Friday, July 27, 2007

On to Bergen


This morning, we decided to take a walk down to the lake behind the hotel after breakfast. Our train down to Flam wouldn’t leave until 11am, and we had about 90 minutes until then. Great adventures are usually filled with great choices, and this was one of them. A more challenging hike in that period of time would be hard to find. The trail was just barely marked, as it consisted primarily of the pathways used regularly by no more than a dozen people using their cabins part of the year. Feeling a bit like we were intruding into someone’s private wilderness, we carefully stepped through very wet bogs, rocks, and wooden planks from cabin to cabin on a route that eventually led us to the dam at the top of the waterfall. Gingerly walking out on a wooden bridge across the face of the dam, we paused for a few minutes while the roaring water passed beneath us in the midst. Truly magical moments are few, and this was one of them. We turned, and began the long walk back to the hotel. Retracing our steps as well as we could, I was very glad Pat has a better sense of direction than I do. We were back at the hotel to check out with minutes to spare before the train rolled up.

We stored our bags at the Freitheim Hotel luggage storage, and walked out to the port to see the shops and wait for our 3:30pm ferry. An uneventful three hours passed checking out the area. The highlights were a mooseburger and lasagna lunch, buying some fruit, chocolate, and cookies for the ferry trip, and watching a large group of tourists negotiate the line to the bathroom in the tourist center.

I have a recommendation for anyone taking the express ferry (catamaran) from Flam to Bergen. The best seats are the ones we chose. Go to the bottom deck, third row from the front, on the left side. The panorama of windows is the best on the boat. There’s 40 feet of almost solid windows, five feet high in front, and four on the side. Except for a couple of small lifeboats on the deck outside, the view is clear to the sides of the fjords. There are two rows of three seats, so you can hog the section by placing your stuff between yourselves. Our seats were next to the left window, which hardly ever got wet (it rained most of the way to Bergen).

I have to admit – the Milford Sound in New Zealand has a better fjord boating experience than any I have seen on this trip. The caveat is that there was one stretch of the trip, which we our boat did not take, the travels up the narrowest fjord in Norway. It may be on par with Milford. The waterfalls were okay, but not as good as some we saw on the train ride to and from the hotel. The rock walls were too far apart, and the boat came nowhere near them. For the maximum oohs and aahs out of a fjord experience, I’d say go to New Zealand.

However, Norway has more than fjords to offer. Especially to people like me who come to find our history. The mountains which rim the fjords provide plateaus and hillsides lowlands where Norwegians raised families. And that is worth far more than walls of water or rock.

Here is a link to all of the photos we took today: On to Bergen

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