Norway: A picture-perfect place

By Samantha Feuss

So much of Norway is almost too lovely for words, writes Samantha Feuss.
A woman (dressed as  Huldra) sings in front of the Kjosfossen waterfall in Norway. Photo / Markus Trienke
A woman (dressed as Huldra) sings in front of the Kjosfossen waterfall in Norway. Photo / Markus Trienke

The natural beauty of Norway is stunning. There are jaw-dropping views nearly everywhere you look.

This is a bonus for the less-then-professional photographers among us, who will find it impossible to take a bad photo.

Some of the most amazing sights in Norway revolve around fjords - long, narrow arms of the sea bordered by steep cliffs.

The pristine, unadorned loveliness around every turn is stunning and even a bit startling.

Take the famous Flamsbana, or Flam Railway, which begins at the mountainous Myrdal station on the Bergen railway, all the way down to the Flam station.

It is easy to get to from major cities such as Oslo or Bergen as the railway connects with the trains along the Oslo-Bergen route.

Along the way, you will see some of the most amazing scenery you will ever have had the pleasure to gaze upon.

Books will stay unopened in your backpack, and even your precious smartphones and tablets will be at rest, except perhaps to take a few photos of the memorable landscape.

The train stops along the way, letting passengers on or off - but also it stops for your viewing pleasure.

One such "photo-op-stop" was in Kjosfossen. This waterfall, one of the most visited attractions in Norway, is larger then most others you will pass, and it has a deck or platform for viewing and photos to be taken.

It also is used to help power the Flam line - how's that for using your natural resources? In our excitement to take the best photo, we nearly missed an amazing, quite surprising spectacle - in the middle of the waterfalls appeared a woman, dressed in red, dancing as music played - then she jumped behind the rocks - seemingly into the waterfalls.

We learned later that she is an actress from the Norwegian ballet school, portraying the legendary Huldra (part-woman, part-animal seductress who lures men to certain doom in Scandinavian folklore) for the summer season.

Should you take the train all the way to Flam, you will disembark into a storybook setting.

Flam appears to be cut right out of a picture book or painting - it is quiet, idyllic and unspoiled.

It is located on the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord and here you will find yourself surrounded by tall mountains and deep fjords.

When you get to the end of the Flam line, the area is so lovely you'll want to stay a few days. One of the nicest hotels in the area is the historic Fretheim Hotel and its location, just steps away from the train stop, makes your trip that much easier.

Originally a farm and built into a guesthouse in the 1800s (and many times renovated), it boasts locally grown food, historical guest rooms, cosy atmosphere and beautiful views. It is located in the Naeroyfjord Unesco World Heritage site.

Steps away are a local museum, restaurants, shops, tours of the area, and of course the train station and boats.

Its central location and historic charm perfectly compliment the surroundings.

On the Flam harbour, you can take a Heritage Fjord Safari on an inflatable boat, which will give you not only amazing views, but the guide will provide you with information about the area's history and scenery, and often passengers will see wildlife such as eagles, seals and porpoises.

Your boat will make stops frequently so your guide can talk to you, as well as for photography and best views of local attractions.

Come a bit early, as you will have to "suit up" in protective winter gear - even in summertime.

Next, head to Balestrand, an easy and beautiful boat ride from Flam.

Here you can see Sognefjord, Norway's largest fjord and the second largest in the world. Known as "The King of the Fjords," it is also the longest and deepest in Norway.

From here you'll have great views of the highest mountains in the country, as well as the clear green waters of the fjord.

This area is considered to be one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world, and is one of the most photographed and painted places in Norway.

The Sognefjord is another place you might want to consider taking a boat tour - so much more personal then the larger lake tours, and you will get much out of it.

If you have not taken a safari yet, here is another chance. If you have, try a guided fishing trip instead.

You will still get the tour and the guide, but you will also get another experience of your visit to Norway - and yes, you can keep anything you catch should you want to.

Norway is quite an experience.

For the traveller seeking adventure - and stunning photographs - there is simply nothing like it.

Checklist

GETTING THERE

Emirates flies daily from Auckland to Oslo with direct connections at Dubai. Economy Class return fares start from $1977. emirates.com

- AAP

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