The Norway in a Nutshell journey provides travelers who have only a limited amount of time the opportunity to sample a bit of what all of Norway looks and feels...

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The Norway in a Nutshell journey provides travelers who have only a limited amount of time the opportunity to sample a bit of what all of Norway looks and feels like.

The Nutshell train can be taken one-way either east from Bergen or west from Oslo — or round trip from either city. Because there are so many ways to do it, you might want to get the advice of a friend or travel agent who has done it.

Allow at least two days to see Bergen and three or more in Oslo. Both cities offer visitors special discount cards for transportation, museums and other attractions.

The Nutshell’s train, bus and boat trip can be done in a day for about $140 (U.S.) per person. Or, you can overnight at several points along the way for a closer, more leisurely look. Longer cruises on the Sognefjord and through the coastal islands also are available.

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If you go roundtrip in the off-season and start from Oslo, you may need to make an overnight stop or use a sleeper for the return rail journey.

The Nutshell route can be taken year-round, but visitors should remember that there are fewer daylight hours in winter and visibility can be reduced. On our early September trip the 6:30 a.m. train from Oslo was nearly empty, so we could move about easily for views on both sides of the tracks. The staff also had plenty of time to answer our questions and tell some of the region’s history and folk stories. The cruise and bus portions were more crowded, but not uncomfortably so.

We found inexpensive bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations in both cities. The hosts provided valuable information about how to see their hometowns. The Web sites of both cities (see below) offer accommodation information, including bed and breakfasts.

(Our B&B in Bergen — $77 a night with full breakfast — was on a hillside about five blocks from the city center. Web: www.skansen-pensjonat.no Our Oslo room — $48 a night, no breakfast — was a block from a major bus/trolley line and about a 45-minute walk from the city center. Web: www.hasleveien.com )

Layer your clothing. You’ll be going from sea level to glacier country. It can be damp and chilly or warm and dry.

Consider packing a lunch and some snacks. The food on the train and the tour boat is far from gourmet.

Plan on taking lots of photos; the scenery is spectacular.

Some information sources:

General Norway information: Norwegian Tourist Board, 655 Third Ave., Suite 1810, New York, NY 10017. Phone: 212-885-9700. Web: www.visitnorway.com

The Norwegian State Railways: Web: www.nsb.no

Oslo Web: www.visitoslo.com

Bergen: www.visitBergen.com

To learn about Scandinavia and perhaps find a local person to talk with about visiting Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden, contact the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. Address: 3014 N.E. 67th St., Seattle, WA 98117. Phone: 206-789-5707 . Web: www.nordicmuseum.com


— John Macdonald