Norway / Travel

Taking a Glimpse at the Infamous Norwegian Fjords

Train oslo flam

Train from Oslo to Flåm

I was so excited to get to see the Norwegian Fjords. Heard so much about it and finally the chance has came. But before that… a little episode I have to mention – my first (and only…) trip and fall incident of this 4-month journey. As I was leaving my airbnb stay in Oslo, I walked outside, ready to leave with one backpack on my chest and one backpack on my back. Forgot about the steps at the front door, I stepped outside and started to walk as if it was flat. I face-planted and slid a few feet right in front of the door. Thanks to my front backpack, I was not injured other than a bruised knee and a scratched sheen. It hurt like a b-word. Thank god no body saw me. So I just got up and rushed to the bus stop. Note to self – watch your step, especially when your bags weight more than half of you.

I left Oslo early morning to catch the 8:30am train through Myrdal to Flåm. The first part of the train was just a regular fast train but the nicest train I have boarded in all of Europe. There was free wifi, outlet for your electronics, quite car and lots of pretty scenery outside the window.

Flam train

Waiting for the Flåmbana

When the train arrived to Myrdal, I had to get on a different train onward to Flåm. The train to Flåm is part of the Flåmbana. It is a historical train and it is one of the steepest train inclines in the world. The train stopped a couple of viewpoints and waterfalls (waterfall #15 on this trip so far). As I was waiting on the platform for the train, I tried to spot if there was any backpackers a look alike or solo traveler since I hadn’t spoken to anyone since the day before. I needed to socialize. No luck. Apparently I was the only nut who would come to this beautiful place alone.

norway historical train

Inside of the Flåmbana from Myrdal to Flåm 

norway waterfall train

One of the waterfalls the train stopped for along the way. 

When I got off the train and took a look around, just couldn’t get over how amazing the scenery around me was like. Look at the pictures below; hopefully you can feel the amazingness.

fjord cruise norway

Flåm town center and the pier

hostel in flam

Flåm Hostel – very clean and highly recommended.

norwegian fjord beautiful

Norwegian fjords and I

norway is heaven

Flåm, Norway

After I checked into the local hostel, which is by far the CLEANEST hostel I have stayed in of all places. It was cleaner than my own apartment. Everything was so organized I was afraid to mess it up. I highly recommend staying here if you find yourself in Flåm. After a quick call home (much needed!) thanks to the free wifi from the hostel I couldn’t wait to head out for a walk. Don’t forget to ask your hostel/hotel in Flam for their area walking route map. There are many walkways and trails you can do depending on the time you have. I chose the one that I would walk to a farm on top of a hill in Aurland. The farm in Aurland offers a cheese making tour however due to my backpacker budget I couldn’t spare the extra 200ish krona for the tour. A little regretting it right now but hopefully I will get to return to this amazing place. There was quite a few sheep there so I hung around them for a bit, took some pictures and  headed down hill.

cheese making tour

Old farm building at the cheese farm in Aurland.

must see in norway

View from the cheese making farm

It is one of the most peaceful states of mind I have been in. I was pretty sure that it was the best time I have ever had spending time by myself.  There were a lot of thoughts running thru my mind. I would be going to stay with a friend who I haven’t seen for 2 years and know a little bit about. Wondering how that would be. Missing home a little bit as well. Also keep on thinking if there would be an opportunity that allows me to live in Norway, it would be the best news ever. I am completely in love with the country. I love the cleanliness, the everything-in-order, the timetable and the exchange rates (if you’re making Norwegian money). Maybe one day I will get a chance to live and work in this beautiful country? Who knows?

amazing view in norway

Pure amazingness

norwegian sheep

Aurland with sheep!

Back at the hostel I met a guy from Switzerland who shared our very minimalist dinner with each other in the hostel kitchen. There I also met a very friendly Chinese couple that was doing a road trip with their bubbly 6-year-old son. It is always funny to speak Chinese in a completely foreign place. (Chinese is not foreign to LA at all.) The kid was so cute. Knowing that he is the only child (I mean, come on. How many Chinese family is “allowed” to have more than one child?) I spent some time playing with the kid so the parents can have some time to themselves. Somehow they trusted me and let the kid hangout with me at the dinning hall. I had a great time playing cards and hide and seek with this little Chinese boy. To be honest sometimes I’m afraid of little kids, but for some reason they have always make me feel like I am always welcomed to their game and hence I am able to develop a semi “I-am-your-superior-but-not-really-because-I-am-as-silly-as-you” relationship with them.  Anyway, the graceful couple eventually found out I was also going to Bergen the same day and offered me a ride with their family. Oh, how wonderful to hear from people who speak your mother tongue and willing to give a ride to a complete stranger in their car with their young child. I was so touched and really want to take the offer, but considering I had a tight ferry schedule to catch to Fosnavåg, I had to declined the offer and take an early bus to Bergen instead.

Fjord Ferry Ride in Flåm with Surprise Guests…
The next morning I got up early to take the fjord ferry ride to Gudvangen and planning on catch a bus back to Flåm.  The ferry runs every hour or so and you can buy the ticket the day before the departure at the tourist office by the pier in town center. It was fairly empty when I got on the ferry. Minutes later two groups of fortunate but loud Chinese tourist got on the ferry and started to destroy my peace. The fjord ferry could be quite eventful but due to the foggy, gloomy weather and the loud Chinese tourists; it was nothing but just a ferry ride, a little disappointing to be honest.

fjords norway

Norwegian bird and fjords.

 

fjord tour

Tourists filled fjord ferry…

flam

Still pretty under the gloomy weather

flam o gudvangen

Ferry from Flåm to Gudvangen

The weather had also turned pretty bad as I got off the ferry. A group of tourist got on the ferry and it quickly sailed towards Flåm. It was then I realized I could not find the bus station back to Flåm. I went inside this small souvenir shop/café in Gudvangen and asked for help. They told me the bus stop is off the highway right outside of the village. I walked outside and within one minute my shoes were completely wet. Thanks to my ultimate life-saving The North Face jacket, my body was dry. Checked out the bus scheduled and found out that the bus was not coming for another two hours. At a point I thought about hitch hiking but I didn’t have a cardboard to make a sign with. Pretty sure standing in the rain and cold was not a good idea no matter how waterproof my coat was. I walked back to the café, wrote a couple postcards and chatted with a couple workers at the shop. The bus finally came and I was dripping water as I stepped on the bus. I could have taken the next ferry back but it was 3 times as expensive as the bus (the bus wasn’t cheap neither), so I stuck with the bus idea.

raining weather norway

Waiting for the bus…

raining norway

Quite miserable to be honest.

Finally back to Flåm and rushed into the shower to get warm after standing in the rain for quite some time. Got myself ready for the road to Bergen tomorrow!

Travel Tips around Flåm and in Norway:

  • It is much cheaper to book your train tickets in advance if you could. Students also enjoy 50% off all land/sea transportations in Norway.
  • No need to book the fjord ferry in advance, visit the tourist office at the pier (200m from the train station) when you arrive, they can arrange the ferry for you.
  • Bus 450 to get from Flåm to Gudvangen (vice versa) operated by Nor-way Bussekspress (52NOK each way), this bus only runs a few times a day so check the schedule before heading out.
  • Bus 450 or 162 to get from Flåm to Bergen (vice versa) operated by Nor-way Busseksspress (330NOK each way), same as above, this bus only runs a few times a day.
  • Flåm Hostel also offers camping space for tents or caravan. Shower for the campers is coin operated. But if you stay in the hostel rooms you will have your in-suite bathroom.
  • Here is the link of the walking trail map in and around Flåm.

 

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