The Bergen Railway

I had heard so much about this ride with the Bergen Railway and got so obsessed with enjoying it to the fullest that I thought I would get an anxiety attack. Apart from reserving a seat by the window, I had checked the route in detail  in Google Maps to decide which side would be best. I should not have bothered, as the 08:25 train from Oslo (perhaps middle of May is not a high season for this trip) had very few passengers, the vast majority being Norwegians on their way to Bergen or skiers. They must have taken this train many times, as they were focused on their book or their ski gear and not even looking outside the windows.

It was indeed a great journey through spectacular and highly diverse nature. You will find a photo album here.

During the first 1.5h of the journey (that many do not consider part of the “real” Bergen Railway), we pass Drammensfjorden before heading up north, along Tyrifjorden towards Honefoss.

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Honefoss is where the “magic” begins. As we pass through the valley of Hallingdal, forests, rivers, lakes and fields, for over an hour I keep on swapping sides, not to miss a single view…entertaining the locals who were very nice to the only tourist in their wagon.

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As we are climbing up Geilo, a top winter sport destination, I am thinking that it is true what they say about Norwegians…that they are happy! We talked a lot… I would also observe them throughout the journey each time the train would run through a tunnel (and there are many…182 tunnels in 6.5h in the 500km stretch from Oslo to Bergen), I would observe them in the streets of Oslo and Bergen…friendly, polite..in good mood..no complaining, no misery! I am so not used to that!

We keep on climbing, ride along the north side of lake Ustevatnet and two fjords, to reach the Hardangervidda plateau and Finse. The scenery gets even wilder, even more dramatic, with even fewer signs of human life and 40min of absolute white. It is already May and it is hard to imagine how much effort it takes to keep this line going and safe during the winter.

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Finse is at an altitude of 1222m and is where most of the skiers would hop off. There is only one hotel here, it is called Finse 1222 and it is the one where crew of the 2nd Star Wars film stayed 28 years ago, when shooting here and nearby,  on ice planet Hoth, battle scenes!

We will soon reach Taugevann at 1300m, the highest point of the Bergen line and start descending. I stopped at Myrdal, skipping the last 2 hours of the journey,  to hop on the Flam line (another amazing ride through wild landscapes, see post here) all the way down to Flam. From there, I took a cruise along Aurlandsfjord and Sognenfjord, towards Bergen.

The following day I took the same train from Bergen to see all the scenery from Myrdal to Bergen that I had skipped and return to Oslo. Soon after departure, we start ascending, pass through many tunnels, cross the Raundal River, before we climb up the Hardangervidda again. The weather was not as great as the day before but this had its own charm.

I am so happy I took this trip. And I am thankful to the engineers who made this happen, to the workers who constructed the line and carved 182 tunnels by hand and to all those who contribute, so that the rest of us can travel safe on this wild land. I am surprised prices start at just 38 Euros, as much as you would have to pay in Greece, Italy or Spain for a 400km train or bus trip, crossing way easier terrain.

 

 

 

 

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