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Norway in a Nutshell 2

I woke up early, and was glad I did. Because it's summer here, I had plenty of light to hike by. I headed out of town towards the waterfall. The trail picks up from the road and sends you through a little gate and then up some fields into the woods. The gate is there to keep the sheep in. There are sheep. At one point during the climb, one of them was standing in the pathway, blocking it as if he didn't want me to proceed. Honestly, I don't really know much about sheep. For all I know, they're heavy and aggressive, or not. So, I just kind of waited for him. Fortunately, the bell from another sheep started ringing, and eventually the sheep I was staring down left, so I'd say that I won that stand-off. The trail itself is mostly mud-covered rocks, but it is an easy trail until near the top. Then, there were a couple of places where I had to use my hands. Otherwise, it wasn't necessary to have a walking stick or use hands on the trail at all. The end of the trail (or at least the end I took) puts you on a little ledge right across from the waterfall. You're above the bottom of it and have a great view, but you aren't directly in it. It did look like there was another trail that continued on, maybe to the top, but I didn't really think I had time to explore that. A couple of notes on safety. First, the path doesn't have a lot of intersections, and when it does, it is very well-marked. You don't really run the risk of getting lost. Secondly, this is a relatively safe area. While I know that no places is 100% safe, you're not exactly likely to get attacked by a person, although I can't speak for the sheep. Really, the only risk you run is of falling, because it was very slippery in some places. I would generally suggest trying to go with a second person for safety, as if you go early, it might be a long time before somebody comes to help you if you fall or have a problem. I went early, and I didn't see another hiker until I was all the was back at the bottom. Because of that risk, I was walking (up and down) extra slowly and carefully. My pocket first-aid kit has bandaids, but not a portable ambulance. I think that it ultimately took me about an hour to get from the hotel to the waterfall, and about another 20 minutes or so to get back down from the waterfall. After a rain, it might take you more. On a dry day with friends so you just move along (and don't wait for a sheep to move), it would definitely take you less.

Breakfast at the hotel was another buffet with a wide selection, although not as wide as the Thon. I was still very happy with the choices. Afterwards, we went to catch our bus to the White Caves, but the driver said something about that being cancelled and that we should check the tour office. Sure enough, there had been a traffic accident in the tunnel between Flam and the caves, and nobody could get through. Unfortunately, they hadn't emailed us, hadn't rebooked us on another tour, and all the other tours were full already. A new cruise ship had come in earlier and all of the passengers had plenty of time to grab up the final tour spots before we even knew we needed them. So, we didn't do the White Caves tour, we walked the fjordside instead. We took the path to Aurland, which is pretty flat and easy. It's also gorgeous and made me wish that we had another day in Flam. Finally, before we left, I stopped at the Flam Railway Museum. It was cute and somewhat interesting, but only took a few minutes to go through, so it was good that it was free. But, we still had to leave. The next portion of the "Norway in a Nutshell" package is the boat ride from Flam to Gudvangen. Most people go straight from the Myrdal-Flam train to the boat, so we were scrambling for spots on the boat. They had a pile of plastic deck chairs that people were unstacking and placing wherever they found room, but there weren't enough deck chairs for everyone, and many people didn't have a place to sit outside. (There was a seating area inside, but the weather was gorgeous, so nobody was in there at first.) We also had to wait for them to load up the cars, as this ferry doesn't just take people. It will even take a bus! The boat took us through incredible scenery over to Gudvangen. Again, there is no real way to capture how incredible the scenery was, but I'll try. First, imagine the Grand Canyon, but make the rocks grey instead of red. Now, coat it in epitome-of-forest-green evergreen forests. Scatter a ton of clean, beautiful waterfalls everywhere, and they all flow into a river flowing through the bottom. Every once in a while, throw in a cluster of a couple of well-kept, quaint houses and call it a village. That's what this area looks like. It's just incredible. Some people can look at this type of gorgeous scenery forever, but at some point, the rest of us get sensory overload, or we just get accustomed to the beauty. Each incredible waterfall starts looking like the last incredible waterfall. Two hours is about as much as most people can appreciate, so it's good that's' about how long the boat ride was. At Gudvangen, they first unloaded the cars that were blocking the luggage, and then they allowed the stream of people to flood out into the bus area. It was chaos! Everybody was trying to get their luggage on a bus, and there was nobody there to help, so people were being very inefficient about it. Way too many people tried for the first bus, but some people saw that, and soon, there were way too many people at all of the buses. Ultimately, all of the buses were crowded and full, and I think they even had to call another bus for a last few people. The bus ride is another example of incredible scenery though. We saw more amazing waterfalls, more gorgeous gorges, and we went on a street that puts Lombard street to shame. It had an 18% grade and 13 extremely tight switchbacks. I don't know how the bus drivers did it, but the got us safely to the bottom. From there, we still had more gorgeousness before we got to Voss. The bus driver explained to us that Voss is an extreme sport capital and that every year, thousands of people descend on Voss to participate in all sorts of parasailing, kayaking, mountain biking, and other competitions. Voss has something like 15,000 residents, which makes it uch larger than Flam (500). It has multiple restaurants, multiple hotels, lots of shopping, a church, a few museums, and is more of a city and not a quaint pastoral village. If we had booked a hotel on our own, we may have ended up needing a taxi or something to get there. Fortunately, the hotel they give you through Norway in a Nutshell is the hotel that is located right at the train station. It is a historic hotel, and is very ornately decorated, although you can tell it's old. We weren't staying in that part though. We had a "cabin apartment" that is actually right across a little street from the main part of the hotel. The cabin apartments are right on the lake, so the little deck has a great view. However, they are just old, and not historic. I wasn't upset with them, but it wasn't quite the elegance of the other areas. Also, it is unfortunate that there is a lot of construction going on in Voss, so the views aren't as nice as they could be. This isn't just by our hotel, but all over town. We went to the little Italian restaurant in town for dinner, and it was excellent. I highly recommend it as the food just really hit the spot.

Road with tight switchbacks

Road with tight switchbacks


Gorgeous view

Gorgeous view


View on road with switchbacks

View on road with switchbacks


Beginning of trail to waterfall

Beginning of trail to waterfall


Sheep in my path

Sheep in my path


View on hike

View on hike


Waterfall

Waterfall


View of Flam

View of Flam


walk near Flam

walk near Flam


view from boat

view from boat


waterfalls

waterfalls

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Norway

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