Day 15: FLÅM

 Flåm

Monday, July 4th!

We woke up just in time to catch the end of the breakfast service.  All of the breakfast meals have been mostly the same (except for our personal chef, Katla, in Reykjavik): yogurt, hard & soft-boiled eggs, scrambled or fried eggs, deli-meats, potatoes, sausage, bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes, cereal, some sort of fish paste or fish salad, breads – including gluten free bread most places, juice, water, coffee & tea.  Flåm was no different, and we all created different combinations each place.

Flåm is an outdoor town.  The outdoor activities are bountiful – hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, fishing, camping, visiting farms, etc. You can access Flåm via boat, bus, rail or car and it is situated along the innermost sidearm of the world’s deepest and second longest fjord.  Every view is stunning – steep mountains, valleys and plentiful waterfalls.  The vibrant green grass speckled with yellow, white, pink, blue and purple wild flowers contrast nicely with the brillant blue skies above and the crystal clear waters below.

 

You can’t be in Flåm and remain indoors, so we trekked up the trail to the Brekkefossen Waterfall.

I feel I must mention that I had knee surgery at the end of March.  I was on crutches for about a month and was PTing it twice a week in preparation for this trip.  All of that aside, I was very excited about going on a hike and soaking up the beautiful surrounds.

Bryan and Tipton studied the hiking map and selected the trek up to the waterfall. I was on board but knew I would be bringing up the rear.  I will also mention that I briefly glanced at the hiking map and thought the hike was rated easy.  No problem.  I’ve been walking 6-7mi most of the non-travel days anyway!  We picked route 3 (green on the map).

 

 

You will note the hike is green on the map, but the degree of difficulty is red – advanced.  I went the entire hike thinking it was on the easy scale and was horrified at either my inabilities or the possibility that there were more challenging levels we could have ended up on by accident!  It wasn’t until we finished the entire hike, and I revisited the map that I felt better.  I completed an advanced hike!  Oh, and so did the rest of them, but that’s not nearly as impressive!

The hike was 3.5mi long, starting and finishing at the hotel.  We scaled 45 stories in that short 2mi on the mountain and traversed rocks, streams, mud and gravel.  It was all well worth it.  The views were amazing and the waterfall impressive.

Panoramic of entire valley from top of hike

It really was fantastic!  We made our way back down in half the time.  I made use of a trusty walking stick I found at the start and replaced it at the end for another to use.

That’ll do, stick.

We treated ourselves to a mighty refreshment after our mighty accomplishment before our next adventure: Fjord Safari Boat Ride!

Flight of beer for Bryan, Sour Cherry Rye for me & local Apple Cider for Lincoln. Tip got Sprite (not pictured)

For those of you who followed us on the New Zealand trip, you might remember the Shot Over Jet Boat Tour.  Well, we heard about the Fjord Safari tours at dinner the previous night, and decided we had to add it to the list in the rare chance it was similar in style to our NZ experience.  We purchased our tickets before we went hiking, and a good thing, too.  Most of the tours were already sold out.

When you check in for the tour, they outfit you in full ski-looking gear: jumpsuit, goggles, hat and gloves.  They were out of kid suits, so Lincoln’s suit was twice as big as he was.  However, we made it work, and honestly, it was not the best look for any of us – even the well-fitted ones.  But, needs must…

The tour was thoroughly enjoyable, and lasted about 1.5hrs.  We rode up the fjord, and our captain gave us interesting cultural, geographical and historical information along the way.  We saw the small village that Frozen was based upon along the Sognefjord and the Nærøyfjord (narrow fjord).  One of the mountains is made up of sedimentary rock that can only be found in Quebec or on the moon!

Moon Rock

And we got up close and personal with a huge waterfall, the Sagfossen Waterfall.

Sagfossen Waterfall

Our captain told us a few colorful stories, including the first form of birth control in Norway – The Ledgen of Huldra.  Huldra was said to be the most beautiful female with an amazing singing voice but the tail of a cow.  Boys were told to stay away from young girls for fear of them really being Huldra.  Huldra would take the boys away to marry her and they were never heard from again.  I saw a ship named Huldra on the way from Flam to Oslo…

The Huldra

He also told us about the winter, summer and spring pastures for the cows and goats.  The winter pastures were closest to the towns with the spring and summer pastures across the fjord to the mountains.  Spring being on the lower part where the snow melts fist, and summer being at the top of the mountain.  The young girls and boys (7-14) had to haul the animals across the fjord on boats to the spring pastures, and then tie ropes around the necks of the cows to pull them up the mountains for the summer pastures.  Make no mistake – the mountains are steep all the way to the water’s edge.  He said it’s no wonder something like 40% of the population in the fjords left for an easier life in the states.

We did see one particular farm at the top of the mountain that an American purchased in the 1970s and turned it into a B&B.  The only way to access the farm:
a) 5 day hike across the mountains
b) 1 day hike from the neighboring village
c) boat ride followed by a 1hr hike (without luggage) to the top via a zigzag trail up the mountain.
Believe it or not, the B&B is booked up 1-2yrs in advance for one of the 16 beds available.  In addition to running the B&B, the American, turned Norwegian entrepreneur, must also hike down the mountain to milk his goats each and every evening!  What a life!

Can you see his goats, precariously perched on the steep cliff, just above the water’s edge?

It was said that the farmer who owned the place before the American, wanted a tractor for his small patch of garden at the top.  He read an advertisement for “free delivery” with the purchase of a tractor.  So, off he went to purchase the equipment and schedule the delivery.  The company visited the location and determined that to deliver the tractor, they would first have to disassemble, haul it up piece by piece and reassemble it at the top.  Once they had the tractor reassembled, the farmer informed them it was the wrong tractor, and he wanted the correct one.  Well, long story short, the company delivered the correct tractor in the same manner as before and decided it was more economical to leave the first one as well.  So, the farmer ended up with 2 tractors.  He used the motor from the first one to build a zip line for hauling goods to the top.  The zip line is still in use today.

We made our way back to the pier and stumbled into dinner, hot showers and bed.  Flåm, you are high on our list of best spots on the trip, and we will be sad to leave your majesty.

Next up…Oslo!

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