A railway of surprises and beauty
Flam Travel Blog› entry 27 of 31 › view all entries
I have now run out of new superlatives. Perhaps Roget's might have something in the pipeline? Tonight's campsite overlooks the village of Flam where there is a small railway and a Fjord ferry port. Way up behind us is the roadway that comes out of the 5 km tunnel, towering mountains and waterfalls. This camp is another terraced ground with silverbirch, apples in full blossom and firs. The meadow at the foot of the camp has ladies smocks and there are alpine strawberries and raspberries coming up. A red bearded guy arrives in after 9pm, puts up his tent and sits down to play his banjo softly. More backpackers arrive and set up their tents and have a soccer game.
We are up and in the van early 8am to drive the short way down the hill to the port and rail stop. Buy return tickets for the Flam Railway which pulls out at 8.50am. The 20 km trip takes one hour each way as it climbs up to 867 meters with gradients of 1-18. There are over 6 kms of tunnels, one of the tunnels doing 180o turn inside a mountain. Waterfalls, stunning views and a stop to get out and look at a spectacular waterfall from a wooden viewing platform. There is a charming commentary in several languages describing the scenes. At Myerstdm we get out for about 15 mins and met the tourists we saw the day before on the fjord in the ferry! We return down the narrow valleys and the comentary tells us that the men through the ages that travelled and worked through these mountains tell of a beautiful woman who sometimes appeared and tried to entice them away with her looks and sweet promises.
Once back down at the station we reluctantly begin our next drive to Bergen on the west coast. Arriving in Bergen in the mid afternoon we get trapped in choking traffic for a long time and despite the promise of a festival happening there that week and some good things to see we decide we don't wish to stay there having being spoilt by the peaceful country places we have stayed in recently.
At one stage I drive over a slight rise in the road and unexpectedly the two lane road ahead of me splits into about 15 lanes down a causeway and into the sea, just as Andrew looks up from his map to say that we might have to board a ferry soon to take us across a fjord!!! We are on a ferry not long after and 55 mins later are back on land and continuing south. Over a bridge and down through an underwater tunnel 11 kms long and over another bridge. The landscape has been changing to more open, barren windswept stuff with massive rocks submerged into the land. Another ferry and more money for the fare. It is extreemly windy and as Andrew hops out of the car to tell the guy in front of us his LH tail light is out, all our reciepts for the ferry are sucked away by the wind.
After this ferry we drive behind the same guy for about 20 mins then come up against a tollway requiring 13 kroner in coins. We have a note and no coins and the toll booth is unattended. We try the second one next to it but again no credit card slot like many. Press the help button and Andrew explains to the voice we dont have coins. They keep us going round in circles with words and they cannot suggest what we can do. Suddenly I see man from the car with LH tail light out, walking back to us from his car. He speaks to the loudspeaker in Norweigen saying that he will take care of the matter and pays our toll!! We love him and thank him profusely for getting us out of a tricky situation.