Norway fills the eye with absolute natural wonder and beauty. The UNESCO protected Fjords are an absolute marvel and something special I will not forget.
I traveled to a Cruise Liner stop port in Flåm bustled away in the far corner of the Aurlands Fjords.
Flåm itself is a strange little bubble. For most of the day it is overrun with visitors hopping on and off the massive cruise liners that dock there. They get in early and leave around 5pm. Once the horn is blown and the people depart, Flåm is desolate and empty.
I stayed in a place called Fretheim Fjordhytter. This was the epitome of a little cabin by the lake…only by the Fjords! The wooden cabin was on the waters edge with views right out across the Fjords and in clear sight of the port for the liners. The living space featured glass window panes right across the front of the cabin onto the Fjords so you had a crisp clear view out. Floating steadily on the water and in place with a boy sat patiently a little row boat! Each day the sound of the horn echoed far out into the distance as the ships entered and then departed for the night. It was quite an experience to see the before and after of a small space on the port. The incredible stark contrast of the hundreds of faces swiftly dashing past into the information centre and the complete desolate empty space when the ship departs taking the hundreds with them.
From Flåm you can go on various hiking trips in the nearby mountains, or explore the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord. The Nærøyfjord is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is the narrowest fjord in the world; the narrowest section is only 250 meters wide, with mountains towering on each side.
Aurlandsfjord is 29 KM long and is a branch off from Norway’s biggest Fjord, the Sognefjorden. It is often referred to as one of the most picturesque Fjords in the wold! I can truly say that I felt in another world encased by the towering mountain faces. I took a boat trip out along the Fjords and caught sight of birds of prey and seals. In some seasons you can head slightly further out into the Fjords and see Orcas! An experience I wish to one day live out.
The Stegastein Viewpoint
From Flåm you can easy catch a bus to The Stegastein Viewpoint which gives you a full panoramic view of the Aurlandsfjord. The platform sticks 30 meters out from the side of the mountain and 650 Meters above the Fjord. You can spend hours trying to perfect that perfect selfie here! There is even a glass panel on the front for artistic attempts at looking like you are floating among the Fjords. You can catch the bus from behind the tourist info in Flåm that takes you there ans back at a good price and regularly through the day on season.
The waterfall is easy to reach and starts from Flåmsbrygga Hotel or at Flåm station, from here you cross the river and follow a clear trail from there. The pathway is well maintained and once on the ascent the path is well walked and easy to follow. There are a few sections that teeter off near the top but all lead to the waterfall. Once at the top the views over the Fjord are priceless. You can see the whole shape of the valley and the Fjords all cut perfectly out from the rocks. The waterfall is also worth the wait as you are extremely close and on a good weather day I have no doubt people manage to clamber down and bath in the bottom pool.
I met an awesome Dutch girl who had been hiking and camping out around Norway. The laws of pitching in Norway are extremely inclusive and you can set up your tent just about anywhere. As the clouds began to sweep in around me I started my decent. Once at the bottom of the trail I glanced back to see a bright yellow tent all pitched and ready for the night.
The Flåmsbana Railway was named ‘The world’s most incredible train journey’ by Lonely Planet in 2014. The journey takes you from Flåm to the top of the mountains and then to a place called Myrdal which is 866m above sea level. From here, you can return to Flåm or take connections to Bergen or Oslo. Its a marvel to see, it really is, with ravines, waterfalls, mountain tops and views beyond belief. Everyone starts sitting down and then can’t help but stand and stare out in awe, each trying to snap a shot over someones head. As breathtaking and awe inspiring as this train journey is, it is somewhat completely commercialised and borderline tacky in parts. Half way through the journey, the train stops to take you out into an experience overlooking a cascading waterfall. If this were the experience alone then I would not be so critical on it. However, a dancing lady emerged from the mountains with wild folk music pumping out through loud speakers and then a narrative explaining an old tale from times gone by. It lost me and I took to my seat ready to leave the tourist trap. Regardless of what awaits you at the halfway point on this journey, it is truly a spectacle with wondrous sights and I highly recommend it.
So that was my Flåm experience!
In summary Flåm was an experience like no other I have yet encountered. Hours of silence juxtaposed against a backdrop of extraordinary bustle. A contrast to an extreme.