For visitors to Norway with little time on their hands there is a journey between Oslo and Bergen on the west coast coast that involves a series of trains, buses and ferries that is aptly named Norway in a Nutshell. It offers a little taste of everything from breathtaking fjord views to winding rail journeys through the mountains. I just knew this would drive me crazy as there is nothing more frustrating for a photographer that not being able to slow down, stop and explore a landscape. I therefore opted for a rental car and spent 3 weeks instead of 3 days discovering this beautiful and spectacular area.
With so many fjords and mountains the Norwegians have adopted an unusual way to connect scattered towns and villages. They just tunnel through mountains everywhere. Most of these tunnels are long. Very very long. One was 24 km (15 miles) long with bright blue disco lighting to break the monotony. To go over a mountain took a certain amount of effort to find an alternate route to the tunnel but it was always rewarding. These mountain routes are being upgraded now with architecturally designed lookouts and eco sensitive facilities. Perhaps the most famous is the Trollstigen National Tourist Route into Geiranger Fjord. Everything in Norway by the way has a troll association and the little wooden blighters are everywhere just begging you take a photo with them.
The small mountain towns and villages make the most of their isolation and are a delight to explore. Tiny Utne has one of the oldest hotels in the country opened in 1722, while Flam is gateway to the famous Flam Railway and the meeting of two spectacular fjords. Even smaller is Mundal in Fjaerland that prides itself as a book town with various shops and self service book displays scattered along the main street.