Adventure on the Fjord

.My brother’s cabin in Flam came with its own boat and a prime location on the fjord.  It truly doesn’t get much better than the view from their living room or kitchen table of their cabin.  Our boys and their cousins love life on the water, so they were intent on the dads taking them out on the boat.  We were ready for our adventure on the fjord.

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The first journey on the boat, my entire family and my brother’s family hopped in eager for our adventure on the Fjord.  It had been raining that day, but the rain had abated as we boarded the boat.   No sooner had we pushed out to sea, when the winds began whipping and the rain restarted.

Unfortunately, it was clear the boat’s engine hadn’t been used in sometime.  As my brother struggled to get the engine started, hubby rowed us back towards the cabin.  The wind whips down the mountains into the valley on to the fjord with a lot of velocity, so we were quickly moving towards the very large cruise ship Costa Magica.  Luke was rowing as hard as he could, but the wind was that fierce.

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The engine did not want to start, so we were getting worried.  If we didn’t get the engine started quickly, we would hit the Costa Magica or end up in the cold waters of the Aurlandsfjord.  The very idea of going into the not so shallow (the fjord is 3,900 ft deep)  and very cold waters of the fjord made it a little nerve wracking.  As we worried,  waited and hopped for the engine to start, the engine finally started.

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My brother and hubby switched places.  After several more tense minutes, the engine finally started.  We headed safely away from the Costa Magica and out on the Fjord.  The rain and wind abated as the engine finally started.  The irony was not lost on the two men that had been rowing through the wind.

Hubby drove us out towards Aurland, but not too far from shore.   We were able to see the goats and the Viking burial grounds.  We got a close of up of a beautiful waterfall that falls several thousand feet,  goes under E16 and into the Fjord.   Despite the hairy start to our trip, our evening on the boat in  Flam turned out magical and memory filled. Undoubtedly, I was quite relieved when we were back on solid ground.

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Bergen Bound

We are Bergen bound!  This afternoon we said goodbye to the Aurlandsfjord and Flam area as we headed west to Bergen.  The westward journey was only 2 1/2 hours, which compared to our travels to Trondheim and the Fjords was a relatively quick trip.

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I have to say I was worried that driving in Norway would be disastrous for us, but it has worked out pretty well.  The road are quite narrower than what we are accustom to, h however,  but there is also significantly less traffic.  More importantly, our fellow drivers in here are far more congenial than they are in South Florida.  I can’t imagine South Florida drivers trying to navigate the mountain route up to Stegastein (nobody would survive.)

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The vista were once again spellbinding, which makes for an entertaining drive.  Tvindefossen is a waterfall visible from E16 just outside of Voss and is pictured above.  I don’t think any of us enjoy all the tunnels, especially my husband who has done most of the driving.  Thankfully, he gets a break from driving duty as Bergen is our home base for the next several days.   Bergen is a walking city that we are excited to explore.

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Exploring Borgund, Husum and Laerdal

Today was all about exploring Borgund, Husom and Laerdal, which is where my dad’s family emigrated from in the 19th century. We started our day off with some scrambled eggs and bacon in the cabin, which were absolutely delicious. The cost of food in Norway is outrageously expensive, so we’re trying to eat in whenever possible. Food at the restaurant is taxed at 25% whereas food purchased in the grocery store is 12%, which makes for a big difference in cost.

After our protein filled breakfast, we set out to meet my parents and brothers’ families at the Borgund Stave Church. The drive, like most in Norway, was spectacular. The landscape here is absolutely amazing and awe inspiring. Our timing was spot on and shortly after we pulled into the museum parking lot in Borgund, my brothers’ cars followed.

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There is a small musuem at the site with artifacts related to the staves churches of Norway and also relics from the Viking Era that had been excavated at nearby sites. As a history nerd, I was in complete heaven. Once we made our way through the museum, we headed to the church.

What is nice about this site is that the staff monitors how many people are in the church and prevents the church from being overcrowded. This ensures you have ample time and space to view the church and explore the grounds without being overrun by other tourists. Their was a large group in the church when we arrived, so we started to hike the Sverrestigen, part of the Kongevegan (King’s Road.) My grandma, at 87 years old, killed the hike. I had Jacob escort her up the hill as the the terrain, comprised of grass, mud, rocks and tree roots, was a bit slipper and I didn’t want her to fall. If you are wondering what the benefits of walking 3-5 miles daily are, here it is. My Grandma T able to hike the Norwegian hillsides at 87 without so much as breaking a sweat.

