Saturday, 28 November 2015

Norway within the Polar Circle. January 2015

I have been dreaming to visit Norway for a long time. But when the dreams began to come true and we bought the tickets, I still had scarce understanding of Norway and Tromsø. I have never crossed the Polar Circle before, never seen the Polar night or Northern lights. 

Tromsø in January

Hotels in Tromsø were fantastically expensive, and I started to research the suburbs. Luckily, I found an advertisement of two rooms for rent for unbelievable 20 euro per day! And an access to the kitchen! The house situated 30 km from Tromsø and promised fantastic views on the fjord. We also decided to rent a car to commute. 

Now I can say that both our decisions were 100 per cent correct! Without a car our story would be absolutely another. 

Arctic Cathedra

We landed late in the evening, took a car and started our way to the house. We were driving slowly through the darkness. For all five days, I seldom drove faster than 80 km/h – at least because of a self-preservation instinct. The roads – even in the town – were covered with ice. There were constant slopes, sharp turns at serpentines and snowdrifts. Winter tires did not help much. 

The house was located behind a deserted pass on a narrow coast of a fjord, not far from the ocean. We drove there and settled. 

In the morning, famous Polar light painted everything in blue. The dawning was slow, and at 10 am it was almost light. However, it felt like constant dusk with enough light to enjoy the views. Around 2 pm it started to get dark. 

TROMSØ 

In our first day, we decided to visit Tromsø. The town seems small, but has a lot to offer for tourists. For a couple of centuries Tromsø became the largest town in the region, a Polar station of Norway. Many notorious expeditions started from there, and for many travelers the streets of Tromsø were the last point of civilization before the utmost North. 

Norway, Tromsø, Winter view of town

Currently the population equals around 70 000, many of them are students of the world's most Northern university. It makes the town very young and busy, with a lot of festivals, parties, scientific conferences and sport events. There are no curtains on windows, houses are painted in bright colours – to fight winter depression. Many of the locals do not switch electricity when they go out. 

All the roads of the town-island are hidden underground – or under the rock. Under residential areas there are motor roads – whole streets with crossroads, circular motion and parkings. Tip: study the map of tunnels in advance. It is really hard to avoid them, and GPS navigation does not work underground. 

Norway, Troms, Tromsø

You can walk around the whole town center for about 30 minutes. But we were not in a hurry. Some buildings dated back to the 19th century and thanks to the maintenance looked like new ones. They looked fantastic on the overall blue background. 

A panorama to the other coast of the fjord was fantastic. The bridge, the Arctic Cathedral that resembles the top of iceberg, lights from the houses and somewhere far away – a rope-way to the peak. 

We found a very cozy and relatively inexpensive café where used to seat practically every day. The Polaria museum was also very nice, especially fur seals. 

Fur Seal

Thanks to Gulfstream, in January temperature seldom falls below 5 degrees Celsius, and fjords do not freeze at all. 

NORTHERN LIGHTS 

Many tourists go to Tromsø with one purpose – to see the Northern lights. There are even professional guides who call themselves "Northern lights hunters" and offer dozens of ways to observe Aurora Borealis under their strict instructions. In the same time, we all understand that it is a natural phenomenon impossible to predict in advance. No one guarantee anything to poor tourists who pay 200 euros per excursion. 

Northern Lights near Tromsø, Norway

The best way to "catch" the lights – a car and a bit of luck. Drive far away from bright settlements, and you will be able to notice even the weakest lights. You need clear skies and the forecast of solar activity. Check the forecast a couple of hours before you go "hunting". 

First two days were fruitless – it was snowing. In the third day, the weather changed and the sky became clear like glass. We went to the pass, found a free place along the road. Minutes turned into hours when we finally saw a barely discernible green stripe. I was so disappointed in that moment! Was that it – just this?! We waited a bit more and drove home. 

Northern lights

Next day we decided to try again. We chose another place, slightly farther, on the coast of the ocean. We were ready to wait long – brought with us cookies and tea. It started all of a sudden. The sky lit up with green, and in twenty minutes separate lights turned into a single dance of mysterious flames. After an hour we could see other colours: violet, dark-red, yellow. It was fantastic! 

SOMMARØY 

Sommarøy is one of the most picturesque fishing villages. It is located in the mid-ocean, on an Iceland open to all winds. 

The day when we decided to visit Sommarøy, the snow finally stopped. Sometimes we could see blue sky among the clouds; however, the wind was strong and really cold. The closer we were getting to the village, the stronger it was becoming. The road was difficult, and the wind made our car dangle on the road. The vision was limited because the wind blew the snow from the mountains. We had a stormy ocean on the right and white mountains on the left. It was dusky, but we could see clearing sky above it. A severe beauty of the North! 

