a day trip in the Sognefjord
This is an idea about how to enjoy a day in the Sognefjord area. From Flam there is a morning ferry (at 9 am) which takes you through the Nærøyfjord, one of Norway’s narrowest fjords. The Nærøyfjord is an arm of the larger Sognefjord, and it’s its most scenic part: steep barren mountains on both sides occasionally dotted with a remote farm or two… You’ll have a hard time figuring out how people get to those farms. There’s also an uncountable number of waterfalls, from very large to very small – and few villages. At the other end of the Nærøyfjord there’s the hamlet of Gudvangen, which can be summed up as a couple of coffee-shops, a few souvenir shops and not much else. Theoretically one would soon take the cruise back to Flam, but if you have some hours to spare there’s a great alternative to it. Connecting with the ferries there are buses going to the town of Voss via Stalheim, a side-trip I really recommend. Stalheim (also called the Eagle’s Nest) is an old charming hotel perched on top of a cliff overlooking the very scenic Nærøy Valley: it takes about 15 winding minutes to get up there by bus. Once over there you can visit a charming outdoor museum (located in the pine-tree forest) of traditional houses, as well as having a drink on the hotel’s terrace and soaking in the valley’s view. There are not many buses back to Gudvangen, but the walk is not too long (about 2 hours) and either downhill or flat, so it’s not really a problem. It also gives you the chance to see from very close two powerful waterfalls. Once back to Gudvangen, depending on the time, you can either take the ferry back to Flam or the bus – the bus is not a scenic option (it mainly goes through a tunnel) but it’s a faster one if it’s getting late.
ATM, Norge Style
Despite its rugged beauty, do take note that Flam is a touristy place. You can find kitchy souvenir shops, a post office and even an ATM, complete with a grassy roof! Here's a picture of me withdrawing some needed kroners from the bank..
Reputed as being the best preserved Stave Church (Stavkyrke) in Norway, Borgund Stavkyrke is well worth the visit. The wood has been coated with a pine tar to help protect from the elements and a modern fire suppression system now exists too.
The old wood can be told from the new due to the coloration. The old wood is dark, almost black. The new wood had been intentionally left with a light color to distinguish it from the rest.
While it may not be the largest, its location and construction style has kept it very well preserved. The hard bedrock and slightly elevated base frame keep the bottom timbers from contacting the soil, which in turn have prevented it from molds, mildews and rotting.
The interior is also well kept, with some colorful paintings and pieces.
There is an adjacent museum (where the ticket office is) with well presented information and artifacts. It is recommended that you view the museum before continuing to the church.
Opening hours: 10:00–17:00 (11 June – 21 August: 08:00am–20:00pm)
Price for 2011 was 75NOK for an adult.
To get there, if you have a car, it is a ~30 minute drive north/east on E16 from Flåm.
It is ~15 minutes east of Lærdal on E16.
The tourist information suggest scenic bike ride from Lærdal or public bus.
From Flåm, you may need a taxi or your own vehicle.
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World's Longest Road Tunnel
Passing through the mountains which connect Flåm to Lærdal is the world's longest road tunnel.
The tunnel starts a couple kilometers north of Flåm and ends similarly just a couple kilometers south of Lærdal.
I cannot speak for the engineering or construction efforts, but I can only imagine it was quite the undertaking to bore out 24.5km / 15.2mi of tunnel straight through some of the hardest rock.
There are two small "rooms" at the 8km and 16km markers where construction vehicles initially could maneuver, but now are only to service as pull outs in case of emergencies.
To get here, drive the E16 highway between Flåm and Lærdal. Be warned that there are speed cameras within the tunnel.
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