On the Oslo-Bergen Railway

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Europe » Norway » Western Norway » Bergen
September 9th 2009
Published: March 18th 2016
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The Oslo to Bergen railroad was known throughout Europe for its stunning scenery. The tracks traversed the high, mountainous plateau of central Norway where snowy peaks and glacial rivers were the norm and settlements were few and far between. My journey started in a station near Drammen. I took a seat at a north-facing window and then the train smoothly lurched and pulled out of the station. We passed through a few more stations before we started ascending into the mountains of central Norway. The rolling hills gave way to thick pine forests and then the trees gave way to the desolate beauty of the high mountains. I marveled at the snowy peaks and the expansive moraines. The train crossed several glacial rivers and I spotted several lovely waterfalls and lakes along the way. The train stopped at a few stations on the plateau and we typically had five or ten minutes to explore, or to just soak up the misty coolness of the mountain air. Summer was ending in Norway and the cool fall conditions were taking hold of the land and it felt great. After several hours and an endless stream of beautiful scenery the train pulled into the lovely station in Bergen and my rail journey came to an end. It took a little while to get my bearings, but I eventually found where I needed to go and I set off in the driving rain to find my home for the next few nights.

I was staying at one of the larger hostels in town. It was shockingly large, but in a place as expensive as Norway I couldn’t be too picky. Once I got moved in and had my gear stowed I set off to explore a town that had been described to me as one of the most beautiful in the world.

Bergen, known as the city of seven mountains, was established as a small trading center in the eleventh century. As it grew in prosperity and importance the town turned into one of Norway’s most important cities. The powerful Hanseatic League had a major presence in the town from the fourteenth to the early eighteenth century. The old quay area that they used is one of Bergen’s most famous areas. Bryggen, as the old wharf is known, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its colorful wooden buildings that line the quay. I was excited to explore Bryggen and the magnificent Haakon’s Hall in Bergenhus Fortress and to take in the lovely scenery of the Byfjorden.

I stepped out of the hostel into the steady rain, but I didn’t mind. The misty vistas were filled with ageless wonder and the streets were fairly empty. I quickly fell in love with Bergen’s architecture, which clung to the steep forested slopes of the fjord that the town was built into. The old buildings were in excellent condition and the historic part of the town, centered on the Bryggen waterfront, was compact. I found an expensive meal in one of the shops lining the waterfront and then I set off to explore the area. I visited the famous waterfront warehouses and the old stone fortress and I found a few nice places to sit and contemplate the town. I shared one bench with one of the largest seagulls I had ever seen. Haakon’s Hall was closed for the season, so I enjoyed a slow stroll around the Bergenhus Fortress instead. After several hours of exploring I gave in to my tiredness and I returned to the hostel and bed.

The following day was much like the previous one. I explored more of the area and I spent a large part of the day writing in a lovely coffee shop near the water. Late in the afternoon the clouds parted and the sun bathed the harbor and set the colorful old buildings aglow. It was Bergen in all of its glory. The pavement was wet with mist rising from the sun-heated ground. The deep reds and yellows of the old waterfront warehouses glowed in the warming rays and the entire harbor came to life. The sunny view of Bergen was not a normal one and it only lasted a few hours, but it was amazing. Once the rain started again I headed up to a lovely Thai restaurant and gorged myself on the most expensive green curry I had ever eaten and I watched as the day gave way to night bringing my last day in Bergen to an end.

I was back on the train before lunch the next day. It was raining so hard that I couldn’t see the scenery, so I slept for a few hours. Later the sun came out again and the journey across the high plateau was stunning. Late in the day I arrived back in Drammen after another wonderful rail journey on the Bergen – Oslo railway.

I had less than a week remaining before I was due to board the plane to Svalbard and it was an exciting week. I spent one day exploring the grandeurs of Oslo. There I took in the hustle and bustle of the big city. I ate street food from the small curry stands and I walked through the fortress grounds of Oslo’s main castle. By the end of the day I had taken in a large portion of the city including a beautiful pedestrian way and the large royal palace. By the time I reached Cato and Mona’s home later in the day I had exciting news waiting for me – I was an Uncle. My sister had had her daughter while I was exploring the castle!

On one of my last nights in Drammen I went bowling with Cato and Mona and a smaller bowling club within the beer club. We had a wonderful time and I continued my streak of being the worst bowler in the room – My highest accomplishment in bowling is the title of ‘Worst Bowler on the Continent’ from my winter in Antarctica. At the end of the evening I said farewell to all of my new friends at the beer club and to downtown Drammen. The following night I packed my bags and said farewell to Mona. Early the next morning Cato and I loaded into the car and headed to the train station. We took the express train to Oslo’s airport, where Cato worked, and I got checked in for my flight north. I had one last cup of coffee with Cato and we said our farewells. A short time later, silver wings were taking me northward toward the Arctic. Below me the unbroken forests and lakes of northern Sweden flowed by in an unbroken carpet of green. I couldn’t help but want to explore the wilderness below me, but I knew that the adventure I was embarking on in the Arctic wonderland of Svalbard would be one of the most exciting of my life, I just didn’t know how exciting it would be…

Additional photos below
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18th March 2016
Bergen's Waterfront 4

Excellent trip again Keith
Keith, many years before I worked on the Antarctica Water Plant & generating station, I was sent from Ryadh in Saudi to live for 6 months in Oslo. I was given a small apartment at Slotts Parken (up rhe hill and adjacent to the Slott (Palace). We were developing several Oil and Gas Sites for Saudi at Aker Engineering(now Jacobs Eng) at the Akerbrugge on the harbor front. Perhaps you called in there too. Also took the train many times to travel to Bergen. Lovely to read all about it again on your Blog. Cheers...... Bob Summers
18th March 2016
Bergen's Waterfront 4

Oslo and Bergen
It is great to hear from you, Bob! I am glad that this blog brought back some good memories for you. Oslo and Bergen are amazing places and the train between them is one of the most scenic I have taken.
20th March 2016
Bergenhus Fortress 3

Water, velvet green and stone!
What a train journey and charming Bergen! I love that stone architecture, the charming, wooden buildings of the Bryggen waterfront, and those homes climbing the mountain--the latter two of which reminded of some towns in Alaska. And coming from dry Santa Barbara, CA and living now in dry Peru, I'm blown away by the greens here. Gorgeous!

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