Riding the Flåm Train

Trip Start Jun 02, 2012
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7
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Trip End Jun 28, 2012


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Flag of Norway  ,
Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Flåm Railway is one of the world's great railroad engineering wonders. It branches down off the Bergen Railway, dropping about 2700 feet in 20 km. Over this distance, the track winds through 20 tunnels, 18 of which were dug by hand, and crosses four times over rivers that have been rerouted beneath the track through tunnels. It's the steepest railway in the world using the conventional adhesion type track (as opposed to cogwheel technology necessary for the steepest railways).

We left Oslo this morning and drove from Eastern Norway through the pastoral rural landscapes of the Halling Valley. Along the way we passed the island in Tyrifjorden where last summer’s senseless terrorist act took the lives of nearly 70 young people (the trial of the perpetrator is going on now in Norway).

Weather was overcast when we boarded the train in Geilo for the first leg of the journey, but began to clear as we climbed across the rooftop of Norway. Patches of snow gave way to a frosty white blanket covering everything in sight. We changed trains in Myrdal, and began our descent on the Flåm Railway.

As we wound our way down the mountainside, sunlight illuminated vista after vista of Norwegian mountain splendor. Waterfalls dropped like silver threads and brick-red farmhouses staked out their terrain amidst the emerald green of a Flåm Valley summer.

We covered the 20 km in about one hour, stopping once at Kjos Waterfall, a river that cascaded in stages directly at our train before disappearing beneath us. Only a 5-minute walk from the railway station, our hotel for the night sits on the banks of Aurlandsfjord, a southern arm dropping down from Norway's longest and deepest fjord, Sognefjord. 

The day was almost perfect. They only fly in the ointment was a 12-story cruise ship dominating the skyline, dwarfing our hotel right next to it, and reinforcing once again my antipathy for the “bigger is better”, “take America with me” cruise ship mentality :( The cruise ship departed during dinner, however, and we dined sumptuously, then enjoyed the delicious calm and quiet of a Norwegian fjord on a Midsummer night!
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