Hills and mountains and imposing cliff reflections are gleaming in pristine fjords.
Flora, lichens and mosses. Red, orange, yellow, brown, and ochre. Red berries and fruit trees. Swirling mists and rushing rivers. Cute cabins.
Twenty-two stops and 500kms, the train ticks along. Through Geilo, a Norwegian winter sport capital. Finse, more amiably desolate than the Desert Road, the highest point of Scandinavian passenger rail at 1219m. Robert Falcon Scott and his men trained for their 1910 Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition here. Between Finse and Myrdal there's snow on the ground.
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The Nordic Bergen Railway first came to my attention - like everyone else - thanks to the smash YouTube hit of the (near) seven-hour Oslo to Bergen train journey. Obviously it would be best doing the journey during winter snows, but then the days are super short. Outside of the winter peak season there's also the chance for hiking among Bergen's seven mountains.
The journey begins at Oslo S, a busy central station with a cool vibe. A Washington couple insist they are seated in the right place, despite evidence. The conductor responds with archetypal dry Scandinavian wit, allowing their passage. "Yes, you booked these tickets for three months ago. But it's okay."
I sit next to a lovely Indonesian couple. The hijab-wearing Mrs has just been exhibiting her designs at Paris Fashion Week. The Mr offers me half his lunch. "God keep you safe", he tells me when we part.
Seats are comfy, with space for luggage above you. Kids are catered for with a substantial play area. Free Wi-Fi works best in carriages near the cafe car, but the miles of tunnels understandably knock it out.
The train runs smoothly on hydro power; Norway has plenty of rain. Poor visibility and swirling mists can affect the views, so it's worth considering doing the trip both ways.
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It doesn't rain during my enjoyable 35 hours in Bergen - even though the city usually gets more rain than my beloved West Coast - but the cobblestones are glistening wet for my arrival.
Bergen made its name trading seafood (and other more colourful activities) in the 13th century. It's old Vikingland, and you see a few characters you wouldn't want to antagonise in one of the old town's dark back-alleys late at night. Bryggens Museum has artefacts from this Middle Ages time.
Norway's second city is its onetime capital and seat of Norwegian Royalty, and there's still a fair bit to do, including museums, galleries, and historical meanderings. I enjoy some of Edvard Munch's dark, visceral works at the Kode Art Museum. I don't know if it's because of the impact of the exhibition, but Bergen Harbour seems atmospherically dark and quiet to send me on my way early Sunday morning.
Although the train journey is in itself a highlight of my time in Norway, another memorable moment comes in the form of a different form of transport. The two-hour boat ride to Gudvangen on Sognefjord gets me out of the overly commercialised Flam. The boat has a small diesel engine, but mostly runs on electric.
We hum along beautifully quietly. Norway is full of blissful moments.
Qatar Airways flies from Auckland to Oslo, via Doha. qatarairways.com