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The stave church was amazing. It is very dark inside and modestly decorated with much of the regalia of it’s Catholic era long gone. The details and intricacy of the woodwork and carvings are beyond compare. Interestingly, this church, like the stave church in Undredal, combines christian symbolism with pagan symbolism. This simply does not exist in churches outside of Norway. There were even Rune letters carved into the door perhaps by a parishioner who had become bored during the service.

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After exploring the church, we explored the church and cemetery grounds it was surreal knowing that these were the very soil our ancestors had walked before emigrating to the Untied States. Jacob and I completed the entirety of the Vindhellavegen trail from Borgund to Husom.  Meanwhile Luke and the other two waited for us at a picnic table. The Vindhellavegen drops you right into Husum (Husom) where our family had its farm.  The Husom Store and hotel are found here as well.  We hiked back from Husum to Borgund on the Vidhellavegen taking a steeper, rockier short cut of a climb back to the church.

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I’m sure our legs will hurt tomorrow, but the view and experience were well worth the pain. Post hike we headed to the Husum farm and then on to Laerdal. I loved seeing my dad on this part of the trip. You could see that he really enjoyed seeing where his family originated. Another humbling, wonderful day in glorious Norway.

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Catch of the Day

Our boys were thrilled they could fish as soon as we got to Laerdal.   Immediately, they were able to go fish on the fjord.  They started off their fishing adventure by walking through the cold water of the fjord on a narrow rock bar.  They had no luck in the shallow water.  We found a little inlet in the fjord where the water was calmer, deeper and closer to shore.  Here using only rooster tail lures both Goalielocks and the Mayor were able to catch their first sea trout.

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The Mayor’s was too small to keep, but Goalielocks’ fish was large enough to keep and also didn’t survive its re-entry to the water.  Since we had a nice fresh catch from the fjord, we cooked it up for dinner along with Norwegian meatballs with kjottkakesaus, jasmine rice, and corn.

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My hats of to my hubby the chef as the meal was more than edible, it was delicious.  We bribed Goalielocks and the Mayor since they are picky eaters.  We bribed them with the promise of an after dinner fishing session.   Dinner went well and they were quickly back on the fjord fishing.   What’s cool here in Norway is that fishing on the fjord is free.  If we wanted to fish the rivers for salmon or trout, we would have to get a special license from the government and potentially from the owner of that particular section of river.

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While the younger two and dad fished, Jake and I explored the town on foot.  We enjoyed a beautiful walk near the fjord and down the Laerdal River, where we’re hoping to run sometime tomorrow.

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Flamsbana

Last night we took the Flamsbana (Flam Railway) up to Myrdal and back down.   Myrdal is only accessible by train either the Flamsbana or the Bergen Line.  The quaint mountain station is 867 meters above sea level.  The round trip from Flam to Myrdal takes a little over two hours.  The views from the railway are second to none.

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We loved the view of the mountains, waterfalls, the Flam River and the Flam Valley from the tracks.  The highlight of the train ride is the stop at the Kjosfossen Waterfall at almost 2,200 feet above sea level.   This waterfall is fed by Reinunga Lake and is truly spectacular waterfall with a total fall of over 738 feet.  The only part viewable from the train and the nearby platform is the upper falls.  The falls continue under the platform and rail bridge plunging into the gorge.  Additionally, there is also a power plant on the Kjosfossen waterfall that powers the Flam Railway.

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As part of the trip on the Flamsbana, there is a 5 minute stop ascending the tracks to Myrdal and a 5 minute stop on the descent to Flam.  Importantly, there is significant spray on the platform, so it isn’t a bad idea to have your camera and phone in a protective bag.    Additionally, during this stop there are three actresses, who appears as Huldra.   In Scandinavian folklore, Huldra is a seductive forest creature that lures men and takes them into the mountain to marry her.   The dance is performed to traditional music and adds to the ambiance.

This train trip has multiple departures daily and costs about $58 per adult ticket and $29 for a kid’s ticket.  It is absolutely worth the price and is a must do if you ever travel to Flam.

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The Fjord at Night

Before we prepared for bed this evening, I  took some pictures of the Aurlandsfjord with my new camera.  These photos of the fjord at night were all taken after midnight in natural light.  I will say that being in the land of the midnight sun throws off your internal clock.  You don’t want to sleep when it looks like it is 6:00 pm.  Worse than that, the kids don’t want to go to sleep when the sun is still up, but I digress.  I am happy with how they turned out and look forward to experimenting more with photography at night.

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