. The 'comfort' carriages have very nice seats and we seem to get put in the first carriage of the train which has a very nice area with two comfy chairs and a very large scenic window, plus free tea and coffee as well as very good seats with power outlets so that we can charge cameras, computers, etc! They do not, however, have free wifi unlike trains in Copenhagen. The scenery from Oslo to Dombas was very picturesque with the usual mountains, waterfalls, lakes and tunnels. On arrival at Dombas we change to the Rauma line to Andalsnes which is another famous norwegian train trip. This trip is quite as spectacular as the Flamsbana although in a different way. The river and valley is not quite as spectacular but near the end the trollstegen mountains are fantastic. This trip is also to be strongly recommended partucularly as it costs nothing if you have a eurail pass (we had to pay for the Flamsbana, although we did get a 30% reduction because of the rail pass, as it is a 'private' railway).
I had originally planned to use Andalsnes as a base for this part of the trip and doing days trips to other places (such as Geiranger fjord and Alesund), however the camp site was quite a distance from the town and there did not seem to be a local bus service but only expensive taxis. I tried to get some useful information from the tourist office but they were not very helpful. Looking at the various brochures for local sightseeing trips it seemed that it would be best to go to Alesund via Geiranger fjord and Hellesylt
. So noticing from the timetable that a bus to Geiranger was imminent we got on this bus. And what a ride it was! This is the Trollsvegen bus that almost literally climbs up a huge waterfall via a large number of very tight hairpin bends which, unlike the Gudvangen descent, was two way with other buses, motorhomes, etc. coming at you from the other direction! At the top we had 15 mins to go to the various lookouts over the falls and valley to Andalsnes to take pictures. The very scenic trip continued, although in not quite such a spectacular way to near Geiranger Fjord (using a ferry to get across to the other side of a fjord). Then the bus took the "Eagles Way" descent into Geiranger - another spectacular descent into the famous fjord. After a quick scavenge for some food we decided to continue the fine day with the ferry from Geiranger to Hellesylt. This is a very spectacular ride down the fjord, quite different to naeryfjord. We had debated whether this trip was worth doing after the first fjord trip and had decided to give it a go and it was definitely worth it. The Geiranger fjord has a certain majesty to it and because it is wider that naeryfjord it has a more relaxing 'flow'. Arriving at Hellesylt at 7:40 pm syd made a quick raid on the local supermarket before it closed at 8. We rapidly set up the tent and cooked dinner and collapsed into bed after a very hectic but satisfying 48 hours of spectacular scenery (including the view from our tent down the fjord and camping next to the Hellesylt waterfall which is quite spectacular).
Arriving at Oslo S (again!) at 6am, syd went to the supermarket to get something for lunch and val suggested that we get a large tub of yoghurt for breakfast (the norwegians know how to make good yoghurt). We board the train for andalsnes which left at 8:10. The advantage of a night train is that you can avoid an overnight stay somewhere and perhaps gain a day on your schedule with the risk that you might not get a good night's sleep (depending on your travelling companions for that trip and your mode of travel (seat, couchette or full sleeper)). We were now 1 day ahead of the planned schedule because of this change to the plan. Another advantage of a standard eurail pass is that it is for first-class travel and although Norwegian trains do not have first and second class seating they do have 'comfort' seats, which normally cost an extra 90 kroner, but which we can book for nothing. Also NSB (the norwegian railway) do not charge anything for making reservations, unlike other railways, although they are very expensive for sleeper cabins (see later)