A truly scenic rail ride that belongs to the realms of fiction…
There are certain experiences whose reputations precede them.
They are seen as Holy Grail moments: featured moments of the sizzle reel of your life. Regardless of how many times you might see them photographed, their unique beauty does not fade. The thousands of selfies that litter social media do nothing to diminish the awe that they instil when they are witnessed first hand. Think Machu Pichu, the Great Pyramids, the Grand Canyon – these locations may be tourist hot spots, swarmed by hordes of camera wielding travellers, but the impression they leave on the mind is undeniably powerful.
You’ll find an altogether different kind of tourist on the 7-hour scenic train ride from Oslo to Bergen. Less rowdy Gap Year students and more elderly hikers.
In all respects the Bergen Railway belongs to the realms of fiction. Around half and hour into the journey, you’ll leave the bright fascias of Norwegian suburbia behind you and start ascending into the mountains. As the altitude makes itself felt in your ears; scenic Norway will show its true colours. Arrive in the Spring and lush green fields, filled with golden wheat and lily covered waters, will greet you around the first bend.
Don’t get too used to these rolling green fields though. Photographers will be flocking to the wide, clear windows that run the length of the handsome trains at certain points during the trip. However, you’ll notice that the serious photographers might hold themselves back until the famous fjords show themselves.
In the mean time, you can take a break from gawping through the window and saunter along the length of the train to find the dining carriage. Depending on the time of day, you could indulge in a beer with an open topped sandwich (smørbrød – in the local tongue). To avoid raising eyebrows, its best to order coffee in the morning, with a selection of the excellent sweet pastries that are always their best on the continent.
Make sure to slowly sip your beverages; as the dining cars usually have larger windows, you’ll be in a perfect position to witness the majesty of the fjords as they pass by. Make way for other patient diners and find another seat, in time to see one of the highlights of the journey.
The Hardangerjøkulen glacier will create a momentary hush in the carriage you’re travelling in. It had a similar effect on tragic hero Captain Robert Scott, who trained on the glacier before heading out on his doomed expedition of the Antartic and it’s scale is of such a magnitude that George Lucas, in 1979, chose it as the location to shoot scenes for the epic battle of Hoth in his follow-up to Star Wars.
The non-stop train from Bergen to Oslo can cost as little as £22, when booked in advance. It’s a truly authentic Norwegian experience, a breathtaking journey that was built out of necessity (you’ll see lucky locals snooze past the vistas, after a long day of work) and has, naturally, become a compulsory experience when visiting the area.