Yesterday I did a very full day of sightseeing when I took an excursion to the Hardangerfjord, the second longest fjord in Norway. (In case you don't know, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet created by glacial erosion. Norway's entire coast is deeply indented with fjords.) The Hardangerfjord is located about 50 miles to the south of Bergen and is 111 miles long.
I had purchased a ticket for what is called "Hardangerfjord in a Nutshell". There are several "Norway in a Nutshell" excursions, and they are extremely popular with tourists. They are not guided tours in the strictest sense... there is no tour guide leading you around. The "Nutshell" excursions provide you with transportation tickets for a highly structured itinerary that takes you through one of Norway's scenic regions. I dislike guided tours, and even though there was no tour guide, I still felt at times that I was in a herd of cattle as I jumped off the train, hopped on a bus, boarded a boat, etc. It is very efficient, with everything planned to the minute, but by the end you feel as if you have run a marathon.
Yesterday morning was once again overcast in Bergen, but at least it wasn't raining. I walked to the train station from my hotel and caught the 8:43 train to Voss.
Taking pictures from the train was problematic because a sizeable portion of the trip is through tunnels. Just as I was about to snap a photo, the train would enter a tunnel.
My train car was not very crowded. It was not until I got off the train at the town of Voss that I realized what a mass of tourist humanity there was. They were all scurrying to the armada of waiting buses. Fortunately most of them were taking a different excursion. There was only one bus, the last bus in the line, that was going to the next stop on my itinerary. There weren't many seats left by the time I got onto the bus. I asked an Asian tourist sitting by himself if the seat next to him was taken. He didn't seem too happy about it, but I sat down. At the end of the bus ride I handed him his backpack from the rack above the seats, and from then on, I guess I was an "OK guy" in his eyes.
The bus passed through some scenic areas on a winding mountain road. It was frustrating not to be able to take any pictures, but the driver did stop the bus momentarily when we passed this waterfall.
We arrived at the town of Ulvik at around 11:00. It is located on the shore of the Hardangerfjord. By this time the weather was improving. There were patches of blue sky and, as the English would say, peeks of sun.
Minutes after we arrived in Ulvik, a ship was heading across the fjord to pick us up. The ship had interior seating but many of us braved the chilly winds, and stood on the open deck. Now, at last, I could take pictures to my heart's content!
We traveled for a half hour on the ship and then docked at the town of Eidfjord, located on an arm the Hardangerfjord with the same name.
We got off the boat and boarded a bus for a trip inland from the fjord. This portion most resembled a guided tour. We drove to the Hardanger Nature Center. We were given around an hour to visit the museum and to have a quick lunch at the café across the road. By this time the weather was definitely improving. I had no desire to spend my time inside looking at stuffed animals when I could be outside enjoying real nature... and the sunshine! I walked around and snapped pictures of the surrounding countryside.
I then went to the terrace of the restaurant and ate the snacks which I had packed in my backpack. The Asian guy was doing the same thing. We started conversing. Due to his lack of communication before, I didn't know if he spoke English, but he did. He was from Tokyo, Japan, but he now lives in Germany.
It was time to board the bus again, and now we went through the mountains to the Voringsfossen waterfall. We were granted parole for twenty minutes to take pictures. Because of the position of the sun, the canyon beyond was a better subject for photos than the 1000 foot waterfall.
The fellow from Japan offered to take my picture.
The bus took us back to the boat at Eidfjord, and we then cruised for three hours along the fjord. Of course I spent almost the entire time on the open deck taking pictures.
We passed under the Hardanger Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world.
Another picture of me thanks to the fellow from Japan.
The boat trip ended at Norheimsund.
There we boarded a waiting bus, and traveled for an hour and a half back to Bergen.
It was a long day... over ten hours of traveling. It wasn't really my normal style of traveling, but I saw some spectacular scenery. And I finally got to enjoy the sun!