Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trains, trains and trains to Norway...

26 hours travelling on 3 separate trains, whew, so how did we get into this predicament? Well originally we were going to stay much lower in Norway but after talking to Gitte we decided it would be nice to go up really high where the really speccy scenery might be. First off we were looking at Tromso, but the train did not go that high so we would have been on a 4 hour bus trip on top of a very long train trip. Also against that idea was that the train would go up Sweden and then cut across missing all the fjords. In the end we settled on Bodo (pronounced Buder) because it was as far as the train went up the west coast of Norway. Because of the effort to get here we gave the place a solid 5 nights, longest we have been at a place since  Cappadocia.

Elizabeth being interviewed

In the spirit of enjoying the journey we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of such a long train trip. First leg from Stockholm took us to Lillehammer in Norway (around 7 hours), nice daytime journey. Second leg started at 11:30pm and was a 7.5 hour journey to Trondheim. We booked a crouchette (little sleeping quarters) and slept on the train, really cool as you can see in the photo. The last part of about 10 hours was straight up the west side of Norway with spectacular views and a superbly comfortable train that did not disappoint and with about an hour to go we crossed into the Arctic Circle withlittle markers denoting the achievement by the tracks. To add to the adventure there was a Norwegian film crew on board from their version of the ABC doing a doco on the journey. We were interviewed for the program and might be on Norwegian television screens this December.

Bodo is a little gem of a town, built right on the corner of the coast and surrounded by little islands visible from the town and surrounding bush. Our hotel overlooked the marina across the road. First day we hit the tourism office as we knew so little about the town, and gave the bewildered lady the instruction to tell us what was worth seeing, with the caveat that it had to be something we could not see or do anywhere else and we did not like shopping. We left with a bundle of leaflets, timetables, maps and a curious table giving times for a maelstrom that was the biggest in the world. Too late for that one today so we started walking to the highest spot we could get to on foot from the town. Typically it was virtually straight up for over an hour but at the top the views were incredible, of the town and some large nearby islands.

The next day we took the bus to Saltstraumen, home of the WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL MAELSTROM. Sounds really scary but actually it is just a tidal current. Every 6 hours 400 million cubic metres of current travel into or out of the sound (it alternates). The times change depending on the moon (as well as the strength) so you get a schedule, but it is not a sudden rush. for about 3 hours the current moves in getting slower and slower and then to nothing until it starts moving out. The times on the schedule are the optimum period, see movie below to get an idea. The location itself was brilliant and we ended up wandering around for about 3 hours. Fascinating is the amount of buildings with complete gardens on the roof, we even saw a small tree growing out of one building in Norway.
Check out the bird on the chimney

Where's Elizabeth?

Day 3 we took the ferry on its round trip to have a look at the islands. A very Greek island feel and look, just much, much colder. At one point the boat stopped and the crew came out taking photos, we looked around and saw a fin out of the water. Apparently it was a whale but it didn't come up to say hello, will have to add whale watching trip to the bucket list. 

On the last day we just had a wander around the town itself finding such gems as the town's oldest church, complete with wedding (so we did not go inside) and a huge hiking trail along the ocean finishing at an outdoor museum, basically a lot of really old buildings near the water's edge. Unfortunately Elizabeth did not get a chance to see the place at night (something she generally insists upon) because it doesn't get dark at this time of year. We did go out at midnight as it was generally the darkest time and took a picture of what must have been a sunrise, considering it was east according to my compass. This place comes across as fairly untouched, clean air, and cold, just what the doctor ordered.

Midnight sunrise right outside our hotel

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