Without a gold tap in sight, I ventured into my hotel room just near Oslo, Norway. The furniture is just bearable and the bathroom facilities are very much ‘country Victoria’ small town, budget chain, motel.
But this is not what I have come for. Accommodation is important when you’re in a foreign land, but the real reason I have come to Norway, is not to find five-star opulence but to find ten-star scenery.
Leaving Oslo and heading towards the west coast of this interesting Nordic Empire of old, and just a few minutes in a couple of well crafted tunnels, I am transported to the 10-star beauty of my dreams and the beauty that Norway is so famous for. The conditions of the roads are well kept and they take me down some wonderful lanes that are bordered with creation’s beauty in every way. Farms along the highway show off their white houses and red animal barns while the yellow buttercups in the meadows stretch open towards a brilliant sun. Each turn is breathtaking with blue sky enhancing the green of the foliage and fields. With mountain ranges in the background topped with the season’s final snowfall, this is one ten-star experience.
The 275,000 residents of Bergen have a beautiful picturesque little harbour right in the centre of town. I stroll in the early morning coolness and admire the reflections of the renowned colourful buildings viewed from across the harbour. The buildings are painted old-fashioned rustic colours. Some are on a lean, standing the test of time and elements. In the afternoon, there is a magnificent view to be had from the top of Mt Floien, just behind the town. I take the scenic railway to the top for the view of a beautiful harbour of blue, with dots of ferries busily transporting people across the water for various reasons. It is refreshing indeed!
Train rides are always sort of ‘kids’ fun stuff, but the one I took to get to Flam was something to enjoy. It was so much more different than most. I took a train to the junction of Myrdal where I transferred to a second train built to take the strain of the very steep 865 meter climb down into Flam, nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandsfjord. I don’t remember a straight piece of track. If you were to drop a length of soft spaghetti on itself, you would sense the amount of switchbacks within the 20km trip; and then imagine, if you will, that the switchbacks also occur within a tunnel. There are 20 tunnels, 18 of which were built by hand. This engineering masterpiece was completed in 1940. It’s very hard to imagine the ingenuity of the day in creating this world heritage railway.
The landscapes that roll out on the way to Balestrand on my ferry transfer are so reflective of what life should be – untainted and exact. Shards of rock tower above as I journey along the edge of the many fjords. A cruise boat has crept up the fjord during the night to provide just the mix that tourists enjoy – souvenirs and memories.
The most interesting experience while travelling through Norway was when the road bored into a rock mountain for 5 or 6 km, found a roundabout where three roads met, then out of the tunnel, across a bridge, and straight into another tunnel, finding another roundabout, before venturing to the outside world.
The Geiranger Fjord is visited by two or three cruise vessels each day of the season. Over 350 ships will be the means that tourists get to see this majestic fjord this summer. I arrived by road experiencing the many switchback bends that led to my hotel, which provides me that 10 star magnificent view. Wow! This sure is another great spot in the world of landscape beauty.
Plying the waters of this breathtaking fjord in a small ferry enables me to behold the many waterfalls gushing down over craggy rocks toward their final end. I am stunned at the presence of a brilliant rainbow that enshrouds the Seven Sister’s waterfall as we pass. On the other side of the ferry, another cruise ship is making its way to the head of the fjord while showing its reflected brilliant white beauty on calm waters.
Leaving this world heritage scene is difficult but there is more beauty to see as I travel towards the east now. Trollstigen excels under another brilliant sky. The granite hills are bare because the snow has melted. As I manoeuvre around the many switchbacks down into the valley way below, I sense the powers of solid rock holding back monoliths of granite. Another angry waterfall falling down the mountainside that we drive down completes yet another breathtaking scene.
And so, Norway doesn’t need gold taps. The ‘gold taps’ are the vistas that go on and on and on. I have strong memories of exciting locations around a magnificent and beautiful country as I hibernate in my chair for the long flight home.
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