Norway in a Nutshell

Jul 26th, 2006, 08:12 AM
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Norway in a Nutshell

We are interested in the Norway in a Nutshell trip and I have to admit that I'm a bit confused as to what this trip entails.

From what I have read I get the impression that there are some organized trips that you pre-pay but also the option to do this on our own. Is that correct?

Also, I need help in deciding on a starting and ending point. We have the option to fly into Oslo or Bergen. Any opinions on which would be best? We will have 3-5 days in Norway.

Any advice is appreciated!
mmm31 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 08:27 AM
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Essentially it is a loop off the Oslo-Bergen main line consisting of:

Myrdal - Flåm via Flåm Railway
Flåm - Gudvangen via ferry
Gudvangen - Voss via bus

You use scheduled public services.

You can start from Oslo, Bergen or intermediate points on the main line and return to your starting point or elsewhere.

You do it on just one ticket. Advance reservation is not required except for seats on any express trains you use on the main line.

The starting/finishing point really depends on whether you want to see Oslo or Bergen or both.
wasleys is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 08:31 AM
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Best to base in Bergen and do the fabulous, fantastic, stupendous Norway in a Nutshell trek from there as a day trip.
From Bergen you take a train to Voss (burial place of Knute Rockne, famed American college football coach) and then a great bus ride down through rugged scenery via the famous Stalheim Hotel to the fjord at Gudvagen, where you board a boat for an about two-hour totally mind-boggling trip thru Norway's largest fjord - perhaps seeing whales and certainly sheer stone cliffs arising from the water to Flam, where you board the narrow-gauge Flam train that takes you up a wondrous valley, with a few photo opp stops at waterfalls, etc. to Myrdal, on the main line back to Bergen.
Not sure if there are organized tours that do this but it is very very easy to do on your own - just stop by the Bergen train station for Nutshell details - reservations are not possible i believe and they say everyone will be accommodated - not sure of this but that's what they told me in Bergen.
You can also do it in reverse - train to Myrdal, train to Flam, boat to Gudvagen and bus to Voss and train to Bergen.
Raileurope in US does market a Nutshell tour, but it's only tickets for the individual portions and no reservations so i think you buy the same thing cheaper in Bergen. - not sure of exact title but Google it and there is an official nutshell site.
Anyway in my now 37 years of European travel the Nutshell Tour may be the most fun thing i've ever done!
PalQ is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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Best way is to fly in to Oslo and out of Bergen or vice versa. Then do the Nutshell in between. That you can visit both Bergen and Oslo and no need to backtrack.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Below, I've copied in my report from last summer. I think this should answer your questions. I flew into Oslo (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and flew out of Bergen. I recommend this.

* * * *

I was thoroughly confused when I began researching the Nutshell tour so I hope I can clear up some things for you. It’s not a “tour,” but a transportation package; a series of trains, a bus, and a boat that take you through some spectacular scenery. Except for the one-hour segment on the Flam (pronounced Flum) railway (with it’s AMAZING waterfall), there’s no guide and no commentary (nor did I feel any way necessary; I was simply enjoying the scenery). Be forewarned – you will be dragging your own luggage; there are no porters and each time you change trains (or board a boat or bus) you will need to transport and deposit your own bags.

I left the Oslo train station at 8:00am. The station is small and it was very easy to read the signs and see which track the train to Bergen was leaving on. What I didn’t realize was that I had a reserved seat in a reserved car. (Many others weren’t aware of this as well.) So, I moved to my assigned seat and we headed out of Oslo. It’s about 5-1/2 hours to Myrdal and some of the scenery was beautiful. As we approached Myrdal, areas were completely blanketed in snow; the train would pull out of a tunnel and you’d be almost blinded by the stark white. I was surprised (and thrilled) to see this in June! The train had a mechanical problem that put us behind schedule so unfortunately, we had no time between connections. You basically got off the train and hustled to the bus (or boat) that was waiting close by. FYI, there was a dining car on the train and the whole experience was very comfortable – and quite wonderful!

Unfortunately it poured during the entire boat ride through the magnificent fjords. It was still spectacular – and I spent quite a bit of time on deck (with a hood, ear muffs, and a scarf). Many passengers stayed inside (the snack bar had large windows with great views) but quite a few of us braved the storm (and the seagulls that never gave up!).

