It’s a bit over 300 miles from Bergen to Oslo. We’d originally considered renting a car and driving, but the winding roads through the mountains and the high cost of a one-way rental nudged us into buying train tickets. “Surely that’s gotta be easier than driving ourselves, and we’ll be seeing more scenery than if we were flying!” we said to ourselves.
Getting up at the butt-crack of dawn, we had a bit of brekkie, packed, and left for the Bergen railway station where we settled into our seats for a long ride to Oslo on an eight car train, pulled by an electric locomotive.
Railroad Trip, Road Trip, What’s the Difference
About an hour into our journey, we stopped in the town of Voss (I think that’s where those bottles of spring water come from – I can’t be bothered to google to confirm) where we were informed that a power line had fallen in the mountains and that repair crews were on their way to fix it (electric train – electricity = not going anywhere).
Another hour or so later, we’re told that the repair crews aren’t able to fix the problem in time, so we’re getting placed on a bus to Oslo. About eight hours or so later, we arrived at the Oslo railway station (the bus driver introduced our ride as a “train with rubber wheels” – Norwegian humor strikes again).
We briefly wondered if this were the same route that Varg Vikernes drove to murder Euronymous. And then we immediately thought about less dark things.
I couldn’t help but note how everyone took this detour in stride, with nary a complaint or a harrumph. I guess that got me to take all this on an even keel, although by the last hour-and-half of this journey I found that my state of zen has a time limit and that I probably would have kissed the ground once we were off the bus (and given how clean everything is in Norway, I might have just done that… if I weren’t getting the way of everyone else exiting the bus).
After a dazed meal at the railway station Upper Crust (kinda like Panera if that makes sense) and a bit of confused sorting out of transportation options, we arrived at our AirBnB, over the moon to be able to rest after this long day on the road. I guess we did get our road trip after all, so be careful what you wish for?
Vi er alle Vikinger!
The next morning we wandered into the rain to the nearby 7-11, equipped ourselves with bus passes and energy drinks, and headed over to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (although Norsk Folkemuseum sounds way cooler, wouldn’t you agree?).
The museum features over 160 buildings representing designs and styles used throughout Norwegian history. It is a massive collection of exhibits and displays, and from what we gather there are re-enactments, and folks in period costumes during the summer season, which we just missed, so some of what we saw looked a bit damp and empty, as if we’d stepped into a Witcher-style video game or an alternate set for ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’
The Folkemuseum does feature a Stave Church, this one being originally built in the town of Gol and semi-moved and reconstructed in its current location in the 1880’s. Fortunately no corpse-painted punk came anywhere near setting fire to this one.
Fortunately, unlike the Fantoft Stavekirke, this one was open to visitors. The interior is dark, both spacious and constricting, and very, very impressive.
After a meal at the museum cafe, we headed down the road to Vikingskipshuset, or the Viking Ship Museum.
This museum features viking ships that were buried as funeral vessels (I’m not sure where I got the idea of viking funerals involving fire; I blame the movies), unearthed and pieced together for the public to view and admire. It’s mindblowing to know that folks used to sail between continents in these ships – they’re larger than I thought they’d be, but they’re pretty damned tiny in an ocean, and as far as I can see, there isn’t anywhere to go to hide from the elements.
And every museum has a gift shop, and here’s a purchase I almost made:
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough go Record Shopping
Next we headed into Oslo city center (or sentrum) to visit the Råkk & Rålls music shop.
I’ve no idea what this building used to house, but Råkk & Rålls is a wall-to-wall music heaven full of LPs, CDs, and other bits of tangible music that still thankfully exists despite streaming and whatnot (insert “kids get off my lawn” bit here).
Nancy found an “OG” (vinylists’ way of saying “original pressing”) Scandinavian prog rock LP, while I picked up an older CD by Beak>. While one might have been able to get these through discogs, one would have had to deal with shipping, fret over delivery and potential doorstep package theft, etc.
A bit more retail after this, a visit to the supermarket, and then we returned to the AirBnB for an evening in.