Aurlandsfjord is a part of the World Heritage Area
Photo courtesy of Visit Norway.
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.
The historic Hanseatic shops & warehouses at
Bryggen (the Wharf). Photo courtesy Bergen Reiselivslag/Robin
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 Marys Church, and Troulhaugen, composer
Edvard Griegs home.
Troldhaugen, composer Edvard Grieg's home, is now
a museum located on Lake Nordås just outside of Bergen. Photo
If youre lucky you might catch a concert in Troulhaugens
intimate concert hall, discreetly built into the landscape, and overlooking
Griegs 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 everyones list
for a generous sampling of Bergens 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
Theres 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 Railways 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 trains 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.
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
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
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
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
* * * *
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
* * * *
Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within
walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest
Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL
* * * *
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.
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
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
* * * *
Now that football season is
over --- Ive often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off
season ---- its 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, whats 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.
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the
White Continent of Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are
some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is
one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination
is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more,
but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages.
Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.
Treasures of Ireland: A Pint of the Black Stuff
The Palladian Traveler attempts the perfect pour
as he files his latest dispatch from inside Europe's most popular tourist
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!)
As she came around the corner we could not believe
how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful almost elegant
in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic
example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us
was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power
she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as
quiet as a church mouse or "as quiet as dreaming trees."
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's
In the 1840s, the population of California was only
14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived
from all over the world and they came for one reason: gold. James
Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutters Mill in El
Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.
Lake Charles Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles,
the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their
childrens eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very
much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from
last years Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little
ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already
fed and are rubbing their stomachs.
Puerto Vallarta: Magic and Mayhem on the Malecon
So I heard that you could spend from dawn to dusk on
the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and never get bored and I thought,
"Okay, I'm up for that challenge." Well, maybe not the dawn part
I'm not a morning person so I had no problem leaving those
early hours to the joggers and those seeking an early start to catch their
red snapper for dinner.
Hanging Out in Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach is legendary around the world as one
of the best surfing spots. Its waves and beaches are so great, it is also
officially known as "Surf City." But as I learned on a recent
getaway, the town is more than just tasty swells and beautiful white sand;
it also boasts gourmet restaurants, luxury, ocean-front hotels, great
shopping, and tons of California coastal charm.
Tim Robbins On His Road To Stardom
Award-winning Tim Robbins began his career on episodic
television. Robbins' film work, however, is what catapulted him into becoming
a major movie star including "Bull Durham" and "Mystic
River" for which he won multiple awards. Equally at home behind the
camera, he directed the riveting "Dead Man Walking." He is Founder
and Artistic Director of The Actors' Gang, which he formed thirty-five
years ago and has directed multiple provocative productions. Robbins recently
sat down for an exclusive two-part interview, which has been edited for
content and continuity for print purposes.