Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Norway in a Nutshell: Oslo-Myrdal-Flam-Gudvangen

Those Norwegians, they are clever, I tell ya. They know that most of us normal folk can not afford their country, so they created this travel plan that lines up various legs of public transit options and they sell it as a "tour" of Norway. You can actually do the entire Nutshell in one day (if you leave Oslo at 6:25 am and return to it at 11 pm and spend no more than 20 minutes in any one location.) Our plan was to go as far as Gudvangen in one day and then spend a few nights resting there before doing the return leg. So we left our apartment at 5 am and rode the bus to the main train station in Oslo where we boarded that 6:25 train for the 5 hour ride to Myrdal.

When I bought our tickets, I noticed something called a family car, so I chose seats there.... Score!!  The family room has a playroom type lounge with cartoons, picture books, and a little climbing area.  The kids spent most of the ride there (playing with a little boy from State College, PA!), which meant that Rob and I enjoyed a surprisingly peaceful ride.

The highest altitude point of this train ride is in Finse.  The train stopped for 15 minutes so we could all pile out and take some photos at 1,222 meters above sea level.  See the itty bitty cross country skiers?

Lovely day for shorts, isn't it? 
 (The kids opted to stay in the playroom.)

Sometimes we made them take a break and look at scenery out the window or eat a snack.  Amelie was the only one to take any sort of nap at all.

At Myrdal we switched trains to the Flamsbana railway which would take us us back down to sea level in about an hour.  The train stopped at this beautiful waterfall, where again we all piled out to take some photos (kids included this time.)

Pictures like this are priceless. Do I really need to say that it was wet and windy right there?

To add a layer of surrealness, some tourist board thought that what was needed here was a person spinning and dancing in the mist while they blared folk music at us.  Very strange, but oddly amusing.

All the way down we just snapped pictures of the incredible views out the windows.

Until we finally reached Flam. 

Here we arrived at the famous fjords!  
Formed by glaciers, the fjords can be as deep as the surrounding peaks are high and actually get more shallow as they approach the ocean (as the glaciers melted and were less thick and heavy.)  

We boarded the next ferry headed to Gudvangen. This took us up one side and down the other side of a V shaped route (the Sognefjord and Naereyfjord).

Not long after we got on the ferry it began to drizzle, but we were still smiling.

We bought the starving children some sausages wrapped in bacon and cheese and juice boxes.

When the rain really started to come down the kids took shelter in the dining area and colored their free coloring books they received on the Flamsbana train.

Rob and I kept our eye on the goal which was to SEE the fjords, so we took turns venturing out to gaze at misty mountains and waterfalls... and to take photos.

We found a fellow BYU grad to take one for us as well. (Don't worry, we could see the kids at all times through the big glass windows of the dining room.)

At the end of our 2 hour ferry ride, we arrived in the teeny tiny town of Gudvangen, population 120. From here we had to walk about 2 km to the Gudvangen campground where we had booked 2 nights in a family cabin so that we could explore the area a bit more on foot.  The first leg of our Nutshell tour was complete!

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