Sommarøy, Norway

We drove over the bridge that connected the mainland with the archipelago. In winter, the village looked strange. Modern wooden houses on the ocean coast. Sandy beaches and azure water, but the temperature was low. Wild deer walked along the frozen streets. Wind was knocking me of the feet. My wife did not even get out of the car. Not a soul in the streets, but windows were lit. On the way back, we were surprised to see two joggers in bright waistcoats. 

LYNGSALPENE 

Lyngsalpene is one of the most interesting natural areas of Norway, and it is a must-see spot. To get there from Tromsø you take a beautiful road Е8, after several dozens km you turn to the East to the border. Then take the narrow road to the North along the fjord up to the town of Lyngseidet. There was a shorter way with a ferry, and we used it on our way back. 

Lyngsalpene, Norway

We watched breathtaking mountain landscapes on the eternal background of pink-violet dawn-sunset. The silence was almost complete. There were rare villages of several houses that we considered a natural addition to the view. 

Lyngen Alps, Norway

Lyngseidet seemed deserted. The anticyclone came, and it became winter-freezing. Now we felt that we were within the Polar Cycle! The only thing you can do there in winter – ride a car and enjoy the view. 

CONCLUSION 

A fairy tale is Tromsø. An ice-cold story with a good plot, with Gerdas and Kais commuting from Sommarøy for work on their cars. Everything is very definite there: a day or a night, nothing vague like morning or evening. I wish to return there and see the midnight sun. 


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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Money-Saving Travel: Buses in Norway

Bus travel is usually a lot cheaper than travelling by plane or train. It allows you to sit comfortably and watch the luring landscapes through the window. 

Bridge, Norway

Express buses are usually an underestimated way of travelling in Norway, which is a pity because they offer a wide network of routes, for example in Fjord Norway. They link all the major cities, airports and ferry terminals. Many of the buses offer wireless Internet connection and air-conditioning. 

If you are travelling in a large group, book your ticket well in advance. Usually there is no problem bringing bikes and skis with you, as long as you pay for their transportation. 

There are several bus companies that offer inter-city bus travel in most parts of Norway. The largest ones are Nor-way Bussekspressen and Nettbuss

ROUTES OF NOR-WAY 

Flybussekspressen 

Oslo, Bergen

Line F1, F3, and F4 have frequent departures to and from Oslo Airport (OSL). 
Line F11 running to and from both Oslo Airport and Moss Airport (RYG). 

Trysilekspressen 

Line 130 runs between Trysil – Elverum – Oslo Airport – Oslo Bus Terminal. 

Lavprisekspressen 

Line 141 runs the stretch between Oslo – Dovre – Trondheim. 
Line 191 runs the stretch between Oslo – Kristiansand – Stavanger. 

Valdresekspressen 

Roads, Norway

Line 160 runs between Oslo – Fagernes – Årdalstangen. 
Line 161 runs between Oslo – Fagernes – Beitostølen (and continues to Gjendesheim in the summer period).

Øst-VestXpressen 

Line 162 runs the stretch between Lillehammer – Fagernes – Lærdal – Flåm – Voss – Bergen. 

Haukeliekspressen 

Line 180 runs between Oslo – Åmot - Haugesund/Bergen (there is correspondence in Seljestad with the local bus line 930 between Seljestad – Odda – Bergen). 

Telemarkekspressen 

Line 182 Seljord – Bø – Ulefoss – Skien – Porsgrunn – Larvik – Sandefjord – Torp – Tønsberg. 

Rjukanekspressen 

Line 185 runs between (Oslo – Notodden TE1) Porsgrunn – Skien – Notodden – Rjukan.

Konkurrenten 

Line 192 runs between Oslo – Drammen – Fokserød – Tangen/Kragerø – Vinterkjær – Harebakken – Grimstad – Kristiansand. Grenlandsekspressen 
Line 194 runs between Oslo – Drammen – Sundbyfoss – Siljan – Skien – Porsgrunn.

Setesdalskspressen 
  
Travelling by bus

Linje 221 Setesdalsekspressen runs the stretch between Kristiansand – Evje – Byglandsfjord –Valle – Bykle – Hovden – Haukeligrend. 

Sør-Vest Ekspressen 

Line 300 runs between Stavanger – Flekkefjord – Kristiansand. Kystbussen.
Line 400 runs between Stavanger – Haugesund – Stord – Bergen. 

Fjordekspressen 

Fjordekspressen is divided into two bus lines that takes you on different routes from Bergen at one end to Ålesund and Trondheim at the other end. 

Sognebussen 

Line 450 runs between Sogndal – Lærdal – Aurland – Gudvangen –- Voss – Vaksdal – Bergen Trønderekspressen.
Line 670 (Leka / Rørvik –) Namsos – Trondheim. 

