Hills and mountains and imposing cliff reflections are gleaming in pristine fjords.
Flora, lichens and mosses. Red, orange, yellow, brown, and ochre. Red berries and fruit trees. Swirling mists and rushing rivers. Cute cabins.
Twenty-two stops and 500kms, the train ticks along. Through Geilo, a Norwegian winter sport capital. Finse, more amiably desolate than the Desert Road, the highest point of Scandinavian passenger rail at 1219m. Robert Falcon Scott and his men trained for their 1910 Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition here. Between Finse and Myrdal there’s snow on the ground.
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The Nordic Bergen Railway first came to my attention – like everyone else – thanks to the smash YouTube hit of the (near) seven-hour Oslo to Bergen train journey. Obviously it would be best doing the journey during winter snows, but then the days are super short. Outside of the winter peak season there’s also the chance for hiking among Bergen’s seven mountains.
The journey begins at Oslo S, a busy central station with a cool vibe. A Washington couple insist they are seated in the right place, despite evidence. The conductor responds with archetypal dry Scandinavian wit, allowing their passage. “Yes, you booked these tickets for three months ago. But it’s okay.”
I sit next to a lovely Indonesian couple. The hijab-wearing Mrs has just been exhibiting her designs at Paris Fashion Week. The Mr offers me half his lunch. “God keep you safe”, he tells me when we part.
Seats are comfy, with space for luggage above you. Kids are catered for with a substantial play area. Free Wi-Fi works best in carriages near the cafe car, but the miles of tunnels understandably knock it out.
The train runs smoothly on hydro power; Norway has plenty of rain. Poor visibility and swirling mists can affect the views, so it’s worth considering doing the trip both ways.
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