Friday, July 27, 2007
Flam and Myrdal
Other than a missing bus at an Oslo ferry connection, we haven’t had any glitches so far in our journey. That would change today.
After breakfast, we turned in the rental car and received a ride back to the Fagernes bus station by the rental car receptionist. She is starting her own vacation tomorrow, and hadn’t made any plans. “Just going home to my mom”, she said, who lives ten miles down the road.
The East-West Bus took us up the Valdres Valley past Vang. For the first time, I saw the front side of the mountain which hovers over the homes of my ancestors (Gridane). It looks very much like mother earth, cupping the village in her lap. I also saw the rune stone in front of the church were many of my ancestors were laid to rest. It is said to have been placed there around 1000 AD, and marks the death of a young man of the area. The church was built near it in 1847. Actually, there was an earlier Vang church, which was sold to the King of Prussia, and shipped by boat to there in 1842.
Arriving in Flam four hours later, we went to the Freitheim Hotel. The delay between receiving the reply to our inquiry about the availability of a room there last night, and our email agreeing to accept the room (about an hour), led to it no longer being available. Unfortunately, we didn’t check our email this morning for the confirmation, and found the hotel clerk having to deliver the bad news to us. To his credit, he called the tourist bureau for us, found a room in a hotel at the top of the famous Myrdal-Flam railroad grade, called the local owner, and handed the phone to us to speak to her. She said she had a room, directed us to take the next train up the mountain, and said that she would meet us at the station.
Since we had already planned to take the hour’s train ride up to Myrdal and back tonight, the only new wrinkle was dragging our heavy luggage onto the train. It’s a train carrying daytrippers, and most people don’t carry any. After buying train tickets, and ferry tickets for the trip to Bergen tomorrow afternoon, we found a place to put them in the front of a car, and settled into two seats near the window.
What had been communicated to us was that the hotel was one stop before Myrdal on the grade, separated from it by a long dirt road and a tunnel. After getting off at the Myrdal station, and finding no one waiting for us, we persuaded the son of the café chef to use his phone to call the hotel for answers. Oops, sorry. But you can take the next train going back down the mountain, and get off at the hotel. We passed the hour wait by talking to the only other people at the station, a young swiss couple who were trying to get back to their hotel in the opposite direction, after spending the day down in Flam. No one had told them the train they took didn’t go that far.
When we finally got off the train at Vatnahalsen, I was glad we had brought luggage made for mountain dirt roads. It was still some distance to hotel, up a rocky road made for hikers. Eagle Creek Luggage will be my volunteering for a testimonial commercial when we get back.
We checked into a very nice room with an amazing view of the lake above the largest falls seen on the train ride. Dinner was just being served, and we had mushroom soup, pork, potatoes, salad, and a custard and ice cream desert. As we watched the sun set over the mountain in front of the hotel, we settled into some books found in the study. Mine was written by a guy who had stayed at the hotel, and who was advising about Norwegian highlights. Pat ended up taking hers (The Pilot’s Wife) with her, and trading one she had just finished (Cellophane). While I would have liked to avoid the confusion and doubt about whether we’d ever get here, it turned out to be a very nice place to stay.
Here is a link to all of the photos we took today: Flam and Myrdal