Swebus 

Line 820 runs between Oslo – Göteborg – Malmö – København. 
Line 888 runs between Oslo – Karlstad – Örebro – Stockholm. 

ROUTES OF NETTBUSS 

Dalsnibba

NX14 Stavern – Larvik – Sandefjord – Oslo. 
NX123 Elverum – Oslo (Elverumekspressen) 
NX145 Fosnavåg – Volda – Stryn – Otta – Gardermoen – Oslo (Møre-ekspressen) 
NX147 Måløy – Nordfjordeid – Stryn – Otta – Gardermoen – Oslo (Nordfjordekspressen) 
NX155 Ålesund – Molde – Surnadal – Trondheim (Mørelinjen) 
NX170 Førde – Skei – Sogndal – Gol – Drammen/HønefossGardermoen/ – Oslo (Sogn og Fjordane Ekspressen) 
NX175 Geilo – Gol – Drammen – Oslo (Hallingbussen) 
NX190 Kristiansand – Drammen – Oslo (Sørlandsekspressen)

Bus, view

The ticket prices for both bus operators vary depending on what day you wish to travel. Weekends are typically more expensive. Certain departure times are more popular – and therefore cost more. 


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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Winter Lofotens in March

I have already been in Lofotens several times in summer, and my dream was to see them in winter. A friend of mine has a mini-bus, so the transportation issue was solved. Initially we, three female friends, planned our trip in February, but decided to go in March due to the longer daylight. We stayed at Mila's. The hosts were really hospitable and the place – very picturesque. 

Reine

Early in the morning we started our trip from Boden (Sweden) to the Norwegian border. The weather was great, sunny, and we were making photos of deer. However as soon as we crossed the Polar Circle it became windy, and after Kiruna the storm started. 

Soon we got to a line of cars next to the closed barrier. The wind was so powerful, that even our mini-bus was swinging. In a couple of hours, the storm started to calm down. Another 40 minutes – and we see a snow-plough with a line of cars from the Norwegian side behind it. The barrier rose, and we continued our journey. Some cars were driving too fast – as there was a closing barrier behind every turn – and we had to move closer to the roadside. 

Svolvær

Girls admired the mist from the mountains, but I learnt from my previous visits that it was a sign of bad weather. Traditional stop at the gas station – and as soon we started the storm began again! The road was difficult, the vision was limited, and our ride over the bridge was pretty scary. All that took place in March that is claimed to be the sunniest month with the most stable weather! We tried to move after another vehicle and found a very convenient snow-plough.

The snow was almost over when we reached Svolvær. It was evening. Earlier in the morning there was World Cod Fishing Championship, and all the ships and boats were decorated with flags and lanterns. 

World Cod Fishing Championship

The smell of fresh cod… It was everywhere in the Lofotens! You get used to it soon, but at home it turns out that even your hands smell cod. However, the smell is quite fresh and good. 

On the quay we saw a wooden tub with hot water and several Norwegians in it! We reached Fredvang when it was already dark. Mila met us – we were finally at home! 

DAY 1. FREDVANG – RAMBERG 

The morning was snowy, and we decided just to walk around Fredvang. We put on warm clothes and got out. Went up to the bridges. 

Flakstad

In the afternoon, we went to Ramberg. Just before Ramberg we stopped to take photos of cod. It was Sunday, but people were busy. They were fishing, drawing fish and hanging it to dry. Boats were sailing here and there. Cods' heads were hanging separately. 

Cod, Norway

Finally, we got to Flakstad. We could barely go anywhere, as the parkings and tourists zones were covered with a high layer of snow! 

DAY 2. NYSFJORD – VIKTEN – SUND 

We decided to go to Nysfjord when the weather would be fine. It was not storming in the morning, and we unanimously voted for the trip. Nysfjord was deserted. Far in the horizon we could see dots – cod-fishing boats. And seagulls above the bay. 

Nysfjord, Lofotens

We arrived in Vikten. Went to the Glass Hut and Pottery Tower (closed) in front of it. The storm started again when a miracle happened: a mistress of the Tower and opened it! Lina could not help buying a glass vase, expensive but really beautiful. When we went out, the blizzard stopped, we could even see pieces of blue sky through the clouds! 

In the evening, we went to Sund – a small fishermen settlement. We could see small boats full of cod, they moored one by one and unloaded. 

DAY 3. REINE – Å 

This day was sunny! The road to Reine took us quite a lot time – we stopped many times to take pictures. And saw a lot of cod hanging. Winter Reine is as beautiful as in summer. From time to time, it was snowing, but the sun was still here! We observed how kindergarten children were going for a walk – all were holding a rope. 

Reine, Lofotens, Norway

Our next stop – Å. 

Boats in the bay were with snow hats. The evening was spent at the dinner prepared by Mila and her husband Bror. She cooked for us some cod – and it was delicious! 

