Nutshell Explained & Bergen Trip Report

Old Jul 5th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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Nutshell Explained & Bergen Trip Report

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, 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!
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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What a great report, songdoc. I have not been to Scandanavia and was always a bit confused by the many Norway in a Nutshell threads. You explained it better than any I have read. NOW I understand.

Sounds like a fabulous trip -- ummmm - maybe a trip to Norway beckons . . . . .
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 01:43 PM
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I hope BillynBetty Jones see this post!

You answer a lot of questions. We did that area ourselves by car and train in 1995 and have some fond memories. Simply beautiful.
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 02:48 PM
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Thanks so much, songdoc! We are going at the end of this month and your report helps a lot!
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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Great report! Thanks for sharing; we did N in a N last summer and loved it. We didn't stay overnight in Stalheim so I loved your report on that. We also thought Bergen was wonderful.
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 09:31 AM
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What a wonderful report. Very helpful to me.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 09:22 AM
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hi songdoc... i'm from venezuela and i have been feeling very, absolutely confused about booking this N&N trip! i don´t know if will be able to stay in stalheim because i'm going in october and don't know if it's open in the winter months, but did you book it through internet? i want to stay one night at least in stalheim i f possible and go hiking just as you did and one or two in bergen. i was also thinking of taking the trondheim tour with a fjord boat with the same company before returning to oslo to catch my flight to reykjavik for a 6 day stay...how should i book this N&N the way you did it? thanks... jjjj
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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Nice report -- I also stayed at Rosenkrantz. What a coincidence.

I had a double though. Maybe that's why your room was cheaper. I forget how much I paid but it was probably more like $125.

Otherwise I also had a (much) shorter trip that you did.
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 10:57 AM
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Songdoc...the NN is a wonderful experience for anyone..we loved it ..here's a tip for anyone having to lug the luggage...there is a package shipping terminal near the railroad station in Oslo where they will overnight your bags to whatever hotel you select in Bergen..we shipped two roll-a-ways for $22..well worth not having to drag them along..made the NN that much more enjoyable.
Funny that you mentioned no taxis at Bergen RR station..we couldn't believe it...then I sauntered around the corner and there they were! Odd!
The pickings at the outdoor fish market at the Bergen Harbor are superb..great sandwiches and salads, crab, shrimp, etc.
Be sure to visit the Grieg home and museum, a bus ride and long walk from Bergen ...lovely in all respects.
Stu
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Songdoc: What a great report. You have provided a real service here with your detailed account. On a more personal note, you helped me relive for a moment this wonderful trip. Thanks.
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 05:53 AM
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Hi

Thanks Songdoc for a good report about Norway in a nutshell. I have seen a bit of fjords and mountains since I live in Stavanger on the south west coast of Norway....but after reading your story I would like to do this trip one day. I'm glad you had an excellent trip to Norway

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 07:11 AM
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Ditto the others; this is a wonderful report both in terms of information and motivation to go. THANKS!
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:01 PM
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Great report, Songdoc.
One way or another, I feel responsible for having brought up the "what-side-of-the-train-to-be-seated" topic. No big argue, heh?
Bjorn, Oslo
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:32 PM
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Great report!

No need for a long walk from the Rosenkrantz to the Aquarium, there is a small boat crossing the harbour, obviously no one told you.

Olaug
(born in Stavanger, lived in Bergen for 10 years, now in the Isle of Man)
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Old Oct 16th, 2005, 11:30 AM
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Bergen and the scenery on N in a N sounds so wonderful. I've been doing some research....but am still uncertain the best way to get to Bergen from the US. How difficult is it from London? Is Oslo the best way? Wondered what the best way is to get from Bergen to Oslo. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated!
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Old Oct 16th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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I don't know where you live in the US, but we live in southern Michigan. We had a Northwest flight from Detroit to Amsterdam, changed planes then, still Northwest, Amsterdam to Bergen. We did the Nutshell tour which took us from Bergen to Oslo. A long day, but very lovely. Not to be missed. Then, long story, we went on to Copenhagen and ended up in Stockholm. Took Northwest back to Amsterdam and back to Detroit. The European segments may have been KLM which codeshares with NW, now that I think about it.
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Old Oct 16th, 2005, 04:56 PM
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SAS flies from US to various cities in Scandinavia. I flew from Newark to Copenhagen and spent 4 days, then flew to Stockholm, then on to Oslo. We did the NIAN trip from Oslo to Bergen and flew home from there. There are several low cost carriers. Since we had limited time, flying between most of the cities worked for us as distances are pretty long.
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Old Oct 17th, 2005, 07:09 AM
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Thanks for the info on how to come/go from Bergen/Norway. I'm on the west coast...bit of a longer trip but I know well worth it. We're also looking at perhaps a cruise - leaves & returns to Dover, on Holland America, that visits alot of the fjords, plus Bergen and into the Artic Circle. I'm thinking that while stopping in Bergen it might be possible to do the NINS - which we really want to take. Thanks again for relaying your experiences.
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Old Oct 17th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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Did you have to handle your own luggage for each segment of the NINS part of your trip, or could you "check it through"?
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Old Oct 19th, 2005, 09:22 AM
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To onthegogo: Yes, you can do the NINS from Bergen ending again in Bergen. It still takes up a long day.

To evelyntrav: We carried our own luggage (fortunately just one carry-on each) thru the whole trip. If there was any way to check it thru, I didn't see it.
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