Into fjord country

Taken from the bus to Alesund

I'm writing this from a Fjordekspressen bus as we continue on the second leg of a 10 hour bus journey from Bergen to Alesund.  We did the first 5 hours yesterday before stopping for the night in Skei.  Skei was a classic "one stop light" town, except that it didn't even have that.  Just a roundabout. It did have views in spades, and 2 grocery stores, for what that's worth. And right now we are cruising through a glacier-carved valley that brings to mind images from Avatar or Lord of the Rings.

But I'm jumping ahead.  Last time I wrote something substantial we had spent a day in Oslo. Oslo was unimpressive, and if you ever make your own trip to Scandanavia I really see nothing wrong with skipping it. The sights we did see were nice, but Oslo paled in comparison to Gothenburg, Stockholm, or Bergen.

Myrdal

Whew, found it!

We left Oslo by train, following the path of the very popular "Norway in a Nutshell" fjord tour. We stopped in Myrdal, which is where those on the tour continue on to Flam and then a short fjord cruise. We've got a longer "cruise" (read: glorified ferry) coming up in a couple of days so this was just a one night pit stop for us on our way to Bergen. Myrdal greeted us with rain, 40 degree temperatures, and no idea how to get to our hotel.  Fortunately, the conductor on the train to Flam was nice enough to offer to look the other way so we could ride that train one stop down to our hotel without buying a ticket.

 

 

 

Once found, our hotel was awesome.  The toilet wouldn't stop running and the shower drain leaked all over the bathroom floor, but it had a very old school mountain lodge (or hostel) feel to it, with extremely nice staff, great common areas to hang out, and breathtaking views.  We did a couple of short hikes while there, one to get a view down the valley and see a nearby waterfall, and the other to try and get to the dam of a mountain lake.  It was a good time.  The photos honestly don't do it justice, but here they are:

After Myrdal, we continued on the train to Bergen, this time hiking back up to the platform with our packs on rather than taking the short ride on the train.  Gotta stay fit, right?

Full Myrdal pictures here, including some amazing shots from the train from Oslo->Bergen: markandjie.smugmug.com/gap-year/myrdal/

Bergen

When booking hotels we would usually go with the least expensive room.  Why pay more when you probably aren't going to be spending much time in there? Our hotel in Bergen is why: we had a room that was significantly smaller than our Tokyo hotel room, on the bottom floor, with a view out to the dumpsters. But hey, we didn't spend much time in there!

Bergen apparently gets only 60 sunny days a year, but we got one! We spent our time on three activities in Bergen: touring the very thickly touristed Bryggen area (site of the German merchant quarter that put Bergen on the map, so to speak), walking around the fortress, and then taking the funicular up Mt Floein. We expected to just take the funicular up and then hike down, but they had a nice restaurant, great playground, and extensive hiking trails up top. We ended up hiking about four miles all-in, once again in spectacular surroundings reminiscent of Colorado or New Zealand. This was definitely Walter's highlight of the trip thus far.

Our last morning in Bergen it rained cats and dogs all morning, the first really hard rain we've seen since arriving in Stockholm.  Most of the time it rains here it's comparable to a light drizzle in Texas, but the storm in Bergen was Austin-worthy for sure.  Fortunately, we caught a long enough break to walk to the bus station and begin the first leg of our bus journey to Alesund.

Full Bergen pictures here: https://markandjie.smugmug.com/Gap-Year/Bergen-Norway/