We checked out of our hotel, got on the bus that took us to the train station.
The Flam Railway took us on a spectacular ride across the steep and narrow Flam Valley. There were many waterfalls and the glacier-carved ravines were amazing. We climbed over Norway's mountainous spine. After three hours of deep woods and lakes, we're into the barren, windswept heaths and glaciers. The railroad tracks were begun in 1894 to link Stockholm, Sweden and Bergen, but Norway won its independence from Sweden in 1905, so the line served to link the two main cities in the new country of Norway-Oslo and Bergen.
We switched trains at Myrdal about mid-morning to get on the train that took us directly to Bergen on the west coast of Norway. The scenery continued to be spectacular as we neared Bergen and the ocean. We traveled through 20 tunnels-more than 3 miles worth-in 55 minutes.
The process that created the majestic Fjords began during an ice age about three million years ago. A glacier up to 6500 feet thick slid downhill at an inch an hour, following a former river valley on its way to the sea. Rocks embedded in the glacier gouged out a steep U-shaped valley displacing enough rock material to form a mountain 13 miles high. When the climate warmed up, the ice age came to an end. The melting glaciers retreated and the sea level rose nearly 300 feet, flooding the valley now known as the Sogne Fjord. We'll see more Fjord's sailing north along Norway's west coast.
Upon arrival in Bergen, we had lunch at Dr. Wiesener's. It is a community run restaurant specializing in traditional Scandinavian fare. We had a salt meat soup. Not as salty as it sounds. The meat was preserved in salt then washed off and cut up into soup. Very tasty. Once a local bathhouse, the quirky restaurant is owned and operated exclusively by the the town's locals.
Bergen was Norway's capitol city in the 13th century. Bergen's wealth came from the sea and the trading possibilities of being a major port city. It gets an average of 80 inches of rain annually; compared to 30 inches in Oslo. We were told to wear our rain jackets but it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. A little overcast but 57 degrees F. Keep you fingers crossed for us that the good weather keeps following us!! Since it was such a nice day, we took the funicular to the top of Mount Floyen, in the center of town. A funicular is like railway cars operated by cable with ascending and descending cars counterbalanced. It connects the city with the top of the mountain with its walks and beautiful views of the city.
We will be in Bergen tonight and two more nights. Then we get on our ship to cruise the coast and its many Fjords. And that's the main reason we came on this trip!!
More excitement to come!!!