The Naeroyfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord, is the narrowest and the most dramatic fjord in Europe and its landscape is included in the UNESCO'S World Heritage List. (Visitnorway.com)
BERGEN ― Once in a while, you might wish you to be fully immersed in nature without a connection to the outside world. True moments between you and the great outdoors, after all, revive the strength lost in the daily hustle and bustle.
Norwegian fjords offer this, the chance to restore your serenity.
The “Norway in a Nutshell” trip takes you to the world’s most unspoiled places where narrow inlets stretch hundreds of kilometers with steep cliffs and mountains to the sides, small villages nestle peacefully on the hillside and strings of waterfalls tumble from the snowmelt on mountain tops.
Norway boasts some of the longest and deepest fjords in the world. The trip offers a journey to one of the narrowest, Naeroyfjord, which is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List for its narrowest point which is 250 meters wide and 12 meters deep.
As the name indicates, “Norway in a Nutshell” shows Norway in brief, offering magnificent fjords, rural villages, historical sites and their tradition along the fjord route.
By train: Be filled with anticipation
The journey starts by train from Bergen, the second biggest city in Norway, home to Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf and gateway to Norwegian fjords. The train ride to the small town of Voss provides breathtaking glimpses of the Norwegian fjord landscape between tunnels. The beautiful glimpses fill you with anticipation for what the fjords have to offer as the view quickly disappears.
The fjords where once glaciers cut through are filled with long stretches of water with small villages peacefully nestled on the hillside of mountains. Numerous waterfalls from snow-capped mountain tops look like dozens of white threads placed gently on the mountain side.
By bus: Marvel at dramatic landscapes
After an hour-long journey by train, a bus takes you to the most dramatic inland landscape and to the starting point of the ferry trip to the Naeroyfjord at the end. You are getting closer to what you saw on the train ―- vertiginous mountains and cliffs and waterfalls that fall continuously. The bus drives the hairpin bends of Staheimsklevia down to the valley of Gudvangen, where the ferry trip starts. On top of the hill that looks down to the steep valley, you can marvel at the dramatic landscape and man’s effort to construct a road down to the bottom. “Sklevia” means steep, and the 1.5 km long stretch of road is Norway’s steepest road. Two waterfalls, cascading down from different sides, make you pull out your camera immediately. But photos cannot beat your eyes and after struggling to get a perfect picture, you stop taking photos and start to enjoy the view.
By ferry: Emerge in awe-inspiring scenery
Time to get fully immersed in the world’s most unspoiled tourist destination. The two-hour fjord cruise to Flam passes Naeroyfjord and Aurlandsfjord, branches of Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the world at 205 kilometers long, with its deepest spot 1,300 meters below sea level. Every angle makes a postcard-perfect scene: Deep emerald water, green trees and moss that seem to have just woken up from the long Norwegian winter, snow-capped mountains and blue sky. As the ferry takes off, you start to wonder whether you are on the sea or a lake. The salt content in fjord water is low, but it has maritime life. The ferry passes old farm clusters consisting of about 10-20 houses and the picturesque small village of Undredal, a beautiful part of Aurlandsfjord. By the time you reach Flam, the final destination of the “Norway in a Nutshell,” you have seen a condensed version of Norway.
When you think you have so much of the landscape you feel you are taking it for granted, Norwegian fjords have more to offer. The fjords offer a large selection of activities to make your experience more memorable, from simple activities such as hiking and biking to adventurous rafting, kayaking and glacier walks. You can get closer to grand natural settings with just a simple bicycle riding Flam’s creek where water from the mountain top snow roars through. Small pleasures include watching lambs wandering on hillsides, wild flowers, and the feeling icy cold air from the snowmelt. Norwegians go outdoors in summer. “I go running, covering nine peaks of mountains in summer with friends,” said Bjarte Hamre, the bus driver of our tour. “Many people own cabins on the mountain and they use it for summer houses for their outdoor activities.” Beautiful dots on the mountainside
Norwegian fjords might lack diversity in their view without the picturesque small villages dotting the mountainside.
Undredal is a small village with approximately 100 residents and 300 goats. The village is known for goat cheese production, especially brown cheese.
The Undredal Cheese Center invites visitors to Norway’s tradition of goat cheese production, and fantasy characters Trolls and Huldra. Leif Inge, owner of the center explained that the old shepherds usually caring for lambs and goats on mountain tops alone are often mistook for mountain rocks with people.
“What they did to add fun to life was they used fantasy and created the fantasy characters Troll and Huldra,” he said. They still appear in children’s books.
The smallest church in Scandinavia is found here. It is about 860 years old, built from wooden panels and pillars. It is still in use with 40 seats, holding a service once a month and providing services including baptism, confirmation, and weddings for locals, but not funerals.
Big modern cruise ships and small ferries come and go in beautiful Flam harbor. Its mountains offer perfect hiking routes. Combine hiking with the famous Flam railway, which climbs from the Flam (altitude 2m) to Mrydal (altitude 866m). Cecilie Boge, marketing executive of “Visit Flam,” said people pack their hiking gear or bring bicycles and get off at the top and come down, exploring routes along the mountains. From the train, elderly couples and a group of young people are seen running along the route. A brief stop at the Kjosfossen (Kjos Waterfall) provides a photo opportunity. On summer days, it is said that a Huldra (Norwegian mountain nymph) steps out from the ruins and dances to mysterious songs in white mist.
By Lee Woo-young (firstname.lastname@example.org
“Norway in a Nutshell” is available in any direction between Bergen and Oslo. It runs all year round from Bergen/Oslo-Mrydal- Flam-Gudvangen-Voss-Bergen/Oslo. The best time for travel is between May and August. Fjordtours.com says June is probably the best time, but May can be a beautiful
month when spring meets summer.For more information, visit: