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Day 3: Myrdal

For today's journey we were retracing part of yesterday's steps, taking the 08.45 bus from Bergen to Flåm. The aim of today was to complete the bit of the 'Norway in a Nutsell' tour which we missed out on yesterday; the railway between Flåm and Myrdal. The weather wasn't quite as good today as it had been yesterday, and so it was fortunate that we had a day of activity which mainly involved being indoors. It was pouring with rain as we left Bergen, and that theme continued as we made our way through the various valleys and tunnels from yesterday. There was one slightly sticky moment when our bus got stuck in a traffic jam outside a tunnel where there were some ongoing road works, but in the end it only resulted in a delay of about 20 minutes and we arrived in Flåm just in time for our trip on the Flåm railway.


The Flåm railway is a 20km stretch of track between the small village of Flåm and the even smaller hamlet of Myrdal. So far it doesn't sound very exciting, but Flåm is located at just 2 metres above sea level, while Myrdal is located at 864m, and so the track has a very steep gradient. It's also supposed to be one of the most scenic rail journeys in Europe, so we were excited to give it a try.

I was a little bit worried that the train was going to be really busy, but either because it was a fairly rainy Monday in May or because we had chosen a different train to the official one timetabled for the Nutshell tour, we ended up with only a handful of other tourists in our carriage. I had researched online which side of the carriage would be best to sit and the answer seemed to be that it was the right hand side as you travel from Flåm to Myrdal, but actually there were brilliant views on both sides of the train at different points, so it was lucky that the carriage was empty enough for us to switch sides whenever we needed to.

The train began climbing quite steeply as soon as it pulled out of the station in Flåm.


There was multi-lingual commentary in Norwegian, English and German throughout the journey, which was really useful in telling us what to look out for as we pulled in and out of the various tunnels. One such piece of advice recommended that we look to the right to see this spectacular waterfall.



As we travelled further uphill, we were treated to views of increasingly rocky mountains capped with snow.


Unfortunately because the sky was white with clouds today as well, it's hard to tell what is snow and what is sky in some of the photos :)


The train continued to pull in and out of tunnels...


...and we had some lovely views back down into the Flåm valley as we turned corners.


We lost track of how many waterfalls we saw.


About twenty minutes into the journey, our train paused at a small station where there was a passing place for the train coming down the mountain.


Then we were off on our way again :)


The higher we climbed the more we were surrounded by snow.


One of the most impressive sites which the train commentary pointed out to us was this track winding up the mountain.


The highlight of the journey, however, is supposed to be when the train makes a five-minute stop at the Kjosfossen Station, where a special viewing platform has been built across the enormous Kjosfossen waterfall. I had seen some pictures of it online and it looked amazing... but what I hadn't bargained for was that in May it would look like this...


Yes, it was 2 May and almost the entire waterfall was completely frozen!!


But in some ways perhaps it looks more impressive like this than it does in summer :)


After Kjosfossen, there was only another 15 minutes or so until we reached the final station, Myrdal.


As we got nearer and nearer it became so snowy that we could easily have believed that it was Christmas and we were in Lapland again.


The brochure for the Flåm railway warns tourists that there isn't a lot to see or do in Myrdal; "the attraction is the journey and not Myrdal", the website explains.


They certainly didn't lie when they said there wasn't much there, but the landscape was really beautiful.


Improbable as it seems, Myrdal is actually a station on the main railway between Oslo and Bergen. Within a few minutes of getting off our train from Flåm, we were able to get into a normal train on the main Norwegian rail network, which would take us directly back to Bergen. The journey on the main train line was spectacular in itself, as the track descended for another half an hour through the snow, then began to follow the path of a steep gorge.


Once back in Bergen, we just had time to grab some food before heading off for the bus back to the airport. There were no difficulties with check-in this time around, and rather amazingly Norwegian Air offer free wi-fi on their flights, so we've been able to update the blog from the skies :)

Norway is definitely not a cheap country and some of the prices on this holiday have definitely made our eyes water, but we have had a brilliant time this weekend and it must surely rank as one of the most beautiful places we have been :)


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