Europe Multi Country July & August 2015 Germany to Norway via Sweden
When planning this trip in my head the only way I wanted to enter Scandinavia was by the train ferry from Berlin to Malmo yet strangely the window of opportunity is quite limited as the Snälltåget train only runs from late June until the first week in August!
Once in Sweden there wasn’t really anything on the agenda other than doing the train as far north as possible, which is obviously to Narvik in Norway and from there a bit of a cobbled together plan was put together involving Bodø, not stopping in Trondheim for more than 90 minutes, Oslo, Bergen and the Flåm Railway. Even now I look back at the plan and see that I could have done things a whole lot better and more efficiently; which could have included trips out to the islands in northern Norway but it didn’t yet I was still very happy with how things went and the places we visited.
WF857 0910 Narvik Framnes – Bodø
DY2805 1300 Oslo – Gatwick
Booked through Wideroe & Norwegian direct
Berlin – Motel One Berlin Leipziger Platz, Leipziger Platz 12, Mitte, 10117 Berlin, Germany – a five minute walk up the road from Potsdamer Platz. The room was spotless and pretty much what you’d expect at the likes of a Hilton, albeit a little on the small side. WiFi was free and very strong but breakfast wasn’t included in the rate so we paid €9.50 each for breakfast. The staff spoke fluent English and confirmed we could leave our bags with them the following day, once we’d checked out.
Stockholm – Hotel Terminus, Vasagatan 20, 101 25 Stockholm, Sweden – straight out of Stockholm Central station’s main entrance and over the road. The girls on the front desk were very polite, spoke fluent English and had us checked in quickly. Our room was only on the 1st floor but in a quiet location, away from the main road between the hotel and station. WiFi was free and of a decent strength and the room was clean and well presented with toiletries provided. Breakfast was included in the room rate and there was a massive selection.
Narvik – Scandic Narvik, Kongens Gate 33, 8501 Narvik, Norway – a 10 minute walk from Narvik railway station; the hotel sits very prominently at the bottom end of town. Our 11th floor room overlooked basically the whole of the iron ore docks and had great views out over the water too. The Scandic Narvik stands towering above everything around it with its glass exterior making it stand out even more. Its interior is as modern as its exterior with very nice rooms, which randomly lack air conditioning but have heating for the bathrooms. I guess during the Winter it can be a bit fresh on the feet in a cold bathroom! Our problem was that it was a glorious afternoon and the sun was beaming through the room windows, turning it into a greenhouse; it was quite literally sweltering and we were glad to be heading back out soon after we arrived, to enjoy the afternoon while the weather was nice. WiFi was free throughout the hotel and breakfast was included and served as a buffet; that had to be constantly replenished with the amount of people setting off on early morning trips.
Bodø – Radisson Blu Bodø, Storgata 2, 8006 Bodø, Norway – we arrived just after 10am and were so relieved when there was a room free for us to check straight in to. The hotel is about 10 minutes from Bodø railway station, 20 minutes from the airport and ideally situated for access to everything in Bodø. The room was spotless, spacious and the free WiFi worked well. Toiletries were provided as were tea/coffee making facilities; which were just what we needed after our not so pleasant walk to the hotel. Breakfast was included in the room rate but didn’t seem to be as well looked after as other places we’d visited on the trip as I had to tell the staff that most of the hot food out was actually stone cold!
Oslo – Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania, Biskop Gunnerusgt. 3, 0106 Oslo, Norway – I was almost shocked when the Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania showed us to our room at just after 7am; having already showed a family in front of us to their room! The hotel is centered around and open middle area which overlooks the breakfast area below; which you can look down on while going up in the lifts. Another spotless room which was on the upper floors, with good WiFi and all the facilities you’d expect. Breakfast had a lot of choice, but not a lot of choice if that makes sense, and was also in desperate need of more staff to keep things replenished early in the morning; such is the theme with tour groups heading out early!
Bergen – Scandic Ørnen, Lars Hillesgate 18, 5008 Bergen, Norway – a 10 minute walk from Bergen station and about the same again to the harbour in the opposite direction. It was a very plush looking place and our room was quite spacious with good WiFi, decent toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities. Breakfast was included in the room rate, with a decent selection to choose from but only when the hoards hadn’t hovered it all away in the morning rush!
Interrail Global Pass 15 Days – £322
Booked in the UK through Inter Rail online
EN300 1927 Berlin – Malmo – SEK1917 for berth reservations only (all 6 berths in a couchette)
Booked direct through Snälltåget’s website with ticket printed off immediately after booking
NT94 1755 Stockholm – Narvik berths booked online at SJ’s website; of note is that there are no 2 berth second class sleeper berths but you can book all three in a three berth by paying for the extra reservation.
All reservations in Norway done over the phone through NSB’s call centre, including sleeper berths & Flåm Railway tickets. There is no way of booking reservations only online at NSB’s website. Contact number is +4761051910 then option 9 for English.
Saturday 25th July 2015 (The DB resolution)
Having arrived into Germany from Bratislava overnight I spent the morning in Dresden before heading over to Berlin to meet my wife at the airport. The journey to Berlin was pretty harmless but EC378 was hammered a bit on the way and was 15 late by Berlin Sudkreuz where I made the 1538 “Airport Express” EMU to Schönefeld Flughafen. I then made the mistake of heading to Terminal D, which was where the return Norwegian Air flight to Gatwick was departing from, only to then find that arriving passengers would do so through Terminal A. By the time I got there my wife’s plane was just landing!
Getting from Berlin Schönefeld Flughafen to Potsdamer Platz, where our hotel was, is quite easy and there’s two routes to take, either via Sudkreuz or Ostbahnhof and when we found 143193 waiting with RB18926 1726 Flughafen – Nauen vice EMU that got the vote over an EMU to Sudkreuz. A nice little move strung itself together with 143193 being right time at Freidrichstrasse which allow us to do 182010 back to Alexanderplatz on RE18125 1608 Magdeburg – Frankfurt Oder for 112155, vice 182, to Berlin Hbf on RE18130 1659 Frankfurt Oder – Magdeburg and then finally 112113 to Potsdamer Platz on RE18515 1503 Stralsund – Berlin Sudkreuz.
The Hotel Motel One was a five minute walk up the road from Potsdamer Platz. The room was spotless and pretty much what you’d expect at the likes of a Hilton, albeit a little on the small side. WiFi was free and very strong but breakfast wasn’t included in the rate so we paid €9.50 each for breakfast. The staff spoke fluent English and confirmed we could leave our bags with them the following day, once we’d checked out.
Food that evening was going to be Mexican but the place we’d found on the Triposo App was nowhere to be found and we ended up at an Indian restaurant, in the vicinity of where the Mexican should have been, called Amrit. It’s only a short walk from the entrance to Potsdamer Platz station and the food was tasty, piping hot, served quickly and the service was excellent all round with all the staff speaking fluent English as well.
Sunday 26th July 2015 (Berlin sightseeing)
Before breakfast it seemed like a sensible idea to nip out and have a morning spin; and a pretty successful one it turned out to be. I was at Potsdamer Platz before I’d planned to be and managed a bonus run to Berlin Hbf as a result, the plus 1 making quite easily in the process and I was back waiting at Potsdamer Platz for the train I’d planned to do a mere 8 minutes later; having had 112182 for 182190 on RE18344 0624 Wunstdorf Waldstadt – Schwedt and RE18305 0544 Pasewalk – Elsterwerda respectively.
112112 was 5 minutes late with RE18506 0612 Falkenberg – Stralsund Hbf but the plus 9 from the lower level to upper level at Berlin Hbf still made quite easily. A quick spin to Alexanderplatz, where the plus 5 is cross platform, revealed 182002 on RE18105 0606 Magdeburg – Frankfurt Oder and 182014 on RE18110 0659 Frankfurt Oder – Magdeburg. When I got back downstairs to do the next Sudkreuz/Potsdamer Platz moves I found 143333 sat waiting to go with RE18590 0814 Berlin Hbf – Warnemunde, which I hadn’t been expecting; so rather than the 0814 to Sudkreuz it was the 0814 to Gesundbrunnen with 143333.
I had no time at all at Gesundbrunnen and 112138 whisked me back south on RE18345 0708 Schwedt – Wunstdorf Waldstadt; on the same train I’d have ended up on had I done the move south to Sudkreuz and back in the first place. Having done it through to Potsdamer Platz anyway, to continue with the planned moves, 114005 produced for RE18305 0616 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf and delivered me back to Berlin Hbf with a little more time to get myself up the 3 sets of escalators to the upper level platforms, to do another quick Alexanderplatz out and back.
182005 and 182003, with RE18107 0708 Magdeburg – Frankfurt Oder and RE18112 0759 Frankfurt Oder – Magdeburg respectively, made for a full hit of winners thus far on the 182 turns and the winners just kept on coming as 112108 headed RE4355 0634 Rostock – Lutherstadt Wittenberg and dropped me nicely into a late running IC2070 0654 Dresden Hbf – Berlin Hbf at Berlin Sudkreuz, which was headed by 101028. Then 112115 topped the morning bash off nicely as it delivered me back to Potsdamer Platz on RE18307 0616 Stralsund Hbf – Elsterwerda; 10 minutes later I was eating breakfast with my wife!
As we had all day to kill before our overnight towards Sweden the hotel kindly kept our bags in their locked baggage room and gave us a ticket to collect them later in the day. A morning of sightseeing followed taking in the Brandenburg Gate & Reichtag before heading back to use the train to get round to Alexanderplatz and then head towards Berlin Cathedral.
We eventually arrived at Berlin Hbf off 112108 on RE4358 1128 Lutherstadt Wittenberg – Rostock, having done Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Sudkreuz, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Sudkreuz beforehand with 112120, 112190 & 112187 featuring with RE18509 0903 Stralsund Hbf – Berlin Sudkreuz, RE18312 1021 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf and RE18349 1108 Schwedt – Wunstdorf Waldstadt respectively. Due to the fact that we’d flagged RE18115 1108 Magdeburg – Frankfurt Oder as it was a dud 182, we ultimately paid the price when RE18181 1225 Brandenburg Hbf – Frankfurt Oder was cancelled and ended up getting on EIC45 1337 Berlin Hbf – Warszawa Wschodnia with a view to doing it to Berlin Ost for a 182 back to Alexanderplatz; when the train randomly stopped in the platform at Alexanderplatz and even more randomly the green light came on to allow the doors to be opened, we were off in a flash and down the stairs and away. Quite why it had stopped or why the doors had released was a mystery but one that got us to where we needed to be nonetheless.
It turned out to be a nice afternoon and we had a good afternoon in the Alexanderplatz area before heading back to Potsdamer Platz for some food. Not realizing it we walked straight back into RE18180 1434 Frankfurt Oder – Brandenburg Hbf, which was cancelled and formed off the cancelled RE18181 1225 Brandenburg Hbf – Frankfurt Oder; which we’d been scuppered by on the way out. So off to Berlin Ost it was when 182024 rolled in with RE18185 1425 Brandenburg Hbf – Frankfurt Oder for 182003 to Berlin Hbf on RE18126 1459 Frankfurt Oder – Magdeburg. 112113 was first up at Berlin Hbf heading back towards Potsdamer Platz with RE18513 1303 Stralsund Hbf – Berlin Sudkreuz but we went through to Berlin Sudkreuz anyway. The first of the two trains back was already in so we leapt on blind and found 112165 on the rear of RE18316 1414 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf en-route back to Potsdamer Platz. We were then off on a bit of a wild goose chance for food!
We’d decided that Italian food took our fancy and as we had to pick our bags up from the hotel anyway the one just a little way past it seemed to be a sensible choice; found on Triposo again the Centolire café e panini looked nice and cozy from the outside, unfortunately it looked nice and closed as well and for the second evening running we’d been Triposo’d! We ended up walking back to the Sony Centre, by Potsdamer Platz station and finished up settling for an Italian that we’d walked past once, called Vapiano; unfortunately we ended up walking out on this one due to the fact you had to queue up at the kitchen and watch your food being cooked, to then have a card swiped to add the food you’ve bought which you then take back to a till to pay for afterwards! I got bored in the queue when it took 5 minutes for the person three in front of me to have her food prepared! As we’d not been disappointed the previous night we ended up back at the Amrit Indian Restaurant, which was just over the road from the Vapiano, 25 minutes after walking virtually past its doors earlier! The service wasn’t as good as the previous night but the food was.
Having collected our bags from the Hotel Motel One we were basically Sweden bound but rather than head straight to Berlin Hbf, 112121 enticed me to Berlin Sudkreuz first with RE18515 1503 Stralsund Hbf – Berlin Sudkreuz, before we headed to Berlin Hbf on board RE18318 1611 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf. I’d seen the Snälltåget set in Berlin Hbf when I arrived first thing in the morning; it had only been load 4 and was headed by Snälltåget’s #109. Having been to get some snacks from a rather wedged supermarket we returned to the platform to find the set in platform 5, now with 5 coaches but no engine in sight.
Snälltåget’s Malmo C – Berlin Hbf – Malmo C train only runs from late June until early August and even then is only a three day a week operation in either direction. It’s a very handy way to get from Germany to Sweden and vice versa and is easily bookable through the Snälltåget website. What’s more if you don’t want to share your six berth couchette with anyone else you can book the whole six berth compartment to yourself, or for as many people as you like, up to six of course; which is exactly what I did for Danielle & I and in the end I was glad I did as most people travelling were Interrailers and of course reveling in the fact they were doing so, so the noise levels in some compartments weren’t low and neither was the baggage factor!
Our solitary six berth compartment had plenty of room and also had six cartons of water laid out on the table. Bedding was provided and all laid out on the top berth and other than the noise and general ambiance of the train it was clean enough but for the fact the toilet in our coach was out of order! Snälltåget’s #109 soon appeared and was dropped onto the north end of the train to make a prompt departure northwards at 1927. I have to say I was a little skeptical when the guard came round to check tickets as all I had was the printout of the booking confirmation from when I’d booked the tickets; all he did was grip it when he came round and left us to it.
Leaflets are provided in the racks at the end of each coach with the gen for the train, including timings. Basically the trains are non-stop Berlin – Malmo and vice versa but the times the trains depart their respective ports on board the FS Sassnitz are provided as people are allowed off the train when it’s on the ferry. The FS Sassnitz is a Stena Line ferry which plies the route between Sassnitz & Trelleborg and is fitted with on board tracks to accommodate the train; which fit perfectly when the boat is docked, to the tracks outside the ferry. Going north to Malmo the ferry departs at 2300 and arrives Trelleborg at 0315 but the train stays on board until 0630. Heading south the ferry departs Trelleborg at 1800 and arrives into Sassnitz at 2215 but then waits in Sassnitz until approx. 0230 before heading to Berlin Hbf.
Our journey north from Berlin was harmless and straightforward and the moment we dropped into Sassnitz dead end station a shunt loco was already dropping down, which turned out to be Baltic Port Railway’s V6002, which then dragged us out of the platform and propelled us onto the ferry; which had already been loaded. Basically the train is last on at Sassnitz. Most people got off once the train was berthed and tied down but the sensible folk went to be; like us. Despite it being the middle of the night people were still up drinking in the corridor of the next coach to us at about 0200; I’m so glad I hadn’t been in that coach!
Gen for Sunday 26th July 2015
|101028||IC2070||0654 Dresden Hbf – Berlin Hbf|
|112106||RE4359||1034 Rostock Hbf – Lutherstadt Wittenberg|
|112108||RE4355||0634 Rostock Hbf – Lutherstadt Wittenberg|
|112108||RE4358||1128 Lutherstadt Wittenberg – Rostock Hbf|
|112112||RE18506||0612 Falkenberg – Stralsund Hbf|
|112113||RE18513||1303 Stralsund Hbf – Berlin Südkreuz|
|112115||RE18307||0616 Stralsund Hbf – Elsterwerda|
|112120||RE18509||0903 Stralsund Hbf – Berlin Südkreuz|
|112121||RE18515||1503 Stralsund Hbf – Berlin Südkreuz|
|112138||RE18345||0708 Schwedt – Wunstdorf Waldstadt|
|112165||RE18316||1414 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf|
|112182||RE18344||0624 Wunstdorf Waldstadt – Schwedt|
|112183||RE18350||1230 Wunstdorf Waldstadt – Schwedt|
|112184||RE18318||1611 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf|
|112187||RE18349||1108 Schwedt – Wunstdorf Waldstadt|
|112190||RE18305||0544 Pasewalk – Elsterwerda|
|112190||RE18312||1021 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf|
|114005||RE18305||0616 Elsterwerda – Stralsund Hbf|
|143333||RE18590||0814 Berlin Hbf – Warnemunde|
|182002||RE18105||0606 Magdeburg – Frankfurt Oder|
|182003||RE18112||0759 Frankfurt Oder – Magdeburg|
|182003||RE18126||1459 Frankfurt Oder – Magdeburg|
|182005||RE18107||0708 Magdeburg – Frankfurt Oder|
|182014||RE18110||0659 Frankfurt Oder – Magdeburg|
|182024||RE18185||1425 Brandenburg Hbf – Frankfurt Oder|
|370003||EIC45||1337 Berlin Hbf – Warszawa Wschodnia|
|109-3||EN300||1927 Berlin Hbf – Malmo C to Sassnitz|
|V6002||EN300||1927 Berlin Hbf – Malmo C to ferry at Sassnitz|
Monday 27th July 2015 (The Scandinavian connection)
There was an announcement on board the ferry at 0300 telling everyone that the ferry was approaching Trelleborg and that they should return to their vehicles. I didn’t hear this at all but did hear my alarm at 0315; which went off just as vehicles were starting their engines to leave the ferry. I found the guard as I walked towards the end of the train to investigate what would shunt us off, it was then that he told me the train would sit on the ferry until 0630; so it was back to bed with the alarm set for 0600 instead.
When I wondered back down at about 0615 there was nobody in sight and the ferry’s rear entrance was cordoned off so nobody could either exit or enter. It wasn’t until about 0625 that a headlight appeared in the distance and shortly afterwards Green Cargo’s shunting device #375 came to a stand just at the other side of the barriers. The guard had clearly radio’d the ferry’s staff to tell them it had arrived as a few minutes later three guys turned up and started to remove the metal fencing; the first one that arrived had taken the radio off the guard. Just after 0630 #375 was attached and the restraints holding the train in place were removed, the train doors were closed and locked and #375 dragged us off the ferry, through the yard where at least two other Green Cargo shunters were present, one of which was shunting wagons onto another ferry, and then reversed to propel us into Trelleborg station; where Hector Rail’s 182504 (numbered 242504 in Sweden) was waiting to drop onto the other end and work the final leg of the journey into Malmo Central; which only took 35 minutes!
It was a cold and miserable morning as Snälltåget’s train EN300 rolled into the dead end that is Malmo Central; a stark contrast to how it had been in Berlin and a good 10 degrees cooler! In the adjacent platform was a set of Snälltåget stock labelled up for Stockholm, which Hector Rail’s 182504 was soon bolted on to, having shunted the Berlin stock out, ran round it, propelled it back in and then shunted onto the Stockholm set.
With 1h50m to kill before train 3940 set off for Stockholm we initially had a quick scan outside the station to see if there was anywhere to get breakfast but soon ended up back in Starbucks; pretty much like quite a few others that had arrived on the same train as we had. Burger King sufficed for breakfast in the absence of anything more suitable and we were on board coach #9 a good 30 minutes before departure. Most of the train, with the exception of the buffet and one coach, was formed of ex SJ overnight stock and our particular one was of six berth couchettes; which had a massive amount of room in them. Unfortunately we did have to share it with others en-route to Stockholm but despite it being full at one point there was still plenty of room for all and the 5h11m journey seemed to fly by.
We were glad to get off, despite the decent journey, and walk straight out of the station and over the road to the Hotel Terminus. The girls on the front desk were very polite, spoke fluent English and had us checked in quickly. Our room was only on the 1st floor but in a quiet location, away from the main road between the hotel and station. WiFi was free and of a decent strength and the room was clean and well presented with toiletries provided.
The weather in Stockholm was better than in Malmo and the sun was even shining. Having travelled for quite a long time though we couldn’t be arsed to get our bearings and start exploring the city, as everyone else was giving up for the day, so an afternoon covering the Stockholm Uppsala Rc6 turns it was.
All the Stockholm Uppsala services depart from platform 3 at Stockholm Central and the 1611 to Uppsala was formed of Rc6’s 1352/1380 which we did out to Knivsta for the plus 12 onto the 1641 Uppsala – Stockholm; formed of Rc6’s 1352/1380. Both Knivsta and Märsta are island platforms and the plus 2 cross platform leaps made every time we saw them. We flagged the plus 2 though and let Rc6’s 1369/1362 head to Uppsala with the 1641 Stockholm – Uppsala and did Rc6’s 1373/1376 half an hour behind on the 1711 Stockholm – Uppsala to Knivsta for the plus 12 onto 1362/1369 returning with the 1741 Uppsala – Stockholm; job done, all four turns covered. Unfortunately the additional rush hour 1701 Stockholm – Uppsala doesn’t run from June to August so there was no bonus 5th set to get in.
Looking forward to some decent food we found ourselves well and truly Triposo’d again as we went in search of the Macho Mexican Restaurant, which was only a short distance from the hotel but nowhere to be found when we reached where it should have been! So that was Triposo 3, us nil! I was beginning to wonder if Triposo was ever updated and monitored by the app’s creators after this third time unlucky? Still, we fell lucky again as the Restaurang Tang, Chinese restaurant, was only round the corner where both the service and food were excellent and the price reasonable too. There were however two women who clearly needed throwing out of the place as they treat the waiters like shit, demanding things and being abrupt with them; at one point insisting the waiter take her water away as she wanted it in a bottle and not the glass she’d been served it in; I’d have spat in it, or done something worse, if she’d spoken to me like that, or even gestured the way she had by flicking her hand and turning her head away! Thankfully the obnoxious pair didn’t spoil our Restaurang Tang experience and I’d recommend it to anyone when in Stockholm.
