A planned highlight of the trip turns into a day of tempest
31.10.2014 - 31.10.2014 10 °C
Going to Norway, I also wanted to see the fjords and doing my research before the trip I soon stumbled on the 12 hour "Norway in a Nutshell" train-tourist railway-ferry-bus-train trip between Oslo and Bergen billed as one of the best ways to take in Norway's scenery with the Flam Railway section billed as one of the top five railway journeys in the world. The day before in Oslo had been lovely and sunny but the weather then changed and mid afternoon I got an email saying "Due to the flood in Flam the Flam railway has been partly damaged and cannot operate from October 31st until further notice." It was not going to be the trip I'd hoped:-(
The 3 hour train journey north west from Oslo was fine even if the sky was a bit grey but by the time we reached Al to get on the bus organised in place of the bus to take us to Flam the weather was closing in and it was trying to snow.
As we travelled further up into the mountains above Strandavatnet Lake it was evident that it was getting bleaker and bleaker outside and we could sense the scenery must be stunning, if only the rain and mist would lift long enough to allow us to see it!
The coach stopped for photographs when the road emerged from the mountains above Aurslandfjord. Even with the weather being awful this was still a spectacular view. The road then twisted its way down to the fjord side through endless tunnels.
We then arrived a Flam, the normally picturesque small ferry port and tourist train terminus at the southern end of Aurslandfjord. We could see the locomotive of the famous Flambana Railway we'd originally booked to arrive on sitting idle in its sidings.
Despite the Flambana Railway not running the place was a hive of activity with suction trucks and hoses cleaning up the silt the covered everywhere. I got talking to one of the locals and it was evident the flood down the Flam valley had been one of the largest for decades and not only the Flambana Railway but the also the Oslo to Bergen Mainline had been cut and could be out for weeks if not months. Many homes had also been washed away further up the valley although thankfully nobody had lost their lives or been hurt.
After lunch at he ferry port the ferry arrived and we climbed on-board. Aurlandsfjord is a branch of Sognesfjorden, the longest fjord in Norway stretching 128 miles inland. Despite its length the fjord is deep and ocean going cruise liners do call at Flam.
Our first port of call was Aurslandvangen itself. Having watched foot passengers get on and off the ferry we passed lots of debris floating in the fjord being fished out by a boat, a reminder of the damage wrecked by the flood down the Flam Valley the previous day.
About an hour and half into our trip we arrived at the picturesque fjord side port of Undredal and watched passengers climb off the ferry up into the town with its white Stave Church visible on the hillside, the smallest stave church in Norway.
We then turned into Naeroyfjord, one of the narrowest fjords in Norway famous for its dramatic landscape and inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Apparently there are 25 waterfalls cascading into the fjord and we did get close to a couple of them but unfortunately the appalling weather meant we did not see them at their best.
It was gradually getting darker, wetter and colder as we approached Gudvangen and even the toughest of the ferry's passengers hardly ventured out of the cabin to take photographs.
At Gudvangen we climbed aboard the awaiting coach in the dark. The driver reminded us how great the scenery was outside, if only we could see it in the dark and through the weather! About an hour later we arrived at Voss where I took a photographs of its Stave Church before mounting the mainline train for the final leg of our trip to Bergen. When we eventually arrived in Bergen I was relieved the trip was over; I had hoped "Norway in a Nutshell" was going to be a highlight but in the end with the poor weather and darkness it was just a tease and it is a trip I feel I'll have to do again.