Day Three: Fjords and Flåm

We got up early to board the MS Njord, an “express boat”, to Flåm (pronounced “flum”) at 7:45, a trip that takes five hours at a top speed of 36 miles per hour (according to GPS). Though used by locals (it’s about the same price as a train ticket and makes several stops), the ferry is mainly for tourists. It weaves through narrow passages and ventures into fjords to give amazing views of the landscape – especially the steep slopes, often with waterfalls and snow near the top. A glacier, Jostedalsbreen, the largest in Europe, was pointed out in the distance.

Fjord, with Europe's largest glacier in the background.
Fjord, with Europe’s largest glacier in the background.
A representative view from the boat
A representative view from the boat

Flåm was once a village, but is now purely a tourist attraction, and a place to stay if venturing on more adventurous hikes. The main thing to do there, besides browse souvenir shops and a small museum, is to take the Flåm railway to a station called Myrdal. The 20-kilometer route takes an hour, passing through several tunnels and stopping for photos at a waterfall. It climbs from sea level to over 800 meters. From Myrdal you can connect to regular train service to Oslo and Bergen. We took this route, stopping at Myrdal for a couple of hours.

Our ferry, docked at Flåm
Our ferry, docked at Flåm
The train stops to let one pass the other way
The train stops to let one pass the other way
Along the Flåm line
Along the Flåm line

Myrdal is a train station, but not a town or even a village. Other than connecting train service, the only thing it serves is a handful of houses (apparently rented out) and an ATV track back to Flåm. At this elevation (about 860 meters), there was patchy snow cover (large patches of over a foot of snow), even though it’s the beginning of June. The natural beauty of the Norwegian landscape cannot be overstated.

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Scene just away from the Myrdal station
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A few steps down the trail

We were the only two people in evidence at the place, besides one or two workers at Myrdal station.  No one else had decided to stay there waiting for the next train to Bergen.  After getting cold wandering around, we were warming up inside the station when the electricity turned off, including lights as well as the displays that had been showing arrival and departure schedules. The employees were no longer to be found. Since the trains are electric, this seemed worrisome. Eventually, another train from Flåm arrived, and with it more tourists and an announcement that the Bergen train would be coming after all (by now, it was late). By this time it was about 9 pm, and two travelers were planning to wait for the 1 am train to Oslo – having thought that Myrdal was more representative of civilization, with restaurants.

The train back to Bergen from Myrdal, which originates at Oslo, re-descends to sea level, completing much of the descent inside of tunnels.

Along the Bergen Line
Along the Bergen Line

By the time we got back it was after 11 pm, but at this time of year in Bergen, it is light 24 hours a day. Although it’s not technically the “land of the midnight sun” until you reach the Arctic Circle (the sun does set here), it never truly gets dark.

On the GPS track below, you can see the boat route and more or less the Flåm railway route. The straight lines, including the long straight line from Myrdal to Bergen, are where there was no GPS signal – the tunnels along the Flåm railway, and the entire time on the Bergen line (the train car must have blocked the signal).

Eventually I will have to find a better way to post more of the thousands of pictures I’ve been taking.

Posted from Bergen, Hordaland, Norway.

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