13 October 2011
Ål to Myrdal
Note: Previous instalment is HERE.
Past the town of Ål, the Bergen Railway climbs with more snow along the way.
At the top of the climb, a majestic view of a classic U-shape glacial valley complete with a lake, a common feature in southwestern Norway.
Next stop is Geilo, a town with 2500 people at an altitude of 800m. Famous for skiing in winter, but no snow here at the station yet. It serves the Hallingskarvet mountain plateau which is almost 2000m above sea level.
Clear blue sky, which means it’s freezing out there, as a well-insulated family bids farewell to dad. Oslo is 245km behind us, Bergen slightly less.
Soon after Geilo, more glacial lakes …
… dotted with villages.
As we climb higher …
… the snow-line drops to the lake surface.
Now the whole ground is covered with snow.
The rail track snakes along valleys, so too the major roads.
Spectacular snow, mountains and lake formation.
Partially frozen lake.
Fully frozen lake and another village.
There must be a road down there.
From the comfort of our coach, we absorb the fantastic scenery in the very cold world out there — the whole landscape is just rock, a result of the huge glaciers of the last Ice Age.
More frozen lake.
This looks like a summer holiday house, or something. It’s hard to imagine people living there in the cold wilderness right now.
The snow is at its max as we pull into Finse.
At 1222.2m above sea-level, Finse is the highest train station in the whole of Norway. There’s a major Alpine research centre here with a glacier nearby.
It’s a focal point for cross-country skiing.
They must be happy to see trains passing by. Finse can only be reached by rail, there are no roads connecting it.
Finse is also famous, thanks to Star Wars — this is the place where they shot ice planet Hoth in ‘Empire Strikes Back’, way back in 1979.
Minus the houses, ice planet Hoth indeed.
Whenever I use a train, I like to check the lavatory out. This one is top notch. It’s comfy and functional, everything is in its place.
The train passes through countless ‘tunnels’ which are actually housings against snow, rocks and avalanches. Looking back at a curve I spot one we have just passed through.
Some 4:30hrs after leaving Oslo we arrive at Myrdal, a junction in the desolate rocky mountains.
Here we disembark from the Bergen Railway in the bitter cold, to catch the train to the left.
Yes, we are catching the famous Flåm Railway, which will descend 860m all the way down to sea level at a fjord, along a steep 20km track.
The beautiful Bergen Railway leaves, and we are full of anticipation as the locomotive rumbles along.
The start of another memorable train ride … the Flåmsbana!