A Day in Norway

Today was a big day. We started off by taking a train from Geilo to Myrdal. Thankfully train station is so close to the hotel, we only had to step outside, go under a little bridge that goes right underneath the railroad and there we were, right at the station. Thank god we left 20 minutes ahead, otherwise we wouldn’t have made it to the station 19 minutes ahead of schedule.

DSC06947It took about couple of hours to get to Myrdal, which is pretty high up in the mountains, elevation is 850 meters. From there we had to go to a special platform to get to a Flam train, which is apparently world-famous train, because it changes 850 meters to 0 in elevation in 20 km, which means that its going on the incline almost the entire time. The railroad is so steep and the engineering is so complex behind all that, that at some point they have a tunnel that has 180 degree turn – you enter the tunnel and the Flam valley is on the left and you exit the tunnel, the valley is on the right.

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Before we boarded the train, they made us line up in neat little rows and get in line to the doors 4, 5 and 6. So, we spent 20 minutes standing in line for nothing, like good little soldiers. Of course, when train arrived, everyone just huddled around the door to see who wins “Enter the train first” contest.

As the train started, they told us a little story about all the mystical creatures you get to see in the Flam valley and of course we knew that there is going to be something to see up ahead. We got to the waterfall, where they let everyone off the train to take pix, and there, by the waterfall, there was this crazy lady, dancing and swinging her arms and beautiful, almost eery music playing. It was a little cheesy, but it did create a certain mood…

DSC06967I, honestly, have no idea why they even have seats on that train. Every time there is a view of the valley, everyone jumps up and runs to the side of the train to take pix, on the next turn, everyone runs to another side. On every turn you hear a bunch of “Ahhhhs” and “Oooohhhs”

And of course, the scenery is gorgeous around every corner. The cliffs are so dramatic – vertical walls of gymormous gray, waterfalls, falling from hundreds of meters up above, villages, so picturesque, almost Disneyland-y, the grass is so technicolor green, I firmly believe that they specifically spray painted all their pastures just for our arrival.

One thing about most mountain trains, is that they spend a lot of time in the tunnels. There are 20 tunnels in this 20 km Flam journey and 18 out of those dug up by hand. So, you end up spending a lot of time in the darkness.

After we got out of the Flam train, we had to go to the Fjord ferry. The village of Flam is sitting right at the beginning of the Aurlandsfjord Fjord, an arm of the Sognefjord. Our ferry was taking us to the small village of Gudvangen, which is located at the head of the Naerofjord, which is supposedly is the narrowest fjord channel in Europe, and it’s only 250 meters wide at it’s narrowest point.

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Of course, the fjord journey was, as expected, absolutely unbelievable. Should I even try to describe it? This is one of those trips that you just can’t wait to be over. Not because it’s bad or boring, but because you get so overwhelmed by the beauty, the power of nature, the magnitude of everything that you see in front of you, that your brain just fries. It says – nope, can’t do anymore… The memory card is full, the battery is out, need to process, have to stop! You can only be breathless for so long before you pass out.

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DSC07154DSC07123Thankfully, the boat was packed with a giant group of Chinese tourists, who for some reason thought that that particular boat was chartered for their glamour photoshoot and the’ve spent the entire 2 hours posing in front of various cameras, in various glamour poses, in various group combinations. Standing, sitting, laying down, waving scarfs, waving arms, jumping, pursing lips, coats on, coats off, hats on, hats off, sunglasses on, sunglasses off and so on. Bobby watched one lady who spent 40 minutes doing a selfie video by the window downstairs and then spent another 40 minutes taking selfie pix. We were very entertained.

So, after we got off the ferry, with our brains fried and totally overwhelmed and exhausted from a sheer unimaginable amount of information and scenery, we then had to get on a bus to get to Voss.

DSC07426Well, the road to Voss is called Stalheimsklevia road and, apparently the front seat that I picked, right next to the driver, was NOT a good choice! This road is probably one of the steepest roads in the world and it takes so many really, really, really sharp hairpin turns, that I thought I was going to have a heart attack right there and then. Of course, it’s an old road, it doesn’t have any railings, except for about an inch of rocks on the side and it’s barely wide enough to fit the bus. I’m surely glad I have the video, because I had my eyes closed about 90% of the journey. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to watch it.

See the video

From Voss we had to take a train to Bergen and I absolutely refused to take a single picture the entire time. I just pretended that there is nothing going on outside the window. I thought that if I had to see another gorgeous anything, my head will just explode and I will have to pick little bits of my brain from all over the train.