*UPDATED WITH AWESOME VIDEO MONTAGE - see below*
Welcome back to my blog. Today I want to show you another amazing Norwegian port - Flåm. Flåm is a village at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjord, an arm of the Sognefjord. The village is located in the municipality of Aurland in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway.
Above: Looking back down the Flåm Valley from the Flåm railway. This is the old part of the village.
The name Flåm is documented as early as 1340 as Flaam. It is derived from the plural dative form of the Old Norse word flá meaning 'plain, flat piece of land', and it refers to the flood plains of the Flåm River. The village of Flåm is a popular tourist destination and has been so since the late 19th century. It currently receives almost 450,000 visitors a year.
Above: One of the many beautiful houses in the Flåm Valley.
During one of our visits to Flåm, I was lucky enough to ride the famous Flåm railway. The railway is a masterpiece of engineering, climbing from sea level to 2,800 feet, crossing back and forth over rivers and through 20 tunnels. The maximum gradient is 5.5 percent (1:18), making it the steepest standard gauge railway in Europe; each carriage is equipped with five separate braking systems!
Above: The Flåm Railway.
Construction of the line started in 1924, with the line opening in 1940. Because of its steep gradient and picturesque nature, the Flåm Line is now almost exclusively a tourist service and has become the third-most visited tourist attraction in Norway.
Above: The railway affords some stunning views of the breathtaking scenery.
One of the main attractions of the railway is the overwhelming Kjosfossen Waterfall, which thunders towards visitors, who can leave the train at a specially designed platform halfway up the valley.
Above: The Kjosfossen Waterfall, as seen from the train platform.
After visiting the falls, the train I took arrived at the Vatnahalsen Mountain Hotel. After homemade waffles with sour cream and jam (a traditional Norwegian treat), I hiked over to the top of the Kjosfossen Waterfall!
Above: The river rushes past, underneath a thin metal bridge as it heads towards the waterfall.
At that time (May 30th), there was still snow on the ground, and there was no clear path across the often boggy ground, so it was quite a trek but well worth it!
Above: The Kjosfossen Waterfall from above! The waterfall starts to the left of the picture, and in the centre you can see the train platform far below. Also, note the rainbow!
After my hike, I took the train back down the valley to the harbour area. The harbour of Flåm is the main tourist hub of the area, receiving some 130 cruise ships per year. There are many gift shops, restaurants and a museum dedicated to the Flåm railway. Thankfully the rest of the area is largely unspoilt by tourism and I took the opportunity to do some more hiking!
Above: Hiking to another waterfall on the right side of the valley. You could feel the mist!
The Flåm valley is perfect for leisurely walks and more strenuous hikes, with many different routes available. One of the more popular hikes visits the waterfall above. Not only is there a great view of the waterfall, but you also get the most wonderful shot across the whole valley and out into the fjord:
Above: The Flåm Valley with the Aurlandsfjord in the distance. Click on the photo to go to my Flickr page for a bigger version!
On my second visit to Flåm, I hired one of the crew bikes (free!) and rode (and walked) half way up the valley, before turning around and free-wheeling most of the way back to the harbour!
Above: Meeting the locals on my bike ride.
I'll leave you with one more waterfall shot, taken from my bike ride. Flåm is probably my joint favourite Norway port (along with Geiranger), and is up there, vying for favourite port ever! Thanks for reading.
Enjoy some of the highlights from my visits in this short video: