Float with me as we continue our Norway in a Nutshell tour through the gorgeous Norwegian Fjords. More than one scenic train ride (read more about Norway by Rail here) stemming from Oslo yesterday brought us to charming Flåm for a relaxing overnight once the tourist hoards had vacated. Bellies sated from the full Nordic buffet at the Fretheim Hotel this morning, we check out and head to the harbor to start the boated portion of our pre-planned Norwegian package.
Make sure that you know which dock your scheduled boat departs from – signs for “Norway in a Nutshell” fjord tours can mislead you to an earlier or later slated ticket time. Coveted window seats in the cafe area of the fjord boats fill up quickly and on a slightly soggy day like we experienced, enjoying a warm cocoa and slice of eplekake (apple cake) or muffin along with the passing fjord views helped. (Note, outside food and drink not allowed in the cafe area.)
Our vessel, comparatively small to the mammoth cruise ships docked nearby, departs with a chugging putter and we wave goodbye to little Flåm, Norway. Once aboard, there is minimal communication about where and what you are seeing, it is best just to soak it all in. And soaked we sometimes were, with clouds and mist and ensuing rain following our watery tour. The first hour of our cruise heads up the wider Aurlandsfjord and allowed us to get our fjording bearings. The wee peaked houses that we met initially in the Oslo Fjord and again along our train route mark our progress cheerfully from the shores. The canned recording overhead tells us of historic churches not to miss in four languages but we have difficulty pointing them out, wondering if the announcement settings aren’t off pace. It doesn’t really matter. The scale of anything human in this neck of the woods pales in front of the awesome cliffs they are set against.
It is really all about the FJORD here. We stop in and out of little ports of call per se – not much more than a cluster of little colorful houses and a dock. The captain expertly maneuvers his boat and quickly passengers are let off and more embark. A few here, a few there. Hikers with packs and sticks greet us at one such dock, as we turn into the narrower Nærøyfjord. Quick hugs and they release two members of their group to join us – the rest apparently fjording on by foot. Just another place to customize your Nutshell experience.
The Nærøyfjord is much more impressive than the first hour on the Aurlandsfjord. The water is deeper and the cliffs closer, and they seemingly plunge with their waterfalls right into the ancient water with us. Goats amble up the rocks. An occasional seal surfaces and his glance proves that in fact, we are the ones being watched. The rain turns to mist and white clouds drip down the mountainsides only making this place more magical and surreal. Seagulls follow us, a reminder that these waters eventually lead to the sea. Today, I’m taking you only as far as Gudvangen which we reach after two lovely, albeit passive, hours on the water. I will admit that my children became a wee bit numb to the spectacle but were revived with the upcoming twisty bus ride to Voss. Our next Norway in a Nutshell leg – on the road to Bergen – in the next post… stay tuned! Enjoy the pics. (Want to see them larger? Just double click and scroll through!) Traveled on a different fjord? Liked it better? Please share in the comments below! Cheers from Denmark – Erin