FLAM AND THE FJORDS OF NORWAY IN WINTER
In the summertime, Flåm’s population swells from a couple hundred to hundreds of thousands. I can’t imagine where so many people would fit. But I won’t have to, because we visited in the depths of winter. The village sits at the water’s edge and is surrounded by the steep tree covered hillsides of the Aurlandsfjord. To get to Flåm we took the spectacular Flåm Railway from Myrdal, where we stepped off the Bergen Line from Oslo. Lonely Planet calls this “the world’s most incredible train journey” and it isn’t hard to see why. It has a unique drama in winter when the landscape is covered with snow and massive frozen waterfalls. We stayed in the classic Flåmsbrygga Hotel, one of two hotels in town. We ate hearty Norwegian meals in the Aegir Brewery after enjoying pints of tasty, local beer by a raging fire. We welcomed the beers at the end of full days spent playing outside in the snow.
For anyone visiting Flåm in winter, this is the best tip I can give you: find Jørgen at Fjord Safari. Prior to arriving I had booked every winter activity they offer and I am so glad I did. Jurgen fitted us with a layer of Helly Hansen woolens which kept us warm. He led us up the mountain on snowshoes and gave us orange slices and hot black currant juice when we needed a break. He helped our youngest son, an animal lover, identify and track tiny footprints in the snow. He bundled us up in a speedy rib boat and led us out into the fjord. And he (along with the village folks) introduced us to the little goat-dominated village of Undredal where we tasted, among other things, the local specialty: brown cheese that tastes remarkably like caramel.
Our boys loved Jørgen and their time in Norway was much richer, and more fun, because of him. He told the boys stories of his life growing up in a village near Oslo and educated them on all things fjord. He taught them to speak Norwegian (Tusen takk!) and shared local Viking legends every chance he got.
I wish I had more – and better – photos to share. With snowflakes falling, bulky mittens and demanding physical activities, the last thing I wanted to do was pull out a valuable camera. Instead, I zipped my iPhone deep down in a waterproof pocket and only occasionally pulled it out. To understand how spectacular this place truly is: you’ll have to go and see it for yourself.