Having slept the previous night on a train, badly, it was no surprise that we were quite tired and ready for bed early and with no real agenda for the following morning we didn’t set an alarm for the following morning either.
Gen for Monday 27th July 2015
|375||EN300||1927 Berlin Hbf – Malmo off the Ferry at Trelleborg|
|182504||EN300||1927 Berlin Hbf – Malmo from Trelleborg|
|182504||3940||0920 Malmo Central – Stockholm Central|
|1352||844||1611 Stockholm Central – Uppsala|
|1373||848||1711 Stockholm Central – Uppsala|
|1350||851||1641 Uppsala – Stockholm Central|
|1362||855||1741 Uppsala – Stockholm Central|
Tuesday 28th July 2015 (Stockholm, a little bit boring really….)
Not surprisingly we didn’t get up early and were still in the breakfast area when everything was starting to be cleared away. The selection was quite vast really with the emphasis on cold rather than hot food but there were a few hot bits to choose from though. Unfortunately the weather forecast had got it wrong and the rain had started a good 8 hours before it was predicted to; making for a bit of a miserable morning really. Luckily for us it was nearly afternoon by the time we got ourselves out of the hotel; having left our bags in the hotel’s baggage room with stickers on that had our room number on them.
As the weather didn’t really know what to do we didn’t wander far before doing a quick out and back to Flemingsberg. I’d originally planned to do a Hallsberg train for Hallsberg train as they’re guaranteed hauled, however in the adjacent platform to where the 1243 Stockholm – Hallsberg should have departed was Rc6 1407 waiting to depart with 10233 1237 Stockholm – Norrkoping; which we did instead and when it departed there was no sign of the stock for the 1243. It was a good job we did it too as it only just made 10130 1126 Hallsberg – Stockholm at Flemingsberg and its not a short walk over the footbridge there either! As Rc6 1346 departed with 10130 Rc6 1348 came to a stand in the opposite platform with the 1243 Stockholm – Hallsberg!
Back in Stockholm the weather had improved a little and the sun had even managed to start to come through the cloud so our wonder round the old town that afternoon was a little more pleasant than it would have been had we done it that morning; it was a little windy by the water’s edge though and a lot warmer out of the wind in the centre of the old town.
We just so happened to be walking back towards the main city as it was time for the afternoon Stockholm – Oslo hauled train to depart and the sun in the afternoon is great for southbound departures from Stockholm Central crossing the water just outside the station and it would have been rude not to photograph SJ Rc6 1384 as it departed with IC10053 1458 Stockholm Central – Oslo Sentral the bonus being that SJ Rc6 1367 was only 12 minutes behind it with 10049 1510 Stockholm Central – Hallsberg.
As we were travelling on to Narvik in Norway at 1755 an early evening / late afternoon meal was had at an Italian restaurant called Dolce Vita, which is situated on the same side of the water as the City Hall so we walked right by it on our way. We’d discovered the place on the map the Hotel Terminus had provided us and used ME Maps to guide us there. The place was all but deserted when we arrived, lunch clearly being over and dinner not quite being the order of the day yet; given away by the fact that a table had to be set for us to sit at and while we ate the restaurant owner laid out all the other tables for the evening service and then got changed to his evening best as opposed to his afternoon lounge clothes! Our pizzas were good, a decent size and at a reasonable price; we left not needed any more and I was actually beaten by the fact I’d had a starter and couldn’t actually finish mine!
After collecting our bags from the Hotel Terminus we had little option but to hang around at the station for our train. Supplies were gathered from the Co-op on the station concourse and we waited on the platform to await the stock arriving for what would be our 20h23m journey throughout to Narvik. While waiting Rc6 1415 brought the stock in to form IC48 1745 Stockholm Central – Mora and promptly ran round to wait departure. As our train departed from platform 4 we could see all the Uppsala trains while we waited and noted T&T Rc6’s 1372/1352 with the 1611 Uppsala – Stockholm & 1741 Stockholm – Uppsala and 1369/1362 with the 1711 Stockholm – Uppsala; that was after spotting1350/1357 with the 1211 Stockholm – Uppsala during our jaunt earlier in the afternoon. This meant that 1357 had replaced 1382 to be with 1350 and 1372 had replace 1380 to be with 1352.
By 1740 there was no sign of the stock to form our 1755 departure to Narvik and what’s more was the fact that our coach number wasn’t displayed on the screen when the train formation was eventually advertised. At 1745 though northern based Rc6 1336, which is in a white/blue/red liver and not the usual SJ all over black, rolled in with our stock and we found our coach #12 despite it not being advertised on the platform departure boards. While everyone boarded the train 1336 ran round, we’d booked a three berth sleeper compartment to ourselves, which involves paying for the additional bed but having looked at how cramped he others were with three people in I was glad we had anyway. There actually looked to be more room in the six berth compartments, which were the same sort we’d had on our Snälltåget train from Malmo to Stockholm the previous day. While the compartments were snug, they were pretty modern and fresh water was provided along with soap and there was a show at the end of each coach, which the door key provided in the compartment opened.
NT94 1755 Stockholm Central – Narvik/Lulea departed about 10 minutes late as a result of the late arrival of the stock. Tickets were check the moment we departed, in the sleeper coaches anyway, and while I say were checked I mean it in the loosest sense as all we were asked is “you are two yes?” and that was that, no tickets, no other questions; just that! And that was the only ticket checking that took place in our compartment for the next 1600km. We were left to our own devices from that point on and had quite a relaxing evening as 1336 glided through the suburbs of Stockholm, through Uppsala and Gavle and then further out into the sticks as the evening progressed.
Gen for Tuesday 28th July 2015
1336 NT94 1755 Stockholm – Narvik (To Boden Central)
1346 10130 1126 Hallsberg – Stockholm
1348 10133 1243 Stockholm – Hallsberg
1350/1357 828 1211 Stockholm – Uppsala
1352/1372 849 1611 Uppsala – Stockholm, 859 1741 Stockholm – Uppsala
1362/1369 848 1711 Stockholm – Uppsala
1367 10049 1510 Stockholm – Hallsberg
1384 IC10053 1458 Stockholm – Oslo
1407 10233 1237 Stockholm – Norrkoping
1415 IC48 1745 Stockholm – Mora
Wednesday 29th July 2015 (Fjord country beckoned)
I was awake at about 0630 but just couldn’t be bothered to get down from the top berth until an hour later. Having wondered down to the buffet for a morning cup of tea I found a different one on the train to the one I’d visited the previous evening. I can only assume that when the train had split at Boden Central the buffet that comes from Stockholm went with the Lulea portion and we inherited one that came in from Lulea on RE3694, then attached to our set to go forward with NT94 to Narvik? Either way the guard on board confirmed that Rc6 1326, which now headed NT94, had replaced 1336 at Boden Central; so again I can only assume it had worked in from Lulea with RE3694.
At Kiruna the train emptied out little, with everyone that got off joining the waiting bus at the platform’s edge. 1326 ran round at Kiruna which allowed for a leg stretch outside the train; by which point we’d been on board for over 1000km and 17 hours!
From Kiruna the scenery started to improve, as we headed into Norway, now well inside the Arctic Circle. Our journey halted for a short while at Abisko Östra as we had to wait for Rc6 1324 to arrive with 10095 1040 Narvik – Lulea, which was on time I might add, before we headed off into the wilderness and what seemed to be high ground. Black cloud loomed over the hills and sun beamed through the clouds every now and again while rain could be seen tipping from the skies towards the horizon; wind rain or shine the weather made the journey very atmospheric and all the way to Narvik hikers got off at wayward stations to begin their adventures, the weather being quite different for each group at their different locations.
