One of the Most Scenic Trains in the World
I had heard about this scenic train in Norway and decided to take it! We were staying in Bergen, but we would have to take a 3-hour train with a transfer in Myrdal to get to Flam.
I thought the train left out of Flam, and we had to get to Flam to take the train. Wrong. The Flam train goes from Myrdal to Flam. Since I had booked it in and out of Flam to Myrdal and back, we rode the scenic train three times and saw many beautiful streams.
Some of the streams were wildly raging, and others were quietly meandering over rocks.
The three rides were worth it because the scenery is so beautiful that you can hardly take it in through one leg. However, any leg between Flam and Myrdal will give you the experience. (Tip for others booking it.)
The most impressive part of the train trip is the waterfalls, falling from very high up the mountain to the ground.
We wound around the mountains, fiords, and countryside with spectacular views.
At one point, the train stopped so we could get out and look at the spectacular waterfall.
We had planned to stay overnight because I thought the only way to ride the train was to leave from Flam. I had trouble booking a place to stay but finally found a place that advertised apartments.
I anticipated a tiny little town with only a few places to stay. When we arrived in Flam, we were overwhelmed with people. There was a cruise ship docked in Flam! My thought was, how in the world does a cruise ship get to the top of the mountain? Jim says it's all about fiords. So figure that one out!
If this weren't enough people, a ferry docked and disgorged more people.
All of the cabs (how many had there been? 3 or 4?) were gone. So how to get to these apartments, and where were they?
We asked many people, and they all pointed to a street that looked like it might go to a neighborhood, or maybe there was more "town" somewhere.
Fortunately, we had left the majority of our luggage (not that we had the big suitcases yet, which were lost), but we left everything we thought we probably wouldn't need for one night in the hotel room that we had booked throughout the week. It was well worth the cost of a hotel room with only our own belongings - not us - in it in Bergen.
We started to walk, lugging our carry-ons. And walked. And walked. After about a mile, we stopped at a youth hostel we saw along the way and asked again for the directions to this apartment. They pointed the way we were going, so we kept on trekking.
With only one day under our belt since we arrived, we were already tired from jet lag. So here are these two old, tired people, walking along a street with smaller suitcases, dragging along.
Finally, we saw some little houses in the distance like in the picture online when we booked. But they were still about half a mile away at that point.
Ready to give up, we hobbled and dragged the rest of the way down this long, long driveway to the apartments. When we were just about there, amid the goats who were following us, a car pulled up going the other way.
The guy in the car turned out to be the owner. We told him we were staying there but were old and tired and about ready to give up, hoping he would have sympathy for us. He did and got us into a unit.
Now, just to explain, we are used to Marriotts. This was a small one-room unit, cottage - whatever you call it - with a double bed just inside the door against three walls, a bathroom, and one room with a couch, a chair, and some cabinets. The bedding was on the bed, and it was up to us to make the bed - if we could figure out how to do it with three sides against the walls. Not luxurious, but it was only for one night. And it was a long walk!
We collapsed on the sofa and slept until the friend arrived that the owner had arranged to pick us up to take us back to the town where we could get something to eat.
When we asked how we might get back, the owner thought we might be able to talk his friend into it. I unpacked my makeup and plugged a few things in. In about an hour, his friend knocked on the door, and we staggered out.
She had her mother and daughter with us and kindly gave us a ride to town. However, that was all she had agreed to, and we had no idea how we would get back or how we could get into the town with our carry-ons in time to catch the train. For me, walking the 2+ miles was out of the question. I knew I would be lying at the side of the road.
We wandered through the mob and found a lunch buffet with many fish dishes for $40. Everywhere else had long lines, so we took it. I hate fish, so Jim had the buffet.
Then we tried to find a cab. No cabs were anywhere in sight, including the only area in the town where cabs parked. We spotted a big hotel and headed there, thinking we might find a cab.
I went to the registration desk and explained our plight, and asked if a bellman could, by any chance, take us to the hotel for a fee. The woman at the desk was wonderful and said yes, but they wouldn't be able for about 45 minutes.
When she knew where we were staying and agreed with the plight of getting back and forth, she said they had had a cancellation as an option for us.
I couldn't believe why I didn't book at this beautiful old hotel from the very beginning, but she said they had been booked for months.
We sat in the hotel bar, facing the open area to the street, very close to where we would catch the train in the morning; we started thinking, "Why not?" Yes, we had paid for the apartment and, yes, we would lose the money, but was all the hassle and worry worth it? Sometimes, it's hard to see the forest for the trees, if you know what I mean.
So we decided to have the bellman take us out and bring our "luggage" back to the hotel. Which we did. I left the owner a message, thanking him, but explaining we just couldn't do it. We were in a big hurry, and as I picked up the luggage and unplugged our devices, I overlooked the makeup bag - with ALL of my makeup and I'm a makeup person - which I had left in the bathroom sink.
I didn't realize this until I got dressed in the morning and kept telling myself, "I'll never see these people again. It is what it is."
We had a lovely night in the comfortable hotel and had a fabulous breakfast buffet - one of the best - and took our belongings to the train very close by - and finished the day on the trip back and forth to Flam and Myrdal and then back to Bergen that night. Whew!
Tips from Lessons Learned:
- Do more research on hotels and ask how far it is from the train and if cabs are readily available
- If there is a large hotel rather than a small place, it may be more feasible.
- Ask if there are other tourist destinations that will compete for resources
- Research the actual train trip. We could have accomplished everything with one leg of the Flam-Myrdal experience.
- Keep the hotel room at your origin if you are only going to be gone one night and take only what you need.
- Keep your head cut in when you are in a hurry - did you really get everything when you left the unit?