Highway Ride (Norway)

Adventure #155:
Today we’re riding the North Sea coastline. And we’re riding… a truck.
Route: Sokndal -> Flekkefjord
Duration: 51 min. 44 sec.

Video by: Reidar Humlestøl

More info:
Sokndal is the southernmost municipality in Rogaland county, Norway. It is located in the traditional district of Dalane.
Flekkefjord is a municipality in Vest-Agder county, Norway. It is located in the traditional district of Lister. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Flekkefjord.
County Road 44 is a county road which runs from the town of Flekkefjord in Vest-Agder county to the city of Stavanger in Rogaland county. The section of the road between Soyland and Ogna in the municipality of Ha has, together with almost all of County Road 507, been designated as National Tourist Routes for the landscape of Jaeren. The route passes mile long beaches, some of Norway’s best tended farmlands with its typical dry stone walls, some notable lighthouses and other buildings of cultural significance.


Sokndal (Wikipedia)
Flekkefjord (Wikipedia)
Norwegian County Road 44 (Wikipedia)

Traveling to Norway independently allowed me to get to Nerayfjord, appreciate the beauty of Norwegian nature, drive along the unique road of Flomzban; want to know more about the edge of the fjords – read the report on the trip on the route “Norway in miniature”
Any trip to Norway, which is independent, as part of a tour group, is pointless, if its program does not include visiting the fjords. The whole coast of this Scandinavian state is cut by narrow bays, and how many Norway’s fjords can not even say experienced geographers: only large objects number more than a hundred. The visitor of the country does not even need to think how to get to the fjords, because the cruise on Oslofjord is accessible directly from the center of the Norwegian capital.

However, the most beautiful places in Norway are quite far from Oslo, and you need to go to them separately. Although Lisefjord attracts many and the famous mountain Preijstolen, overhanging over it, even more people aspire to get from Oslo to Sognefjord. The biggest fjord of Europe goes deep into the continent for more than 200 kilometers, and all this space is literally stuffed with all the things for which tourists go to Norway – there are cliffs and wonderful waterfalls, and mountains clamped by mountains, in a word, there are what to see. Particularly beautiful is Nerayfjord, a pearl of nature, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is not without reason that they call it “Norway in miniature”, because a cruise on Nerayfjord, combined with a trip on the unique railway of Flomsban, allows you to see that the entire country is at once.