After waiting at Bjornfjell for black Rc6 1397 to run through with NT93 1240 Narvik – Stockholm we had a clear run to Narvik were the best bit of scenery along the whole route awaits those that make the journey all the way to Narvik; as the train starts to descend down to sea level fantastic views over the fjord that comes inland from Narvik greet the train, which runs alongside it as it steadily heads down to Narvik. My camera was on overdrive and there were plenty others pointing out of the window on the right hand side of the train at the time as well; even though it was relatively empty by the time it reached Norway.
Our arrival into the single platform station that is Narvik, which is not connected to anywhere else in Norway and only passenger trains operated by Swedish Railways use, was bang on time at 1418, a little over 20 hours after we’d left Stockholm. There couldn’t have been more than 30 people got off the train and by the time I’d got a quick photo of 1326 the loco was detached and ran round; ultimately it the propelled its stock into the sidings, to await departure back to Stockholm at 1240 the following day.
From Narvik station it was about a 10 minute walk to our hotel, the Scandic Narvik; which sat very prominently at the bottom end of town. Our 11th floor room overlooked basically the whole of the iron ore docks and had great views out over the water too. The trains that run from the mines at Kiruna, to deposit their loads at Narvik, could be seen running in and right up to the headshunt, before backing into some sort of tunnel, which was presumably the unloading road. Immediately below our window was the line that ran through from Narvik station to the container port on the edge of town; needless to say nothing came along here until it was almost too dull to take a photo unfortunately.
The Scandic Narvik stands towering above everything around it with its glass exterior making it stand out even more. Its interior is as modern as its exterior with very nice rooms, which randomly lack air conditioning but have heating for the bathrooms. I guess during the winter it can be a bit fresh on the feet in a cold bathroom! Our problem was that it was a glorious afternoon and the sun was beaming through the room windows, turning it into a greenhouse; it was quite literally sweltering and we were glad to be heading back out soon after we arrived, to enjoy the afternoon while the weather was nice.
After an afternoon jaunt one the cable car that rises above Narvik and gives excellent views around the land we came across an Italian restaurant called Bella Napoli, which was only a couple of minutes from the Scandic Narvik anyway and served us a decent pizza at a reasonable price, for Norway; this was my first taste of Norwegian prices, which of course are a lot more that we’d pay at home but of course we weren’t at home and the price was what it was, end of; deal with it!
A walk back to the station in the evening revealed Rc6 1330 sat in the sidings having arrived with IC96 1047 Lulea – Narvik and there were two iron ore locos just backing an iron ore train round to the offloading point when we arrived too. Rc6 1326 was tucked down the bottom of the sidings and as it began to rain we didn’t hang around for long; our evening was basically spent in our hotel room thanks to the evening downpour. We actually set off at one point to nip out and view the releasing of the water at the Narvik hydroelectric plant, which sends a jet of water 75m into the air twice a day, but the heavier than it needed to be rain put pay to that idea when we were only 5m outside the door! Of course it was when the weather was at its dullest that two container trains used the line directly below our window; the first headed out of the port and the second headed into the port a short while later. Basically we were confined to barracks for the whole evening thanks to the rain.
Gen for Wednesday 29th July 2015
1324 10095 1040 Narvik – Lulea
1326 NT94 1755 (P) Stockholm- Narvik (From Boden Central)
1330 IC96 1047 Lulea – Narvik
1397 NT93 1240 Narvik – Stockholm
Thursday 30th July 2015 (The weather doesn’t play fair in the Arctic Circle)
We were up early for breakfast and so were the rest of the hotel’s occupants by the look of it; the breakfast room was wedged by 0700. We didn’t send too long there as we had to get to Narvik Framnes airport, which we’d initially intended to walk to as it’s only about 2km from the hotel but as it was a miserable morning and drizzling we booked a taxi at the front desk of the hotel. Despite the short distance the taxi cost about £10 on the meter and only took about 5 minutes to get us to the airport; which was completely devoid of people when we got there!
Our 0910 flight with Wideroe from Framnes to Bodø was showing on time and the small plane to form our flight arrived from Bodø about 30 minutes before our booked departure time. Staff at the predominantly cargo airport turned up at around 0800 and started to check people in; ultimately there were only 10 people on the flight and seating was a free for all when we boarded anyway. Unfortunately the low cloud and crappy weather prevented us from having a nice scenic flight down the coast to Bodø and instead the 39 minute flight enabled us to see nothing other than clouds; it was positively miserable!
The flight was brief and simple and was definitely the shortest flight I’d ever done. Bodø was wet and cold and the 20 minute walk from the airport to the Radisson Blu Bodø set the scene for the day really; it was raining, not very warm and about as miserable a day as we could have wished for! As we were at the Radisson Blu by just after 10am we were so relieved when there was a room free for us to check straight in to. The hotel is about 10 minutes from Bodø railway station, 20 minutes from the airport and ideally situated for access to everything in Bodø. The room was spotless, spacious and the free WiFi worked well. Toiletries were provided as were tea/coffee making facilities; which were just what we needed after our not so pleasant walk to the hotel.
Stupidly I braved the cold rain shortly after we arrived on my own to walk to the station and sort out our NSB tickets that had been pre-booked over the phone from the UK. The walk to the station took 10 minutes, getting the tickets from the ticket machine, with the booking reference numbers, took about 10 seconds! After the walk back to the hotel it wasn’t long before we headed back to the station again for a trip out to Fauske; which would probably have gone a lot better had the rain actually stopped!
The second walk to the station of the morning was harder going in the driving rain but thankfully some respite was found in a shopping centre on the way. NSB Di4 654 was found at the head of the 1227 Bodø – Trondheim, a train we’d be doing throughout the following day. There was no problem doing the train a short distance without a reservation but I wouldn’t risk it on a long journey. The trains are only load 5 with a comfort class at the front, a children’s coach behind that then the buffet and two normal coaches; not much accommodation really but most people boarding at Bodø seemed to head straight to the front for the comfort class coach. This only costs Kr90 per person extra and offers free coffee en-route as well more space and more legroom.
Needless to say the rain hadn’t stopped by the time we alighted at Fauske but did briefly by the time we’d walked down to the waterfront. Honestly though it was one of those days where the weather just made you want to retire to the hotel room and forget the day ever started, so rather than have a nice day out at Fauske walking along the waterfront we found the supermarket that sold the cheapest coke zero and ended up with 5 x 1.5 liter bottles of the stuff to take back to Bodø with us on the 1424 DMU.
By 1424 I was becoming a little concerned about where the train was as it hadn’t arrived from Bodø yet. A quick scan at the timetable on the wall confirmed they were on it; but then something hit me, I’d assumed that the dated trains on the timetable ran between the dates shown; reality soon set in 10 minutes later when nothing had shown up. The dated trains on the timetable were cancelled between the dates shown and didn’t run at all; that’ll teach me to assume when I don’t understand the language the gen is written it won’t it? We were now stranded at Fauske with no train back to Bodø for over 2 hours and with 5 bottles of coke to carry between us, it was cold, raining and there wasn’t really a great deal to do in Fauske at the end of the day…..
