Snow station

Nov 26, 2004 03:28 PM IST

Pointed summits and undulating glaciers dominate the skyline of Norway?s celebrated walking area, the Jotunheimen park .

In many ways Norway is still a land of unknowns. Beyond Oslo and the famous fjords, the rest of Norway might as well be blank for all many visitors know – and, in a manner of speaking, large parts of it are. Vast stretches in the north and east are sparsely populated and starkly vegetated, and it is, at times, possible to travel for hours without seeing a soul.

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Best view - the summit of Galdhopiggen
Norway’s most celebrated walking area, the national park of Jotunheimen (Home of the Giants) lives up to its name: pointed summits and undulating glaciers dominate the skyline, soaring high above river valleys and lake-studded plateaux. Head for the summit of Galdhopiggen, Europe’s highest mountain, for a view of jaw-dropping proportions. A network of paths and lodges lattices the park, but be warned that the weather is very unpredictable and the winds can be bitingly cold.

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Best breakfast: Ibsen’s favourite cafe
Grand Café on Karl Johans is where Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen once held court – and the murals prove the point. Sit down for a hearty breakfast and savour the old-fashioned formality of the place, with its chandeliers, bow-tied waiters and glistening cutlery. If time allows, try the rooftop café with views over the magnificent Karl Johans gate.

Best shop - in the open for clothes, fruits
Oslo’s principal open-air market is on Younstorget and well worth a few hours’ happy wandering. There’s everything here from clothes to fruit and vegetables and the people-watching is hard to beat.

Best ride - down Flaamsdal Valley
Lonely Myrdal is the start of one of Europe’s most celebrated branch rail lines, the Flaamsbana, a 20 km, 900 metre plummet down the Flaamsdal Valley. The gradient of the line is one of the steepest anywhere in the world and as the tiny train squeals its way down the mountain, past cascading waterfalls, it’s reassuring to know that it has five separate sets of brakes, each capable of bringing it to a stop!

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