The bus trip that followed (to the Stalheim Hotel) was unbelievable. When we arrived I was incredibly glad that I had reserved a night at this breathtakingly beautiful location. I felt as if I were on top of the Alps. The hotel was quite pleasant and my room was large and very nice -- although not fancy. But the view . . . WOW!!! That’s what I was there for – and it did not disappoint. I kept expecting Julie Andrews to come running down a mountain singing, “The hills are alive . . .”

The hotel offered a fantastic dinner buffet (around $50 U.S.) without wine or alcohol. There is no other option in terms of eating. Expensive, but I couldn’t complain because it was excellent – and the hotel itself was reasonably priced. It also had an excellent gift shop. The breakfast buffet (included in the price) was terrific.

The very helpful desk clerk suggested a hike to Nali when I asked where I might hike for a couple of hours. This was one of the highlights of an already fantastic trip. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful it was; breathtaking waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, quaint farmhouses and hillsides dotted with sheep – all looking as if they’d stepped off of a postcard. At one point I crossed a farm where the sheep (and little lambs that melted my heart!) came right up to me. My pictures from this segment of the trip are amazing!

The Nutshell package had me scheduled to leave Stalheim around dinner time but when I inquired at the desk I was told that there were two earlier buses and that it would not be a problem to continue on whichever bus I chose. I loved Stalheim, but since I’d hiked until I could barely move and had seen the scenery, and I knew I’d have a limited time in Bergen, I chose to take an afternoon bus. The bus ride to Voss was gorgeous.

We did have an hour in Voss before connecting to the train for Bergen. I left my luggage in a locker (about $3.00) and enjoyed visiting the quaint church and strolling around the waterfront and the charming town despite the rain storm. It was certainly more fun than waiting in the train station. Although my ticket for the train was for a different time, I was told it was no problem to take the earlier train.

The train ride to Bergen went along a road that looked like 50 miles of picture-perfect postcard. It was bounded by beautiful snowcapped mountains reflecting off of pristine lakes, waterfalls, and rushing whitewater. When I exited the train station in Bergen I couldn’t flag down a taxi. I thought it very odd that there were no taxis at a train station. Um, er, the taxi stand was on the other side of the station!

My hotel in Bergen, the Rainbow Rosenkrantz was perfectly located on a quiet side street not more than a block from the Bryggen, waterfront, and fish market. Considering that I’d only spent about $100 (US) per night, my single room was attractive. My only complaint was the exceptionally tiny (albeit comfortable) bed. I’m an average sized man and I swear that bed was no wider than my shoulders! The included breakfast was terrific.

I loved Bergen. I hadn’t made any plans but by picking up a few brochures in the hotel lobby, I learned it was quite easy to walk to all the major attractions (except the Aquarium which I passed on. That would have been quite a long walk.) The tourist information building should be an attraction itself. It’s very beautiful and features some spectacular murals, as well as excellent info, brochures, and staff who are glad to answer your questions.

I enjoyed the Hanseatic Museum and touring the Rosenkrantz Tower. But the real highlight was simply wandering the streets taking in the beautiful buildings. The architecture and the colors made it impossible to put my camera down for more than a minute or two. I kept getting the sense that it couldn’t be real – it must be Disney-Norway. It really was that charming. I especially loved the Johanneskirken – a church that looked as if it had stepped out of a fairy tale.

I took the Floibanen (the funicular/cable car) to the top of the mountains overlooking the city. Considering that Bergen is reputed to be so rainy, I had great luck. It never rained during my three-day stay. (Instead I got my rain en route – and while I was in Oslo.) The views of the city and the hiking trails were beautiful and I had a perfectly lovely afternoon.

Food and souvenirs weren’t exactly a bargain – but they weren’t nearly as expensive as they had been in Oslo and I was finally able to do some shopping – without mortgaging my house! (The sweaters I’d looked at in Oslo were around $400.)

I spent two nights in Bergen felt that was enough to see the main sights. But I was charmed by the city and certainly would have enjoyed a longer stay. With additional days I would have visited the museums.

By the way, throughout the Nutshell experience, I don’t think it would have mattered one bit which side I sat on – both sides had spectacular views at different times – and since it was not full, it was not a problem to get up and shift to a seat on the other side when the scenery became especially beautiful on one side or the other.