Thankfully the buffet/restaurant on the station at Fauske saved us from a very boring afternoon in the station waiting room and we made our cups of tea last a good hour but ended up having to move into the waiting room when space became limited for newcomers; the place was very well frequented and the food looked to be good too.
NSB Di4 653 turned up a few minutes late, with the 0738 Trondheim – Bodø, to rescue us from boredom at Fauske and was relatively well frequented in every coach but the children’s one; where we sat chatting to a Swiss woman. She was travelling as part of a tour group and had sought some peace and quiet in the children’s coach as the comfort class was too noisy with her tour group in it. Two things that came up in our conversation interested me; one was the fact that she found Norway quite costly, which for someone living in Switzerland to say that then it must be costly! The second thing was that she found the organized tour she was on to be quite tiring as the days were long and the early starts, virtually every morning, were taking their toll; so there you have it folks Norway is officially ching and organized tours are officially tiring! That’s why we had 5 bottles of coke with us and weren’t getting up until the 1227 train the following day, after having been to a supermarket for some cheap bits and bobs for the train.
It was a pleasure to drop the coke off back at the hotel and actually get warm before heading out for food. As always the useful Triposo App provided us with what we needed and Thai was the order of the evening at the Chonticha Thai Restaurant, which was half way between the Radisson Blu and the station on the main road. As we already know things aren’t that cheap in Norway for most other occupants of the known world it was no surprise when our bill came to NOK510 but do you know what, the food was cracking, the service excellent and the place just all round nice so who cares; we were on holiday, the price was the price and that was that.
After a quite frankly very strange day, where our biggest achievement was getting 5 bottles of coke zero for NOK89, we relaxed in the hotel for the rest of the evening shutting the crap weather outside and trying not to think about the fact that the whole day had been a bit of a washout; literally.
Gen for Thursday 30th July 2015
Di4 653 R471 0738 Bodø – Trondheim
Di4 654 R472 1227 Bodø – Trondheim
Friday 31st July 2015 (Exiting the arctic circle so soon after entering it)
While it wasn’t raining in Bodø on the morning of our departure it wasn’t warm either and it was a little breezy outside. After breakfast we took a short stroll outside, thankfully there was a co-op nearby which supplied some goodies for our 9h38m train journey to Trondheim and I was quite frankly shocked to find a very large bag of co-op’s own cheesey poofs for a little under a quid; they were quite probably the best buy I found in the whole country and lasted the next 4 days!
Fully prepared for our lengthy journey we rocked up at the station with plenty of food, plenty of time to spare and plenty of enthusiasm for our upcoming journey. NSB Di4 655 was sat in with the stock for the 1227 to Trondheim yet we weren’t allowed to board until 15 minutes before departure; once the train crew had unlocked the doors to the stock. While the train wasn’t wedged on departure from Bodø it did fill up en-route to Trondheim.
The scenery along the route wasn’t as spectacular as I’d expected it to be but it did give you the feel that you were in the back end of nowhere with how arid it was and how there was no civilisation to be seen; even where there were stations. Two large metal globes mark the spot where the Arctic Circle begins and they’re easily photographable from the train, especially when the spectacle is announced by the on-board crew beforehand.
By the time we arrived into Trondheim, at 2205, we were more than ready for something to eat as the bits in the train buffet hadn’t really appealed much. NSB Di4 653 was just running through the station when we arrived so I assumed it was likely to work the overnight back to Bodø at 2350 and sure enough it was at the head of the train when we got back from town later. Burger King had never been so enticing, more due to the fact we needed some food quickly and didn’t want to rush a decent meal in a restaurant; our two medium meals came to Kr194, about £17.
The stock for our overnight 2315 Trondheim – Oslo was sat in when we got back to the station and NSB EL18 2254 was heading it. Keys for the sleeper compartments have to be collected from the guard in the buffet car, which is basically their way of checking your tickets before everyone gets into their compartments; which definitely saves any further disturbance. The berths are a little cramped, probably no more so than the berths on the UK overnight trains, and have sinks with running water; bottled water and earplugs are also provided. There was no messing about when it came to getting ourselves sorted and we were tucked up in bed before the train departed.
Gen for Friday 31st July 2015
Di4 653 R475 2340 Trondheim – Bodø
Di4 654 R471 0738 Bodø – Trondheim
Di4 655 R472 1227 Bodø – Trondheim
EL18 2254 406 2315 Trondheim – Oslo Sentral
Saturday 1st August 2015 (At last some decent weather; thank you Oslo!)
I woke as our train departed Lillestrøm, having had a very good sleep indeed, and we were bang on time into Oslo Sentral at 0704. Our hotel of choice was only a 2 minute walk from the station front, which was less than the walk from the platform to station front itself! Having checked into the Radisson in Bodø at 10am, which is early enough on a day of arrival, I was almost shocked when the Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania showed us to our room at just after 7am; having already showed a family in front of us to their room! The hotel is centred around and open middle area which overlooks the breakfast area below; which you can look down on while going up in the lifts. Another spotless room which was on the upper floors, with good WiFi and all the facilities you’d expect. We definitely weren’t complaining about our good fortune and our quick bag drop allowed me to nip straight back out and do a morning move on one of the few hauled trains out of Oslo of a morning.
A lot of trains were cancelled on the big departure screens at Oslo Sentral station, this due to planned engineering work that closed the line between Oslo & Lysaker until 3rd August which resulted in none of the Stavanger trains running into Oslo. This was affecting some of the stoppers out to Lillestrøm as well but didn’t affect my move, which turned out to be SJ’s Rc6 1384 out to Lillestrøm on IC50 0732 Oslo – Stockholm, which was well frequented but empty towards the front of the train. I was straight back in on an EMU to find NSB EL18 2257 waiting to go with R61 0805 Oslo – Bergen. It didn’t dawn on me at that moment but the 0805 departure of the morning Bergen was very relevant as I was expecting it to be at 0825 when we travelled with the same train the following morning; for the time being though it didn’t register and I headed back to the hotel for a bit; before we made the best of the morning sunshine that was rising above a very tranquil Oslo.
Armed with a map we headed out to take in almost everything that Oslo had to offer, starting with the very bizarre Oslo Opera House and finishing at the Royal Palace having gone via the Akershus Fortress. After a very good morning’s walk round Oslo food was sought at TGI Friday’s by the hotel, which wasn’t a cheap affair but was very nice, and a couple of hours of cranking beckoned afterwards; the only other time during the day when loco-hauled trains graced Oslo with their presence!
The 1304 unit from Oslo sufficed to get me out to Lillestrøm in time to do SJ Rc6 1383 back in with IC10051 0758 Stockholm – Oslo which then dropped me nicely into the 1402 Oslo – Trondheim; which unfortunately had the same EL18 we’d had down from Trondheim overnight attached, ready to depart, 2254. While not unexpected I’d hoped it wouldn’t be but there wasn’t anything else I could do so back out to Lillestrøm I went and was presented with EL18 2247 to head back in with on the 0823 Trondheim – Oslo. Not bad for less than 2 hours out and about and I had no issues at all getting on and off at Lillestrøm where the trains are effectively pick-up and set-down only.
During the afternoon we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves and ended up taking a more leisurely stroll by the Opera House and round to the Fortress again and having scanned Triposo for places to eat during the evening we settled on a Thai place called Far East, which was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, up a side street. It was nothing to look at inside and quite basic but the owner was very accommodating and very sociable; which was also reflected in the excellent food he served, which was at a reasonable price as well.
