The Norway in a Nutshell (http://www.fjordtours.no/) tour was a bit of a let down. The scenery was very nice, but it wasn't quite as spectacular as I expected. On the rail portion of the trip we spent a lot of time in tunnels and when we weren't in tunnels the train was often travelling quite fast so it was really hard to absorb the scenery. The boat ride through the fjords was just the opposite, it was quite slow so we spent a lot of time looking at the much of the same scenery.
I guess after being in the Swiss Alps and having travelled to the Canadian west coast a few times, I was probably expecting too much from this tour. To be fair this was a very quick tour, so my opinion would have likely been different had I stayed longer or came here before the Alps. Also, it looks like it could be much more spectacular earlier in the year when there are many more and larger water falls. Most of the snow in the peaks has already melted so the water run has slowed down quite a bit.
One thing that I enjoyed the least, actually really disliked, about the Norway in a Nutshell (http://www.fjordtours.no/) tour was the transit changes between the trains, boat, and bus. You can only reserve seats for the first train ride, from Oslo to Myrdal. After that it's a free for all, so you have a big mob of tourists going from one mode of transportation to the next like a heard of cattle in a stampede and everyone is trying to be first to get the best seats. Things were probably worse than they needed to be because they did a poor job of communicating the transfer instructions.
On the train ride from Oslo I got a chance to meet a Chinese fellow born and raised in Hong Kong. His father was in the 1941 Battle of Hong Kong and he became a prisoner of war of the Japanese like my father. This fellow lives in Kowloon along the flight path to the old Kai Tak airport. The original runway for that airport was built by our fathers and other Japanese POWs in WWII.
The train windows were very dirty and it was quite hard to take pictures given the trees, tunnels and window glare, but here's a few that turned out quite good.
The first two photos were taken not too far from Oslo.
The next three photos are up near the high mountain pass just before Myrdal.
An interesting way to connect two buildings.
Up here many of the tunnels were snow tunnels built on the surface and not inside a mountain like this one.
The is the station at Myrdal where we switched trains to head down to the fjord at Flam. The train in this photo is what we road on from Oslo. It continued on to Bergen after the bulk of the passengers got off.
We had time for a few photos before our next train arrived.
This is the train we road down to the fjord at Flam, about 2000 feet down. This train spent at least half the time in tunnels.
There were brief glimpses of the great scenery in between the tunnels.
The train did one stop on the way down to allow us to get off and photograph this water fall. I guess that's to make up for the limited photo opportunities on the way down. If I was to do this trip again I would definitely hike up or down and skip the train ride. That would be a much better way to take in the scenery. Unfortunately I didn't have time for that today because I needed to make all the tour connections to reach Bergen on time for the night train back to Oslo.
We are on a boat now leaving Flam. It seems like many of the tourists on the boat never saw a sea gull before because they kept throwing food to attract them and that it did. Luckily no one, at least as far as I could tell, was poop bombed by the swarm of birds.
This is Aurland. The boat did a brief stop here.
At this point we were a quarter of the way into the boat ride and we haven't lost sight of Flam.
We finally rounded the corner and Flam is no longer in sight. This is about the halfway point of the journey.
This is looking towards Gudvangen, which is the end of our boat ride.
A few more photos before we reach Gudvangen.
From Gudvangen we got on a bus to Voss. This was the worst of all our transfers. However, we at least had somewhat of an interesting bus ride once we finally got on board. The bus took us on the old main road to Voss which was a huge climb up a series of switch backs. Actually they were more like a continuous sequence of S turns up the 18 to 20 percent grade. We stopped at the top where there was a great view of the valley below. The road is just barely visible on the near slope in the left of the photo below.
From Voss we took another train the rest of the way to Bergen. That train spent at least three quarters of the just over 1 hour ride in tunnels. As such, it really felt more like riding a subway.
Once we got to the train station in Bergen I didn't have much time until I had to hop aboard the night train back to Oslo, so I just went to a pub in the train station for a late dinner and a couple beers. While in the pub I met a couple older fellows, one from the US and one from Norway. The fellow from the US was in Norway with his wife visiting relatives. He and the fellow from Norway were at the station to pick up his grandson who was arriving by train later in the evening. The fellow from the US was originally from Calgary, back in 1930, and has lived in south western Oregon for quite a while. What was really interesting is that his grandfather is from the Alsace & Lorraine region of north eastern France like my ancestors. Small world!