Friday, September 24, 2010

Norway Part 2: fjords, railway & waterfalls

Here is some more on the wonderful Norwegian landscape. I went to visit the Geiranger fjord and while I had to wait for the ferry (being in Norway off-season can have advantages as there are way less tourists, but then some museums are already closed, ferries go less often and some activities are not offered anymore, like the weaving demonstration in the Folk Museum in Oslo which would have been great to see), I marvelled at the fjord. It was a bit weird to have salt water in something which looks like a big lake, and I collected some shells from the "beach", played around with bladderwrack and scared of some noisy seagulls. There even were some jellyfish in the water in Geiranger.

The fjord is really nice to see, though the waterfalls were not thaaat spectacular after 2 weeks of dry and warm sunny weather.

I continued to Ålesund, which is a cute little town on the west coast which has been rebuilt in Art Nouveau style after it had burnt down in 1904. The view from the city's hill and viewpoint at sunset was just beautiful.

The next day I took the scenic Rauma railway (though not by steam engine or tourist train, since out of season...) on my way to meet up with my boyfriend and passed some pretty spectacular mountains and rock formations like the "Trollveggen".

There are really some wonderful railway lines, another one we took was the Flåm railway as part of the "Norway in a Nutshell" tour. I am no big fan of organized tours, but this is mainly the round trip ticket with public transport. We first went to Gudvangen via Stalheim by bus and a very impossible steep road, passing some major waterfalls (which had, thanks to extensive rainfall) lots of water in them.

From Gudvangen we took a ferry through the Nærøyfjord and the Aurlansdfjord which was just amazing. We passed waterfalls, more waterfalls and some waterfalls. And a small village named Undredal with population human 120, goats 500. The walls of the mountains are so steep that we were constantly changing from sunlit warm spots into cold and dark shadows. The views were just stunning and the white mountain tops in contrast to the green woods and fields and the blue water sooooo beautiful!

In Flåm we set off to hike up to the foot of a waterfall and got some handmade apple juice from a small farm on the road which was just delicious. We continued by train to Myrdal on the Flåm line, a masterpiece of a railway line with lots of tunnels and great views and a photo stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall.

After Myrdal we continued by train on the Bergen-Oslo line, which we were also taking when
we finally went to Oslo two days later.

The next day unfortunately the weather got worse again, so we did not see that much of the gorgeous scenery of the Eidfjord and Hardangerfjord we went out to see that day. We also could not make it to the Hardanger Folk Museum or much of the other places which are supposed to be nice. Driving up a mountain to have some nice view when you can see from below that the view might consist of mainly clouds does not make that much sense. The giant hydro power station had also closed for visitors the days before, and they must have been the only people to like that much water falling from the sky. But we made it to the infamous Vøringfossen waterfall, which was really breathtaking.

On the pictures you can't really see how steeeep it is. The last one is shot from the top where the two waterfalls plunge down. We had the glorious idea to hike to the foot of the waterfalls, since we could see a small trail from the top. Unfortunately the trail was a bit dangerous since blocked by fields with boulders and those were quite wet and slippery. We read somewhere that it was supposed to take 1.5 hours to go there and back, but that is a bit utopic. We turned back after what was maybe 2/3 of the way, we were also a bit worried that it would get dark. Well, it was still totally amazing from the top.

We spent the next day with travelling by train to Oslo, along some more beautiful topography. The train line goes up to a kind of high plateau at Geilo and Finse, with snow-covered mountains, rivers and lakes and also a glimpse on a glacier. The Lonely Planet says, that in this region some scenes for Star Wars II on the ice planet Hoth have been shot. Well, it was not that icy what we saw, but still very worth seeing.

I really would have liked to just get out of the train and hike a bit, and it would be a great future holiday to do so.

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