Most often, the program of the trip “Norway in Miniature” includes moving by express from Oslo or Bergen to Voss station, a bus transfer to the pier, a cruise from Gudvangen to Flam, a Flam railway to Myrdal flight and a train to Oslo or Bergen. The timetable of the whole route “Norway in miniature” is thought out, worked out in practice and designed so that everything goes like clockwork: there is enough time to change the trains, the arrival of some trains is coordinated with the departure of others. In fact, everyone who wants to get to the fjords from Bergen or Oslo, you just have to decide which flight to leave, and then there will be nowhere else to go: the Bergen train at 8:43 will stop at Voss about 10 am, in ten minutes the bus to Gundvangen, between his arrival and departure cruise on Nerayfjord will be a gap of 40 minutes, and so on – back to Bergen the traveler is guaranteed to get around six in the evening. There is also an option to get to the fjords from Bergen, leaving at 12:56, then the return will be delayed until 22:00. The standard travel scheme is convenient for tourists for many reasons, and many do not hesitate to buy a comprehensive ticket “Norway in a nutshell” – a similar program for a fjord trip is for any self-respecting Norwegian tour operator. I, perhaps, would also undertake such a voyage, but I did not like its price; cruise on Nerayfjord by my estimates should have been much cheaper than a half thousand crowns, which he was asked for. Having estimated what was what, I found out, in particular, that from May to September the boats between Gudvangen and Flam go five or six times a day, the rest of the year there is only one round trip. The spring schedule of the program “Norway in Miniature” did not allow us to properly sort out the voyage, it turned out that it would take too much time for Flam, and the boat will arrive in Gundvangen after five in the evening, when the beauty of the Norwegian fjords will already be extinguished by the twilight. So I decided to get from Oslo to the edge of the fjords by myself by night train, get off to Voss early in the morning, take the bus at 8:20 to Gudvangen, take a look at the gorges, then take a cruise on Nerayfjord so that Flamsbana would take me to Myrdal akkurat before sending the train to Bergen. As the website of the cruise company clearly stated that the trips are carried out every day year-round, the future seemed to me quite well-off. That’s how I found myself at the main station in Oslo around 10 pm, and since the train was filed an hour before departure, I settled in my place in advance …
The level of comfort in the night train of the Norwegian railways, I’m amazed, amazed: I was traveling in an ordinary car, but I felt like in a business class of an airplane. Firstly, all the passengers were given rugs and inflatable pillows. Secondly, the seat chairs were laid out well, in fact, it turned out to be half-lying, stretched out to the full height. Of course, it is quite remarkable in the compartment of Norway’s trains, but then it would cost me a tidy sum, so I paid only 199 kroons, how much is a ticket for the “Minipris” tariff – compare with the standard price and feel the difference!
After several stops made in the Oslo line, our line-up was stuffed to the eyeballs, I had a neighbor and it was not as comfortable as before, but I still had a nice nap, although on the way I woke up several times and stared at the moonlit glinting eyes lakes, snowy mountains and other fantastic landscapes; it seemed that before me a fairy tale in reality …
I was pulled out of a sweet slumber by a conductor, who passed by a quarter-past six-all the passengers who came out in Voss, he woke extremely delicately. Twenty minutes later I was standing on the platform of a tiny station and was shivering from the cold. I was warmed by hope, by the early sunrise and the joy of being able to independently get from Oslo to the edge of the fjords, and Norway’s most miraculous wonders are at my arm’s length, only half a hundred kilometers …
In the meantime, I undertook to inspect where I was carried. The town of Voss, in which there live only 1,400 people, at such an early hour did not bother to send anyone to greet guests; I was even a little insulted by the sleepiness – every morning, whether that, in such a wilderness the train from the capital arrives ?! Then, when I entered the Vosov station, it turned out that yes, every day, except Sundays, because the express trains that can be reached from Oslo at night in Bergen do not go on a Saturday night. And the village turned out to be relative, for example, such a luxurious toilet, as there, you can not find in the country even at gantry stations … In general, I brought myself into a divine appearance, warmed up a bit and began to think that you can look in Voss while you wait of the bus to Gudvangen. Most of all I liked the idea of ??seeing the Scandinavian dawn, and after passing about two kilometers to the east, I found a suitable spot by the cliff above the Raundalselvi River. The glow over the mountains did not make me beg for a long time, and soon the first sun rays warmed the frozen ground. To my shame, I must admit that this sunrise was the second for me, the first I had the opportunity to contemplate on the way to Luxor from Hurghada – I love, you know, sleep a little longer. I liked the Norwegian version somehow more, perhaps because the frost did not let me nod, giving the body a certain charge of vivacity. I watched as the mountains grew more distinctly visible, and when the luminary showed itself because of the teeth of the rock massif, in the sky it did not light a single cloud and it was finally clear: to get from Oslo to the fjords myself, I chose the right day …

