Move along now, nothing to see

The Scandinavian leg is hard to describe. Hundreds and hundreds of lakes, thousands and thousands of miles, millions and millions of trees, and a few answers to the question: “what’s the difference between Norway and Sweden?”

Leaving Copenhagen, our route was across the bridge to Malmo, then a change of train in Gothenburg. On to Oslo, changing for the sleeper to Trondheim. Trondheim meant crossing a platform for all of 20 feet, before another half dozen hours to Fauske.

Fauske was vital in terms of timing. We had a twenty minute window to catch a bus to our most northerly point, Narvik. Four hours of bus, via a ferry, and little in the way of fallback should we miss it. We made it.

Through Narvik – where we had proper midnight sun – and right the way down through Sweden from top to bottom, it became very clear that this was a landmass of two halves. Norway: spectacular fjords, mountains, incredibly clean everything (and fast, free wifi pretty much everywhere). Sweden: grey skies, drizzle, flat, trees, more trees.

I know it’s unfair to judge a country by a passing weather system, but I also had a bit of a downer on this part of the tour because it didn’t give a lot to work with in terms of varied images. Maybe there was also a bit of brain rot as a result of covering such enormous distances, especially after spending whole days in the same seat.

The ferry across the fjord was incredible though. Time for a hotdog (best hotdog EVAH) and forty minutes of silent gliding between snowcapped mountains, many capped with slabs of marzipan mist. I hadn’t enjoyed a ferry so much in my life: a record which stood for only a couple of days, but that’s a story for the next post.

Anyway, a few of the more interesting photos from this section:


When you’ve had the same view for hours, the sudden appearance of Many Things becomes very stimulating. Industry, a dam and hydro system of some kind, rushing water. And factories. All a bit too exciting, really.
Exif*: 50mm; ISO 800; f/8; 1/400



We did get off, very briefly. Here in Oslo, changing for our sleeper train, a rushed shot with some nice colour and perspective. Taken, as with a lot of the quick, opportunistic ones, with the G15 that’s generally hanging around my neck ready to go. For a compact, the time from switch-on to ready is amazingly fast.
Exif: 28mm; ISO 800; f/2.8; 1/200



Norwegian tunnels are incredible. Often several kilometres long, rough-hewn from rock in many places. None of your fancy Blackwall concrete casings here. An approaching wide load (slightly terrifying) offered a really unusual long lens shot through the front windscreen, decorated with nicely blurred drizzle.
Exif: 70mm; ISO 1600; f/2.8; 1/13



On the ferry. Smooth water, embracing mountains, and four character studies of my travelling companions. And motorbikes.
Exif: 50mm; ISO 160; f/7.1; 1/100



Through a thick coach window as we neared Narvik, this really was Norway at its best. Although it never got dark, there were flashes of pink from time to time, and the patch on the right of this frame was in lovely counterpoint to the bluff, Middle-earth geography on the left.
Exif: 70mm; ISO 320; f/3.5; 1/250



Having left Narvik, the train hugged a fjord edge, eventually offering the long shot back down toward the sea. Black and white processing here: stark in every way, this landscape.
Exif: 50mm; ISO 250; f/9; 1/250



Given that left and right outlooks didn’t offer much but unbroken forest, I was delighted to find this view out of the very back of the train. Time to play with shutter speeds, catching the motion and the monotony. A straight piece of track, but viewed large, showing just the tiniest curve to the left in the distance. Oh the excitement!
Exif: 50mm; ISO 50; f/13; 1/20


Here’s the full photo collection from the tour as it develops, day by day.

In the next post: from dark into light…

(Clicking on these pictures should open them up in a nice lightbox–you can then use arrow keys to move between them.)

*What the Exif notes mean: this is detailed data about how the photo was taken–first, the focal length of the lens, then ISO (the sensitivity of the sensor: low number for bright conditions, high for dark or indoors), then f number (the size of the hole that lets the light into the camera: low = big, high = small), finally the exposure time (how long the shutter is open) in seconds.