“Norway in a Nutshell” is a group of excursions, one of which takes you to Naerøfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site considered to be one of the finest examples of the Norwegian fjords. This excursion is one of the quintessential, must-do tourist cattle-waggon runs if you go to Norway. It is both stunning and over-peopled in equal measures. The spectacular spaciousness of the fjord is perfectly juxtaposed by the cramped tourists on the cruise ships as they jostle for position to get the best photographs. Norway in a Nutshell is one of those things you will be pleased you did but which you will never want to do again, because every other tourist in the country also did it with you.
We had a special reason for wanting to do the Norway in a Nutshell tour. We had to get to Naerøfjord. Naerøfjord was the original reason we came to Norway.
It all started with a large, empty, desperately uninteresting patch of magnolia-painted wall at home. For many years this dreary magnolia wall cried out for a picture to fill it (in fact our hallway is not painted in magnolia. It is painted in a shade called “Nude Glow”. I have always believed that the person who gave this particular name to that particular shade needs to study the glow of nudity in greater depth, because to me it looks like magnolia). Anyway, our particular glow of nudity needed covering up and it took some six years before we found the picture to do it: Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher’s The Auguste Victoria in Naerofjord, 1900. Here it is, from the website of Felix Rosenstiel’s Widow & Son, the company that prints it.
As soon as we framed it and put it up on the wall we realised we had to go there. It dawned on us (incorrectly, as it turns out) that anyone and everyone who visited our home and saw this picture would ask if we had been there. Besides which, it looked really really inviting and we wanted to see it for real. Within a few weeks we had booked our tickets for what turned out to be one of the best trips we have ever undertaken. It was time to see how spectacular the Naerøfjord really was.
Norway in a Nutshell can be booked from Oslo, Bergen, or Voss. It starts with a train ride to Myrdal along the spectacular Oslo to Bergen railway. This line is considered to be one of the top ten rail trips in the world and is certainly the best rail journey we have ever taken. You are deposited at Myrdal and have to change platforms for the Flåmsbana, a train that will take you down 863.5 meters (2,833 feet) over a distance, as the crow flies, of about 8½ miles.
The Flåmsbana is one of the steepest non-funicular railways in the world (many sources say it is the steepest). Its maximum gradient is 55% and it passes through 20 tunnels carved into the hills and mountains. Of these, 18 were dug through the rock by hand. Each metre of excavation took up to a month to complete. One of the tunnels enters a mountainside and then corkscrews 180° inside, before exiting again lower down.
We thought the Flåmsbana and its views was a treat enough, but there was more to come…
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Myrdal Train Station: N 60° 44.126 E 007° 07.341
- Naerøfjord: N 60° 55.097 E 006° 52.450
- Date of Trip: 22 July 2014
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!