Friday, June 24, 2011

Norway: Up the Songnefjord

It was characteristically gray and cloudy when we left Bergen, but even in the greyness the landscape looked rugged and beautiful.

After spending five days in Bergen we left for Flåm, a tiny village of about 400 people that serves as a crossroads for tourists traveling up the fjord by cruise ship or down the mountain by scenic train. Several companies shuttle people one way down the mountain and then through the fjord back to Bergen.  We had heard that the average stay in Flåm is only a few minutes, but something about the little place intrigued us. So before we left LA we booked a hostel Flåm. But for some reason we waited until we got to Norway to decide how to get there. After too much contemplation at the crowded Bergen visitor's center, we chose to take a five hour ferry up the famous Songnefjord from Bergen to Flåm. And we were not disappointed.

When we left Bergen it was cold and overcast. In typical Kip-and-Theresa traveling style, we stopped at the fish market, just to see if we could get some last minute breakfast and ended up having to run as fast as we could, suitcases in tow, to catch the boat just as it was leaving.

On board we spent as much time on deck taking pictures as we could stand. It was extremely cold and windy, so I had to "borrow," the souvenir hat I had bought for our daughter. We ended up going into the cabin every few minutes to thaw out, and then back up top.

As we started out there were no mountains and waterfalls, but the shoreline was populated by picturesque red fishing cabins with docks -- a sanctuary of simple life for the weekend fisherman escaping the city.

On board the Fjordtroll -- they have a thing for trolls here.

As the sun breaks through the clouds it shines on a little mountainside church, evidence that this typically post-Christian country has a rich history of faith. And what once was can be again.

As the mountains grow taller, further inland, the melting snow packs trickle down the mountainside into beautiful waterfalls.

The sun breaks and shines on the mountains and flag like a postcard.

We were as happy as it looks. It's hard not to be happy when you are smiling, and it's hard not to smile when you are surprised by beauty.

What would it be like to live here?

Up close for one of the first really good views of a mountain waterfall cascading into the fjord.

We passed by this little summer skiing town on the fjord.

I would enjoy staying at this hotel.
The rest of these pictures are more gorgeous photos of waterfalls and happy us. They don't need much explanation. When I talked to my mom on the phone (free -- thanks to Skype on Kip's I phone!) I told her it was the most physical beauty I had ever seen in one day. But that was before the bike ride from Flåm to Myrdal.

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