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Reflections on the Oslo to Bergen train

Guest blog by Susan

all seasons in one day 15 °C
View Around the Baltic Sea on maxari's travel map.

After an airplane journey of 12 hours and an overnight stay in the Radisson Blu hotel, I awoke un-jetlagged and ready for the next leg of the journey. Katie and I arrived at the main train station in Oslo and located the train from Oslo to Bergen on track 3, after procuring some shrimp and salmon sandwiches for lunch along the way. This 7 hour train trip is often billed as Europe's most beautiful train journey, and the weather was clear and sunny in Oslo, so our expectation levels were pretty high. We found our reserved seats in car 6 which was well towards the back of the train. Fortunately our seats were facing forward, so Katie was able to enjoy the ride without a hint of motion sickness.
We started our journey after leaving Oslo by winding our way up to a high plateau above the tree line. Along the way were a few small train stations through this sparsely populated area.

The next stage of the journey took us up into the mountains, where we glimpsed snow-covered peaks, rivers, and waterfalls.
I was fascinated by the glacial moraines, and managed to capture an image of one.
We reached the high point of the journey near Geilo with an elevation of 1222 meters above sea level (4000 feet for the Americans). When we reached the town at 4:30 PM, the temperature was 3 degrees Celsius, and to our delight, it was snowing up there.
The mountainous region of the journey of the trip also brought numerous tunnels; I counted at least 36! After an hour or so in the snow-covered mountains, we began our descent towards Bergen and the sea. When we reached the town of Voss, the elevation was 51 meters above sea level (about 150 feet), and at 5:13 pm, it was 18 degrees Centigrade. As we continued down to the sea, we came to the town of Arna at 6:45 PM, which was only 8 meters above sea level with a temperature of 9 degrees Celsius.
We also noticed that almost all of the houses were either red, white, or yellow, as is traditional in Norway, and were all in good repair.
While the landscape including mountains, waterfalls and beautiful lakes was very pretty, we felt this was diminished by the inclusion of so many tunnels along the route. We found some local rides in the Swiss Alps to be equally if not more scenic and enjoyable.

After arriving at Bergen train station, we took a taxi to our hotel and settled in for the night with a pair of takeout club sandwiches from the hotel restaurant. The next morning continued the streak of amazing breakfast buffets which began in Oslo. I have enjoyed some sort of seafood, usually salmon, with every breakfast since then. After borrowing a scooter (Bruce Jr.) from the hotel, we headed out into the surprisingly sunny Bergen weather to do some exploring. Luckily, the sidewalks in the city were either macadam or very smooth paving stones, so Bruce Jr. had no trouble navigating around.
During our exploration we discovered Bergen's classy McDonald's location.
Our first stop was the very crowded tourist office, where we did some research about potential attractions to visit in Bergen. Next, we headed over to the fish market, expecting it to offer fish right off the boat. Instead, we found a tourist attraction with kiosks selling expensive reindeer jerky and jars of jelly and jam.

So, we didn't linger too long, and headed off to Bryggen to have a look at the old houses. Bryggen is part of the original city of Bergen and the oldest section remaining.
Today the houses host mostly shops, and they were all impeccably maintained. One of the houses had a name that struck me as particularly Norwegian: Knut Skurtveit.
After checking out the old houses, we headed to the cathedral, which was small but pretty. It was not as ornately decorated as other cathedrals in Europe. What was ornate in the church was the large pipe organ which was the 5th one to occupy that position in that specific church.
Soon after we left the cathedral, the rain showers started and the temperature dropped, so we headed back to the hotel for cover.
Katie went out foraging and came back with some fish wraps for us to share for lunch. The salmon one was especially good, and the other plain white-fish wrap was made of haddock and cod.

The sun came back out, so we went and toured a bit more around town. We saw a church up a hill, and managed to maneuver Bruce Jr. on a circuitous path that avoided any steep slopes to reach the church. Sadly, we found the church doors were all locked, but we read the signposts and found that the church was founded in 1704.
After that, we headed back down the hill to a large lake and garden area that we could see from the top of the hill. We enjoyed walked around and seeing the few last roses that were left, as well as marigolds going to seed and petunias.
There were also several swans swimming in the lake, and a good view of the houses in the mountains surrounding Bergen. It was interesting to me to see how the houses were lined up in rows on the hills, as opposed to being randomly placed.
The weather was now pleasant enough that we stopped at an outdoor table at a cafe and had our afternoon drink and did some people watching. However the rain soon returned, so we headed back to the hotel. We grabbed the luggage and headed to the ferry terminal. I stayed at the terminal while Katie returned Bruce Jr. to the hotel. Shortly after that, Max and the dogs joined us at the terminal and we all boarded the MS Richard With for our voyage to Bodo.

Posted by maxari 05:11 Archived in Norway

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Thanks for your blog , it brought back happy memories. Lovely pictures. Alec.

by alectrevor

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