August 29, 2014
After a good night’s sleep we got up at 8 am and made our own breakfast. We didn’t have nearly the variety that Norwegian breakfast buffets had, but we had what we wanted. It was nice to be able to relax over breakfast, knowing that the walking was finished.
Once we had finished breakfast we walked over to the tourist information centre. There were a lot of things we could do today in the area around Flåm, but they all involved taking buses or boats. The girl at the desk gave us a helpful brochure about transportation options, and using that it took a bit of figuring but finally we decided to take the bus tour to the Stegastein Lookout. That’s a viewpoint which was built out of Scandinavian-furniture wood high above Aurland a few years ago. We had seen it on the web and decided it looked like an interesting thing to see, but we hadn’t been able to figure out how to get there. So the bus tour was just the thing.
We bought tickets for the noon tour, and while we were waiting for that to leave we walked around Flåm, checking out the souvenir shops at the wharf and watching the ferries go in and out. The tour was scheduled to last an hour and a half, which meant half an hour to get there, half an hour at the lookout, and half an hour to return. The day was lovely with mainly blue skies and the odd white cloud, and there were only 7 people on the tour including us, which was good.
After the bus went through Aurland it headed up the road which goes over the fjells to Lærdal. This is now the scenic route since they built the 24.5- kilometer tunnel to Lærdal back in 2000, so it doesn’t really matter that it’s only one lane wide. When we reached the viewpoint, 650 meters above the fjord, there were very few other people there. The viewpoint was built cantilevered over the cliff-edge like a diving board, and had clear glass at the far end, so it looks like you could go straight off the end. It was positioned so that you could see along the Aurlandsfjorden in both directions, and so the view was spectacular.
On the way back to Aurland we met a much larger tour bus coming up the road, so our driver backed up to a slightly wider spot so that both vehicles could pass each other. About halfway down there’s another viewpoint, and our driver stopped there. From this one we could see all the way down the fjord to Flåm. We got back to Flåm at 1:30 pm, where we sat on a bench by the dock and ate our lunch.
Part two of our plan for today was to visit a farm called Otternes. This didn’t require any buses; we would just walk along the foot/bike path which paralleled the road along the fjord. After walking about four kilometers along the path we had to climb about 500 meters up a very steep side road to reach the farm. The weather was still defying the forecast and it was rather hot, so we were pretty sweaty by the time we finally got there.
Otternes was an old farm community on a bench above the fjord, and it was being restored to show people what life was like a few hundred years ago. After paying our admission we were given a laminated card which explained what the various buildings were. At one time there had been four families living here, and so there were a couple of dozen buildings being restored. The place resembled a small town with a footpath between the buildings acting like a main street. It was interesting to look into the different buildings, especially the houses where we saw furniture from times gone by. Before we left we bought some delicious freshly-made strawberry and blueberry ice cream, sitting outside to eat it and enjoy the fantastic view.
It didn’t take long to walk back to Flåm, and it was cooler because it was later in the day. We saw a seal swimming in the fjord—it’s strange to realize that the fjord contains salt water even though the ocean seems so far away. Before heading back to our stabbur we stopped in at the Flåm Railway Museum, which was at the station. The museum chronicled the making of the Flåm Line, which was the main access to the fjords from Oslo. Nowadays the line is totally devoted to the tourist trade, and it seems to be doing very well serving the cruise ships which come and go daily in the summer.
After dinner we realized we would need more buns for our lunch tomorrow, but when we headed over to the Coop we found that it had closed at 8 pm. So since the rain which had been predicted hadn’t yet arrived, we walked down to the fjord for a bit before heading back. Tomorrow we’re off to Oslo for the last few days of our trip, but our train doesn’t leave until 12:20 pm so we won’t be in a rush.
August 30, 2014
When we got up this morning we looked outside to find that the predicted cloudy weather had arrived, but that didn’t matter because we would be travelling most of the day. We had breakfast, cleaned up, packed up, and headed out the door sometime after 10 am. We still had a couple of hours before train time, so Rosemary had a last look around the shops. She ended up buying a soft-shell jacket which looked quite good for skiing.
About noon we walked over to the train and lined up to board. Most of the train was booked by tour groups, so only half of one car was available for random travellers like us. The train departed on time at 12:20 pm and we sat back to enjoy the scenic route up the hill to Myrdal. The trip took almost an hour as we wound our way upwards, climbing 886 meters and going through several tunnels including one spiral tunnel. We watched people descending the Rallarvegen, either walking or cycling. Just as it did on our trip with the kids in 1990, the train stopped at Kjosfossen and let us off to see the water nymphs dance to music. Finally we reached Myrdal, the end of the line, and found a somewhat sheltered spot in the station where we sat and ate our lunch.