are little settlements, small and large villages and isolated farms along the fjords; some at the water’s edge and a couple high atop cliffs. The village of Undredal lies wedged between the fjord’s high mountains. Its residents number 130 people with about 500 goats. Understandably it’s known in Norway for its goat cheese, which is still made in the traditional way.

Back on land in Flam, we took the cog railway to Myrdal; zig-zagging up steep mountainsides and through snow sheds. At one point the train stopped and those who wanted got off to view and photograph a waterfall.

There is a myth that a huldra lives near the falls. A huldra is a beautiful female forest creature. She has a number of personalities throughout Scandinavia. In Norway she has the empty body of a oak tree and the tail of a cow. She lures men into her forest domain as a mermaid lures sailors into the ocean’s depths. There she will have her way with them ... if satisfied she will let them go and bring them good luck; not satisfied, she simply kills them. At the waterfall we began to hear music and then someone called and pointed. There she was ... standing on a rock ... then disappeared ... and immediately showed up beside the ruins of a stone house .... then disappeared and stood upon a high wall. Were any men lured her way? Perhaps?

At the Myrdal station the rocky landscape was patched with snow, but the sun was warm as we waited a good two hours before we were able to board our train for the 5 hour trip to Oslo.

We watched the landscape change from rock and snow, to snow, then alpine marshes to trees and rock before returning to the lush farmed fields and the city scenes of Oslo.

We were happy knowing we had our accommodations reserved ... at least for tonight.



click here to continue to June 16 and Oslo, Norway again ...


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