It all started here...

It all started here...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fabulous Flam, Norway

HAL Zuiderdam 12-Day Fjords and Highlands Cruise Day 5
Sunday May 21, 2017 - Flam (Sognefjord), Norway (8:00~6:00)
Weather: Partly cloudy, light breeze (7~45F)

Flam is situated in the innermost part of the Sognefjord, surrounded by high mountains in the heart of Fjord Norway. The reason we picked this cruise had a lot to do with this port. I have read so much about this scenic town and the train trip up the mountains, plus the sailing in and out of the fjord, we were definitely getting excited and ready for the day of visit here. The problem was that we did not know exactly what time we will be in port on the itinerary which stated that Flam and cruising Sognefjord 8:00~6:00. I did not dare to book the train tickets on line and hoping that we would be able to still purchase them when we arrive in port. Thank goodness everything worked out and we had an amazing day as planned. For some reason, I did not take pictures of the dailies and the TV screen with ship information for that day.

Woke up at 5 and saw that we were already sailing into the fjord, I immediately woke everyone one and we went to aft deck 9 so we won't miss the sailing in. Not that many people were up at that hour and the buffet wasn't even open, so it was quite nice to be up there with only a few people around.

The bow of the ship was also opened so we stayed out there for a little while.

Deck 9 aft. Look at the clouds.

Many waterfalls along the route.

We were all discussing if we could live in those houses up there.

Is that an outhouse?

a beautiful village by the water

picture perfect!

Flam, Norway
I was definitely happy that we did not need to tender in. Our ship docked right in port so it will just be a few minutes walk to get to the train station.

Flam Railway is widely known as one of the world's most fantastic stretch of railroad. There is a climb of about 900 meters from fjord to mountaintop with tunnels that twisted inside the mountain on the way and incredible views that take your breath away.

Zuiderdam finally docked at 8:11AM and we got off right afterward.

We went straight to the train station as we got off. There were some lines already and the screen showed that they still had 92 seats available on the 8:35 train when we got in line. By the time we got to the front of the line it showed 80 seats still available. The cost was $60 USD per person return, no senior discounts. Very expensive but well worth it! There were large groups of land tour waiting to redeemed their tickets and they (the guides) also had to get in line even though they had pre-booked tickets. I could hear some of them went 'Urgh...'

We then boarded the train, bypassing all the tour groups, in a separate entrance onto the first train as instructed by the conductor. It was not crowded at all and there were seats for everyone even though seats were not assigned.

Ticket counters inside the train station. I was too busy getting in line for the tickets and did not think about taking a picture in the morning. I took this picture on the way back in the afternoon. The lines were much longer in the morning.

The empty train platform as everyone boarded the train.

Train schedule between Flam and Myrdal. They have about 10 departures everyday between May and September. The ride would take one hour from Flam to Myrdal with a 10-minute stop then the same train goes back to Flam in opposite direction on the same track. A total of 2 hours on this trip. ChC and I took the seats in the front cabin with a very nice mother and daughter pair from Texas who was on their very first trip overseas. This cabin was for disabled passengers but there was no one there this morning.

As we were going up the mountains.

The zig-zag highway right next to the fall.

Our train took a photo stop here at the Kjosfossen Falls for five minutes. 

Inside the disabled cabin. On the way down we traded seats so we were able to see the views on both sides of the train.

Some tour groups got off here.

Not definitely sure, but I think this was Myrdal. There is nothing much there even though it connects to the mainline of the Norway railway. The wonderful sights are on the way up and down this railway trip.

a frozen lake

Then the train switched engines and went back down to Flam.

None of these photos captured the breathtaking views that we saw on this trip. It was just an amazing journey.

Back to Flam at around 10:30.

Back at the train station in Flam.

One of the tour boats docked nearby.

As we were walking around the little town, we bumped into Nick, our waiter in the dining room. He told us about this trail that he just took up to the hill to see the waterfall. He said it was beautiful and we should go and take a look. That was what we decided to do. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn as we were hiking up to a path which lead us to nothing. The view was good but there was no waterfall. 

"The hills are alive..."

Hiking up the wrong trail. That was the end of it. There were other people up there also so we did not feel too stupid.

At least the view was good. Now we could see the road down there that we should have taken.

OK, let's get back down! 

The big Frethiem Hotel in town.

Inside of the hotel.

This is the view from the front entrance of the hotel.

Our next stop was the Flaamsbana Museum (Railway Museum). This is a small but extensive museum with lots of information and history about the area.


There is a huge souvenir store inside the train station. Cute trolls!

Vendors selling local food.

Expensive curry, about $20 a plate.

Going back to the ship for lunch was the best idea.

There weren't that many people at the buffet as we enjoyed our lunch there. We were planning on just resting in our cabin but after walking around the deck, we saw the waterfall that Nick was talking about. Then we decided that we should go back out and look for that waterfall.

Back in town to the same spot where we took the wrong turn.

Here at the cafe, instead of making a right on that path which we did earlier, we turned left this time.

up to this little red house then continued up 

to the huge meadow and there it was--the waterfall!

There is an old fashion farm house right in the middle.

I believe if we want to we could follow this path down to the village.

Absolutely stunning!

We did not go any further but turned around instead.

Back to the farm

Entrance to the farm.

Back to town once again.

Zuiderdam in the beautiful town of Flam.

At 4:50, Zuiderdam set sail from Flam. 

As the ship sailed out of port everybody was up on deck trying to have the best spot for the scenic cruising. This was at the bow on deck 4 and we were right at the very front of the ship.


But then it got very cold and windy and we decided to give up and went to the back of the ship on deck 9 instead.



At around 7:00 we went back inside to get ready for dinner.

Baked oysters

Olive Crusted Plaice

Slow Braised Beef-Tri-Tip
Actually the best dish tonight was the veal which I did not have a picture of. We ordered that to share and it was tender and flavorful.

My second ice cream of the day--mango sundae. Had a coconut ice cream in a waffle cone this afternoon and it was wonderful!

We had an amazing day today and with the hike up twice, we were all very tired. Got to get ready for tomorrow!

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