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Norway 2. Flåm. Biking. The Narrow Fjord.

June 24-25, 2009.

Today we rode the train to Flåm—you say that funny letter like “oh”. On the ride down into the valley we passed an immense waterfall. The train stopped and a woman appeared, dancing in the distance with wavy arms, the troll-woman of the falls, I guess.

The hotels were full, but we found a stark room at the Heimly Pension, every surface covered by linoleum, a kind B&B with boarding-house food, but with an exhilarating view of the tip-ass end of the fjord. Great steep wooded cliffs plunge down into the blue-green water.

There was a cruise ship the size of a really large hotel docked here, blocking the view, roaring like an idling bus, spewing a steady plume of diesel smoke—but just now he honked for his scattered passengers and lumbered off. Sweet silence.

The next day I rented a bike and rode up into the valley, getting deep into the countryside—it was just what I wanted to see, tiny roads with farms and weird Nordic cattle, some sheep.

A wild river with rocks that had walking platforms.

A tiny church with a fresh grave for a woman with a surname the same as the village: Flåm.

In the afternoon we took a cruise up into an even narrower branch of the fjord called Naerøyfjord—leading to a spot called Gudvangen. The narrower fjords have steeper walls—in one spot we passed a sheer mass of stone that was 1800 meters tall. It’s hard really to grasp how big something like that is, in the clear air, your eyes can’t quite assess it. Sometimes we’d see a single mad farmhouse teetering on a brink—or a lone hiker, and the scene would snap into its gargantuan scale.

In most spots the fjord walls are at least partially wooded. Up above them is an undulating highland of gray-brown mountains, patchy with snow even now in midsummer. It’s like Norway has only two elevations: sea level and 1 km high, with a labyrinth of steep cliffs connecting the two.

The water from the melting snow gushes down the cliffs in streams that fall in cataracts, bedizening the precipice with white skeins, some of them free-falling for a hundred meters. One waterfall was striking a slanted rock with such force that a steady geyser shot up at the base—an upwards waterfall.

We rode on a huge boat, a big steel car-ferry, with gratifyingly few passengers. We saw some smaller boats that were packed like sardines—chartered by the big cruise ships, I guess.

In Gudvangen there was a tourist restaurant with a funny sculpture of a troll—seems like the trolls always have long dick-like noses. Guys were riding a helicopter up to the tops of the fjord cliffs and hang-gliding down. People are always looking for a chance to run an internal combustion engine.

Sylvia and I went for a hike. It was an unseasonably hot day—we’re very lucky with the weather—and near the end I jumped naked into the fjord, not far from where a glacial waterfall was falling in. It was so cold that the instant I hit the water I was scrambling to get out—moving fast before my limbs seized up and I sank to the bottom of the kilometer-deep gulf.

5 Responses to “Norway 2. Flåm. Biking. The Narrow Fjord.”

  1. HAL-1701 Says:

    have you seen that?

    “MyLifeBits is a Microsoft Research project. It was inspired by Vannevar Bush’s hypothetical Memex computer system. The project includes full-text search, text and audio annotations, and hyperlinks. The “experimental subject” of the project is computer scientist Gordon Bell, and the project will try to collect a lifetime of storage on and about Bell.”

    didn’t know where to put this.

    other such lifebox things:

  2. HAL-1701 Says:

    is the entire world beset with The Blue Haze ??

    maybe someone has nano-fogged the planet. datafog, utility fog..

    fog was ‘cooler’. Sherlock Holmes 2009 would create nanohaze with his pipe,
    and reach into it for a handy weapon, or perhaps to deal with The Invisible Man.

  3. Michael Says:

    As usual beautiful images. I’ve never been there, but you are not far from Jotunheimen, the highest peak, as far as i know, in Norway. The views from there are amazing. No trees, the rocks are covered in multicoloured moss and lichen. As a result of the ice age and the 2 miles of ice covering them, the mountains are smooth and not jagged as the Alps. Looking down from Jotunheimen the mountains resemble an endless school of giant whales. Norway is a spectacular country and Slartibartfast didn’t get this prize for nothing.

  4. jack Says:

    Your link to norhangglide.jpg is missing a ‘g’.

  5. Dave Watkins Says:

    Super pictures which activated the memory bank of the time we spent on a cruise early this month. Flamm is a highlight but the real stars are the fiords and people. Thank you for sharing them.

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