13 October 2011
Oslo to Ål
Cold morning in downtown Oslo, and we are set for an adventure today — a day-long 550km journey by train, boat and bus to Bergen, obviously not the quickest way.
We stay in a budget hotel, which is godsend in a pricey place like Oslo, so we don’t mind doing a bit of D-I-Y.
Jernbanetorget, the square in front of Oslo Central Station, is quiet at such an early cold hour.
Yes, we are embarking on a day-long excursion called ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ — a set of pre-booked tickets taking us through the classic mountains and fjords of Norway in one smooth sequence, all the way to Bergen on the Atlantic Coast.
On the train platform, we need to check where our seats are first. We’re starting our journey with the famed Bergen Railway, said to be one of the most scenic train rides in the world — Lonely Planet says: “The Bergen Line is a journey that will live long in my memory. If you haven’t done it you can’t say for sure that it’s not the world’s most beautiful train ride” [source].
Our NSB train soon arrives.
Making sure it’s the right one — the 8.11am to Bergen.
And this is our coach.
Very comfy and warm interior.
Soon we are on our way, past stately buildings and fjords of Oslo.
A few mandatory stops along the way …
… and soon things start to get interesting.
Fertile undulating farmlands.
Ochre-coloured farm buildings, which seem to be the standard here.
The train snakes through valleys, often accompanied by rivers.
A typical glacial lake.
White and ochre are the most popular colours for their houses.
We are entering the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, the largest such plain in Europe.
Bread and orange juice accompany us.
A typical station in the highlands. This is Nesbyen, a major ski resort, which is interesting, because in summer this is the hottest place in Norway at 35°C.
Not long after, we have 0°C.
Snow on the ground. It has been snowing last few days, but we are lucky to be blessed with excellent weather today.
Another classic old wooden station in the town of Ål, halfway between Oslo and Bergen.
Ål is quite a nice town — a good spot to get off to explore the plateau and the fjords of western Norway.
Fellow passengers, some engrossed with the scenery, some with work.