Casseroled cod, Norway

DAY 4. LEKNES – EGGUM – UTAKLEIV 

We considered shopping in Leknes as an opportunity to exchange euros to kronas. There are two banks in the town but none of them could exchange currency! They recommended us to go to a tourist information centre. Indeed, we bought a bookmark and got the change from hundred euros in kronas. After a brief shopping and search for souvenirs, we set to Eggum. 

Reine, Lofotens

The weather was still sunny. We walked along the ruins of the former radiolocation station left from the WWII. After Eggum we planned to take photos from the viewpoint, but the snow was shoveled away only from the roads, and we just did not manage to drive or walk there. 

Then we went to the beaches of Utakleiv. The route that day seems a bit chaotic, maybe because of unexpectedly good weather! Nevertheless, the beaches were not that interesting in winter. 

DAY 5. HENNINGSVÆR 

The last day we decided to drive to Henningsvær. In the lakes just out of Leknes we saw swans! I could never understand why Henningsvær is called "Norwegian Venice". It really does not look like one! But this time, in winter, I suddenly liked the town very much. With all these ships with red flags sailing in the bay. On the way back the road was sparkling with the frost. 

Boats, Lofotens, Norway

WAY BACK 

We took off before the dawn. On the way, we observed halo! 

Halo, Norway

And saw swans again. Svolvær! We stopped at a gas station, and I took pictures of the bay. And then some landmarks: Hammerstad, the bridge. Our road went away from the fjord, the sun came out of the clouds… And here is Sweden! 


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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Country of Trolls

In the land of short summer, long rains, and dark winters, one can live happily. At least, the Norwegians managed to do so. Of course, they needed patience, irony and beautiful legends! 

Trolltunga, Norway

Modern trolls are an important part of a tourist and souvenir industry. In less ancient fairy-tales, trolls are no longer scary giants – electricity and infrastructure shielded the Norwegians from the powers of nature. However, even today you can hear from a local: "Do you see a church and a huge stone nearby? Our troll was throwing stones to the constructors!" 

THE LEGENDS 

Curious enough that the legends depict trolls in various ways. They can be small like dwarfs or huge like mountains (because they are distant relatives of the titans who were born by rocks and fed on stones). The only thing where the legends do not contradict each other is the ugly appearance of trolls. Some may have two or three heads, others have only one eye, like cyclops, many has moss and even trees growing on their heads. 

Trolls, Norway

Despite the scary appearance, some trolls were kind, and all of them were so naïve and silly that even village children could outwit them. All trolls live inside the mountains or in the caves and get out a night, waiting for unlucky travelers under a bridge. They eat meat, steal cattle and people. The majority of them live more than 100 years, however sunlight is harmful for them and turns them into stones. 

Nevertheless, one can deal even with a troll. If one sets a riddle to a troll, the troll must guess it. If he does not, he will die. But if he does, he sets his own riddle – and it repeats until someone fails. In such a situation, it is important to engage the troll till dawn, because with first sunbeams he will turn into a stone. 

TOPONYMS 

Once the trolls went to a wedding at Møre og Romsdal. A procession stretched along the road, trolls were drinking mead and getting more merry and careless. They did not notice how the sun rose and turned them into stones, creating the mountain ridge of Trolltinda. Not far from Molde you can find Trollkirka (Troll Church) caves, Trolls Wegen (Troll's Wall) and the serpentine road Trollstigen (Troll's Road) leading from Andalsnes to Geiranger. 

Troll's Road, Norway

If you do not like hiking, take a walk around Lake Trollvann not far from Oslo. And if you do – climb up to the famous Trolltunga, a rock above the Hardangerfjord

Stone monoliths of Trollholmsund – according to the legend, these trolls were wandering around Finnmark with the chest of gold and turned into stones when the sun rose. 

Trollheimen (Home of the Trolls) is a famous mountain range in Norway with its highest peak – Trolla – reaching 1850 m! The area is rich of tourist routes and fishing opportunities. You can find there Mountain Trollhetta (Troll's Hat) and a hut – Trollhelmshytta (Hut in the Troll's Country).

Trollheimen, Norway

If in old days trolls used to eat people, now they just do small mean tricks like stealing keys or making a hole in a tire. But the Norwegians do not offend. Moreover, each one has a small troll at home who helps to deal with "evil spirits" like a tax officer. Even nowadays, the Norwegians respect trolls – because nobody knows when and where one can meet them. 


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Friday, 13 November 2015

Norway: 15 days in July

We visited Norway for the first time in 2009. We fell in love with the country, however rushed too much and decided to return there on camper. Our dream came true only in 2013. We developed a route; I read a lot of forums and blogs and want to thank everyone for the insights! 

