Norway which is famous for Northern Lights or ‘Aurora borealis’ and fjords, is one of the most breathtaking countries I have ever visited. As a photographer, it has been a childhood dream to see the magic of northern lights with my own eyes rather than in images confined to magazines and internet. Norway being an extremely expensive country, I had to wait patiently for favorable circumstances. Decades of anticipation was rewarded when I finally got a chance to live my dream when three of my photographer friends and I got the opportunity to explore the country. What followed was way above my expectations…
I arrived at Tromso via London and Oslo. My trip started beautifully as I was greeted at the airport with this breathtaking sunset.
I visited Tromso because I wanted to visit the Northern Lights. Tromso, considered one of the world’s northern most cities is famous for viewing the Northern ights. Viewing this nature’s spectacular display is only possible from September to March. We contacted a local operator Chasing Lights who specializes in Norther Lights ( http://chasinglights.co) viewing. I have nothing but good things to say about this company. They picked me and my friends from Hotel Thon Tromso at 6:10 pm in a bus and we headed south of Tromso. In fact there is no guarantee of viewing Northern Lights as the sky needs to be absolutely clear. I guess lady luck was shining on us and we all got to see a stunning display of Northern Lights that day. At the end of the viewing, our fantastic guide Ewelina also prepared some food for us. It is an experience I will never ever forget.
So if you are in Tromso area I highly recommend visiting Kvaloya. From Tromso it is a 2.5 hours round trip by car which takes you around the beautiful fjords in Tromso area. My favourite route is along the east end of the island towards Sommaroy. Following are some of the shots I took in Tromso area.
Our next destination was Kabelvåg. This drive on E-10 is outright spectacular. Though it is possible to use bus transport, I guess, renting a car is probably the best option.The roads in Norway are extremely safe but ensure that you have snow tires if you are driving in the winter. This 6 hour long drive took almost 8 hours because we stopped so many times to take photos of the gorgeous fjords. Kabelvåg is located on the island of Austvågøy in the Lofoten archipelago. This is a small little village and it is a picture perfect place. We explored this little village on foot/car and you can easily see the entire village in half a day. We went to the local store and bought some fresh fish for cooking. We went to the local harbor and probably saw one the best sunsets ever in my life..
Reine is as picture-perfect as small Norwegian fishing villages located in the island of Moskenesøya in the Lofoten archipelago. We left for Reine from Lofoten at 3:30 in the morning to see the sunrise in Reine. Unfortunately it turned out to be a very cloudy and rainy day. But every weather has its own flavour. Following are some of the photos I managed to take in Reine. I have no words to express the beauty of Reine, no wonder it attracts photographers from all over the world. Although difficult to reach, Reine to me is more of an illusion- it is paradise on earth.
From Kabelvag we returned to Tromso and then flew to Bergen via Oslo. Bergen is another beautiful city, quite big and modern. We stayed there for 3 nights. Explored the city for two days and took the Fjord Tour the other day. The most famous place in Bergen is probably Bryggen. It is an old wharf and is an UNESCO heritage site famous for its old wooden houses.
Following are some of the other photos I took in Bergen area:
Also I highly recommend visiting Gamle Bergen. It is famous for its old wooden houses build way back in 1700s and will take you back to the Medieval days.
Fjord Tour from Bergen
This is another highly recommended activity you can do from Bergen or Oslo. Visit www.norwaynutshell.com for details. The tour starts from Bergen at 8:00 am on a scenic train to Myrdal after going through countless tunnels. From Myrdal situated at an elevation of 867 meters the train journey to Flam is absolutely spectacular and offers beautiful panoramic view of Norwegian fjord landscape. Considered one of the prettiest train journey in the world, it is in fact one of the steepest train ride where 80% of the journey has a gradient of 5% ( from Flam to Myrdal). On this one hour train journey you will see numerous water falls, steep ravines, numerous tunnels and ofcourse the fjords. At Flam, please check out the gift shop- they have an amazing collection. From Flam you can take the spectacular 2 our long cruise through the amazing narrow Nærøyfjord ( included in UNESCO World Heritage site)and Aurlandsfjord fjords and arrive at Gudvangen where you will get on to a bus which drops you at Voss. From Voss you will again have to get on to the train and arrive at Bergen in the evening,
Drive from Bergen to Oslo
The distance is almost 500 km mountainous drive from Bergen to Oslo and is one of the grand scenic trips of Europe and certainly one of the top 3 roadtrips I ever made. You’ll go through mountain passes countless fjords and snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, fjord villages, and even an ancient stave church. I guarantee you that you will make countless stops to take photos along the way. Take your time and enjoy the beauty this road has to offer.
Stave Churches which are medieval wooden building once common in north-western Europe can be found in Norway and one of the classic example of these churches can be found in Borgund. This famous Stave church was built in 1180 and is an absolute must visit in Norway. From Borgund we drove for another 3.5 hours to Oslo and reached there late at night. Next day we took the morning flight back to Houston. Over all this was truly a once in a lifetime experience!!! I truly want to go back to Norway one day again and see the other spectacular parts of this magnificent country. So, if you haven’t visited Norway yet- please do or else you will regret it.