Backpacking in Norway & Sweden – Episode 5: A cruise on the Sognefjord from Flåm to Gudvangen

Backpacking in Norway & Sweden – Episode 5: A cruise on the Sognefjord from Flåm to Gudvangen


Today we’re going on a long tour outside of Bergen that will start from the central station. The first stop of our tour is Myrdal. We’ll take a train from Bergen’s central station and apparently it will depart from track 4. The train for Myrdal leaves at 8.43 sharp and it will arrive to its destination in a bit more than 2 hours. But time flies when fascinating villages that are reflected in the waters of the fjord appear, one after the other, before our eyes. When we start going through several mountain villages, I notice that stacks of cut branches are everywhere on the slopes and the monster explains to me why. Everything is ready for the winter. They cut the trees and left them on the ground to dry out. And then when they need to light a fire, they come to collect the dried wood. I also collected lots of dried wood on the mountains with my mother when I was a little girl. Here we are, in Myrdal, where the panoramic train Flåmsbana is waiting for us on the other track and will take us, as its name implies, to the small village of Flåm. For about an hour, the train will go through spectacular scenery in the middle of nature and will amaze us with some surprises like the stop right in front of the Kjosfossen waterfall. But surprises are not over. We resume our ride on this 20km-long railway whose construction started in 1924 and that, besides spectacular scenery, goes through 20 tunnels, 18 of which were built by hand. It would take workers about a month to dig just one meter. We’re in Flåm, whose name comes from the Old Norse for plain and it refers to the flood plains of the Flåm river. This small village is actually on a plain surrounded by high mountains. We’ll leave for a cruise on the Sognefjord from here, but since we still have quite some time, we decide to have lunch at a picnic table. And after lunch, we also have time for a quick visit to the Flåmsbana railway museum where we can see the faces of the poor workers who spent years and years of their lives to dig kilometers of tunnel by hand so that we could go through this valley today sitting comfortably on a panoramic train. It’s time to board and we can take the fast track just because we booked it online on the Norway in a Nutshell website. And so we leave Flåm to begin this new leg of our tour. We’re on the boat that will take us on a cruise of the Sognefjord, this wonderful fjord where we can find Flåm where we’ve just been. The cruise should last about two hours so we’ll get to… I don’t remember the name of the place, just a minute… Gudvangen, something like that… to Gudvangen at 3.15 pm and then we’ll take the train to Bergen and we’ll arrive there at 8.45 pm. Once again we are surrounded by wonders of nature while we navigate on this water passageway that goes through majestic mountains. And yet, we are not alone on this adventure because we are escorted by a flock of seagulls that apparently have learned that they can always get something out of it, when these boats pass by. This fjord, called Sognefjord, from the Sogne district, is the widest of Norway and the second longest in the world with its 205 kilometers. Among the villages that we find along the way, this one has the longest-living inhabitants and people have come to think that its water is an elixir of life. When we reach the narrowest point of the fjord which is also the shallowest point, only 12 meters deep, the cruise is about to end. And we keep wondering how people can live here in small groups of houses, completely isolated, at the foot of these arduous mountains that are really hard to reach and where maybe the only way to get here is by sea. We’ve reached our final destination, the village of Gudvangen, where we leave the boat to begin our trip back to Bergen. So, while the tourists swarm around the reproduction of a Viking boat, we take a bus that will take us to the town of Voss in about an hour. This ride turns out to be particularly interesting too because the bus takes us along narrow roads and hairpin bends that run along the top of a mountain overlooking a deep valley. This gives us a sense of fear contrasted by the excitement of being once again surrounded by the wonders of this natural scenery. We’re in Voss, a small town of the Bolstadsfjord where people go paragliding and a helicopter flies the daredevils who wish to glide free in the threatening cloudy skies of this region. After waiting for quite a while, our train finally comes and it will take us back to Bergen in about 1 hour and 20 minutes where, after a whole day of clouds, clouds and even more clouds, we finally find some sun. Even if we’re tired, this encourages us to go out again for an evening walk and we go back to the Bryggen, the wharf of Bergen where the façades of its colored houses seem more vivid in the sunset light and acquire an even more magical appearance. It’s late, but there’s still light and this encourages us to continue our stroll, so we make another quick visit to the Fisketorget, the fish market where a new gustatory experience is awaiting me. What is that ? It’s whale meat Whale meat ? Can I try a little bit ? Yeah, of course ! Thank you ! You’re welcome It’s good, yeah ? Yeah, it’s good It’s like smoked beef. Yeah, it’s like smoked beef. It’s good ! The night is approaching very slowly, everything loses its color and turns into its own silouhette like the people that are now animating the port of Bergen but who will soon disappear to let it sleep.

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