It is early morning and we are heading down to the train station. Gaby has kindly kept our big luggage at her place as we will be returning to Gaby’s Air B&B in a couple of days.
We arrive at the station to stand and stare at the departure board. Our train is not listed yet and I am making my requests to Odin in my head ( please no strike, please no strike). So while we wait it is time for a coffee at the yummy smelling bakery. Much to our delight they are giving away croissants with our coffee.
I love Oslo it is so calm and it feels familiar, it’s like I have been here before. Finally our train comes up on the board, platform 14 yippee we’re going. We rush down to the platform as if the rail company will change their mind if we don’t run. It is a small world as we meet up with our tourist friends again. Abby, her partner and his mum are headed to Bergen as well with a over night in Flam. We hug and promise to meet up again in Bergen.Months ago when I was planning this trip to Norway, I had asked Gaby what she thought I should do with my 7 days. She suggested adding a trip to Bergen or Tromso for a couple of days. In researching cities Bergen had just what I was looking for in an adventure outside of Oslo. This particular train ride was rated as one of the best in the world so that helped with how I would get there. I have been spoiled in the past with amazing scenery in Canada. Living in the Purcell mountain range and being able to lunch when ever we wished at Emerald Lake or hike up toTakakkaw falls on a whim therefore my expectations are high for this 7 hour train trip.
Our tickets once again show we are not sitting together, this must be a Norwegian thing so you make can new friends. The trains ticket lady tells us she will figure it out not to worry. As we descend into the mountains we stop at a lot of towns to gather more and more passengers. Arriving in the ski town of Voss to pick up the bulk of them. Sharon and I can see the 500 or so school kids running with their very large Helly Hansen duffel bags and once again I am requesting help from Odin. “Please make them sit in another car please”. Nope they are sitting with us all of them the only people missing would be the teachers and they are sitting in another train car. Oh goody! The scenery out our window is breathtaking but it is broken up with lots and lots of tunnels.I wish we could get out and walk around. Or shop as we stop in the town of Dale home to the factory that makes the iconic Dale Sweater.
It is a Beautiful day when we arrive in Bergen. I am armed with a copy of directions to our accommodations but they make absolutely no sense at all. So we depend on the lovely locals that are so kind and helpful. In fact they are so kind and helpful a lovely gentlemen is helping us and another one joins to make sure we don’t need extra help. Good thing Sharon is paying attention because I just hear running water and rainbows
We find our flat, it is in the most beautiful area. I just stand there in awe, I sure got this one right. Our host is not home but has sent me instructions on how to get in. I want to cry I love it so much! We drop our bags freshin up and head to the waterfront. I have been staring at the wallpaper on my computer for months of the houses in Bergen, now I can see them for real. October is a wonderful time to visit Bergen, it is warm about +13 and sunny but very few tourist around . The fall colours seem to match the colours on the buildings on the waterfront. We stroll around the waterfront and the beautiful area of Bryggen.
It is a reminder of the city’s importance as a part of the Hanseatic League, and has a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Since we are here in October most of the museums are not open. But the weather is so lovely one hates to be inside any how.
We start looking for a restaurant for dinner and decide on Bryggen Tracteursted . It is tucked in the back of the row of colourful businesses, through the very old and restored alleyway. One of the best parts of travelling with a friend are the wonderful meals we have shared together and the peer pressure that gets me to try new things. Tonight we will feast on whale and PRINSEFISK Dampet Torskefilet på Asparges, garnert med Hummer servert med Hvitvinssaus og kokte Poteter. – “PRINCE FISH” Steamed Cod filet on Asparagus, garnished with Lobster served with White Wine sauce and boiled Potatoes. What a amazing dinner. Now for another stroll back to our flat and the anticipation of tomorrow’s run up Fløyen.
