I can't imagine going to Norway without experiencing at least one fjord. I've wanted to see a fjord for years, so as usual I did a lot of research to find a day trip out of Bergen that would include a fjord experience.
I read that Sognefjord is known as the King of the fjords and that Hardangerfjord is the Prince, or second largest Norwegian fjord. It's closer to Bergen than Sognefjord and the tour named Hardangerfjord in a Nutshell included not only the cruise in the fjord, but a good slice of other highlights in the area. The day included transfers between trains, buses and boats, but the instructions from one to the next were clear and precise.
I was holding my breath for good weather. When you have only one day to see magnificent scenery, you pray for good weather. Fortunately, the weather gods were kind to us; it was a beautiful day.
We arrived at the Bergen train station, the first leg of the journey, well before the 8:00 a.m. departure only to see that our train had been cancelled. We soon learned that there had been a tunnel fire, so all trains out of Bergen were cancelled. They had arranged buses for us, however, so we all piled in and met a train on the other side of the fire which we were assured would not compromise our schedule.
The train took us as promised to Voss where there was a parking lot full of waiting buses. We immediately boarded for our trip through the countryside to the boat that would take us through the Hardangerfjord. It was a lovely, winding route through the beautiful green hills.
We reached the pier and excitedly headed to our boat. We handed the crew member our paperwork which he examined and then said, "You're at the wrong fjord." We stared at each other in horror, then back at him. I asked him how far we were from the fjord we were supposed to be on and his response was (I kid you not), "It's really far." Again, more blank, horror-filled stares. I've been told before that I'm going the wrong direction or that I'm in the wrong line, but I've never been told that I was at the wrong fjord! This was not what we wanted to hear! Just then another crew member passed, and noting that something was amiss, examined our paperwork. He told us very kindly that "this happens", to get on the boat and we could straighten it out in Flam, the boat's destination.
Once we were breathing again, we went to the bow of the boat for a bird's eye view of our new fjord (at that point we had no idea where we were or what fjord we were on). I don't know what the scenery at the Hardangerfjord would have been, but ours was stunning. It turns out that we were at the Nærøyfjord which is an arm of the "King", Sognefjord and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Back home looking at a map, the crew member wasn't wrong; We were quite a distance from the Hardangerfjord!
I don't know what we missed, but it would have had to be pretty spectacular to beat what we saw. To top it off, our boat was electric, so there was no noise; we glided through the stunning scenery in silence. The trip lasted about two hours. Despite our misstep, my dream had come true and I'm still pinching myself about it!
My eyes were glued to this incredibly beautiful scenery!
Photo credit @corradiniphoto
We arrived at the busy pier in Flam and made our way to the tourist information desk. We related our story to the agent at the desk. At that point it was afternoon and our only viable option was to find a way to get back to Bergen. He found a bus going back to Voss, then we would board a train for the hour-long ride to Bergen. So we bought the tickets, happy that we would be able to get back to Bergen by dinner.
This quaint sight greeted us as we arrived in Flam.
As we looked back on the day, we realized what our mistake was. When we saw the buses waiting in Voss, we hopped on the one that said Norway in a Nutshell when we should have followed the detailed instructions on our sheet. Our bad. I'm more than willing to take the blame for my missteps and certainly this was one, but had the bus driver been checking paperwork, we would have been directed to the right bus. We found the same thing on the train back to Bergen; no one ever checked our tickets. In the end it was breathtakingly beautiful and a couple of hours that I'll never forget. But if I had it to do over again, I'd probably just arrange a fjord cruise from Bergen. Live and learn!
David and Savannah making the most of our time at the Flam pier.
The Beautiful Journey from Bergen to Oslo
Katie had read that the train ride between Bergen and Oslo is one of the most beautiful in the world. Oslo was our last stop in Scandinavia before heading to Mallorca (see our post on our wonderful week in Mallorca), so rather than flying to Oslo, we booked the 6.5 hour ride on NSB, the national train line of Norway. The train left at 8:00 am and arrived in Oslo at about 2:30 pm. We booked "komfort" class for a total of a little over $100 each. The morning was beautiful as was the scenery. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing this part of Norway.
Truly stunning scenery overload in two days!
The train's komfort class was indeed komfortable!
We liked this little station en route.
We spent a few hours in Oslo before heading to Mallorca. This is Oslo's ultra-modern opera house. Completed in 2007, the exterior consists largely of granite and marble. It was fun to walk to the top and take in the view of Oslo.
The sculpture is a permanent installation called "She Lives" and was created by an Italian artist. It's made of stainless steel and glass and is meant to depict power.
Oslo was the last stop on what I had dubbed our eight-day blitz through Scandinavia. We saw so much in that week, and it's an experience I'll always treasure!
Ha en fin tur!
➜ Top Tips
Wear layers for the fjords. Even in July, it was cool.
If possible, take the train from Bergen to Oslo (or vice-versa). and spend the extra money for komfort class.
Take a good camera!