Norway: 15 days in July

DAY 1 

We arrived at Oslo (Gardermoen) in the evening, got our luggage and went to Park Inn Oslo Airport Hotel. The hotel is great and conveniently located. 

DAY 2 

In the morning at 8.30 sharp, a representative of the rental picked us up and we went to the rental station. After a briefing and some paperwork, we took off. The first stop – a supermarket where we bought food. Road 7 through Hardangervidda. We saw a stave church at Torpo. There was a new one next to the old. 

Torpo stavkirke

We left our stone pyramid next to a lake. That day we did not reach camping and stopped at 7.30 pm at Hardangervidda plateau. The temperature was 7 degrees Celcius. 

DAY 3

The morning was foggy, and we had to cut our walking around Sysendam. We failed to see Voringfossen. We decided to wait for the weather at Sæbø camping. The camping was situated in a quiet beautiful place between high mountains on the benches of lake Eidfjord. By the evening, the weather got better and we walked a bit. 

DAY 4 

Despite the clouds, we took off at 9.30 to the Kjeåsen farm. Made photos of Eidfjord. 

Eidfjord, Norway

Walked along Husedalen. We continued to drive Road 13 along Sorfjord. Fruit gardens were amazing. We walked along the quay of Ullensvang: ate ice cream, went shopping to Bunnpris. We stopped for a night at Lofthus camping. 

DAY 5

The morning was wonderful. We planned to see Hardager fruktisti turkart. We left the camper and went for a walk, saw famous Ullenswang hotel

After noon, we continued our way along Road 13 to Odda. Stopped there and walked a bit. Had difficulties with finding a place to park at the track to Buerbreen. 

Buerbreen

After the first rope climb, I stayed and my husband continued alone. I watched at the glacier and the waterfall through my video camera. My husband returned in an hour and we went back to the camper. Night at Odda camping. 

DAY 6

We started at 10.00, in an hour reached Låtefossen. Enjoyed the view on Espelandsfossen. We went again in the direction of Odda but passed it by and took Road 550. The rain did not stop. We entered Hardangerfjord and moved to Jondal, to the ferry. 

After the ferry, we went to see Steinsdalsfossen – one of several waterfalls behind which one can walk. It was still raining and I planned grilled meat for dinner. We were lucky to find a parking with a roof! Night at Espelands camping. Before sleep, we went to the waterfall with the same name that we saw in the morning!  

DAY 7 

Morning. We reached Voss, bought some souvenirs and berries. Next point – Tvindefossen. It was raining and we waited in the camper for the sun to see the Nærøyfjord. And succeeded! 

Nærøyfjord, Norway

We went down the 1.5 km of the serpentine road Stalheimskleivi with 13 sharp turns, slope of 18 degrees. We reached Stalheim waterfall. We went along Nærøyfjord. Found a nice stop and relaxed. We spend a night there. 

DAY 8

We took off early and had breakfast at Flåm. Saw a cruise liner. A walk to Flåmdalen: partly by camper and 5 km here and back on foot. We returned to Flåm, went to souvenir shops. Finally, the sun appeared, and we went to Aurlandsfjellet. 

Aurlandsfjellet

Made a stop at Stegastein viewpoint. By the evening, we got to Lærdal. Stopped at a camping where we dine under birch-trees. 

DAY 9 

We had breakfast and went to Lærdal. Afterwards we set off to Øvre Årdal, at Utladalen to be more specific. Saw fantastic Vettisfossen, and returned to the camper under rain. The walk was not easy – 5,5 hours, 15.5 km. 

Vettisfossen

DAY 10

Breakfast and a ferry. We drank coffee with pastry and went to Nigardsbreen glacier. 1,5 hours one way. The weather was sunny, and gave us forces. Go up to Lake Styggevatnet. It was frozen. The views were amazing. Dinner at Sandvik camping. 

DAY 11

We moved up the Road 55 to Sognefjelle. The weather was bad but we still went to Lom. The temperature was 14 degrees Celcius. 

Lom

We went along the Lustrafjord, enjoyed Feigumfossen. We had dinner with a view to fog-covered peaks. In Lom, we visited stavkyrkje. Night at a small cozy camping Oyberg Seter under Grotli. 

DAY 12 

It rained again. Saw the aircraft. We took Road 15 in the direction of Geirangerfjord. Because of the weather, we missed Dalsnibba for the second time! Finally, here is Geirangerfjord. Incredible! 

Geirangerfjord

We went to a camping, parked and enjoyed ourselves. It was raining, so we stayed in the camper and just relaxed. 

DAY 13

The rain stopped, and we had breakfast on the coast. Going to Ørnevegen. A short walk (2,5 km). Continued our trip by Road 63. Finally, strawberry plantations! We bought some strawberries in Valdal. 

