- gateway to the fjords
We left Oslo by train on 16th July. The sun was shining as we headed west along what is renowned as one of the most spectacular rail routes in Europe over the mountains and high plateaus of western Norway. Low cloud filled the valleys at first and there was still snow on the higher ground, even in mid-summer. The 7 hour trip didn’t seem to take that long at all and soon we were descending into Bergen.
Sheltered from the Atlantic by a series of islands to the west, Bergen has been a trading port for centuries. Nowadays, cruise liners come and go daily and it is the start of the Hurtigruten route - the round-the-clock service of 14 boats plying up and down the Norwegian coastline, serving as a lifeline to small towns far up within the Arctic Circle.
After the disappointment of the hostel in Oslo, we found wonderful self-catering accommodation run by the lovely Line (as in Zavaroni). She couldn’t have made us feel more at home and our room overlooked the rooftops of the city. There were lots of other travellers coming and going with whom we exchanged hints and experiences in the communal kitchen.
One of the nicest parts of town was the University area with some beautiful old wooden houses and parks. It also contains the maritime museum with examples of long boats and an exhibition on Norwegian submariners. One of the old photographs showed 2 "Norwegian submarines in England, probably Dundee.” There will be one or two north of the border spitting feathers on hearing that !