Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One last fjord expedition -- and a steep railway ride

It was raining hard when we woke up, and the fog on the fjord was so dense we couldn’t see anything across the way.  But the boat for our final fjord expedition was not due late morning, so we read for a while, and I chatted with the proprietor of the hotel and her daughter. Because the hotel is run as a summer business, the entire family lives more than half the year in Marin County, where her husband’s family still lives, and the girls have gone to school in the US as well.  The owner’s father was part of the Kvikne family that founded the big hotel in town, although because he split his shares among his children, she has but a small stake in the Kvikne’s Hotell ownership.
Our expressboat approaches the Balestrand dock

As we rode the exspressboat toward Flam, it was clear that our ride was going to be even more dramatic than the ride to Balestram, and even though the mountains and cliffs beside the fjord were sometimes masked by clouds.

At one point a ferry approached us in the middle of the fjord and we stopped to allow some of our passengers to get onto the ferry so that they could ride to Gudvangen in the very narrow Naeroyfjord, where they would pass periloously close to towering cliffs, part of the “Norway in a Nutshell” route.  I was regretting that we were missing that. 
Note the house in the middle of the slope, peeking from behind the cloud

After that the cliffs of the fjord seemed to get still closer as we turned into the Aurlandsfjord.

Finally we reached Flam, where our boat ride ended.  Having enjoyed its amber Rallar brew in Balestrand, we were happy to have our picnic lunch in the Aegir Brewery.  We started with a witbier and then tried the sampler; finally we bought a bottle of the porter planning to have it with our dinner in Bergen.  Aegir is sold only in Norway and Finland for now, but we were told that they expect to be in the US soon— something to which we will look forward.

We boarded the Flam Railroad for the steep climb from the Aurlandfjord to Myrdal where we would meet the railroad to Bergen.

The valley walls were steep and full of waterfalls. We even stopped at one waterfall where we were able to go get out on a platform to watch the thunderous falls. 

Finally, we reached the top of the line and waited at the Myrdal station for our train to Bergen.  The scenery on this leg of the trip was familiar, because it was the last part of the ride we had taken from Oslo to Bergen.  But it was so rainy and the windows were so fogged that the visibility was generally much lower.

We arrived in Bergen, headed back to Steens Hotel, and went out to grab dinner, passing Ole Bull Plass on the way.  Where else?  We went back to Husebø’s stall in the seafood market for one last meal – I had grilled catfish and Nancy had grilled salmon, and the young Italian woman who did the cooking threw in a few slices of laks with herbs as a gift because we had been regular customers.  We enjoyed our dinner with the superb Aegir Sumbel, the porter we had brought from Fläm.  A fitting last meal for a great vacation!

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