Yesterday was an action packed day. Not going to lie, waking up at 5:45 was too reminiscent of school hours and my body was unable to function. Luckily, our first leg of our journey was an hour and half train ride up to the Myrdal Plateau at 866 meters (half a mile high). We transferred trains to the Flåmsbana railway to start our journey down the mountain. The Flåmsbana railway was built in 1923 and created a challenge for engineers with nearly 80% of the railway was on a 55% gradient. If you have ever driven down Monteagle on the Georgia/Tennessee border, that road decreases at 6% gradient and I felt like my poor car was going to roll off the mountain. So ‘very steep and caution’ were rolling through my inner monologue. Honestly, I never felt the train transitioning down the mountain, but I DID feel the gradient when we took our adventures to two wheels.
About halfway down the tracks, we exited the platform at the Berekvam station at 343 meters. We met our NorwayActive representative to get our biking gear. We traveled down a narrow road passing along the river for 11 kilometers (6.8 miles). It was absolutely breathtaking. As we passed waterfalls, we felt burst of cool glacier mist on our faces. Natures natural air conditioning. At a summer camp I attended, Camp Sumatanaga, we would take campers on afternoon hikes to A/C rock. The spring created a natural coolant between the rocks and would cool you off from the Alabama summer heat just like the waterfalls on our ride.
In this particular area where we boated and biked, they are excavating a mineral used for testing in energy sources called alumina. It was a juxtaposition to see such beautiful landscapes then tractors and machinery scoping up collections. I guess this supports industrial growth in these small mountain towns.
After our bike ride, we meet up in Flåm. It is a harbor town where VERY large cruise ships dock. The tourist market is their bread and butter. Mom and I walked through a shop, purchased some postcards and chocolate and then headed to the pier for lunch. We have a routine of eating our brown bag lunches, a piece of fruit, and water. We haven’t calculated our food allowance, but I think we are budgeting nicely. Today, we treated ourselves to a LION bar! It was a cross between a Snickers, Kit Kat, and Crunch bar. It was the perfect twin pack and just the right amount of chocolate to give us the boost to get wrapped up as if we were heading for space exploration.
We then traveled on a fjord safari in an open speed boat. The climate and outdoor weather was lovely, but when you mix high speeds with 50 degree Fahrenheit water temperatures, it gets chilly. We wore full length snow suits with hats, googles, and gloves. Winning the ‘Hot Hands’ contest in 2008, I opted to keep my gloves in my pockets. The hour and half ride was stupendous. We twisted and turned through the Aurlandsfjord to the Næwrøyfjord. This area of the world was noted by National Geographic’s 20 places to see in a lifetime. Again the sites were amazing. The comparison of landscapes is different, but I remember when I set out at sunset to see the Grand Canyon for the first time it was a life moment. The grand scale and explosion of burnt sienna glow from the basin and plateaus created a silence that surrounded me. I felt that same sensation while traveling on the fjord boat. There was no one around but silence as I studied each mountain’s curves, punctuation of green timbers, and splashes of waterfalls. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
We had one more journey by kayak. There was a small communication error and we were placed in the wrong kayaking group. Mom being a novice and me having kayaked a handful of times in summer camps and vacations, we were paired with another mother/daughter pair from Washington, D.C and they had crew paraphernalia. They were speed racers while we struggled to point our kayak in the right direction. Our guide, Nathan, was kind and patient as we worked out our awkwardness. We were then treated to a Mexican fiesta fjord side. Again, absolutely amazing minus the sweatiness I felt between my skin and wetsuit, neoprene is not my friend. I think mom and I hit our stride heading back to base as we worked on a counting method of paddling. We are slightly sour, but the nearly three hour kayaking adventure was worth the extra Tylenol and IcyHot.
When we got home last night, we dined on popcorn and non-stops, like dark chocolate M&Ms. A lovely treat for a full day of activities. With all the shifting between, around, and through Norway’s mountains, I slept like a rock last night! Today we are taking it easy with a church and museum tour.