Travel Jottings

Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.

On the Planning of Norwegian Explorations

Kjøsnesfjorden, Jølstravatn, Jølster, Sogn og Fjordane, Sunnfjord, Norway

The trigger for my creation of this collection of places to look on the web for information of places to explore in Norway was a leaflet that came inserted in a walking magazine from a while ago that I recently found again. That brochure was aiming to sell Norway as a walking wonderland and subsequent investigations have revealed it to be much more than that again.

Any brochure or website trying to lure visitors to the area being promoted will have glossy photos showing the best side of what is on offer but there seems to be an embarrassment of riches in Norway's case and quite a bit of variety too. In fact, there's enough to keep one going for a lifetime and just reading about it all eats up hour after hour too.

Norway very rightly is highly regarded for its buckled countryside and indented coastline. The latter is so intricate that it makes Scotland's Atlantic coast look simple in comparison while the former dwarfs the nation's hillier parts. What I have seen so far appeals to me and I like the fact that finding websites in the English language is made far easier than it would be for nearby Sweden. On this evidence, it appears that they are trying harder for the English visitor than their aforementioned neighbours.

Maybe I should visit sometime to see a little of what is there to be found now that I am a little less preoccupied by explorations of my home turf. It cannot be a regular occurrence but one trip could be very nice. What's needed before then is to do more reading and that may have me adding to what's here. After all, a recent summertime trip to Sweden came from nowhere so you just never know what lies around the corner.

Explore Before You Go

Visit Norway

When learning more about a country that is new, you need to start somewhere and this looks like a good port of call for getting to know the place. You'll find the usual needs satisfied such as places to see, things to do, places to stay and getting about. All in all, I reckon that I need to spend more time on the site in order to learn more.

Visit Oslo

Possibly the first place that many will visit on a trip to a new country is its capital city and I must admit to doing this on a few occasions. One thing that I have discovered about Oslo is that it has lakes and woods aplenty on its northern doorstep and Oslo Fjord is on its southern one, complete with a variety of islands. There are other attractions too but these make a good start for planning a stroll about the place.

Norwegian Trekking Association

This apparently is Norway's largest outdoor activities organisation and is now into its third calendar century. As well as sharing useful information on the practicalities of exploring Norwegian countryside, the organisation also runs cabins where you can stay overnight and offers guided treks. They also have a number of subsites like that for Lysefjord hiking so their usefulness cannot overstated.

Environment

Along with the usual environmental management matters, you will also find mention of outdoor activities and that is how it makes this list. Useful information includes details of Norway's generous countryside access laws for activities such as walking. Hunting features too though there has been a shift away from that in recent years.

The word "fjell"should possess a certain ring of familiarity to any visitor to Cumbria and other parts of the north of England where many a hill is called a fell. That's no accident because the English word came from Old Norse in a time when the "Northmen" were all over the area. So, these websites are promoting many of Norway's high places and height is the operative term because we are talking about altitudes much in excess of anything in Britain and Ireland. After all, summits do exceed 2000 metres above sea level over there. The first entry on the list is the hub of a network that includes the others that follow it.

Given that the country gave the word "fjord" to the world, you'd expect it to have some of its own and there are loads by the looks of things. It almost feels as if it has as many them as Scotland has islands though the reality is that there may even be more than that again. Correspondingly, there are many websites promoting their respective attractions so I decided to bundle them together and the majority are part of a network with the first on list as its hub.

Trøndelag

One look at the website should be enough to convince you that they aren't trying to attract passive tourists who pass through admiring the sights. Words like active and involvement appear in the spiel. This is Norway's geographical midpoint and there are seven national parks nearby. Between all that, there should be enough to do.

Heading to the north of Norway takes you into the Arctic Circle where the midnight sun and northern lights are phenomena that are part of the area's identity. It's not all ice-covered frozen wilderness because the influence of the Gulf Stream is still to be felt even at these latitudes. That may also explain the existence of the indigenous Sami and their reindeer herds too. Still, there are parts that feel like outpost bathed in cold blue light with stark stony scenery surrounding them. Those icy fastnesses are there too but it all sounds to me like a land of striking contrasts.

Travel Planning

Norwegian

This low fares airline has been around since the early 1990's when it started operating domestic flights in the west of the country. They still operate domestic flights in Norway today and their network now includes destinations around Europe with Manchester, my nearest airport, being among them.

Widerøe

While the company operates some flights from Aberdeen, Copenhagen and Gothenburg (Sweden), Norwegian domestic flights mainly are its lot. Though there have been some service reductions like the dropping of the Newcastle to Stavanger route, the number of destinations extending along the length of Norway is impressive and worth knowing for they get you near a variety of fjords and into the north of the country where you find delights like the Lofoten islands.

Avinor

This is the operator of many if not all of Norway's airports and the country's domestic air travel network is vital because of its geography; a narrow mountainous profile is not one that is that easy to get around by land. For instance, it easier to fly between Bergen and Stavanger than get between them by land or sea and travel times between Bergen and Oslo are so much reduced. Usefully, ach airport gets its own section of the website with departure and arrival times listed along with other information on practicalities.

Flybussen.no

It is all very well to have a good air travel network but you first need to get to airport. While Oslo's Gardermoen airport gets a train service and Bergen is supposed to get linked to the city's tram network in 2017, buses and taxis are an option that works for these and other airports. As it happens, Flybussen serve both Oslo and Bergen as well as Arendal, Bardufoss, Harstad, Haugesund, Narvik, Sortland, Stavanger, Tromsø and Trondheim. Tickets can be booked via the website so this is not just about getting timetable information, useful though that is, and you can buy tickets on the buses if you want.

NSB

Norway's state railway company runs trains through some pretty stirring countryside and that makes their services more than a travel option that cannot compete with air travel on journey times. For instance, you can fly from Oslo to Bergen in around an hour while the train takes six to seven hours to do the same journey. However, it is what you see out the train window that is the attraction here and getting enjoy to so much scenery at one sitting cannot be overlooked. Day tours are another possibility with a number of options along the railway between Oslo, Myrdal, Voss and Bergen from which to choose.

Hurtigruten

The mainstay of this shipping firms operations are sailings along Norway's coastline between Bergen and Kirkenes. That allows for opportunities to sample Norway's indented coastline that include a cruise lasting twelve days and there are shorter possibilities than that, depending on where you are based. Their excursions also cover other polar locations like Iceland, Greenland, Spitsbergen and even Antarctica. If you wish to sample a lot scenery in a more relaxing way, then this could be an enticing possibility.

Ruter

This organisation manages public transport around Oslo and Akershus. Part of that remit naturally is the provision of public transport information so there is a journey planner and a real time tracker to be found on the website. The modes include buses, trams, trains and ferries and you also will find route maps that show what goes where. The matter of tickets and travelcards usefully has its own section and it is possible to buy such things via a smartphone app.