Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 38 Flaam

Today, we reached Flaam in Sognefjord, which is Norway’s deepest and longest fjord at 130 miles long and up to 4291 feet deep.  The fjord reaches almost directly eastward, toward the country’s highest mountain range and its largest glacier, the Jostedal.  The town of Flaam is one terminus of the Flamsbana, a masterpiece of electric railway technology, which took 20 years to build and was completed in 1940.  To avoid an avalanche in this avalanche prone area, the line crisscrosses the river and the valley floor three times, winding its way along the steep terrain and through the mountain.  We took the bus from Flaam to Voss.  Our first stop on this journey was at Gudvangen fjord.  Gudvangen means God’s village and is still the site of pagan rituals from the Viking days.  En route to Voss, we had morning tea at the Stathein Hotel.  Evidently, artists and writers stay at this hotel to have a quiet and beautiful environment to pursue their creative works.  The hotel is nestled in the most spectacular setting overlooking the Nacroy Valley.  This valley is on the UNESCO world heritage list.  We descended from here on our way to Voss on a hairpin, winding road ,which was barely wider than the size of our bus, but the panoramic views made the trip down the mountain worthwhile.  We saw many waterfalls on this section of the trip.
Voss is a quaint little town nestled between two of Norway’s most famous fjords.  It boasts a charming lakeside setting, a petite thirteenth century church and a delightful array of shop and cafes.
After lunch in Voss, we boarded the local train to Myrdal at 866 metres in height and here we changed to the special Flaam railway that I mentioned above.  This tourist train travelled through the most spectacular of all the spectacular scenery that we have seen on this cruise.  It was the best.  The train stopped en route for a photo opportunity of the largest waterfall I have ever seen.  This cruise has been outstanding.  There are not enough superlatives to describe the vistas that we have seen.

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