A couple of months ago, I wrote about the train ride from Flåm to Myrdal aboard the Flåmsbana. In relation to this, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen is Flåm. We took a short cruise from Bergen to get here. It’s not a loud and happening place nor is it a place to go to if you want to do something every minute of the day. It’s just a small village surrounded by fjords. It was peaceful, relaxing and I was captivated by its beauty. Sometimes when we travel for weeks at a time, I look forward to finding a quiet place such as Flåm, just to take a break from our usual fast paced journey. And I usually enjoy places such as this more than the typical urban cities. It is also a wonderful place to stay if you want to go around the different fjords because there are a lot of tours from this part of Norway. It’s a pretty good starting point/home base. You can also take short walks or hike around the surrounding areas. I am looking forward to the day that I can spend a longer time here and the rest of Norway.
My favorite thing about going around Europe is being able to travel by train. I love the hours I’ve spent watching views change from city to city. I love having that time to read, listen to music or watch movies. But regardless of where we are or where we are going to, I realized that train problems would always be a part of the journey.
To get to Olso from Flåm I had to change trains at Myrdal (Flam to Myrdal, Myrdal to Oslo). I remember thinking how my trip was ending in a few days and I could not believe that I still had not encountered a single transportation problem. The train from Myrdal was on time and everything was going smoothly when suddenly I realized that we started stalling for minutes at a time. Apparently the whole electronic system of their railway was not working properly and trains had to be stopped. We had to be get off at Nesbyen, a small town that I never heard of until that moment. I had no idea where I was nor did I have an idea how far away I was from Oslo. We were told that buses were requested and we were going to be picked up. We were divided into 2 groups (2 destinations) and most of the people had to go to Oslo. The buses started arriving one by one. As soon as they did, there was chaos. No system was implemented and a lot of people tried to get in first. I met an old couple from New York and I really felt bad because no one was letting them go first. We all couldn’t do anything but wait. Finally they were able to get on but I opted along with my companions to just wait until last bus.
One thing that I admired about people in Norway and Scandinavia in general was how helpful they always were. It seemed as though it was second nature to them to help other people especially tourists. There was one guy trying to help the tourists figure out what they were going to do while waiting for the buses. Since he spoke English very well, he went out of his way to approach people to ask if they were okay and if they needed help with anything.
I was able to catch the second to the last bus and found out that we were a couple of hours away from Oslo. This incident was memorable for me because despite the stress, it showed how organized first world countries were. Sure it was chaotic but anywhere else it might have taken forever just to figure out a solution to the problem. Another great thing that came out of it was I met great people along the way. Despite all the problems I’ve encountered in the past, I definitely still look forward to my next European rail experience.
A Traveler’s Photo Project
006. A RIDE TO REMEMBER
Norway is one spectacular country. I fell in love with its magnificent cities and towns. I fell in love with the kind and approachable people. I fell in love with the beautiful landscape. And one particular journey that will forever be etched in my heart was our trip from Flåm to Myrdal. The ride on the Flåmsbana (the Flåm railway from Flåm to Myrdal or vice versa), one of the steepest in the world, was one of the most beautiful 20 km train rides I’ve ever been on (and I’ve been on a lot). We saw mountains, rivers & waterfalls. I do not think I’ve ever seen such an amazing view. So Norway, I will definitely be back – thank you for surprising me with your beauty.
A Traveler’s Photo Project
004. ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Visiting Jungfraujoch in Switzerland, also popularly know as “Top of Europe” was one of the most memorable moments in my life. The view was breathtaking and the journey (via the Jungfraubahn) was just as spectacular. I adore everything Swiss but more importantly I am totally and utterly in love with this beautiful country. So forgive me in advance if I will end up uploading a lot of pictures from this lovely part of the world. Switzerland, I miss you but someday I will see you again…
So here I am again waiting to go to the train station to discover another, hopefully wonderful place 🙂 Leaving Russia is a bit of a relief due to unfavorable circumstances which I will talk about when I have more time. It’s not very often that I am more than ready to leave a city that I just recently discovered nor is it common for me to feel defeated and slightly cheated.
So here we go again, hopefully we will still be greeted by sunshine and more importantly I’m hoping that more pleasant events will welcome us at our next destination.
I would often find myself looking through my digital photos trying to attempt to sort them out and upload them. Among these photos are countless of travel photographs that I’ve taken since I started using a DSLR camera more than 5 years ago. My husband would often try to persuade me into editing some of them and uploading them to my flickr site (which hasn’t been updated in ages!). But because of the volume of pictures that I just end up leaving them alone. My photos may not be fabulous but I would like to believe that some of them at least capture my own travel experience.
So I though of this project to motivate me to upload and share with you at least some of my favorite travel photos, one picture at a time 🙂
001. I LEFT MY HEART IN PARIS
This is one city that I would love to keep going back to. Paris is a place that everyone must see at least once, no matter how overrated it may seem. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to and experienced.
As another year ends, my journey and dream to travel the world continues. But I believe it is only fitting that I look back at the numerous, blessed trips that I was able to take this 2010. Among the old and new places that I have visited this past year, these are my top 5 favorites:
1. Lucerne/Luzern (German), Switzerland
When I was a little girl, I remember sitting on our living room sofa staring at my dad’s wall of travel trinkets (stickers, pins, flags, pictures, plates, etc). I clearly remember looking at one particular banner type of decor that said “Luzern” and seeing one plate with a picture of a wounded lion. This started my love affair with this particular place. Every so often I would look at these souvenirs and wondered where they came from. I even remember playing the game ‘name, place, animal, thing’ with my grade school classmates and getting into arguments because they didn’t believe that there was a place called “Luzern” (and I couldn’t tell them exactly where it was). I would get postcards from Lucerne and kept dreaming that someday I would be able to visit this enchanting city.
And true enough, as I stepped off the train when we got to Lucerne I felt like all my wishes were coming true. I avoid making bucket lists for one particular reason –I get obsessed with having to complete them. But going to Lucerne has always been one of my greatest dreams. I felt silly getting teary eyed when I finally got a chance to walk across the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) and when I finally saw the Lion Monument. But just this once, I let the little girl inside me savor each moment that I had in that wonderful city.
Reasons to go back: Beautiful landscapes, Charming city, The Swiss Alps, Saturday markets, Chocolates, Shopping
2. Paris, France
Paris, Je T’Aime! Paris is love, love, love. I love the Parisian lifestyle, I love the glitter, I love the quaintness of it all. Being in Paris is a whole new experience in itself. You will never run out of things to do, places to see & shops to conquer. This is one city that I will keep coming back to. Je t’aimerai toujours.
Reasons to go back: Beautiful city, Fabulous food, Great wine, Experience
3. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
The Bernese Oberland is a magical area in Switzerland. This area comprises of different destinations including Lauterbrunnen which was our base for a number of days. Lauterbrunnen is a small valley with waterfalls and majestic views. We wanted to go up the Alps, specifically the Jungfrou, so I chose this place since it was somewhat a transportation hub. I didn’t expect that my husband would end up wanting to visit all the surrounding areas, so staying here was really a plus.
Reasons to go back: You will never really run out of places (specifically mountains and alps) to go to, Weather, Cheese
4. Seam Reap/Angkor, Cambodia
Seam Reap is actually just the gateway to Angkor, where the beautiful and unique ruins of the Khmer Empire lie. Cambodia has always been known for Angkor Wat but unless you’ve actually been there you won’t expect the Angkor area to be that huge and how Angkor Wat is just one of the many temples that you can visit. My personal favorites are Angkor Wat, Bayon and Banteay Srei. Another popular temple is Ta Prohm where “Tomb Raider tree” can be found. But I wouldn’t go back to Kbal Spean – EVER. Another thing that I enjoyed was eating Khmer food – one of the best and least expensive I ever had! I would keep coming back to Cambodia even if only for their food.
Reason to go back: FOOD!
5. Gold Coast, Australia
Australia is the land of koalas, kangaroos, fish & chips and surfing! Gold Coast has always been my favorite Australian city and is always a highlight of my year when I get to visit. I love walking around Surfer’s Paradise, just relaxing and taking it slow. For the adventurous bunch, there is always surfing and of course the numerous theme parks Gold Coast is known for. I like that whether I’m on my own or with my family or with my spouse, there will always be something for me to do.
Reasons to go back: Relaxation, Theme parks/activities, Weather
Happy New Year everyone and happy travels in 2011! 🙂