Strawberries, Norway

Admired waterfalls. Went up to Trollstigen (a bit worrisome to do this by camper, but everything was ok). Went down to a camping. We felt a bit sad because tomorrow we would start our way back. 

DAY 14

A sunny day. The third or the fourth sunny day for the whole trip! Stopped in a souvenir shop at Trollveggen. Went to Stellafossen. Night at a camping under Lillehammer

Lillehammer, Norway

DAY 15 

We arrived at the rental station. Transfer to the airport. 

Conclusion: the travel by camper offers comfort and freedom. It has its negative minutiae, but they are insignificant. Next year we booked a camper to travel in the Alps (but it is another story). We had no problems with electricity, the water tank or the toilet (just do not forget about rubber gloves). No problems on the roads also.


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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Magical Trains of Norway

Just imagine yourself sitting in a comfortable seat and looking through the window on green valleys, picturesque villages, and severe mountains!

Magical trains of Norway

It is not at all surprising that some scenes of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" were filmed on the Raumabanen railway line in Bjorli. And an old steam train belongs to the Norwegian Railway Club. 

The Norwegian State Railways (NSB) is a developed transport network from Kristiansand in the south to Bodø in the North. NBS infrastructure includes more than 3000 km of railways, 775 tunnels and more then 3000 bridges. 

THE MOST PICTURESQUE ROUTES 

Bergensbanen 

The Bergen Railway between Oslo and Bergen is considered one of the world’s most scenic train rides that takes you to some of the country’s best natural attractions. The seven-hour journey brings you across one of Europe’s highest mountain plateaus, and takes you to through spectacular and varied nature. 


Flåmsbanen 

Flamsbana is a spectacular train journey that offers a panoramic view of some of the wildest and most magnificent nature in the Norwegian fjord landscape. The train journey runs past the Rallar road, steep mountains, breathtaking waterfalls, through 20 tunnels. In the span of a single hour, the train takes you from the ocean level at the Sognefjord in Flam, to the mountaintop at Myrdal mountain station on Hardangervidda, 863 meters over the ocean. 

Flåmsbanen

Dovrebanen 

The Dovre Railway runs between Oslo and Trondheim through the beautiful Gudbrandsdalen valley and across the mighty Dovrefjell mountain range. It takes you to some of Norway’s best national parks, mountains and scenic attractions. If you spend a few days or a week on the journey, you can explore some great destinations along the route. 


Jærbanen 

Jærbanen runs along the Southern Norwegian coast from Egersund to Stavanger. It is a beautiful train journey with a stunning view to the North Sea and the sandy beaches of Jæren. The whole trip takes about an hour, and the train has frequent departures all day. The beautiful stretch named the “Seaview rail” is also becoming increasingly popular among tourists. 

Rørosbanen 

The Røros railway runs between Hamar, Røros and Trondheim through the rough and beautiful wilderness in Østerdalen. The line got its name from the former mining town of Røros. The town is truly unique – a modern community, in which people live and work right in the middle of a UNESCO Heritage Site. Although Hamar and Trondheim are regarded as the end stations, the train starts its journey northwards from Oslo. 

Nordlandsbanen 

The Nordland Railway (or Northern Railway) runs between the historic city of Trondheim and the beautiful Northern town of Bodø. The 729 km long railway crosses the Arctic Circle and takes you through stunning Norwegian scenery. 

Freight train, Norway

The train is an easy and comfortable way of exploring Northern Norway, whether you are travelling all the way to Bodø or visiting a destination along the route. The trip is just as beautiful in winter as in summer, and truly a memory for life. Lean back in your seat and enjoy the view to the sea and the mountains while you are driving past 44 stations, 293 bridges and 154 tunnels. 

Raumabanen 

The Rauma Railway running between Åndalsnes and Dombås is known as one of Norway’s wildest and most beautiful train journeys. The tour takes you through the beautiful Romsdalen to famous natural attractions like the Trollveggen cliff face and the Kylling bridge. 


The Rauma Railway runs as a sightseeing train from the end of May to the end of August. On the train, there is a guide service in Norwegian, English and German. All passengers receive a brochure describing the highlights of your journey and a map of the train line. The train slows down at the best sights. 


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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Norway in Motorhome: a Week in May

We have to admit it – Norway is an expensive country. After me and my husband realized that hotels were too costly and compared expenses for campings+car or a motorhome we decided to make my hubby's dream come true and take a motorhome. Now, when our trip is a history I can highlight that a motorhome is an optimal variant for Norway (especially for Norway). It was comfortable, there were many parkings with picnic tables and very often with a toilet, along the roads. 

Norway in Spring

Practically every parking allows you to empty the toilet and grey water tank and get fresh water. In addition, motorhome gives freedom! We slept in the most beautiful places. We were warm and cozy. A shower, a kitchen, a nice bed – even a TV set (we never used it though). We found two rental companies – McRent and Campervan Norway. The former could not offer anything for our dates (tip: book everything in advance), and Campervan Norway offered us a motorhome for 4 people. 

