I love ambient videos. I watch Sunrise International and other programs that just let you sit back and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings that have been filmed.
But now I have an ultimate experience to share. A cross-country train journey in a spectacular Northern European setting.
The "new media" division of Norway's national broadcasting system, NRKBeta, has produced a video celebrating Bergensbanen's 100th birthday. The video shows every minute (7.5 hours!) of the scenic train journey between the major cities of Bergen, on Norway's west coast, and crossing the mountains to the capital city of Oslo. The trip has been called one of the top 10 scenic train journeys in the world.
On Friday, 27 November, more than 1.2 million Norwegians took a virtual train ride as they watched parts of “Bergensbanen” on the Norwegian television channel, NRK2. This is an astonishing fact because it means that more than 25% of the entire country watched this one television show on that one day. When it first aired in Norway, there were more than 1,000 tweets with the hashtag #bergensbanen. A second broadcast brought even more.
Called "Bergensbanen - Minutt for minutt (The Bergen Line - Minute by minute)", it really is a magical journey. Here is a 10 minute clip from the full presentation. It is the part of the journey starting at the Finse station -- the highest point on the entire Norwegian railway system. This is the area of Norway where George Lucas filmed the scene on the planet "Hoth" for the Star Wars films.
NRK will broadcast the journey again on December 26 beginning at 10:27 a.m. -- the same time that the train leaves Bergen. Best of all, NRK has chosen to release it as a free and legally downloadable single video file on NRKBeta's website. Now anyone can download the file and enjoy it anytime!!
The original showing of the video included music and interviews as well as clips and pictures from the history of the railroad. However, due to copyright issues, NRK could not include those on the downloadable file.
Frankly, I think the video is better for it because it is simply the journey itself, with some ambient passenger sounds, onboard announcements and indications of the names and lengths of the many tunnels along the route that help to make the route an engineering achievement in its own right. After downloading the file on Saturday night, I uploaded it to the hard drive attached to my TV and I spent a large part of my day yesterday watching the journey in all its high-definition (HD) glory. (I managed to get some work done by taking advantage of the tunnel notifications and noting how many meters of tunnel I would have to get the task done!)
For people who love travel, railroad journeys, scenery, etc. this is an experience of a lifetime -- not to be missed. You may not find anything better for a long time. UPDATE: NRK outdid themselves in 2010 with their live broadcast of the five-plus day voyage of the Norwegian cruise line, Hurtigruten -- also available as a free download.
Tusen takk til NRK Beta for sharing such a wonderful journey with the world!
- Norway: Oslo to Bergen by train (telegraph.co.uk)
- Travel Tips from Harald Hansen (sonsofnorwayblog.blogspot.com)
- Confused.com Guide to Driving in Norway (confused.com)