Saturday 8 August Flam and Undredal

After an early breakfast in the Lido Outdoor Café, we disembarked via zodiacs and had a short walk to the train station for our train journey aboard the 65 year old Flam Railway. The train took us for an hour long journey from the end of the Aurlandsfjord to Vatnalhalen, 811 metres above sea level and approximately 20 kilometres. During the trip, we passed through 20 tunnels, saw spectacular waterfalls and breathtaking views of the steep sided valleys and magnificent snow-covered mountains. The average incline was 1:18, which is the steepest adhesion-type railway on normal gauge tracks in the world.
We stopped briefly at the Kjos Waterfall, where everyone disembarked the train and went to the viewing platform to take photos of this spectacular waterfall. On arrival at Vatnalhalen, we were taken to the Vatnalhalen Hotel, where coffee/tea and Norwegian waffles were served for morning tea. We were given free time of an hour and a half and so the two of us went for a walk to a lookout 5 minutes from the hotel. After taking some photos there, we continued on down a steep hill and up another steep hill on a gravel path to another great viewpoint and a little bridge over a rapidly flowing creek – the round trip took us 45 minutes, but was well-worth it. The scenery was quite spectacular, especially because we were on our own and we could stop to take photos and soak up the view as we pleased, but also because the sun was shining and highlighting the emerald green of the steep mountain-sides and contrasting with the white of the snow that remained on the mountain-tops.
The train picked us back up at 11.00am for the return journey and we all swapped sides in the carriages so that we could see the spectacular views that we had missed on the way up. We arrived back in Flam at approximately 12.00 and then we had a short zodiac ride back to the ship, which was anchored in the middle of the fjord as we had to move off the dock this morning.
After lunch and a short break, we re-boarded the zodiacs at 2.00pm to ferry us to the shore, where we boarded buses for the 30 minute drive to the village of Undredal. The small village has a population of just 90 people and some 500 goats. We were taken to Eldhuset, where we met the owner, who makes various types of goats cheese. He gave us a history of the area and told us some folk stories, as well as singing to us, before giving us a variety of cheeses and local jams to sample. We were then taken on a guided walk by one of the locals to see Scandinavia’s smallest Stave church, which was built in 1147 and holds only 40 people. We wandered around the village for a while, before boarding the buses for the journey back to Flam – part of the journey took us via a 5 kilometre tunnel through the mountain. We have become quite experts at getting on and off the zodiacs, which returned us to the ship.
We had dinner in the dining room, which these days, seems to be a three to four course event (for some) and usually lasts two and a half hours. There are 6 of us that have been having dinner together for the past few days and another 2 people make up the table of 8 – there is always much laughter and fun, while we dine.
It is now approximately 10.00pm and the ship is on its way down the Sognefjord to the sea and on to Bergen tomorrow. The sky is still light, with only a few scattered clouds and the sun set just a few minutes ago on another wonderful day in Norway!

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