I've been waiting these last couple weeks to write another entry until we went on our first trip.
So this is going to be a big one!!
Gino only gets a few days off every month and had his November break this past weekend. Since he was only given two days off from practice, we decided to stay in Norway and explore the Fjords. For those of you who are not familiar with a Fjord it's basically an ocean inlet surrounded by mountains/cliffs that shoot straight up from the water. Here is a link that can give a better description. http://www.fjords.com/sognefjord.htm
We found a tour online called "Norway in a Nutshell", which is an unguided tour from Olso ( East coast) to Bergen (West coast). On the trip you take a couple different trains, a boat cruise and a bus ride. The tour is about 12 hours, with alot of stops built in so you can sight see and take pictures. Gino and I love to take scenic trips, so this was right up our alley. Our train left the Lillehammer station at 5:30am on Sat and we arrived in Oslo, for the start of the tour, at about 7:45am. WARNING: You will not be seeing much greenery in any of these photos. We are officially in "Winter Wonderland" country.
|Walking down to the train station in the SNOW|
We had to arrive at the train station early enough to find the "Norway in a Nutshell" ticket office, pick up our tickets, and get on our next train at 8:11am. Not knowing the train station at all, we were a littler nervous. But right as we walked off the train, we ran directly into the ticket office (oofta!), picked up our tickets and still had enough time to grab a cinnamon roll and a coffee.
|Ready to go!|
There was an area somewhere between Oslo and Myrdal that was very foggy and the sun was behind the clouds. It was like we were viewing landscapes from a calendar or something. Here are a few of those photos.
Once we arrived at Myrdal, which was basically just a train station, we hopped on the Flam railway. The Flam is one of the worlds steepest railways that travels through the mountains and very close to the edge of cliffs! That portion of the trip was only 1 hour but the train made frequent stops along the way for photos. The scenery was amazing, lots of waterfalls, tunnels, little towns built in the valley's, rivers, etc. Although, most of the waterfalls were frozen to the rock... It was still gorgeous! I can't imagine what it would look like in the summer.
|What the ride looks like in the Summer|
|For some reason troll memorabilia is popular in Norway...|
|Fjord cruise boat|
The boat cruise lasted about 2 1/2 hours and had 3 decks that you could look off of. One being covered and heated. We stayed on the top deck for as long as we could before almost freezing! That's where we were able to get the best view. Gino and I were like kids in a candy store running from one side of the boat to the other trying to capture everything we were seeing. The water was so deep and very still, it reminded me of thick tar. The pictures just don't do it justice and we had forgotten to charge our video camera before the trip (AHH!) so I tried to take a few video's from my camera, you will see one below.
Our boat crusie ended at about 5:30pm. For the last 40 min of the trip it was pitch black outside! We couldn't see 5 feet in front of us. So we waited inside the heated deck until we stopped at Gudvangen to pick up the bus to Voss, which was about an hour ride through the mountians. I was a little nervous because it was snowing/sleeting and the bus driver said he had to turn off the lights inside the bus so he was able to see the road. I didnt like hearing that as we were winding around cliffs on a huge coach bus! But luckily, we made it saftley. The 2nd to last stop was the city of Voss where we picked up the train to Bergen, about a 2 hour ride. When we arrived at the train station in Bergen (about 8:30pm) we were bummed to find out it was raining! I guess that may be a little better than snow.... But since we had no clue where our hotel was located and we weren't about to walk around a city the size of Minneapolis in the rain, we grabbed a cab. Little did we know, our hotel was about 3 blocks away, so we probably could have walked...oh well!
The hotel was nice with a cozy lobby/seating area with a fire and piano. We checked in and went to find the elevators up to our room. When we got to the elevator it was alot different than our elevators at home. Instead of an electric sliding door that opens and closes on its own it was a door with windows that you had to push open. When you move up or down to a new floor, the door disappears and all thats left is the wall and you. I wish I would have taken a picture now!
When we got into our hotel room the TV had a personalized greeting on it! Kind of a neat touch.
|Crazy alley we ran into (reminded us of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter!)|
After exploring the city for a bit, we walked over to the Floibanen Funicular station to ride up the Floyen mountain overlooking Bergen. This is a huge tourist stop for the city. At the top of the mountian there are spectacular views of Bergen's 7 mountains surrounding the city...yes 7! and a bunch of hiking trails and a restaurant. Here is a link describing the Floibanen http://www.floibanen.com/visartikkel.asp?art=314. We stayed at the top of the mountain for lunch overlooking the beautiful city!
|Here it comes!|
|Heading back down the mountain|