Our Norway Nutshell Experience

Aug 29th, 2017, 10:30 PM
  #1  
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Our Norway Nutshell Experience

We've just returned from a month in the Baltics which ended with the Norway Nutshell route. Just a few thoughts to guide those in the planning phase. Not exactly a trip report, since it only covers a day... more of a cautionary tale....

We went from Bergen to Oslo

We did not book this all on our own, though now i understand that it would have been pretty easy to do. We used Fjordtours to book and all went well, doing it online. We had the tickets mailed to us (I called them to make sure that the roughly $20 fee covered both tickets, not per. It does.)

Definitely buy your ticket before the morning of departure. We arrived at the Bergen train station about 40 minutes before departure and there was already a shockingly long line for the train. Part of us wondered whether we would all get on (even though we had tickets) and of course we did. We would have panicked at that point if we'd had to get in another line to buy a ticket.

The train ride to the bus was easy... but when we got to the bus (which was a 4 or 5 minute walk from the train...just follow the huge crowd) EVERYONE was hurrying and crowding, as if they didn't think they would all fit on. (maybe 300 people... at least 6 busloads full) . People mostly had bewildered but panicked looks on their faces.

We got to the buses (maybe 8 were waiting) and all just streamed on.

HOWEVER... (though it says in our directions from the tour company to check to make sure the bus says thus...) WE GOT ON THE WRONG BUS !!

Seasoned travellers, we know better than to ever rush or panic... this is when you make mistakes... but we really didn't know whether everyone would get on the bus... mostly because of the way others were acting.
...And, it was a perfect storm.
We do swear that the bus was marked as ours, but think that the driver (his FIRST time driving this route, he told us) flipped the sign after we got on.??? I showed him our ticked and destination as we entered, and he nodded ok.

So we had a LOVELY bus ride. Spectacular, really, but it was in the opposite direction from the Flam ferry, and took us to a ferry going on another fjord.

We only discovered this as we walked onto the ferry and it just seemed awfully small... and I wondered where the several other buses had gone. (ONLY our bus was the wrong bus, of course.) So I asked the woman at the entrance, "Flam?" and she said NO!!

We RAN back to our bus... only to be followed by a sweet Italian couple who had made the same mistake. Our original bus was the ONLY chance to get anywhere near where we needed to be... and we were all a bit accusing of the driver, who was sorry, but completely clueless. He took us back to where we started (about 45 minutes coming, but he drove it in about 25 minutes going back.... that was a wild ride on hairpin turns... just the 4 of us clueless travelers on the bus.)

The guy at the train station was super helpful but there were NO other buses that could get us to the ferry (too late) or to Flam on time for our train rides. The Italians were becoming our best-friends-for-a-day (shared trauma will do that)... and after some super-fast research, we realized that the only way to make our train was to skip the ferry portion and take a fast taxi to Flam... which is what we did. (It was about an hour drive, past gorgeous waterways and cost each couple about $40.) We had to wait almost an hour for the taxi because it was lunch time, and the 2 drivers we flagged first both told us that we should go with a certain driver who lived that way anyway!! So we waited. Funny how, when plans are changed in such an awful way, they can become a really fond memory later. We loved getting to know the Italians and enjoyed the Taxi driver very much as well. Also ran into scores of Norwegians in local costume walking home from a baptism.

Long story short... check and triple check your bus from train to Flam!! State the name of the destination out loud and clearly... don't just show your ticket to the driver. And don't panic when you see super long lines of people. There really will be enough seats.

In Flam, it was another huge long line, with many people simply walking to the middle or front of the line. In the end, there were plenty of seats... and all seats are good.

We had decided to stay in Myrdal overnight, before going on to Oslo... which I probably wouldn't do if done over. I just thought it would fun to take our time... and it was... but the hotel in Myrdal (there's only one game in town... Vatnahalsen Høyfjellshotell, about 3 minutes' walk from the tiny station) left much to be desired. Over $200 and almost no view rooms (certainly not ours), horrid bathroom and pretty awful bed. We don't mind a lower end room, but felt taken at that price . We were able to take a little walk and it was nice, but we saw more beautiful spots along the way.

The rest of the trip to Oslo went well-- and it is a truly gorgeous path.

