My Viking Sojourn Day 3—Norway in a Nutshell!

If you’re like me your first reaction to the phrase Norway in a Nutshell is WTF?

Norway in a Nutshell is a cute slogan coined by a marketing genius. First of all Norway is one long-ass Northern country. It took me a while to figure out just how far north Norway extends. Here’s  a map of Scandinavia with Norway outlined:


We only have five days in Norway and we wanted to get a taste of the country’s most famous attraction—the fjords, so today early in the morning we headed to Oslo’s Central Station to catch the train to Myrdal. What amazes me the most about Norway is how rural the country is. Yes, Oslo’s a big city with a population of around 1.2 million people (suburbs included), but not thirty minutes into the train ride we were surrounded by lush hillside farms.

We began climbing into the mountains and lo and behold all of a sudden there’s snow everywhere. The Scandinavian mountain, separates Norway’s west and east coasts. This steep ridge runs almost the entire length of the country. There are rivers and lakes everywhere and a ton of waterfalls too. A full 32% of the country is above the tree line (where trees can’t grow)!! The passing scenery was incredible and these are a few of the most beautiful sights:



The little buildings dotted in the snow-capped mountains (and this is the end of June and it’s still frozen) are cottages. The insane Norwegians spend weekends here in the WINTER (yup, they’re nuts all right) cross-country skiing.

We finally reach Myrdal and have to exit to catch The Flam Railroad train. When we left Oslo not four hours earlier, the temperature was in the 70s. Here in the mountains, it’s freezing!!! The Flam Railway or Flamsbana travels one of the steepest railways in the world. Flamsbana offers a panoramic view of some of the wildest and most magnificent nature in the Norwegian fjord landscape. Almost 80% of the Flamsbana journey has a gradient of 5.5%. Here are some of the spectacular shots we managed to snatch!




That last pic is of the docks and the boat we’re taking for the next part of the journey! We have time to grab fried fish and fries and then we boarded the ship. What a perfect day for this journey! Blue skies, a  blazing sun, and a crisp breeze. I can’t even begin to describe the astounding beauty of the fjords. It’s like trying to capture the Grand Canyon with words or photos. You simply have to be there to absorb the eerie spirituality of the vistas. No matter though, here are s0me of the pictures we took.


The two hour boat ride through the fjords will never fade from my memory. But onwards and upwards we must go. By now, I’m thinking nothing, nothing at all, could top the awesome landscapes we’ve seen so far.

WRONG! The next part of the trip is a bus ride to Voss. Heaven help me! We drove up and up and up a mountain only to descend down a barely two-lane road of ninety-degree hair-raising BLIND turns. I white-knuckled gripped the seat and stepped on the brakes all the way down. Here’s  a tiny glimpse of that breath-taking ride:

Okay, guys and gals, it’s now near five in the afternoon and we catch the train to Bergen. Once again, the vistas are jaw-dropping fantastic. I had planned to finish Prymal Hunger on this trip during the train rides, but I’m too fascinated with the scenery to pop open my notebook. We arrive in the charming port town of Bergen around seven-thirty at night. Now, this far north in the summer , the sun never really sets. Around midnight the sky turns from blue to twilight and by four in the morning the sun’s blazing away. So weird and it wrecks your sleep patterns entirely!

We dump our bags in the Radisson Blu hotel that our Floridian Norwegian neighbor, Bjorn, once managed and set out to find some grub and explore the city. Seafood abounds in this city and we end up having a fabulous meal of lobster and fish served to us by a tall, beautiful Swedish young lady (everyone here seems to be tall, blonde, and blue-eyed) who tells us she makes more working nine months as a waitress than her sister who has a master’s degree and works for the government in Stockholm. Go figure!

Today, has been the biggest adventure of my short life. In one day, we’ve seen and encountered heat, ice, waterfalls, mountains, rivers, and so much more. What a day!


My Viking Soujurn Day 2—The Viking Ship Musuem!

As many of you know, I have long been obsessed with all things Viking. One of my more ‘mystically’ oriented friends is convinced that my current fixation on the Norse is because in a past life I lived either as a Viking or with Vikings. Not sure I believe in past lives, however I admire and respect pioneers. Long a go when asked to name my heroes in a job interview, I didn’t hesitate for a second, and answered, “Eric the Red, Shakespeare, Neil Armstrong, and my father.”

The interviewer was at first taken aback, and then he said, “You admire pioneers.” Until then, I had never made the connection between those four men.

Today we visited the Viking Ship Museum which is located on the island of Bygdøy in the Oslo Fjord in Norway. It is part of the Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo, and houses archaeological finds from Tune, Gokstad, Oseberg and the Borre mound cemeteries. The Viking buried their dead in the ships in which they traveled the world.

When you think back to what was known about the world in 982 A.D. it’s impossible (for me) to imagine the absolute courage it must’ve taken to sail into the unknown. Eric the Red left Iceland and sailed west with not a single clue as to if he would hit land or die first. To travel 1016 nautical miles (a nautical mile is 1852 meters or 6,067 feet, while a land mile is 1609 meters or 5280 feet), a journey estimated to take at least two months of solid rowing with completely no idea of not only what lay on the other end, but if there was anything at all there must’ve been harrowing.

Here are some pics of the Tune, Oseberg, and Gokstand Viking longships:

IMG_2827   IMG_2922   GOKSTAD



Here’s the link to the museum for those who’re interested:

Can you tell I’m living and breathing Vikings these days?