We began by taking a local bus from the bus stop at the station (right next door to our hotel) to the little town of Gudvanger at the head of Naerofjord. The bus trip took about forty minutes through rolling farmland and past a number of still-frozen lakes. We stopped at a lookout near a large hotel for a view back along the valley from which we had come, and forward towards the steep sides of the glacial valley on which the fjord is located.
From Gudvanger, we caught the ferry to Flam. This was a very scenic trip down the Naerofjord and then along the Sognefjord to Flam. With a bright blue sky and sunny day, this part of the trip was just as the guide books say. The steep cliffs were backed by snow-clad mountains and the reflections in the still water were stunning. We could see seals on the rocks at one point, small farms perched high on the walls of the valley and atone time, we stopped at one of the lttle villages with a church built in the 1100’s to let off some passengers. It’s hard to adequately describe the beauty of this scenery, other than to provide some photos. It was a little cool (perhaps 8 degrees) but it felt warmer in the sun.
It was great fun to watch a Japanese tour group who were on the same ferry. When we boarded, the boat had been nosed into the wharf to take on some cars. The first thing that the Japanese did, was to rush up to the top deck and set up plastic chairs in neat rows facing what they thought was the front of the boat (really the back). As soon as the boat turned around and went the other way, they all realized their mistake, so en-masse, they all stood up as one, turned their seats 180 degrees and sat down again facing the way that the ferry was traveling. Then, just as I had predicted, within 45 minutes they had all retreated downstairs to the inside cabin where it was warmer and many had gone to sleep. Once again, it was obvious that ‘Nature’ is something that the Japanese go to, rather than they seem to experience around them.
We reached Flam for a late lunch and had a little over an hour in which to buy lunch before we caught the Flam railway to Myrdal. Jill enjoyed some local meat balls, Ruth had some ‘apple cake to die for’ and I had reasonable, but quite expensive, hamburger.
The Flam railway is something else. It starts at sea level at Flam and over 20 kilometers, it climbs 880 metres to meet the main line from Bergen at Myrdal. It took 20 years to build and was opened in 1940. At one point, the train travels through a circular tunnel like a corkscrew to gain height. It’s a bit surprising to see a view of the valley on the right hand side of the train, and then in a few minutes as you emerge from a tunnel to find exactly the same view to the left, before re-entering the tunnel again. The mountain scenery along this train line is splendid.
You can do a virtual trip on the Flam railway. The whole trip is videotaped and can be watched in four sections on YouTube. Just search for ‘cab ride Flaam’ and you will find them. Enjoy the same view as the engineer sees from the front of the train
Once we reached Myrdal, we waited on the platform looking at the snow all around us before our final leg back to Voss on the standard long-distance Norwegian Railways train.