This Norwegian route is spectacular: it runs through a marvelous landscape, which changes its character for several times during the journey. Another pleasant matter here is that it entertains you with switching from bus to a ferry and back — so you can hardly get bored, even if you are insensitive to the beauty of nature (but I am pretty sure, you are not).
A sunny morning. The time, which can be called early only by the standards of a devoted night owl. It’s about 10 o’clock, and I am at the Stavanger Byterminalen (city bus terminal). It is a facility of a decent size, with one waiting hall, a supermarket and a small shop with an option to get hot drinks and simple food to go.
A bus to Bergen is in its place, welcoming passengers with an opened door and ready to store as many suitcases as needed in a huge luggage space.
There is no number of a seat in my ticket, so I can choose any of the unoccupied ones. I ask the driver (a personable man who speaks English) which side he recommends in terms of view and sunlight. He answers that the bright light will get me anyway: the road is curvy, and there are lots of turns. However, he also tells me that the scenery is great regardless of the observation point. Satisfied with this information, I start picking a place.
My choice falls near the window (like there was any doubt!). The chair is soft and comfortable. It is equipped with a net for small (and rather flat) things, a clothes hook and a safety belt. Also, I am more than happy to spot a real, properly working USB port — one of the most important things in any travel, at least as the battery of my phone believes.
It’s 10:15. The bus door closes. The driver puts a foot on the accelerator. The departure happens right on schedule. I am comfortable and ready to roll.
Meeting the route
The transport line I am about to explore is called Kystbussen. This name can be translated as Coastal Bus, which is quite self-explanatory. The distance between Stavanger and Bergen is not that long - about 200 kilometers, but the path is interestingly complicated (which is a good thing when it comes to exciting travel experience of a tourist).
The route includes two ferries: from Mortavika to Arsvågen and from Sandvikvåg to Halhjem. They both are included in the ticket price. There are a number of rides every day, and some of them make a tiny detour with stops in Håvik and Haugesund. It affects the duration of the trip, but in my case the bus goes through Aksdal, so the voyage lasts less than five hours.
Enjoying the ride
There is a pair of tunnels at the beginning of this trip. They both are really long, and we ride through each of them for some minutes. This part offers just darkness and some oncoming cars as an attraction. But I like to think of it as a kind of preparation, as if the route prefers not to hit a traveler with all its glory at once. Fine with me, I like to dive into the mood of this journey gradually.
Then, pastures come to the scene. The bus moves alongside green hills, full of cows and sheep. Mostly sheep. There are hundreds of them on the left. The right side, at the same time, shows groups of white horses — on a water surface (we will take a proper look at it a bit later).
After some time, we reach Mortavika. Here, the first ferry of this trip is ready to take our bus on board, together with a number of private cars and other vehicles.
The bus stops and stays on the lower deck, while all the passengers exit it and move to the upper levels of the ferry.
The ship leaves the pier. It is exciting to step off the firm ground and continue to move on water.
Now, travelers have about a half an hour to entertain themselves during this extra short cruise. Some of them prefer to relax in seats and look outside. Others choose to have some food and drinks at the dining zone. Also, you can spend some time on the open deck — if you feel wind-proof enough — or check out a tiny exhibition of sea-themed children drawings.
Then, comes the time to get back on wheels. I am, together with other travelers, in the bus again. The ride continues on the ground. At this part of the route I can see much more water through my window. And sheep are still in sight.
During the next couple of hours, the landscape constantly changes its type, shapes and colors. From coastlines to forests, from fields to cliffs, from blue to yellow. Various boats and small wooden houses appear now and then. There are lots of rocks, there are lots of trees, there is a lot to see in general. The driver was right, the view is fascinating on both sides of the road.
The road itself is mostly narrow and snaky. From time to time bus goes through tunnels (yes, them again!) and over bridges (there is a fair amount of those too). Speaking of the latter, at some point we reach a pretty big one. I spot the sign that says this bridge is 1077 meters long.
Although all these views from the coast are impressive, fjords add even more and come into action as an encore. The bus arrives in Sandvikvåg and takes a spot on board of yet another ferry.
We left behind a mountain of big wind turbines and enter the second water segment of the trip. It lasts, like the previous one, for 30 minutes.
The deal is the same here: the bus is with cars, people are among other people. The weather is sunny and warm, so I spend most of the time on the open deck. However, the wind is predictably strong, and most of the passengers prefer to stay inside.
As you have already guessed, after that I get back to the bus, and it continues to move on land. The area here is populated quite densely, so landscape changes again: now it introduces cars, buildings and other numerous marks of civilization. Though, beautiful elements of nature are still out there.
This kind of view is the last in this journey. The adventure comes to an end shortly. We enter the wonderful city of Bergen.
Arriving in Bergen
Before the bus finally stops, it gives all the passengers a kind of a sightseeing tour of Bergen. We go through a part of the city on our way to the Bergen busstasjon (Bus Station).
The terminal for buses here is considerably bigger than in Stavanger (which is not surprising — Bergen is the second largest city in Norway). Yet, as most of the places of this kind, it is strictly functional and traditionally looks like a set of concrete blocks.
The good thing is that the city itself is interesting and beautiful. It has big and small streets, mountains and flat areas, a charming difference in elevation (giving you an ability to do some exercises just by walking), water bodies of different shapes and parks of various sizes. I especially like tiny charming yards and uncrowded lanes.
In order to save this text from excessive wordiness, I’ll try to be brief for a change. So, in short, I urge you to visit Bergen.
I usually tell about all the hotels I stay in between my trips. This time is no exception, but I would like to place an emphasis here. Zander K hotel deserves it: apart from all the needful things, comfort, service, convenient location and free bicycles (believe this or not!), it offers an unusual style and distinctive, modernism-inspired design. In other words, totally recommended - not only on a practical, but also on the aesthetical side!
The only thing my trip from Stavanger to Bergen misses is a train (trains are the best, we all know that). Except for this sad drawback, everything is great. I’ve already praised both of the cities (you can find some more words about Stavanger here), and I also suggest the route between them. The ride is far from being tiring: bus-to-ferry changes allow any traveler not to get stuck in their seat and to get limbered up. If you have an opportunity to take this trip - be sure to do this! Here are the links that will help you with this: Airbnb accommodation, hotels in Stavanger, hotels in Bergen, ticket for the Kystbussen and train tickets for Norway.