Note: The following is a guest post from Lea Ann Christenson
As our boat pulls away from the harbor I find myself starting down at the emerald blue water below, the vibrant green hills looming large around and above as as we travel deeper and deeper into Aurlandsfjorden, one of Norway’s fjords near the town of Flam. Scandinavian houses dot the shore, the final touch on a fairytale scene and as I stare out at my surroundings a smile slides across my face.
“Nope, traveling solo isn’t just for twenty-somethings,” I think to myself.
Recently travel trends reflect a growing number of solo female travelers. If you look at the landscape of many travel blogs and social media, it would appear that all of these women are young and free, unbridled by burdens that may come as they gain more responsibilities. But the internet does not always reflect reality and my travels, and those of female friends and colleagues, are proof that traveling solo is a choice women can make at any age, not just in their twenties.
I recently had the opportunity to present at a conference in Stockholm. When I was looking at airfare, for some reason the least expensive route was to Oslo and then on to Sweden. As I had never been to Norway before I decided to leave a few days before the conference and explore what I could of the country.
Oslo is easily accessed from the airport by a fast, and direct, train. Norway’s fjords are world-famous, and so I knew that a visit to them was necessary on my quick trip. To make the most of my limited time, I took a tour with Norway in a Nutshell ®.
Now I’m normally not a fan of group tours in my travel, but Norway in a Nutshell ® is nothing of the sort. The company does not provide escorts or guides but rather coordinates times and books your tickets for trains, boats and buses, all the necessary modes of transportation to experience Norway’s fjords. This way all the work of itinerary planning is done for you but you still get to have an independent experience.
After spending a day touring the sights of Oslo, I hopped on a 6:25 a.m. train from the city center bound for a 11:48 a.m. arrival in Myrdal, a mountain rail station on the Bergen line. The journey passed quickly as I looked at the beautiful scenery and (admittedly) caught up on a little sleep (hey, traveling to Europe is draining!)
In Myrdal I switched trains to take the trip down to Flam, a small town at the gateway to Norway’s fjords. The journey was absolutely spectacular! We passed through snow-topped mountains and too many water falls to count. The train even paused at the powerful Kjosfossen Falls for a photo op. Flam is a very tiny town of 450 people at the mouth of the Aurlands Fjord. We had about two hours here to explore before continuing the journey by boat. It was a beautiful day so I skipped the cute little restaurants and stopped in the local grocery story for bread and cheese and enjoyed a quiet lunch while soaking up the sunshine.
The journey continued on as I took a two and a half hour ferry ride up one of the fjords and down another. I sat on the deck snapping pictures and soaking up more rays. Again, the scenery was incredibly stunning and I’m afraid no photo could ever do it justice!
After the ferry trip, we docked at Gudvangen at the mouth of the other Fjord and took a bus down a road stuffed with hair pin turns to the train station in Voss. From here it was a smooth and equally scenic train ride to the town of Bergen where I spent the night. My only disappointment for the trip was that I didn’t have more time to spend in Bergen (I had to leave early the next day to make it back to Oslo in time for my onward flight). It is a town full of charms and I would have liked to have had more time to discover them fully.
As you can tell from my writing, seeing the best of Norway’s fjords isn’t necessarily an easy journey – it requires many chances of transportation and takes a good 15 hours. However, Norway in a Nutshell ® makes the trip easier on you as a traveler because they coordinate your itinerary for you. I didn’t really even have to think during the journey- I just used the tickets they provided and followed their accurate itinerary so I was able to sit back, relax and focus on the scenery.
Norway in a Nutshell ® is a wonderful way to make the most of your time in the beautuful coutry of Norway and I recommend their services to all solo travelers, even those of us who aren’t twenty-somethings.
Note: Norway in a Nutshell ® provided the author with a complimentary experience. However, all thoughts and opinions are the writer’s own.