Posted by: Ryan | September 29, 2007

Norway-Iceland, Day 5

We woke up early and enjoyed our last hearty breakfast at the Balestrand Hotel. Unfortunately, I’d failed to read the fine print on my expressboat timetable, and didn’t see that the boat I was expecting to take back to Flåm in fact didn’t run today. This meant that we’d have to take the later morning boat instead, and therefore miss the early afternoon train back to Oslo. Our hotelier graciously talked things over with the NSB people over the phone, and got us transferred to the later train to Oslo. Since we had extra time before the next boat, we wandered around Balestrand in the morning drizzle, and found a couple of old Viking burial mounds included in our guidebook, and a nearby statue of King Bele given to the town by Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The Kaiser's Gift

We finally boarded our late morning expressboat back to Flåm. As we approached the entrance to the Aurlandsfjord, our expressboat came alongside another ferry. This is a floating transfer point listed in guidebooks as “Midfjord,” where passengers can simply change boats in the middle of the fjord so they can get where they’re going without having to go all the way back to Flåm.

Midfjord

Everyone onboard rushed up to the deck to watch the two boats get cozy and a couple of tourists walk across a ramp. Nothing exciting looking back on it, but at the time it seemed nothing less than a marvel of human innovation.

Transfer

We continued on our way, met another ferry for a Midfjord transfer, and swooped by a pretty waterfall for another close look. Looking at the simple schedule on the side of the boat below, you can get a sense of how few times a day some of these boats run, and therefore how important scheduling snafus can become.

Fjordcruise

We arrived back in Flåm, ate an overpriced lunch, and took the first Flåmsbana train we could. We’d been lucky enough to get better seats on this one, by a window that actually slid down so we didn’t have to take pictures through greasy fingerprints. Below is the Flåm Valley from the window of the Flåmsbana on our way up.

Flåmsdalen

The scenery along the route was beyond description. The picture below is more beautiful green mountainside from the window of the click-clackety Flåmsbana.

Eden Tilted

We disembarked at the Myrdal station, where we had to wait more than an hour for the Bergen-Oslo train. Below is a shot of the grand old Flåmsbana train departing Myrdal on its way back down the mountain.

Flåmsbana

A long wait at Myrdal meant some walking-around time for Kim and I. Below is a view of the Myrdal station from the end of the platform. Notice how, this close to the Arctic, a gain of just 2800 feet in elevation nearly broke us out above the treeline. It was cold and began to drizzle again, so we hid inside the station and I bought a tourist-trap book on Nærøyfjord to whittle away the time.

Farewell to Western Norway

It was late afternoon by the time we boarded the train to Oslo, and it started to rain hard outside as evening approached. Luckily the weather cleared by the time we got off in Oslo in the dark and walked from the Nationaltheatre Station to our hotel. It was a long day of travel and I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep and a lazy day in Bygdøy tomorrow.

More pictures here (Ryan) and here (Kim).

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