Another city on a fjord, Bergen is the perfect starting point for a tour of Norway’s rugged landscape and seascape. First, we take a very scenic train ride from Oslo to Bergen. We have a celebrity sighting in Oslo; lesbian activist and comedian Kate Clinton and her friends are also vacationing in Norway. We introduce ourselves with Mary offering the unimaginative “I love your work,” and Kate tells us they will also be “doing the boat tour.” Then we board our different train cars and never see them again.
Fantastic scenery out the windows of our train, Mary makes 10 videos and after taking about 100 pictures. Here’s a small sample:
We arrive in Bergen, sisterhood of the rolling suitcases, and make our way to the wharf area and our hotel, passing some sidewalk and street art along the way.
These colorful buildings form Bryggen, the historic commercial district. Foundations in this area date to the 12th century, but trading really got going in the 1700s.
The brick buildings look like those we saw in northern Germany, because they were built by the same Hanseatic League merchants. Bergen was the northernmost outpost of the League, and supplied Atlantic cod (easily salted, dried, and shipped) to people throughout Europe.
Tucked behind the colorful waterfront, this house from the 1600s survived many fires and is the oldest in Bryggen.
Las Chicas eschew cod for a more familiar Norwegian snack:
The following day, our real Norwegian adventure begins with a mild train ride back to a small mountain town where we board a narrow gauge train that will take us to Fläm and Aurlandsfjorden. Railroading!
En route to Fläm, the train stops beside a giant waterfall where Mary is out the door first to photograph the scene without people.
Then the rest of the passengers disembark to see the waterfall and enjoy a little recorded music and a dancing “spirit of the mountains”. (See video at end of this post.)
After descending to sea level, we arrive in Fläm where our Fjord Safari boat is blocked from view by a giant cruise ship. We brave the souvenir shop with the British hordes, walk along the water and up a hill, then it’s time for Fjord Safari! We dress in fashionable waterproof coveralls, life jackets, hats, and goggles.
The boat is like a zodiac–made for ocean waves, hard bottom, inflatable sides, and ropes to hang on to. Joel, our fuzzy faced captain, steers from the back of the boat, while we 14 passengers sit roller-coaster style in rows facing forward.
We putt-putt past the monstrous cruise ship, Joel guns it and we fly across the fjord in search of wakes so we can bounce and swerve and aim for the fjord’s cliffs. We slow and float and Joel talks about waterfalls and how fjords are fresh water on top and salt water below.
More speedboat racing and swerving, then floating at this village famous for its brown cheese. “It wins awards,” says Joel.
Speed and wind and waterfalls. No rain, and orange-tinted goggles are not necessary.
Joel drops us off at Gudvagen on the Nærøfjorden where we board a van and drive back to the regular train, and back to Bergen. Great memories of the UNESCO World Heritage Area: “The Norwegian Western Fjords.”
We eat dinner al fresco beneath red tents on the wharf, consuming paella and merluza (hake) cooked by Spaniards! And weak 2.5% beer, much to Mary’s dismay.
We brave the rain on the next day, exploring a bit more of Bryggen and its archeological museum.
Map shows the town in 1276
Partially built frame of an old trading ship, and map showing the trading region including Ireland, England, Iceland, Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Europe.
Some archeological objects
We’re lucky that our fjord adventure did not include raging seas, only clouds and beautiful waterfalls.
Thank you Norway for amazing art, and watery outdoor adventure!
A little taste of mountain music :
© Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds, 2018