“ Sightseeing Type: Tours „
Norway in a nutshell is the name given to a packaged but fantastic day out in Norway. If you are in Bergen or Oslo, or anywhere between the two, or near Voss, then this is warmly recommended. The cheapest way is to start at Voss station, which is where you can buy tickets. It will cost you (in April 2008) 595 Norwegian Kroner from Voss or 895 from Bergen. You can also start from Oslo, and do a round trip including Bergen and back, for 1985 Kroner, but this includes either a night train or an overnight stop, which you would have to arrange yourself. Exchange rates vary, but in April 2008 it was roughly 10 kroner to the pound.
From Voss you travel on the Bergen Railway to Myrdal. The Bergen Railway regularly scores well in polls of great railway journeys. It is the highest altitude railway in Northern Europe, going up to 4,265 feet at its highest point (only a couple of hundred feet short of the top of Ben Nevis!). Myrdal is the highest point you will reach from Voss - 2,838 feet up. By then you will certainly have felt the train climb, and the scenery will have become bleaker.
You then change trains and board the Flåm train. Immediately, you get the idea that something dramatic is about to happen, as the train you are getting on is at a such a gradient that one end of each carriage is 4.5 feet below the other. The railway track disappears downhill from the end of the platform. The journey from Myrdal to Flåm is one of only 12 miles, but in this time it drops to sea level. This extraordinary railway does so by a breathtaking spiral of tunnels through mountain rock. At some points, three layers of the line are cut above each other. As you emerge from each tunnel, you get a different view. The first one is of the Kjosfossen power station and beautiful waterfall. The train will stop there after another two miles to allow passengers to take photographs of the waterfall, which has a drop of a couple of hundred feet. About a mile later, you can see the highest settlement in the area, and then at last you start to see Flåm itself, with its pretty church prominent.
A measure of the steepness of the gradient is that it takes over fifty minutes to descend, but less than that to go up. The reason is that the brakes are doing all of the work - and there are FIVE sets of them. Knowing that makes you feel very safe.
At Flåm there is a chance to have a meal and go shopping, or just to wander in the peacefulness of the Aurlandsfjord. After a while a boat is ready for you. We are taken majestically up the Aurlandsfjord and then, after a dramatic junction, into the Naeroyfjord. Fantastic mountain peaks surround you, rising beyond 5,500 feet. If you are lucky - and we were - the captain will point out seals on the bank, and at another point, we pulled in near to a mountain stream that cascaded into the fjord. . The crew set to and secured wonderfully fresh and cold drinking water for everyone. There are also goats to see, and many birds
Arrived at Gudvangen, which is a tiny settlement, you might feel a sense of anticlimax, as all that awaits is a coach journey back to Voss. However, this is a coach journey and a half, as you have to do a fair bit of climbing, and Norwegian roads in mountainous areas tend to do this in a succession of thirteen zigzags. The coach drivers do this every day, and so are expert, but none the less it is pretty alarming to realize that part of the front of the coach is actually over the edge when the wheels are still on the road. We get a breather at a spectacularly sited hotel, the Stalheim. The views here are wonderful, back down over the drop to Gudvangen, with the Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen waterfalls also part of the panorama. There is the chance to get refreshment in the hotel too, and then we go back to Voss.
Yes, it's a tourist experience. But it really does what it sets out to do, by giving you the great experience of Norway's most exciting railway, a classic fjord journey, and a drive up a hair-raising mountain road. For around £60 per person, you get a day out that you won't either regret or forget. If you go to Norway, you really should do this!
UPDATE May 2009 with current prices (exchange rate about 9.8 NKR = £1):
Round trip from Bergen (adult NOK 935)
Bergen - Voss - Stalheim - Gudvangen - Flåm/Aurland - Myrdal - Bergen
Round trip from Voss (adult NOK 625)
Voss - Stalheim - Gudvangen - Flåm/Aurland - Myrdal - Voss
Round trip from Oslo via Bergen (adult NOK 2055)
Oslo - Myrdal - Flåm/Aurland - Gudvangen - Stalheim - Voss - Bergen - Oslo
Please note! Night train or overnight stop en route is necessary for completing the journey. NIGHT TRAIN do not operate on SATURDAY! Please check this before you confirm your booking.
Round trip from Oslo via Voss (adult NOK 1800)
Oslo - Myrdal - Flåm/Aurland - Gudvangen - Stalheim - Voss - Oslo
One-way trip from Bergen (adult NOK 1295)
Bergen - Voss - Stalheim - Gudvangen - Flåm/Aurland - Myrdal - Oslo
One-way trip from Oslo (adult NOK 1295)
Oslo - Myrdal - Flåm/Aurland - Gudvangen - Stalheim - Voss - Bergen
A popular, well-organised vacation package that takes you on a tour through Norway. Experience the most beautiful scenery in Fjord Norway, enjoy the breathtaking land on the Bergen Railway, the Flåm Railway, the Aurlandsfjord, Nærøyfjord and the steep Stalheimskleiva road.