DAY 61: RIDING THE BERGENSBANEN


Hitching a ride to Oslo on the Bergen Railway

We’re in Oslo blog-fans! The only city in the world where you can pay $12 for a Big Mac (if you’re so inclined, which we are not), and yet pay nothing to see the original “Scream” painting by Impressionist artists Edvard Munch. We’re only here for a couple of days, but plan to see as much of Oslo as we can in that time. We’ve checked in, unpacked and have just been enjoying the view from our room. Here, check it out:

 

Our view of Oslo for the next couple of nights.

 

Not a bad view to wake up to hey? Unfortunately we haven’t had time to check out any more of Oslo as we spent most of our day on a train. We rode the Bergensbanen (translation = Bergen Railway) today! This 500km stretch of rail is considered one of the world’s most scenic train rides and given we just love epic scenery so much, we thought it would be the best way to get to Oslo! It took us almost 7 hours in total to get to Oslo, but the brochures don’t lie, the Bergensbanen really is extraordinary. See if you agree… 

 

Some passing views from the Bergen Railway. We call this one “The Waterfall”.

 

This photo we think of as “Dark & Ominous Glacier Glimpses”.

 

And this one we call “The Alpine Lake”.

 

And this one is simply “The View”. This is typical of what we were seeing go past as we crossed the Hardangervidda Plateau.

 

The Bergensbanen climbs rapidly from Bergen, up the steep mountainsides of the Hardangervidda Plateau, Europe’s highest mountain plateau (1,250m elevation). The only township on the plateau is Finse, which, as you can see on the map below, is about a third of the way along the journey. Most of the plateau is national park, with the landscape dominated by barren, treeless moors, mountains, lakes and rivers. The highest peak within the park is Mt Harteigen (1,690m), which we got to see form the train. We also got to see glimpses of the Hardangerjøkulen glacier, one of Norway’s 1,600 glaciers.

 

The route taken by the Bergensbanen from Bergen to Oslo.

 

Between Bergen and the Hardangervidda Plateau we passed many small villages and farming communities. Often the houses have turfed roofs for insulation – like these.

 

We could see the snowy flanks of Mt Harteigen from miles away, even before we ascended the plateau.

 

Once we were on the plateau, the scenery became quite stark, but still stunning.

 

There was barely a tree to be seen across the whole plateau, but still lots of snow. In winter the drifts can get up to 7m high, which is what those wooden barriers are for: to help prevent too much snow getting onto the railway tracks.

 

There were few houses up on the plateau, though we did see quite a few shepherds’ huts like these. Presumably farmers bring their animals up to pasture in these higher realms during summer when the new growth is green and lush.

 

And we saw lots of mad keen hikers walking along tracks criss-crossing the plateau. With viws like this I can almost understand why people would hike and camp up here. Almost.


Once we’d crossed the Hardangervidda Plateau the scenery became far greener, forested and just generally “tamer”.  There were progressively more and more farms, villages and towns, until we finally hit the outskirts of Oslo. It was very pretty scenery, and even though it was a cloudy day, we could still see why the Bergensbanen is referred to as one of the world’s most scenic train rides. Norway in general is one epic bit of scenery after another!


Once we started to climb down from the plateau the scenery gradually started to change, with more signs of human habitation.

 

The rugged rocky plateau gave way to rolling green hills and farms.

 

With wide, still rivers like this one carrying water from the mountains towards one of the many lakes in Central Norway.

 

We saw quite a few lakes on our way from Gol in Central Norway to Oslo.

 

It was well worth the time and money we’ve spent in Norway to see so much of this magnificent country. Even just the week or so we’ve had here so far has left us feeling awed and conscious of small human beings really are. The mountains and fjords of Norway have been here for millennia and they will undoubtedly outlive us all. There is an incredible sense of majesty in what we’ve seen here and it has been quite a humbling experience overall.

 

The self-satisfied smiles of people on the Bergensbanen. 

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