Monday, July 21, 2008

"Norway in a Nutshell" - Flam, Myrdal, Voss and the Sognefjord, Norway (July 5-7, 2008)

Fjord Tours offers a "Norway in a Nutshell" self-guided tour, a circular journey through the western fjordland. One can begin the tour in any of a number of places, but we chose to start from Flam, a small town at the innermost point of the Aurlandsfjord.

From Flam we traveled to the nearby mountain station of Myrdal via the Flamsbana, Northern Europe's steepest railway, with an elevation gain of 865m over 20km. From there, we took another train to Voss, which is known for its adventure sports (skiing, paragliding, rafting, kayaking, etc.) and its bottled water.

We traveled by bus from Voss to Gudvangen, a beautiful ride past massive waterfalls. The highlight of the bus journey was Stalheimskleiva road, a 1.5km stretch of steep switchbacks with fabulous views.

The last leg of the journey was also the most spectacular: a ferry ride along the Naeroyfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden arms of the Sognefjord, from Gudvangen back to Flam.
Sognefjord is Norway's longest and deepest fjord, in the heart of Western Norway's fjord country. It stretches more than 200km from the sea to Jotunheimen Mountain.
Looking down over the Flam Valley from the Flam Railway. Flam is one of the most popular cruise harbors in Norway.
The Flamsbana (Flam Railway) was completed in 1944 after 20 years of construction. 18 of the line's 20 tunnels (totaling 6km of the journey) were built by hand.
Kjosfossen waterfall, along the Flambana route, is 94m high and is used to produce electricity for the railway
The tiny mountain station of Myrdal, at the end of the Flambana
The lakeside town of Voss attracts adventure sports enthusiasts all year round. It's also known for a peculiar culinary specialty: dried, salted sheep's head that is served steamed.

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