Norway in winter
WINTER JOURNEY INTO NORWAY
“Fjord”. It’s a word that screams Norway, and has always run deep in my imagination.
Two of the world’s most spectacular train routes happen to intersect the Norwegian village of Myrdal, near the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, the narrowest fjord in the world and many say, the most beautiful.
But Norway is also one of the most expensive countries to travel in. So when I saw an exhibition of unbelievable landscapes and portraits taken along this route in winter, I decided we had to go during the off season. The trains run 365 days a year! Traversing southern Norway under a blanket of snow? Yes. It would be unlike any experience we had ever had.
We arrived in Oslo by plane and spent a few days enjoying the city’s cool museums and neighborhoods. We then hopped onto The Bergen Line and rode it for about five hours. While we enjoyed the dramatic views and our boys sampled food and drinks in the dining car and eyed the leggy Norwegian high-schoolers heading up to the nearby ski hills, the train conveyed us onto the highest mountain plateau in Europe.
In tiny Myrdal (population 100) we transferred to the mind-blowing which carried us down a steep valley into the village of Flam, on the shores of the Aurlandsfjord. Lonely Planet recently named this the world’s most incredible train journey and it isn’t hard to see why. This is some of Norway’s wildest country and the winter scenery, including massive frozen waterfalls, is breathtaking. Once here, we ran around the high country on snowshoes, took starry walks at night and ate fabulous meals made of reindeer and beer. Flam is also one of the most visited places in Norway. During winter, however, it was virtually deserted.
After a few days in Flam, we journeyed on to the historic university town of Bergen, where we took long walks with super sized snowflakes falling on our shoulders. We ate lots of seafood and flew home from there.
We were warm in puffer jackets, hats, gloves and insulated winter boots. With the bulk of our clothes on us, we traveled light; each of us carried a small backpack. Norway in winter is easygoing and without tourists, the country felt wide open to us. There were no lines, no crowds and tables at the best restaurants were available on the spot. This gave us more opportunities to get to know the local people, who were relaxed and with very little going on, were in the mood to chat. When we ventured out into the fjords in a small boat, our boat was the only boat in the fjords.