With Oslo basically conquered I nipped back out of an evening to do another quick move out to Lillestrøm which resulted in an EMU out on the 2044 departure for SJ Rc6 1394 back in on the other Stockholm – Oslo of the day IC53 1458 Stockholm – Oslo. It was while I was out that evening that I realised that the 0825 Oslo – Bergen that morning had departed at 0805 and having checked our tickets they definitely said 0825; either way we’d be at the station for an 0805 departure, just in case!
Gen for Saturday 1st August 2015
EL18 2248 R62 0757 Bergen – Oslo Sentral
EL18 2253 R63 1517 Oslo Sentral – Bergen
EL18 2257 R61 0805 Oslo Sentral – Bergen
Sunday 2nd August 2015 (When is a train ticket not a train ticket?)
Breakfast at the Royal Christiania was interesting; not only was it very busy, I found myself questioning the logic of stone cold scrambled eggs, which I had the pleasure of discovering when shoveling a fork full into my mouth! When I told the staff that they were cold I was directed to the hot scrambled eggs that were on a plate opposite the cold ones; seriously! Despite the free-for-all that was going on throughout the breakfast room we still managed to get some bits for our train journey towards Bergen and were glad to get out of the place and head over to the station.
Sure enough there was no 0825 Oslo – Bergen on the screen but there was an 0805 Oslo – Bergen which was all a little strange when I glared at our tickets again, which clearly said 0825! We were soon to find out why our tickets had an 0825 departure on them, but the hard way! We found our seats easily but unfortunately had seats by a window that didn’t have much of a view as they were the nearest ones to the vestibule door! EL18 2257 was at the head of the train and I eventually figured out that the 0805 departure vice 0825 was due to the line being closed between Oslo & Lysaker which resulted in the Bergen trains running via Roa to Hønefoss, which is single line in sections.
When I got back to our seats Danielle told me some guy had been and told her that he had one of the seats reserved. He was stood in the vestibule waiting for the guard when I went out to talk to him; he showed me his tickets and I showed him mine; both definitely had the same seat numbers allocated and in the same coach; the difference was his ticket had an 0805 departure! When I got back to our seats the penny dropped! For some random reason our tickets were dated 02/06/15 and not 02/08/15; which explains both the 0825 departure time shown on them and the fact that when I booked them back in May that the guy on the phone told me there were only 6 seats left on the train at that point; which I found a bit strange for a train nearly three months out! So that was us effectively without a ticket and at best on a train without a seat; now to find the guard!
I didn’t quite know what to expect when I found the guard but I certainly wasn’t expecting him to be so accommodating. He basically moved us to another coach, which had some un-reserved seats, which I think are for those boarding at unmanned stations along the route. I think the fact that all of our tickets for the day were issued for 02/06 and not 02/08 ensured that the guard believed my story as to why they showed the wrong date, and of course the fact that our Interrail passes were valid. Bizarrely we ended up with better seats, with a clear window, in a quieter coach which had no children in it; our only problem now was that our return tickets from Myrdal to Flåm and Myrdal to Bergen were also issued for the wrong date. The guard on our train told us he could do nothing about it and said that we should just speak to the crew’s on the other trains and explain the situation, just as we had done to him. While I wasn’t too happy about this situation, especially with doing the Flåm line with potentially fully trains and no room to accommodate us, it was what it was and we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the very picturesque journey that was the Oslo – Bergen line; after a 30 minute stop at Hønefoss which was probably due to the early departure from Oslo to path us over the single line sections and of course to await bus connections from the stations not served by the train on that day.
After leaving Hønefoss the run to Nesbyen runs by a lake and the views across it are fantastic, especially when the day was as good as we had weather wise with the low cloud making it very atmospheric. To be honest the cloud in the sky made the photographs all the way along the line a lot better than they could have been had the skies been crystal clear and the arid but hilly landscape around Geilo was turned into more a scene than just some hills along the route. The section of line between Ustaoset and Finse has it all, hills, arid landscape, a shallow river flowing through the valley and snow capped hillsides with the crème del a crème of the journey being at Finse itself where at 1222m a partially frozen lake stands right by the station surrounded by snow covered hills with their peaks hidden in the low lying cloud as the sun shines on; and the bonus of it was we had a 7 minute break there as the train was early so almost everyone was out on the platform snapping away, in awe of the scenery.
Upon arrival at Myrdal the moment of truth would come while we figured out what the hell to do about the fact that we technically didn’t have any tickets for the 1327 train down to Flåm. What we quickly discovered though was the fact that there was absolutely no crowd control at Myrdal for people boarding Flåm trains and having spoken to one of the Flamsbana employees on the platform they just told me to wait on the platform and that we could board any of the coaches between 3 & 6, which are clearly marked on the platform; the other coaches are reserved for tour groups.
Soon enough NSB EL18’s 2255/2259 T&T arrived to form 1857 1327 Myrdal – Flåm. Not everyone alighted from the train but we were first to board through the door we’d stood by and got ourselves window seats on the right hand side in direction of travel. It was a free for all when boarding but there were still a few empty seats when we departed for Flåm. There were two grippers on the train as we headed down the valley, working from either end of the set. I was umming & arring when they approached us, running over the story I had in my head to explain away our 2 month out of date tickets; in the end my cheekiness got the better of me and I just handed the tickets over when asked. They were handed straight back after being stamped; without a single qualm at all. After all it was so easy to read 02/06 as 02/08 if only glancing at the tickets; it had taken me over two months to notice the fact at the end of the day! Ticket issues over we could relax and enjoy the journey; to Flåm at least!
The first point of note is Kjosfossen Falls, where trains stop for 5 minutes to allow everyone out onto the viewing area to get photos and be seduced by some woman in a red dress prancing around on the hills side to some pathetic music; cheesiness aside the falls are quite spectacular, unfortunately it was hammering it down with rain as well which made photographs quite hard to take as the lens was filled with water drops the moment it was exposed in any direction.
As we headed away from Kjosfossen the weather brightened up as we approached Berekvam, where the northbound and southbound trains cross, only actually stopping in the southbound direction as there’s only a loop in the northbound direction and no platform. EL18’s 2243/2244 T&T were sat waiting for us to arrive before continuing towards Myrdal.
The line from Myrdal to Flåm basically follows the valley all the way down to Fjord level at Flåm en-route there are more waterfalls than you can throw a stick at of varying shapes and sizes, on both sides of the line. The section of line between Berekvam & Dalbotn is probably the most scenic with sweeping views down the valley with the river flowing in the bottom and roads winding down just below the railway. By the time we arrived at Flåm, truthfully, I personally preferred the line from Hønefoss to Myrdal over the Flåm line; the scenery is way better and varies a lot more. That’s not to say the Flåm line isn’t scenic, it is, but not as much as the Bergen line is! Both lines obviously have a bit of a tourist conveyor belt going with the Bergen line trains being a bit more relaxed compared to the Flamsbana trains where everyone seems to be herded on and off and moved quickly on from one train to the next; evident at Myrdal where everyone seems to be following the person in front, all equally confused as to where their train back to Bergen is situated!
Crowd control at Flåm was actually existent but only really there to allow people off the arriving trains first before the hoards descended and the scrum began for seats on the next train out! Our return journey back to Myrdal was in slightly better weather, with the rain having gone away for the afternoon by the look of things. People boarded the train at various stations along the route and were sold tickets by the on-board crew so there must be room available on every train, which technically means you can board at either end without a ticket and buy one on board as an independent traveler; certainly at Myrdal as there isn’t even a ticket office there! Having got away without explaining our ticket related issues on the way down I handed the tickets over for the return journey when asked and again they were stamped and handed straight back; which was a bit of a relief really and left only one train to blag our way onto.