By the way, we just fell in love with Oslo and found it super easy to navigate from bus to streetcar to subway to ferry.
Also, back to Bergen, a special unexpected treat was the Kode3 Museum with its amazing little Munch collection... and the Kode 4 next door, with some Picasso and other modern art I have never seen before!
kawh is offline  
Aug 30th, 2017, 04:19 AM
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thanks for this very helpful report.

When you say "We did not book this all on our own, though now i understand that it would have been pretty easy to do" Do you mean you could have toured Norway on your own, ignoring "Norway in a Nutshell", or that the specific itinerary of Norway-in-a Nutshell is something you can book at every step without the help of an agency?
massimop is offline  
Aug 30th, 2017, 05:39 AM
  #3  
mms
 
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Don't feel bad. We did NIN, but from Oslo to Bergen and also had an issue with the bus. Everyone was crowding to get on it, and those with tickets already were getting pushed aside by people buying a ticket on the spot. The driver allowed this. DH and I were literally the last two people on the bus, and I almost did not get on as there were no more seats, but DH kept telling the driver that we were together, so the driver made someone who had just purchased a ticket on the spot get off so I could get on. NIN really needs to address the bus issue. The rest of the trip is great, but the bus thing is unacceptable, IMO. Sorry all that happened to you, but at least you made the best of it
mms is offline  
Aug 30th, 2017, 06:58 AM
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When we took the NIN trip from Oslo to Bergen, there were two different buses waiting for us at the end of the ferry ride: one for those with the package ticket and another for those who did not have the package. The difference was, apparently, that ours made a little detour to take a very steep road downhill to the hotel on top of the mountain so that we could take in the view. But I agree that there is a sense of anxiousness for lack of knowing and an element of herding like cattle.

Aside from the Myrdal to Flåm train ride, there is little that differs the NIN from self driving. So if someone intends to drive in the fjord country, as we did subsequently, the NIN is not a trip that I would recommend.
Michael is online now  
Aug 30th, 2017, 08:25 AM
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Wow, thanks for reporting back. This is great information!
PegS is online now  
Aug 31st, 2017, 10:10 AM
  #6  
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massimop - I meant that we could have pretty easily booked each leg of the journey.... train to bus to ferry to train.

People on this site have stated exactly how to do that, but planning for such a long trip, I just felt a bit overwhelmed and decided to book through an agency. We also had our luggage transferred to Oslo (which, given the chaos, we were glad for!) At the end of a long trip, it's nice to take it a bit easier!!
kawh is offline  
Sep 9th, 2017, 02:32 AM
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Re. booking Norway in a Nutshell on your own - in mid season there would have been little or no saving (this is possible out of season as cheap non-refundable train tickets are available on the Myrdal-Oslo leg - that is the only saving). There is no booking possible on the train Bergen - Voss or Voss - Gudvangen leaving you in the queue for tickets at the station and paying the bus driver cash. Some dates in season on the Flåm rail were also fully booked before they came on sale individually through NSB.
dyoll is offline  
Apr 17th, 2018, 12:49 PM
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I am planning a trip in August and we are thinking of driving around the fjords. Do you have any tips or itinerary? Not sure whether to leave from Oslo or Bergen, what are your thoughts.
Thanks,
Cindy
cbreloff is offline  
Apr 17th, 2018, 02:01 PM
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The boat ride on the Nærøyfjord was the highlight of our Norway in a Nutshell tour for which we booked the pieces ourselves. Don’t miss it. We broke up our journey by spending the night at the Stalheim hotel. The Stalheim gets very crowded during the summer but in early May we were the only guests.
Marija is offline  
Apr 18th, 2018, 04:42 AM
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Thanks, Cindy (cbreloff) for reviving this old post. What a story! I'd not read it before. I hope the train-bus connection is more organized now.
Diamantina is offline  
Apr 18th, 2018, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by cbreloff View Post
I am planning a trip in August and we are thinking of driving around the fjords. Do you have any tips or itinerary? Not sure whether to leave from Oslo or Bergen, what are your thoughts.
Thanks,
Cindy
We drove from Bergen to Trondheim. I wrote a trip report that can be found by clicking on my name and then "Find Trip Reports".
Michael is online now  
Jul 1st, 2019, 08:53 PM
  #12  
 
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thank you for your story..went to that page and couldn't believe the video of the fjords...takes yr breath away
doloresmercado is offline  
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