Friday, June 24, 2011

A dramatic train ride across southern Norway

We woke up to see a driving rain from our hotel window, putting the kibosh on my idea of one more walk to check in Oslo.  Instead, we just finished packing, went down to breakfast, and walked in the rain back to the train station for our seven-and-a-half hour ride to Bergen.  And, what a ride it was.  The rain continued as we began by crossing the hilly plain and several large lakes before heading into rugged pine-covered mountain country, featuring large cliff faces and waterfalls, with large valleys stretching into the distances.  At first, the ruggedness reminded us of the Canadian Rockies, though we never got to the jagged peaks we remember from a few summers ago.  It rained off and on as we climbed upward.  Then we started seeing small patches of snow, with rushing rivers close to the tracks,  and going through a succession of tunnels as we emerged into the frozen parts of trip.  Houses were  less frequent, and sometimes their roofs were covered with grass, just like some of the houses in the folk museum.  Mountains were more and more covered with snow and lakes were largely frozen, with the outdoor temperatures dropping into the lower 40's as we reached highest part of our trip at Finse. Now we traveled through longer tunnels, not only boring through mountain tops but keeping snow off the tracks on mountainsides; the roads near the track were gravel, not paved, and partly blocked by snow.  Finally we reached Myrdal, where we could see a track winding down into the valleys below toward the fjords – we will be on that very track climbing out of the Sognefjord in a couple of days.  The track started heading back down into merely dramatic mountains, large lakes, waterfalls and the like.  As we pulled into Bergen, we had left the rain behind – it was sunny if not terribly warm.

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