From Flåm to Bergen via the scenic route, and car rental chaos
I think it’s just a tiny shame that we didn’t spend more time in Bergen—that was our own doing, obviously! There’s only so much time in the world.
From Oslo, we got a high speed train to Myrdal then took the scenic Flåm railway. On the high speed train we stopped while waiting for a signal and the conductor said we could pop outside for a couple of minutes—very quickly—until the train moved again.
We were on the right hand side of the train going from Myrdal to Flåm, and I think it would have been a better view on the left. The railway does go in both directions and you can book a return ticket. It is about an hour each way. You can stand up to have a better look out the opposite window, as long as you’re courteous towards other travellers. You also stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall for a few minutes and can disembark and take photos. Generally I found the railway a little underwhelming. It was a relaxing and steady journey with nice views, but I guess they didn’t blow my mind. I don’t know if I just had high expectations. 😅 I suppose if you are planning to stay in Flåm it might be a bit more worth your time.
Flåm itself was a bit of a tourist hot spot, so our only plans there were simply to have some time to eat and enjoy the views before heading to Bergen. We took a scenic cruise boat which felt like the longest five (or so) hours of my life. It was supposed to be about a three hour journey but unfortunately there were delays. I was hangry by the time we arrived in Bergen at about 10:00pm.
The cruise itself was a pleasant journey, but it was very chilly outside on the deck. I did pop out to have a look multiple times, and look at the lovely view of the sun setting. Predictably, everyone was taking photos! I tried to do a time lapse but I lost patience quickly.
After arriving in Bergen, we had to walk from the ferry terminal to our hotel, which wasn’t very central, and even though we had been sitting on a boat for hours, we were quite exhausted. We couldn’t really check out much of the town, and restaurants were closed, too. We headed out just to look for something and found a hot dog truck, not before we realised that the majority of the locals seemed off their face drunk. 😆 It was so bizarre. At night, the city itself was a pretty sight with all the buildings’ lights on across the view of the water.
We explored the city the following morning, getting coffee (of course!) and doing a little walk on the coast by the water, with lots of trees providing shade. I think we got quite lucky that the weather was good.
The Fløibanen funicular was a must-do—or at least, going to Mount Fløyen itself. We are definitely fit enough and capable of walking up the mountain but we wanted to ride the funicular to see the views, so we decided that we’d do the walking on the downhill part. It was at the top where we saw some troll statues.
My friend Aleksander recommended a local pub called Pingvinen, where we really enjoyed the food. It was delicious! 👍🏻 We also had room for dessert but I didn’t include the picture here.
The next morning we had an early start as we planned to pick up a rental car at around 8:00am and start a long drive to Åndalsnes, a town in the mountains where we were planning to do the Romsdalseggen hike. It was going to be quite a long drive, but we also planned to stop along the way to see some sights.
We opted to pick up the car from a self-service machine. It’s not that that was a bad idea… but we were just a little bit sceptical after seeing mixed reviews from travellers who either had no issues with self-service car rental, or had to change their plans because a machine didn’t work properly. We unfortunately found ourselves in the latter camp, when we arrived at the self-service machine at 8:00am only to find two other Australian travellers who had been there for an hour, unable to get the keys to their rental car, and one of them having their drivers licence stuck in the machine.
Between the four of us we tried contacting the customer service number printed on the self-service kiosk machine and removing the stuck drivers licence with tweezers (and sheer wit and patience, really), but to no avail.
We managed to find a different phone number for customer service but the line was not open until 9:00am. Since the kiosk was in a 24-hour carpark I went to the desk to talk to the person in the carpark office but he apologised that he couldn’t help much as the carpark company did not own the kiosk, the rental car company did. He was nice enough to check up on us later on (and we assumed he had tried to call someone as well), and Nick was able to get through on the phone eventually, and two representatives showed up—well, eventually.
By this time, a young couple and a man travelling on his own had also shown up to pick up a car. The man said he had the same issue at Bergen airport and some people’s drivers licences could not even be scanned as the machine couldn’t recognise it as a valid licence. Once the representatives managed to free the stuck drivers licence and try and scan Nick’s, it didn’t work automatically so the verification had to be done manually while one of the representatives went back to the office and we waited. What chaos!
We finally got going just after 11:00am. It was a long drive and we cut it really fine with some of the ferries… but more on that next time. 😅
Other posts about this Europe (mostly Scandinavia) trip: