Recently, I wrote a post in response to a future student’s comment asking about the Bergen Railway. Last weekend, I took a short excursion myself, partly on the Bergen Railway. I headed out to Evanger/Voss and Flåm/Aurland with a partner in adventure. You too can take a break from your studies to explore a little more of Norway.
First leg of the trip: Bergen Railway
NSB’s (a Nordic Transport Group) Bergen Railway, the highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe, may be worth exploring not only for its beautiful views on the way to Oslo, but also some of the many scenic stops it makes along the route. You can buy tickets at the Bergen Train Station (Strømgaten 4), at NSB’s website, or on your very own NSB App. I bought tickets at the station so I could get these “fab” photos illustrating the experience.
Having booked this trip a bit on the late side, there were no rooms left in Voss. Nearby town Evanger was train-assessable from Voss, Flåm was accessible by bus (more economically than the historic and renown train), its streets were lined with sweet-smelling wildflowers, and luckily there was still an Airbnb room available. So, Evanger was our temporary home away from home. While we didn’t get to explore it much, it was certainly serviceable as a base camp.
Scenery on the bus from Evanger to Flåm. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Filled with outdoor activities year-round and only about 90 minutes away by car or train, Voss is a conveniently located outdoor playground for Bergen locals. In the summer, one can indulge in Watersports such as rafting and kayaking, Skysports (is that a real category?) like skydiving and paragliding, Landsports (I’ll just create my own categories, then) including horse-riding, hiking, and bicycling, and much much more.
And, if you are nursing a back issue and can only wistfully watch the paragliders from below (although probably my distinct fear of heights would prevent such feats on any day), there are still options. A lovely and large lake (Vangsvatnet) has a path running beside it. Ideal for cycling, a 24 km round trip, a brief stroll was still enough to enjoy the view.
Photo from Vangsvatnet. Stand Hiestand
If you’ve read my blog, “Study Break: Beer”, you know of my love of certain local microbrews. And, a little over 9km outside Voss city center is a microbrewery worth noting, Voss Bryggeri (Voss Brewery). While not a quick walk, it is an extremely scenic one, and relatively safe for a recovering disc herniation (read more about my pathetic injury in my past blog, “How I (spectacularly) failed the 7 Mountain Challenge“) as long as you are not hit by a passing car (significant portions of the walk are on the sidewalk-less road). We took the trek out to the Voss Bryggeri’s Ølutsalget (‘beer outlet’), open Thursdays and Fridays 16.00-19.00 for tasting brews and filling growlers, and it was a memorable experience.
Spectacular scenery abounds on walk-ventures (that’s a walk-adventure) in Voss. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Voss Bryggeri’s Ølutsalget
While the front area that acted as a sales-floor was pretty busy with folks filling up their growlers for the weekend, the back porch, complete with giant picnic table and gorgeous (or as I now like to say, ‘Norgeous’) mountain view was ours alone. One of the brewers and one of the co-owners chatted with us extensively about beer, the brewery (inspiration sought by the owners partly by a pilgrimage out to Portland, Oregon), Voss and its astounding outdoor-sports (in Winter there is some kind of skiing/paragliding “sky-flying” combination that sounds epic – and potentially terrifying). The other owner’s cat even graced my lap with its warm, sun-sleepy presence. And, the co-owner let us try the historical farmhouse ale that has been brewed in the area… well, for hundreds of years. This was an amazing experience. While I can’t guarantee you’ll be there on a day when you can sit and hear similar fascinating stories, I highly recommend making your own pilgrimage to a beautiful spot where some excellent brewers not only brew beer, but own farms, raise sheep, fundraise for amnesty international… and fly!
All told we walked more than 14 miles (22.5km) in our day in Evanger/Voss, a worthy adventure, methinks. Stay tuned later this week for the (anti?)climax of our weekend journey to Evanger/Voss and Flåm/Aurland. In the meantime, check out some of the amazing action in Voss: