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Ringo Boitano: Norway in a Nutshell
a scene in Aurlandsfjord, Norway
Aurlandsfjord is a part of the World Heritage Area surrounding Nærøyfjord.
Photo courtesy of Visit Norway
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Norway in a Nutshell
Spectacular Scenery and an Engineering Marvel

By Ringo Boitano

reathtaking fjords, cascading waterfalls, towering snow-capped mountains, pristine farmhouses with sod roofs, blankets of wildflowers - Norway in a Nutshell is a living picture postcard that you will never forget. Traveling by train, boat and bus, this is a trip that truly lives up to its name, and it allows travelers the unique opportunity to experience some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

colorful Hanseatic shops and warehouses at Bryggen, Bergen, Norway
The historic Hanseatic shops & warehouses at Bryggen (the Wharf). Photo courtesy Bergen Reiselivslag/Robin Strand.

There are six packages to choose from, ranging in time from seven to twenty-two hours. I opted for the eight-hour roundtrip from Bergen -- World Heritage City and “gateway to the fjords.” Nestled on the western coast, Hanseatic Bergen boasts endless tourist attractions, and is easily explorable in 24 hours. The Bergen Tourist Card is an essential component to your tour of this historic harbor town. The price allows you free or reduce-priced admittance to the Bergen Art Museum, Fantoft Stave Church (a medieval wooden cathedral), a harbor boat tour, Bergen Castle, St Mary’s Church, and Troulhaugen, composer Edvard Grieg’s home.

tourists at Troldhaugen, the home of composer Edvard Grieg turned into a museum, Lake Nordas, Bergen
Troldhaugen, composer Edvard Grieg's home, is now a museum located on Lake Nordås just outside of Bergen. Photo courtesy Hurtigruten.

If you’re lucky you might catch a concert in Troulhaugen’s intimate concert hall, discreetly built into the landscape, and overlooking Grieg’s working studio, where he wrote most of his later work. The card also allows free access on city buses, and both the Ulriksbanen Cable Car and Floibanen Funicular, which feature breathtaking views of the city. Not a bad way to start your city tour. Wander through the harbor fish market and down the wooden streets of the historic warehouses at Bryggen (the Wharf). A fish buffet should be on everyone’s list for a generous sampling of Bergen’s world-famous fish soup, assortments of smoked and cured Atlantic salmon, fish cakes, hearty breads, all washed down with the cities own Hansa beer.


Photo courtesy of Visit Norway

The next morning, hop on the Bergen Railway, easily one of the most beautiful railways in the world, for the journey up to mountain village of Myrdal.


Photo courtesy of Visit Norway

A quick stop at Kjosfossen Waterfalls is ideal for photo opportunities. Photo: Ringo Boitano

There’s a sense of excitement at Mydral as everyone hurries onto the platform in anticipation for the next part of the journey, a transfer onto The Flam Railway. One of the most dramatic and skilled engineering feats in railway history, The Flam Railway’s high-mountain railway track descends its way down virtual mountainsides. The track had to be laid out on steep inclines and in hairpin bends so that the train could slowly wind its way up and down its almost vertical slopes. Approximately 80% of the line has a gradient of 55%. The train ride between Mydral and Flam runs down (or up) the wild Flamsdalen Valley and is for many people one of the many highlights of the tour. From your carriage window see some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring scenery in the world.

The train’s final destination is the port of Flam. Feast on another buffet in the quaint village, then travel by boat out of the Aurlandsfjord and into the Nærøyfjord -- easily the wildest and most beautiful part of the voyage.

On the boat from Flam, you will see more waterfalls, charming small towns, a Stave church and working farms, some situated on mountains so steep that they once required a ladder to ascend the steep terrain. In the days when the tax collector would make his annual trek to the farms, it is said that the ladders would mysteriously disappear.

the Nærøyfjord, an arm of the Sognefjord
In 2005, the Nærøyfjord, an arm of the Sognefjord - Norway's longest and deepest fjord, was included on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Photo courtesy of Visit Norway.

Between Gudvangen and Voss, travel by bus through the Nærøyfjord Valley and up the spectacularly steep hairpin bends of Stalheimskleiva with spectacular, almost birds-eye view of more waterfalls. At the top of the rocky ascent there is a short stop to enjoy fantastic panoramic vistas from the viewpoints at the historic and stately Stalheim Hotel, where overnight accommodations are available. At the Fjord Pass there are also many hotels and guesthouses to choose from.

buses traveling up a steep hairpin bend at Stalheimskleiva
Photo courtesy of Visit Norway.

Depending on which tour you have chosen, your bus journey will continue from Voss back to Bergen. From there, you might not want to go home again. Norway in a Nutshell is available daily all year. For more information, contact www.VisitNorway.com or www.VisitBergen.com.

Related Articles:
Norway's Fjords, Norwegian Arctic Expedition


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I love Ringo's piece on historic hotels. I once stayed at the Laurentian in Montreal - is it still around, is it historic? And then there was the Heups in Bismark.

It is interesting that two of your entries are in CANADA.

Brent, Seattle, WA

It's no mystery that you are great at what you do.

Sandee, Seattle, WA

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The Mystery on the Oasis pics are very funny!

Ramon, Kansas City, MO

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Ha ha ha ha ha...love your "schtick" Ringo!!

Dolly, Las Vegas, NV

Hello the travelling Boitano's hope you enjoy. Best wishes.

Elsa Magdalena Berno-Boitano, Laussane, Switzerland

My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it? Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks for blazing the trail!

Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA

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No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.

Key Logger, New York

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Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest bar.

Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Jeff–

Thanks for taking the time for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.

- Ringo

Ringo,

I thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.

To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then. The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda" been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this to yourself all these many years.

Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.

Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hey, Ringo –

Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos, too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.

Mick, Greenbay, WI

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Mick –

Now that football season is over --- I’ve often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off season ---- it’s great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy. Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products, and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations --- you know, what’s a city, which one is a town, ect – so better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to argue about any subject.

- Ringo


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