Monday, 8 July 2013

The snow white journey to Flam and Bergen

Some of the spectacular landscape
As I had to wake up too early in the morning, Peter was so kind to drive me to the station in Mysen so that I can take the train to Oslo (See the first part of my Norway trip). It was a working day and there were so many people in that early hour that were going to work. In 50 minutes I was already at the Oslo S and easily took my ticket to Myrdal, the place where I was supposed to take the tourist Flam train. So, with a coffee and a sandwich I got on the comfortable train. There was a group of maybe 20-30 people, dressed in ski clothes, going for some winter holiday. They were at different ages and all seemed happy and enthusiastic for what they were about to experience.
I spent most of the time looking through the window and enjoying the view. I've been told that the line Oslo-Bergen offers one of the most scenic rail journeys and I guess it's true, at least from what I have seen before. The thermometer in the train was showing the temperature outside -17/-18 degrees but it was sunny and I felt warm inside. Those few hours passed pretty fast and soon I was at Myrdal Station impatient for the next  hour trip - the one I have come for, the wonderful Flam Valley!

The sky above Myrdal
In the train I met two Brazilians on their Europe tour (they have already passed through Bulgaria and I was surprised we were talking about my home place) and we were helping each other with the pictures in the next one hour. The train was moving too slow so that we can revel the landscape and feel it. There were few stops, even they let us go out of the train at Kjosefossen waterfall which was frozen in the all shades of the white - so beautiful! We passed through numerous tunnels, winding along the way and spectacular valleys. I can only imagine how amazing it would be in the summer to see it all green and blue...We arrived at Flam, where my friend was waiting for me and we proceed to Bergen. All the way in the mountain was so beautiful again, we passed through Naeroyfjiord which is an arm of Sognefjord - the biggest one in Norway. On our way was also Vossevangen town, famous with its water but we didn't stop as we were hurrying to catch Bergen at least 2 hours before it gets dark. By the way, in Norway I drank the most delicious water ever. People there don't buy water, they drink it directly from the tap and it is more than tasty.

The touristic train
Kjosefossen waterfall
The tunnels on the way
At the market
In Bergen, we parked in the center of the city and our first stop was the Fish Market. It used to be an open market but an year ago they have made it indoor. They say it is the biggest market in the region as Bergen used to be the most important fish producing and trading center in Norway (and still is one of the significant industries).
There was a huge variety of fish and seafood and all looked so fresh, like just caught from the sea. And of course, it didn't seem cheap at all - the prawns were 15 EUR/ half kg...but this is Norway.

Just about 200 m away from the    market is the soul of Bergen, the old  warehouses Bryggen (translated from Norwegian - dock) overlooking the harbor. Their characteristic front is emblematic for the city. Once they were the center of the Hanseatic League and now they are turned into ethnographic shops and galleries and are part of the World Heritage of UNESCO.
Behind the facade they are formed like a little village with small streets, wooden buildings and interesting architecture.

Behind the beautiful facade 
Slightly behind the iconic houses begins the Old Town of Bergen. Fabulous small steep streets with white houses are crossing around it. I noticed that most of them are paved just as in my home city - Plovdiv. Interesting paintings on some house walls's diversify the visitors. Even the small table with flowers in front of one house was really charming in the sunny winter afternoon. It was so quite and it was hard to realize that I'm in the middle of the second biggest city of Norway.

It was time to take a look at the city from above. Railroad Floibanen drove us to the top of the nearby hill. We were thinking of climbing on foot but we were afraid not to miss the sun and the day so we took the funicular. It goes through the Old town and has few stops. I have no idea how people live there, it seems so sheer.
Already on the top, a spectacular view of the city oped in front of us - the harbor, fjords and the sea in the distance. For sure it was one of the best city views I've seen, just breathtaking! I didn't feel the cold weather, just feeling the sun and the freedom. Thanks again to my friend for bringing me there!
There is also a souvenir shop on the top and a cafe so that you can stay little longer and warm yourself with a cup of coffee or tea.

From the Floibanen
The day started to get down and we still had to drive few more hours to Karmoy island. On our way out of the city we stopped for the last time to see Fantoft Stave Church. The Stave Churches are characteristic wooden churches of the Vikings. In Norway there are about 25 of them reserved and in northern Europe 5-6. This one dates from 12th century but after a huge fire it was completely devastated and rebuilt in 1992. I hoped to see it from inside too but in the winter season it is closed for I always say - next time.

Late in the evening we arrived at my friend's place tired but full of emotions during the day. A wonderful island trip was planned for the next day....

Here you can see more pictures from Bergen and Oslo and Flam Valley.

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