We are up bright and early to head to the train. We leave the keys of our perfect Air B&B in the mail box and head down the steep path for the final time. It is quiet as we stroll along, there is a not a soul around this morning. We arrive at the station and quickly and look up at the departure board. OSLO CANCELLED.
Oh boy! What the hell are we going to do? We don’t have a plan B. I see a station employee unlock a office and I follow her and inquire in my calm voice. “Our train is cancelled what are the options”? Her response is a grumpy” Go get the bus” ME “And just were is the bus station?”. Her “Over there”. The other couple in the station also inquires were to go and she tells them to” follow them”. Geez ! We are lucky that there are no distractions around this morning and I can follow instructions, we find the bus depot. There are still no people around? The train to Bergen was full a couple of days ago when we arrived. Is no one going back? Did I not get the memo?. .I am thinking there would be buses to transport us to Oslo. Well this is considered a “legal strike” and therefore no alternative transportation is supplied. As we discuss our situation with the other couple our options are, wait for a bus that is going in the direction of Oslo. A rental car, the thought of which scares the hell out of me. I saw those mountains as lovely as they are I sure as hell don’t want to drive a stick shift rental car over them in winter. Option 3 go to the airport and get a flight back to Oslo. So we decide to wait 2 hours for a bus going in the right directions then if that does not work head to the airport. Our flight back to Canada leaves in about 30 hours and as much as I really would like to hang out in Norway for another week we really should be on that flight!
A bus comes to the stop that I have been standing in front of for about a hour. Since we don’t have pre-purchased tickets on this bus it will be first come first served . Phew! The driver sells us a ticket to Oslo and were past that hurdle. ( I can hear the Rocky theme in my head). As we settle in for the ride a few things become apparent. We are not prepared at all for this 10 to 11 hour ride to Oslo. We had plans on having breakfast at the train station and picking up water and a few staples for the ride. Since I was guarding the front of the line I didn’t use the facilities and there is no toilet on this bus…… But on the up side we are heading to Oslo. In the seat next to us is a American man from New York. He is a fashion designer and boutique owner that is here sourcing supplies for his spring line. He tells us he got a email about the cancellation and the travel agent that he went to suggested to take the bus not a flight, she also mentioned that this route had LOTS of stops.
As the bus makes its way in to the mountains it becomes apparent that there will be a lot of stops. The necessary bathroom stops are factored in, much to my relief. The one thing I was not expecting is the scenery. This route is amazing way better then the train, sure we go into a lot of towns and villages but I love it. We never would have seen any of this on the train. The bus is up close and personal with waterfalls and switchback roads.
The young man in the front of us joins in to our conversation, he is local and is like our personal travel guide. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. I recognize some of the towns from my research in to what to do while we are here. I had looked in to a hike to Trolltunga, it turned out not to be a option because of the time of year and the 10 hours in and 10 hours out. But this is the area were you would drive to . My husband would like to do a Norwegian extreme triathlon called the Norseman. Well we are taking a ferry across the Eidfjord, the fjord he would swim in.
This really is a bonus seeing the architecture of the homes, it is phenomenal. You can tell how “House Proud” Norwegians are, their homes are immaculate the detail and colours are fabulous.
We arrive back in Oslo about 12 hours after leaving Bergen, we are tired and our bottoms are sore from all the sitting. The one thing that we have time to do is go to our favourite restaurant Smalhans. We are pretty much locals there now and our usual staff recognizes us and brings us another fabulous meal. Sharon asked if we could add a soup as well. The mushroom soup that is brought to our table is the pinnacle of good food. It is a champagne and chanterelle mushroom soup with a pickled raw quail egg and droplets of basil oil. This soup is the best of the best. I have never in my 54 years tasted anything so wonderful, if no one was looking I would have licked the bowl.Now it is time to pack and head back to Canada. Our flight tomorrow will cover 4 countries and take over 17 hours. I am not going to tell you about it because it was awful and Sharon and I don’t get to sit together! Right now I think I hear Sweden calling!