After our epic rail journey, my parents and I finally made it to Flåm. Words can't do this place justice, so I'm going to start with some photos:
Situated deep within centre-west Norway on an arm of the mighty Sognefjord and nestled tightly below towering peaks, Flåm is a prime example of a Norwegian fjord village. So much so, that thousands of tourists visit each year, many on one of the massive cruise ships that dock here through the summer months. It's quite a spectacular journey along the Sognefjord to reach Flåm, but it's an equally spectacular sight when a cruise ship is in dock at this tiny village:
Once we found our accommodation, we strolled around the port. Orienting ourselves wasn't hard as it's a very small place. A couple of hotels, a pub, one supermarket, a couple of cafes and a few touristy shops. There is a smattering of houses and cabins, but the main residential area of Flåm is a couple of kilometeres back along the river, past the settlement of Lunden, in the old village of Flåm itself. The port is very busy and touristy when a ship is docked, but delightfully quiet when not.
Birthday Beers at the Local Brewpub
The purpose of our trip was to celebrate my Dad's 60th Birthday. When asked how he wanted to celebrate, instead of a posh meal at the Fretheim Hotel, he smiled and said, “let's go to the pub!”
Turned out to be a great idea.
Flåm might be small, but it has the Ægir Brewery (named after the Norse king of the sea creatures) and a Viking-themed brewpub. Yes I know, it sounds awful! But it's tastefully done and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening. The beer was excellent, the atmosphere wonderful, and the food surprisingly good. I devoured a thoroughly local pizza, featuring Ægir ale bread for the base, cheese from the mountain goats of Undredal, locally-made aquavit sausage, and a gorgeous berry dressing made with lingonberries from… yep you guessed it! I wasn't shocked to hear the Ægir Brewpub won Brewpub of the Year three-years on the trot. Here's some of the reasons why:
After all that beer (the day after, of course), we needed a good walk to clear our heads. So we chose to head up the river to the old village of Flåm. My parents wanted to take a look at the old church, but I was more interested in the spectacular valley and seeing how people lived in this relatively remote part of Norway. As it turned out, the church was great too.
The walk to the church was lovely. You follow the course of the river, passing small farms, homes, cabins, other walkers, and local people tending to their gardens and walking their dogs. We tried to understand how people made a living here, as it wasn't just retirees. There was a school, nursery, and other local facilities. I guess without the mass tourism, life here would be trickier.
Photos cannot even begin to demonstrate the scale and beauty of the setting, but I tried.
After some erroneous directions (naughty Google Maps), we found ourselves at Flåm Kyrkje, a wooden church built nearly 350 years ago. Incidentally kyrkje is one of several Norwegian spellings for Church, other more modern ones being kjerke and kirke. It's one of the trickier Norwegian words to pronounce (and depends on dialect), but I find putting on a broad scouse accent gets the job done! That, or a few beers.
Anyway, I digress. Here's the church:
On our final day we were blessed with the wonder of sunshine, something we haven't seen much of in Norway this summer! So down to the water we went, for one final look at the Aurlandsfjord. Memories of our boat trip on the Aurlandsfjord and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Nærøyfjord came flooding back. I'll be writing about that next time 🙂