As a long trip comes to a close, you always hope there will be something spectacular left so that you can head home on a high note. I wish I could take full credit for the stunning end of our journey in Norway, but I have to admit that it was luck that we did the tour counter-clockwise, leaving the beautiful Naerofjorden & Aurlandsfjorden area for last before returning to Oslo.
Once again, it took a train, a bus, and a boat for us to make it to Flam and the delightful Freitham Hotel, but the views from each were nothing short of amazing. Plunging waterfalls, steep cliffs, and green so lush that it almost glows leave you rubber-necking the entire trip. Between Matt & I, we took nearly 1500 photos in just under 2 weeks and many of them came in the last two days.
The boat between Gudvangen and Flam in particular was gorgeous, although getting a good seat involved some quick and aggressive maneuvering. Gudvangen is at the end of Naerofjorden, the narrowest fjord in Norway, and Flam, our destination, is at the end of Aurlandsfjorden. Although the two fjords meet inland, you still get to see two different types of fjord landscape during the several hours of the cruise.
Still, we wanted to see the fjords even more close-up, so we took the Fjord Safari that leaves from Flam and retraces the route of the much larger ferry boat. With only ten passengers and a boat that put us right at water level, it was a fun and fast-paced way to take a second look at the scenery. As if we’d called ahead, the sun returned for this portion of the day, making the views even more beautiful.
Waiting for us back in Flam was an expensive but decadent dinner from the Freitham Hotel’s famous buffet. Full of locally cured meats, hand-made cheeses, and lots of traditionally-prepared fish, this buffet was worth the price in terms of exposing us to the best foods of the region. The next day, we were restored enough to venture of a fairly lengthy hike to a waterfall overlooking town before boarding the Flamsbana railway that would climb steeply up toward Myrdal, where we caught the bus back to Oslo and caught our flight back to Helsinki.
This trip was without a doubt on my top five list, even though many of the others on that list were completed in what seems like total luxury (i.e. without children!). It not only showed us an amazing cross-section of exquisite Norway, but gave us hope that the children (now aged 5 and almost 7) are very nearly old enough to keep up with our globe-trotting ways.