From Gudvangen to Flam, the never-ending excursion

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July 3rd 2007
Published: July 3rd 2007
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Waterfalls thunder through the fog and mist when the bodyguards board the bus for our overland excursion from Gudvangen to Flam. Kathryn and many other passengers have chosen to stay on Voyager for the scenic ride up the fjord to Flam.

The bus drives through a narrow valley, a UNESCO heritage site, to reach Stalheimskleive, a narrow road that curves through 13 hairpin turns in less than a mile. As I peer out the window at the steep drop-off, our guide says, “We have a local bus driver, you are extremely safe.”

We wind past the Stalheim Hotel perched above a scene dominated with mountains and waterfalls then the bus continues on a road that winds through valleys green from an overabundance of rain. Whether it’s the raindrops falling from the sky, a river, lake or waterfall, water is always with us.

After stopping by one of the stave churches with its bucolic view of farms bordering a lake, the tour continues to Tvinde. Here, the 150-meter Tvindefossen waterfall roars down the mountain and it is raining harder.

At Voss, we tour the Folkemuseum, a collection of buildings depicting an historical Norwegian farm. We tromp through the rain to view the buildings , one that dates from 1500. Inside the dark, smoky dwellings, guides describe the hard, simple life the farm dwellers led. In a more modern building, we walk through extensive displays of farm implements, clothing, musical instruments and all else pertaining to life on a farm.

The rain begins to take its toll. Grumpy passengers complain about the lengthy stop at the Folkemuseum. Soon, we board the bus for the Park Hotel in Voss where we are treated to a smorgasbord lunch. Negotiating around tables jammed very close together, we wait in line to sample a variety of Norwegian dishes.

With 2 ½ hours to go before boarding the train to Myrdal and then to Flam, we have time to kill. After a wet walk around the town, there is nothing to do but wait. Later, Regent apologizes for the poor scheduling and refunds a portion of this tour.

When the train to Myrdal arrives, we board the reserved Regent coaches. The ride through the countryside must be stunning when the sun shines.

At Myrdal, we depart the train and wait for the one to Flam, which is late. As the rain pours, we board Norway’s most scenic and famous rail line. The train travels beside more waterfalls and mountains, through numerous tunnels, then stops to collect a group of Regent cruisers who rode the train up from Flam, hiked in the mountains and are now riding back to the ship.

The train stops at Kjosfossen Waterfall where we can exit and view the falls. Water spots my lens as I attempt a photo. Since it is pouring rain, the train skips the second scenic stop on the itinerary. Arriving in Flam at 8:00 p.m, the ship is a beautiful sight. We have been traveling for 10 hours on an excursion that should have taken about 5 or 6 hours.

And what about those who stayed on the ship? Capt. Dag stopped at several farms on the way up the fjord to Flam, treating passengers to waffles at one farm and cheese at another. We’ll know better next time.

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