We were quite anxious about the weather, but May statistically is the driest and most fog-less season in Norway. It turned out to be the truth – we got minimum rains and a lot of blue skies! 

Day 1 

First things first. After getting our motorhome we went to IKEA to buy pillows and blankets – it was cheaper than buying from rentals. We also had a nice budget dinner there. After that, we bought a sim-card with Internet connection. Thanks to the forum recommendations, we bought MyCall who had an action that time – 1Gb per 100 krones. 

Finally our chores were done and we started our journey to the first destination point – Kjeragbolten. I believe that many newcomers wonder whether there is anything interesting or beautiful on the way to the first point, particularly on Road 134. I assure you, this road is unbelievably beautiful! We even stopped on the banks of a river next to Konsberg and started to take photos! 

Finally we decided to make dinner and sleep. We stopped for a night on the banks of a fantastic lake! 

Day 2 

We woke up at 5am, looked out of the windows and realized that it would be a crime to sleep further. Blue skies without a cloud, rippled surface of the lake and lavish coniferous forest reflected in the waters! We hurried with our breakfast and continued the trip. I wanted to see houses with grass-covered roofs, and my wish came true! First waterfalls were great! 

Norway, road along a fjord

After lunch, we moved to the Road 45. If Road 134 was stunningly beautiful, the 45th was unreal! Mountain road was going higher and higher, at the height above 700 m above the sea level the roadsides were covered with snow. We passed a frozen lake, and the road went down. About 7 km before the crossing with the 9th we saw a rapid stream Rygnestadani. It started to rain and rained all day long. Moreover, the GPS navigator led us to a Road 337 that turned out to be closed. We had to return to the Ninth. We were falling behind our schedule for about a day and were driving like mad. We allowed ourselves only one stop at Reiarsfossen waterfall. 

We stopped for a night in a very well-equipped parking before Algard, Stavanger. We made 360 km per day (a bit too much for Norway, but it allowed us to catch up a bit with the schedule). 

Day 3 

It was raining all night through, however morning was calm, with rare sun beams. We started our trip to Preikestolen! We took a ferry at Lauvvika to Oanes (about 200 krones). Then Road 13 that was slowly getting higher and higher on stones along picturesque marshes, streams and arabesque mosses.

Here we are – Preikestolen! 

Preikestolen, Norway

Because of hurricane winds, we had to put on sweaters and parkas. The panorama went far beyond our expectations, and the sense that "we did it" gave us forces to run around and take photos! We went above the rock about 50 m and admired a breathtaking view to Lysefjorden! While going down we lost the way, and spent another 15-20 minutes trying to find red T-letters. The whole way (including multiple stops) took us more than 7 hours. 

We returned after 10 pm, totally exhausted but happy with our small victory! We drank a cup of tea and went on to look for the parking. By midnight we reached Hjelmeland, where we found one. 

Day 4 

Ferry Hjelmeland-Nesvik carried us smoothly on the waters. Our aim was Hardangerfjord. The sky was hidden behind a thick layer of clouds. Nevertheless, Road 13 was very picturesque, with astonishing views to the fjords. Bright coloured cute houses with moss-covered roofs were everywhere. 

We had our toilet and tank full and desperately needed to empty them. At the crossroads of 13th and 46th, we found a station that served campers. Tip: take a pair of rubber gloves – for these and some other purposes. Having renewed our storage of water, we managed to prepare a sophisticated lunch, bath as well as to do the laundry. 

Again to the wheel. Our next destination – Hardanger. Another ferry Sand-Ropeid (again about 200 krones) and we followed the unbelievably beautiful Road 520. All along the Road, there are waterfalls of all sizes and colours. Svandalsfossen!!! 

Svandalsfossen

We were driving fast hoping to get to blooming Hardanger before dusk. We practically flew through beautiful Sauda but it was sooo beautiful! After Sauda Road 520 was magically adorable! A narrow ravine with roaring Storelva far beyond, and streams running from the slopes. However, a local told us that the road was closed, and we had to return to Sauda. Later we noticed that the sign on the crossroads with the name of a point located on 502nd had a striped tape on it. We paid no attention as it was not our destination spot – but it is a tip for future drivers to pay attention to tapes on signs. We returned to Ropeid and took Road 46 up to 134 – and from there to Road 13. 

Late in the evening, we passed Langefossa and Lаtefossen. Ten minutes on Road 13 to Odda – and another one magnificent waterfall – Vidfoss. It was late, so we got through a picturesque Odda to Lake Bondhusvatnet. A thirteen km tunnel under Folgefonna was left behind. We stopped motorhome on a parking next to a small village. Rain softly pattered against our home on wheels the whole night. 