Kjosfossen falls on the return journey was a lot better stop than it had been on the outward, the sun was out and the rain had stopped and there were rainbows in the mist at the base of the falls; an excellent 5 minutes worth of photo-stop it was and we headed back into Myrdal having had a good day out but were definitely ready for a good meal having exhausted everything we’d taken from the hotel hours previously and surprisingly so had everyone else on the train! There’d been more snippets of food produced, wrapped in napkins from breakfast tables, than I’d ever seen; so it wasn’t just me that took stuff for the day from hotel breakfast rooms, it seemed that everyone else did as well!
R601 1203 Oslo – Bergen was a little late and not too full when it arrived, allowing us to find a seat for the run into Bergen. I didn’t want to risk the ticketing scenario on this train so went to find the guard immediately after departure, who couldn’t have carded any less at all that we didn’t have valid tickets after I explained the situation to him and showed him our valid Interrail tickets; after all the tickets on the Bergen line trains were actually only reservations and our Interrail ticket was our valid ticket. EL18 2251 did the honours to Bergen, passing EL18 2246 waiting at Voss with R610 1746 Voss – Oslo. Arrival into Bergen was almost to time.
Our final hotel of the trip, for the next two nights, was the Scandic Ørnen which was about a 10 minute walk from the station and about the same again to the harbour in the opposite direction. It was a very plush looking place and our room was quite spacious with good WiFi, decent toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities. We didn’t waste any time that evening in seeking out something decent to eat and settled for a place close to the hotel called Ma Ma Thai, which was surprisingly found on the Triposo App. It was only a small place and not very busy, the food was good though, and very much needed!
Gen for Sunday 2nd August 2015
EL18 2243/2244 (T&T) 1858 1335 Flåm – Myrdal, 1859 1443 Myrdal – Flåm, 1864 1725 Myrdal – Flåm
EL18 2255/2259 (T&T) 1856 1220 Flåm – Myrdal, 1860 1450 Flåm – Myrdal, 1861 1559 Myrdal – Flåm
EL18 2241 spare at Flåm
EL18 2246 610 1746 Voss – Oslo Sentral
Monday 3rd August 2015 (A short boat trip to Fjaerland……)
I’d booked a day trip from Bergen to Fjaerland Glacier through Norled online from the UK, which basically involved a 4 hour journey to Balestrand on a fast ferry for a 90 minute journey from Balestrand to Fjaerland on a sightseeing ferry and then bus transfer from there to the Glacier Museum at Fjaerland before a 25 minute stop at Fjaerland Glacier before doing the same again in reverse; so just to be clear that was 5h30m of boat travel in either direction for 25 minutes at a glacier……..
A day of no trains at all and a good day it was; if not a very long one!
Tuesday 4th August 2015 (You know its time to go home when the rains start!)
Having had a long day the previous day we didn’t feel the need to be up too early for breakfast; which turned into even more of a free for all than it had been on the previous day. As we were heading back to Oslo by train that night we had to check out of the hotel when we went out for the day but the hotel looked after our bags until we needed them that evening.
The weather in Bergen was typically miserable and while not raining heavily it was drizzling on and off which was never going to be good for a day of sightseeing; and it ultimately stopped play completely by the end of the day! Still we were determined not to let it beat us and the first port of call was the Fløibahnen Fenicular which runs up the mountain of Fløyen in Bergen and is only about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.
Return tickets on the Fløibahnen Fenicular cost NOK85 per person and the run up to 320m above sea level only takes 3 minutes, non-stop. There are two cars operating on the railway and they pass in the middle as they run up and down constantly. The views from Fløyen, across the whole of Bergen and the surrounding area, are fantastic; even when it is raining. We only hung around long enough to get the photos we wanted and were heading back down to Bergen, on the opposite car to that which we’d come up the mountain on, within 20 minutes.
We had grand plans travel up Mount Ulriken on the Ulriken643 cable car at some point during the day but the weather put us off a little during the late morning so we decided to leave that for the late afternoon; and after we’d returned from our afternoon Fjord cruise. As a result an early afternoon quick trip out to Arna was on offer which revealed EL18 2245 with R602 1159 Bergen – Oslo; the return move being on an EMU on the 1217 Arna – Bergen local, which was basically empty!
Our afternoon was occupied by a ferry journey with Rodne to Mostraumen and a nice afternoon jaunt it was but the heavens had opened by the time we got back to Bergen which ended any plans we had for the afternoon. So we prolonged our experience at the China Palace that evening with a desert, we had plenty of time before our 2259 departure for Oslo! If we’d thought it had been raining heavy before we went in for food, we’d been wrong; it was bounding it down when we came out! So much so that we wondered aimlessly around a few shops to keep dry and hung around under cover until it slowed enough to make a bid for it back towards the hotel to collect our bags; entertainment was provided while we waited by a young Chinese girl chasing pigeons around the square trying to catch one, which obviously didn’t happen.
After an hour keeping dry in the Scandic Ørnen’s foyer we collected our bags and made our way to Bergen station; we were now officially on our way home with all our sightseeing done for the trip. Boarding of R605 2259 Bergen – Oslo started at about 2220 and I managed to make it into the restaurant car first to collect our berth key from the conductor. Having found EL18 2256 at the head of the train, in old NSB red livery, we retired for the night; before the train had even departed and with all our clothes hung to dry and shoes turned upside down on the air conditioning vents in a bid to dry them as well!
Gen for Tuesday 4th August 2015
EL18 2245 602 1159 Bergen – Oslo Sentral
EL18 2256 605 2259 Bergen – Oslo Sentral
Wednesday 5th August 2015
After a cracking night’s sleep I woke while the train was stationary; it turned out we were at Lillestrøm, so it was time to get up anyway! Upon arrival at Oslo we were probably last to alight from out berths and were in no rush at all to get off. Breakfast was sought from one of the many places open on the station concourse and when I found SJ Rc6 1394 at the head of IC50 0730 Oslo – Stockholm, which I’d had a few days previous, there was no real need to do it to Lillestrøm while en-route to the airport and we just did an EMU directly there instead.
Oslo airport seems a little enclosed and with not much room to maneuver within. We’d already checked in online and had printed our boarding cards at the hotel so getting through security was straightforward. We had a lot of time to wait around though and once our flight had been given a gate we just sat at it waiting our time; while at least two other flights departed from it in the meantime.
The flight home with Norwegian airlines was spot on time and I was glad of the fact that I’d bought our tickets from Gatwick Airport back to London in advance as the queues were massive in the ticket office; as they generally always are! The journey home to Doncaster was easy and ok except for the HST that formed 1S25 1630 Kings cross – Edinburgh, 43251/43317, vice class 91. I was going to attempt to get on the 1635 Leeds instead but when the guard told someone in front of us that there was another ticket examiner on the train with him I decided against it and just did the power cars home in disgust!
It was good to be home when we got there; but I was missing Norway already and thinking about when we could go back, next time during winter to see the Northern Lights. For now though it was back to the grind…….
Gen for Wednesday 5th August 2015
EL18 2258 406 2315 (P) Trondheim – Oslo Sentral
EL18 2261 744 2237 (P) Stavanger – Oslo Sentral
SJ Rc6 1394 IC50 0732 Oslo Sentral – Stockholm