When I got back to the station, I found out that local life began to be a key, in particular, a ticket office was opened, a cafe opened, and commuter buses began to arrive one by one – despite its modest size, Voss is a large transport hub from where you can easily reach to Gudvangen and to Myrdal, where the final destination of the Flam Railway is located. But the main stream is going, apparently, goes in the summer, and while I was drinking coffee and photographing the neighborhood, a large influx of passengers was somehow not observed. When the bus arrived, starting from Bergen two hours earlier, it turned out that those wishing to go that way towards Sogne once or twice, and found it all … It suffices to say that with my appearance in the cabin its filling doubled …
The road from Voss to Gudvangen immediately met my expectations: right and left, glittering glaciers constantly flashed, sometimes I saw frozen waterfalls, and the rocky steeps were so abundant that if I had a chance to charge the battery somewhere -Bogu, I would shoot everything. And so I took the energy of the camera to the moment when the cruise began on the fjords … And yet I had to restrain myself beyond human strength, because a couple of times before me were so wonderful panoramas unfolding, that it was simply the spirit that captured. The driver, apparently doing this way several times a day, only looked with a grin in the mirror of the saloon’s view of how I jump from one seat to another in the hope of capturing how beautiful Norway’s nature is.
Having slipped through countless gorges and passed a couple of tunnels, we drove into the valley, about an hour after departure, hiding between the mountain hills. Then the driver braked at the curb and announced that, say, here it is, Gudvangen. I, thanking him for his care, got out and first of all I clicked a dozen frames of the landscape. The views unfolded and indeed such that there are no words: a small town of three dozen tiny buildings was resting on a patch of land between the water and the mountains there, as if the subordinate came to the head and sits on the edge of the chair. The inhabitants, probably, still lounging in the bedding, the tiled roofs of their houses were enveloped in a light fog, the air smelt of grace, in short, the world looked truly fabulous … In the most wonderful mood I went to the shore of the fjord, I reached the place from where the cruises from Gudvangen in Flom and found a freshly printed advertisement on the quay there, saying: “In connection with the appearance of ice, all trips are canceled. For information, please go there … ”
The catastrophe happened so unexpectedly that I could not speak for a while, only angrily mooed. Then I burst out, and Norway, I think, even heard such expressions. “Goats! I shouted into space. – Freaks! Fuck you write that cruises on Nerayfjordu are held around the clock ?! The ice hinders you ?! So get yourself a pancake, an icebreaker! ”

The town immediately lost pastoral charm for me and turned into Salem from the works of the master of horrors Stephen King – fog, solitude, suspicious silence now led to bad thoughts, the tale of speech no longer came …
Deciding not to wait until different mutants come from the cellars of the settled houses, I decided to get out of there. But the question arose how to get from Gudvangen to Flam, because the next bus on the route was expected only after 2 hours … It was the first time in my life to go stand on the road with an outstretched hand … In the sense of stopping cars …
I did not have any practical experience on the part of the free ride, except for the theoretical reasoning of the masters of the hitchhiking, that, they say, everything is done quickly and simply. Encouraged by the examples from the books I read, I took a strategic position on the edge of the highway in accordance with the recommendations, where it is better to stand at the hitchhiking, namely on a straight long stretch with a wide shoulder. Everything turned out to be really simpler than I thought, because the fourth car already picked me up. I would not have thought that such a luxury “Miles” would take a voting tourist with a backpack, but here you go!
From the unexpected, I immediately inquired if the driver was going to Flam, although in theory he had nowhere to go, because the tunnel, at the entrance to which our dialogue took place, was leading only there, having only a small branch to the town of Andredal. The man, as it turned out, was on his way to Trondheim, that is, Flom could not pass. The driver turned out to be a Bulgarian by nationality, and we spent twenty minutes traveling enthusiastically discussing the quality of Norwegian roads and the prices of food in Norway. According to the Bulgarian, police in Norway not only detect speeding by cameras, but also track how much the car traveled from one checkpoint to another to find out if it exceeded the speed in uncontrolled areas – how!
We parted on the outskirts of Flam in the best of feelings and wished each other good luck. He had to get from Sognefjord to Trondheim, I had to take about five hours of free time before the planned departure to Myrdal. Once again, anathematizing the organizers of the cruise on the fjords, more precisely, the saboteurs of the fjord cruise, I descended from the road to the shore and was stupefied: the sun shone above my head with a piercing blue, the same blue cast and the water surface, so I climbed the hillock and did the most successful photo from a trip across Norway , calling it “Mirror” …

