[1Month2Wander] STOP 5: Fjords and Snowcapped Mountains In Flam / by Amanda Liew

On one hand, I’m tempted to not even write a blog post for my Norwegian fjords tour and just let the photos speak for themselves, but on the other hand, I can’t help but absolutely gush at how out of this world the experience was. A thousand thanks to my wonderful friend Kathryn whose photos essentially convinced me to do Norway to begin with. At one point I was considering just taking a train straight from Oslo to Bergen, but I’m so happy I decided to do Norway in a Nutshell instead! During the entire journey, I was able to see vast snowy landscapes, rushing icy waterfalls, and of course, fjords fjords and more fjords. Not just any fjord, my friends, oh no, we got to pass through Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and largest fjord! We even went through it’s narrowest part, which is only 980 feet across. The trip was just so breathtakingly beautiful and it was one of those moments where I kept thinking, “I can’t believe I’m really here. I can’t believe. I’m really. HERE." Even though I've continued on to other cities full of beautiful sights, I think this experience ranks #1 in terms of awe-inspiring. It was so unbelievable to see the multiple waterfalls cascading down the mountains throughout our trip, and the picture above might be one of my all-time favorites.

Now, to let the pictures speak for themselves!

Details for those of you planning on doing the trip yourself:

Norway in a Nutshell is essentially a perfectly scheduled trip from Oslo to Bergen with a variety of trains, buses, and boats in between that provide maximum scenery. Since it’s not actually a tour, there are quite a few blog posts out there that provide advice on how to do-it-yourself, but I didn’t have the time to handle all of the bookings myself and decided the convenience and peace-of-mind was worth the extra cost. After finishing the trip, I can tell you without a doubt that paying the steep price for Norway in a Nutshell was well worth it.

The Just Wanderlust blog (JW) was particularly useful for reading more details about the trip, so I recommend checking this post out. The following is a mixture of her seating advice & my post-trip opinions since I went at a different time!

Oslo to Myrdal Train (4 hours): We left at 8am, and I was running on so little sleep that I really wished I could have kept my eyes open longer – even this part of the trip was absolutely stunning. I lucked out because it had just snowed, so the scenery was a gorgeous white infinity. This portion of the trip gives you an exact train & seat assignment, but since I was traveling off-season, I was able to move over to the left-hand side to get some better pictures as recommended by JW. The train itself was very comfortable and each seat had an electrical outlet!

Myrdal to Flam Train (50 minutes): It’s an adorable old green train and while I loved the boat ride, I think this was actually my favorite because of the incredible waterfall that the train takes a pitstop at. Our first train was running with a delay, but since the majority of the passengers are from Norway in a Nutshell, our second train waited for us. JW had recommended getting a seat in the front or back of the car since the windows can be opened for better pictures. I’ll add on to that & mention that the very front of the train has a section you can stand in (between the conductor and the seating area of the first car), and you might as well go to those windows for photos!

Break in Flam: As a few blogs recommended, I bought groceries for lunch the night before in Oslo since I didn’t want to pay the steep prices for the Flam restaurants. The town itself is quite small, and I was a little too hungry and tired at this point to explore so I found a table in the information center to eat at.

Flam to Gundvagen Boat Ride (2 hours): The most anticipated part of the trip! An incredible ride through the fjords themselves. I believe JW went during peak-season, and I’m assuming her seat recommendation is due to the boat being quite crowded. For my trip, however, we were able to walk and sit pretty freely since there weren’t too many people onboard. I found that the 2nd level front was the best spot for photos – the 3rd level front unfortunately has too much boating equipment so you can only get side shots. One issue we did run into, though, was fading daylight! Doing this trip in early December meant that the sun set around 4pm, which was halfway through the boat trip (note that the schedule may change day-to-day. I wish we didn’t have the break in Flam so we could have gotten more daylight for the boat!).

Gundvagen to Voss Bus Ride (45 minutes) / Voss to Bergen Train Ride (1 hour): Sadly we did these both totally in the dark so we didn’t actually see any of the sights out the window. However, I already knew the majority of the sights were in the first section, so I wasn’t too concerned.

General Thoughts:

·      If you’re doing the trip in the winter and have the same issues with daylight, you could consider doing this trip backwards from Bergen to Oslo

·      Bring food! It will save money and you can eat at your own pace during the non-incredible portions of the trip

·      There are quite a few blogs that suggested splitting up the trip into 2-3 days, but if you’re going in the winter, like me, I don’t think this makes as much sense. I think there’s quite a bit of nature and hiking to do in Flam during the spring / summer, but I thought one day was perfect for me.

·      Consider going in the winter…AND the spring! I was so blown away by this trip and what a winter wonderland it was. However, I am 100% planning on coming back in the spring or summer because I’m sure it’s completely different. Both are such unique visions, but definitely don’t rule out the winter! I was actually quite annoyed that none of the gift shops sold any winter scenery postcards since I thought the snowy capped mountains were just so incredible.

·      Follow the herd and make friends! Chances are, there are quite a few people who are doing the whole trip, and you’ll be spending the next 12 hours together so you might as well make friends.