One last comment . . . I met some of the kindest, most helpful people in Norway that I’ve ever met during my extensive travels. If you’re planning a trip you’ll find this a very easy country to visit – and I bet you’ll love it!

Songdoc is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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songdoc - an amazingly good report!
PalQ is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 12:41 PM
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We did Norway in a Nutshell in June duirng our 2.5 week trip to Scandinavia. It was definitely a highlight of the trip. We started in Norway and ended in Bergen. Be sure to spend at least one night in Bergen as it is a charming town (we preferred it to Oslo). We took the night train back to Oslo.
padams421 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 11:39 AM
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Thanks for all the wonderful advice. I have yet another question! Would it make sense for us to take the train for Oslo to Bergen and then do the Norway in a nutshell tour as a roundtrip to and from Bergen to avoid having all of our luggage with us during the trip. We'll be travelling with my Husbands parents and great Aunt who is in her 80's.

mmm31 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 01:52 PM
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mmm31 - I asked the same question about luggage on this board a few months ago for my parents who did Oslo-Nutshell-Bergen, as I was worrying about the same thing.

Well, my parents have returned (they also stayed a night at the wonderful Stalheim Hotel). The answer is that one need not worry. At all transfer points (train-train, train-ferry, ferry-bus, bus-train), the distance one needs to cover is counted in just steps. Going with luggage is not a problem at all.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 03:50 PM
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thanks rkkwan that makes me feel alot better! So would you/ your parents recommend the staying the night at the Stalheim hotel? How many nights did they have in Bergen?

Thanks again!!
mmm31 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 04:33 PM
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mmm31 - My parents arrived late in Oslo, stayed 3 nights there to get two full days (for one of the days, a family friend drove them around). Then they left for the Nutshell, and stayed overnight at Stalheim.

Continued to Bergen, they stayed 2 nights there and then took a ferry for Newcastle late afternoon. So, they have about 1.5 days in Bergen.

They think the time allocation is just about right. They particularly love the city of Bergen. My dad has been traveling around the world for almost 50 years and he thinks Bergen is one of the most beautiful mid-sized cities in the world. [It's his first time to Bergen/Nutshell, but 2nd to Oslo.]

They also love the Stalheim hotel. It's a highlight of their trip.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 04:38 PM
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More about the very short transfers for the NIN trip. For example, at Myrdal, they get off the Oslo-Bergen train and then just stayed on the same platform to wait for the Flam railway train to pull up.

Or that the bus from Gudvangen to Voss actually stopped at the front door of the Stalheim Hotel. [Well, there's not much more in the village anyways.]
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 28th, 2006, 06:31 AM
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Has anyone done this tour during November? From their website I can see it still runs but I am concerned about what we would actually be able to see since there's only supposed to be 3-4 hours of sunshine (or daylight).
Merrisr is offline  
Oct 28th, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Here's the details for Bergen in mid-November:

about nine hours daylight including twilight. You can change the date as you wish.

I imagine that, depending on where you are on the ferry part of the trip and the time of day, you won't get much sunlight in some places on the fjords.

wasleys is offline  
Oct 28th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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Oct 30th, 2006, 01:43 AM
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Standard single-bed size in Norway is 75x190cm or 90x200. I have never experienced too small a bed, but never stayed at the hotel mentioned either. Bergen in November will receive lots of rain, but not neccessarily all day long.
check this link for general info.
rjsol is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 11:22 PM
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Bergen might be really rainy in November, but hopefully not, for your sake! There are lots of options to see Bergen and the fjords. There are scenic overlooks you can hike/take a cable car to all over the city/just outside the city, or you can do the "Norway in a Nutshell" tour. Here's a summary of options:
georgette03 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 12:28 AM
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Can anyone tell me if this trip is included in the Norway unlimited rail pass or the Scanrail pass. I know that the rail portion must be covered in this, but do not know about the bus and ferry part of it, like it is in Swissrail or Eurail.
Paragkash is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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wilees is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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<about the bus and ferry part of it, like it is in Swissrail or Eurail> bus and boat are not included in Eurail - even though i did get 50% off boat with my Eurail, it's not in the literature. I believe ScanRail may get 50% off boat but not bus but not sure. ScanRail does not cover many bus routes. Not sure about Norway railpass. May do some research and get back. Oh actually you can call BETS (800-441-2387) as they answer these type questions without charge or obligation and will find a definitive answer for it in my experience.
PalenqueBob is offline  

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