Day 5 

Lake Bondhusvatnet was in 2-2,5 km from our place, and we got there on foot. We also saw our first glacier! When we returned to the parking, we noticed small houses where you could hide from bad weather. 

The weather was outstanding, about 20 degrees. We returned through Odda – and go to Hardangerfjord. Hardangerfjord is unbelievably beautiful in May. Snow-covered peaks and gardens in blossom! I have never seen so many apple gardens in one place! White and delicate-pink petals with snow-white mountains on the background! 

Hardangerfjord, Norway

We were driving to Kjeåsen farm. The road goes through a narrow tunnel, where two cars cannot pass, that is why the traffic is orginized hourly – half an hour there, and half an hour – back. In Kjeåsen, you may find outstanding views on Simadalsfjord. I can call Kjeåsen a must-see spot. 

Another farm in our list was Otternes Bygdetun, and we got there by Roads 7 and 13 through a bridge over Hardangerfjord. Lake Granvinsvatnet lured with its unreal beauty! 

By the evening, we reached Tvindefossen. Cold cloud of water spray made us return to our motorhome and put sweaters on our T-shirts. Just under the waterfall, there was a camping with a small but quite expensive souvenir shop. 

We passed by a nice town of Oppheim, picturesquely situated on the bank of a gorgeous Lake Oppheimsvatnet. We passed by Flam with its countless waterfalls and finally reached Otternes Bygdetun, right above Aurlandsfjorden. 

Aurlandsfjorden

There was a road to the farm ending with a vast parking. The farm was very imposing, old buildings standing next to new ones, and offered fantastic views over Aurlandsfjorden. 

Catching up the schedule, we went to the observation point Stegastein, 650 m above the Aurlandsfjorden. Serpentine road there was really serious, and we had to stop every several meters. It was dusk below and a blazing dawn above! Pastoral lambs were happily hopping in the green. 

Time to sleep. My husband decided to ignore the Stegastein parking and go down to Aurland where we refueled. We stopped for a night in a nice spot in front of Lunde Camping. 

Day 6 

Our next point was the Nigardsbreen glacier. We took a snowy Road 243 that turned out to be closed. We returned via Stegastein. A ferry took us from Mannheller to Fodnes. I decided to try an ice-cream we bought the day before…. and it had rice in it! I check the pack and read "RiceСream"! Arghh… Blueberry ice-cream Dream was much better! 

We took roads 604 and 334, and the fairy-tale river Jostedola accompanied us the whole way. We saw Nigardsbreen! It suddenly appeared first like a small blue dot and then like a big ice paw. We left our motorhome at the parking and went there. Luckily, we took sweaters and parkas with us! The wind from the glacier was freezing. The stones were slippery, and we really appreciated our trekking boots. At first, we thought that it would take 15-20 minutes to get to the glacier. In reality, it was too big to evaluate the distances properly. Stones that seemed small turned out to be giant boulders! The path was quite good, with footbridges and stairs. The whole way took us about an hour. 

Nigardsbreen

The emotions were high! It was incredible that we were there, could see the glacier with our own eyes, even touch it! It is blue for real, and it is like shining from the inside. 

Our new point was the glacial lake Styggevatnet situated in 24,5 km from Nigardsbreen, but another road turned out to be closed and we had to return. We were moving slowly, taking photos. Soon we parked, my husband went to sleep and I started to cook dinner. The day was full of emotions, and we both were very-very contented. 

Day 7 

Our last day in Norway. Yes, we have to return our motorhome tomorrow, but it will be just a fast drive to Oslo. We were driving looking at yaks (I think, they were yaks), picturesque houses and reached Road 55. It was a tundra with scarce plants… but it was very beautiful! The higher we got, the more beautiful it was becoming. The water in melting lakes was azure. We saw a turquoise river carrying small blocks of ice. 

Road 63 to Geiranger was very special. Such a contrast to snow-white peaks. So many colours! There were two observation points in the area. As tourists occupied the higher one, we chose the lower and enjoyed the view. I do not know how to describe the beauty of the landscape! When the tourists went away, we climbed to the higher point. It was fantastic!!! 

Geirangerfjord with a cruise liner

Our next spot – the Eagle Road and its observation point. The road was serpentine-style, but quite easy even for a camper. The view was completely different from the observation point. From Flydalsjuvet the fjord seemed small and cozy, but from there it was majestic and grand. It was the last destination in our schedule – and it was quite sad. However, our way back laid through most beautiful roads! 

This day we failed to find a nice parking, and at 1 am we simply turned to the first village and stopped there. 

Maybe our trip was quite rushed, but we had just one week and wanted to see as much as possible! We wish to return in Norway once or (even better) more times! 

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