Far Away

Discovering Sognefjord – Bergen-Flam ferry (Norway)

On the way to Sognefjorden
On the way to Sognefjorden

Next step on my last 4 days trip to Norway was the Bergen-Flam ferry – a picturesque 5h25 boat ride.
The trip started at 8h00 in Bergen harbor. As I was staying in the nearby hotel, I got there kind of “last minute” – around 7h45. Frankly saying I am not sure why I was surprised to see that all window seats were already taken. 😉

Bergen, Norway
Bergen, Norway

But it should be no surprise that most passengers went outside to take photos of Bergen when we were starting the trip and there was constantly quite a big group on the deck throughout the trip.

Leaving Bergen, Norway
Leaving Bergen, Norway

Initially the weather was not announcing anything good, but at least it was not raining. And the views were nice from the very beginning – we passed close to some villages before hitting bigger waters.

Alversund, on the way to the Sognefjord, Norway
Alversund, on the way to the Sognefjord, Norway

Fortunately quickly the sky gave up, chased the clouds and we could admire the views with a blue sky over the Sognefjord (or Sognefjorden) – the largest and best known fjord in Norway. Its 205km lenght makes it the second longest in the world. Sognefjord itself is composed of 12 smaller fjords: Sognesjøen (mouth) (35 km), Lifjorden (6 km), Høyangsfjord (8 km), Arnafjord (8 km), Esefjord (4 km), Fjærlandsfjord (27 km), Sogndalsfjord (21 km), Aurlandsfjord (29 km), Nærøyfjord (the narrowest fjord in the world – only 250 meters wide in some places; listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site), Lærdalsfjord (9 km), Årdalsfjord (16 km) and Lustrafjord (innermost) (42 km).

Hitting larger waters, Sognefjorden, Norway
Hitting larger waters, Sognefjorden, Norway

The fjord reaches a maximum depth of 1,308 metres below sea level with the deepest point in the center of the fjord near Høyanger. Sognefjord is more than 1km deep for about 100 km of its length.

On the way to Sognefjorden
On the way to Sognefjorden
Lavik, Norway
Lavik, Norway

Cliffs surrounding the fjord rise almost sheer from the water to heights of 1,000 metres and more. And in the higher parts the snow was still present (I did the trip in the end of May).

Near Ortnevik, Sognefjord, Norway
Near Ortnevik, Sognefjord, Norway

The sun was nicely highlighting the contrast between the blue sky, the greenness of the shores and the colorful little wooden houses.

Speeding through Sognefjorden, Norway
Speeding through Sognefjorden, Norway

The ferry made a few stops to pick up and drop off some passengers. The stop that was the most picturesque was Balestrand with the snowy mountains in the background.

Balestrand, Norway
Balestrand, Norway
Leikanger, Norway
Leikanger, Norway
Leikanger, Norway
Leikanger, Norway
Splendid mix of green and snow in Sognefjord, Norway
Splendid mix of green and snow in Sognefjord, Norway

Along the way you can spot quite a few waterfalls impressively yet somehow calmly mixing with the fjord waters.

Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway
Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway

In the fjord we crossed quite a few smaller boats but we didn’t see any kayakers even though the kayaking is quite a renowned sport (or tourist attraction if you prefer) in the area.

Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway
Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway
Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway
Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway
Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway
Aurlandsfjorden, part of Sognefjorden, Norway

Just 10min by car (via a road tunnel) from Flam there is a little 85 ppl village called Undredal. Until 1988 this place was reachable only by boat. There are around 500 goats in the area and their milk is used to produce white a brown cheese that makes the reputation of this place (Undredal’s cheese was recognised as Norway’s best goat’s cheese in 2012). Additionally, every other year a goat cheese festival is organized. If you happen to visit Undredal, make sure to visit the smallest stave church in Scandinavia still being utilized (only 40 seats; open from May to September; built in 1147).

Undredal, Norway
Undredal, Norway

The trip ends in Flam – around 350 ppl village where almost everyone is either involved with tourism or the rail business. The placement of the village is simply breathtaking.

Flam, Norway
Flam, Norway

Once we disembarked, I had some 2h30 before I could get to the Flam-Myrdal train. I had a lunch (unfortunately nothing that would be worth remembering), a nice coffee in the local bakery that had tables outside (where I had a lengthily discussion with a 70+ American woman about her extensive travels) and a quick visit in what was a totally oversized and the biggest I’ve ever seen souvenir shop. I spent time absorbing the views, trying to get away from the ferry/restaurants/train station/bus parking which were spoiling a bit the perfectness of this place. You could tell that this place lives purely from tourism and made me wonder how tough were the winters for them (both weather and business like).

Flam, Norway
Flam, Norway

After the break I was ready to get into the Flam-Myrdal 20km train ride that takes an hour. But this I will cover in the next article.

And here is the route the ferry makes (as well as the rest of the trip I took in fact):

Sognefjord in a nutshell map
Sognefjord in a nutshell map

Map source: https://www.visitnorway.com/sognefjord/

If you happen to have more time to spend in the area, consider hiking, kayaking, visiting stave churches (like Urnes Stave Church that is listed on UNESCO Heritage List) and more. Here are a few pages that will help you in doing so:
Visit Norway – the Sognefjord Area
Fjord Norway – the Sognefjord Area

Oh, and forget your sunglasses and a hat/hoodie – it gets quite windy on the boat 🙂 Bon voyage!

Windy times on the Bergen-Flam ferry
Windy times on the Bergen-Flam ferry

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