Enjoying the way the mountains and clouds are reflected at the top by the fjord below, I felt that an indescribable anger on the muddlehead of a cruise company begins to gradually evaporate. The town turned out to be so pretty that I literally forgot about the time and five hours went by for me like one minute …

In addition to the perfectly symmetrical frame, I also managed to take a photo, which is best suited to the rant “The insignificance of man in comparison with nature.” On it, the tiny houses of Floma look like children’s toys at the foot of the giant rocks. When looking at a similar picture, it becomes immediately clear that everything built by people can be instantly destroyed by the forces of the elements. Maybe, just from the realization of this fact, representatives of the species homo sapiens and operate on the planet as if from malice, contaminating water and poisoning the air … By the way, about the air – Norway’s fjords easily took off my chronic runny nose, a constant companion of almost every Petersburger. Norwegian nature makes you breathe deeply, and the atmosphere in western Scandinavia is truly divine. I spent the last hour and a half before the train in general on the bench near the coastline, trying to saturate the lungs with oxygen and basking in the sun …

Places of interest in Flam are not large, tourists come here for fjord cruises and skiing on Flamban, and a point. This is recognized even by employees of the local turofis, occupying one of the buildings next to the quay. There, in addition to maps and brochures with different information, those who wish receive leaflets with a list of interesting places that can be seen in Flam and its environs. So, just behind the town there is only the Museum of Railway Transport, and churches, gorges, the longest tunnel in Europe and other objects are scattered around the area. Well, perhaps that the park of culture Fretheim can also be conditionally recorded in the sights of Flam, for it is just a place for walking. So in addition to relaxing in the fresh air, only the museum of Flomzba gives what to do while waiting for a cruise on Nerayfjord. Popularity is added to the free entry, so there is usually a lot of people inside. But still visit the railway museum of Floma is, as it reveals in detail all the vicissitudes of works on such a unique project as Flomsbana. The length of the Flam Railway is only 20 kilometers, but the route was built for 20 years, in fact, per kilometer per year, and this is in the 20th century! Only having swept through the site between Myrdal and Fossom you can realize what kind of titanic works construction required. In one of the rocks it was even necessary to cut down a special tunnel, which goes down a spiral, and on the average the railway track every hundred meters goes down a slope of 5.5 meters.
Studying how the Flom Railway was built, it is necessary to watch the time: not only does the schedule change depending on the season, so even in the summer those who want to ride have more than enough, and if you gape, you’ll have to stay away from the window; friends who drove closer to the end of August, claimed that the train was packed to the start. So it’s better to take care in advance and about tickets, and about places. And where tickets for Flomzban are sold, you do not need to look for long: they are traded by local turofis. By the way, the second half of the dark-wood building he owns owns a store where you can buy souvenirs in Flam.
My trip to the Flam Railway took place in low season, and it was a sin to complain about the excess of fellow travelers: besides me only two Japanese women, three Germans and some stern uncle of a clearly Balkan form climbed into the car.Cultural dispersed throughout the cabin, we as a team have uncovered taken in hand leaflets with description of the most interesting places and ready to eat Norwegian beauty as recommended – look to the left, there is a waterfall, now look to the right, to the glacier – but worth the train to move as all instantly hung on the windows, forgetting to read useful information. Fortunately, the speakers poured the English-language comments, so go on Flomsbane alone was not only interesting, but also useful. The train slows down in the most breathtaking scenery, and near the giant waterfall at all stopped, allowing the passengers to get out and how to take pictures in nature.

After passing through the countless series of gorges and past the two dozen tunnels, we finally stopped at the station of Myrdal right on schedule, exactly 10 minutes before the arrival of the train from Oslo – as I said, the schedule Flam Railway tied to schedule traffic on the route between the two capitals Norway, the current and ancient. After a quarter of an hour I had already rolled under way to Bergen , hoping that his city’s reputation, where 300 days a year does it rain, is exaggerated for the sake of a witticism.

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