LUTMAN'S 2017 NORWAY FAMILY/BIRDING TRIP

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Day 6. Monday, May 15, 2017. Trains and Ferries, OH MY!

(Overview of this day) Up, breakfast, walk to train, get ticket, board, ride up, xxxxHoldra, stay on board in Myrdal, return to Flam, shop, take stuff to motorhome, eat trailer or out?, fjord cruise, bus back to Flam, walk to camp, bbq outdoors, back to motorhome, 2nd night here.

We are going over this morning to get round trip tickets for the famous train (Flamsbana)up the mountain. I've been thinking about this for months now, and I'm really looking forward to it. Sharon too. She's actually pushing harder than I to make sure we take this train trip. {This is termed in the Guide books as "Norway in a Nutshell" The combined train trip and fjord cruise is the "nutshell". This train used to be the only transport between this Fjord town of Flam and the mountain town of Myrdal (and in 1900 the only route between Oslo and Bergen). Now there is a road and the train is just a tourist thing of 12 miles length. It is not a cogwheel train but is held to the tracks by steel wheels with 5 separate braking systems (anyone really know what cogwheel means?) and is called "the most spectacular train ride in Northern Europe" It crosses the mountains here, goes through 20 tunnels, past beautiful waterfalls and is all about the scenery.}

Below are tulips (Sharon?) {yes} in a property we pass on the way to the catch the train. Also shown is the combined ticket purchase/souvenir/restaurant buildings. We'll hit that after the train up and back.

 

Here we are at the train station, and this is our train. I'm taking a diagonal of the this car to get the names of every stop as large as possible.


And here's Sharon, ready to grab the seat I want. Off we go, around a curve so that we can see the front of the train. {The guide books even tell you which side of the train to sit on for the best views; right going up and left down.}

This apparently is part of the local school, system. And you can see the little black church next to the river. We are still in Flam.{These pictures show the original site of the town of Flam which now is more centered on the tourist activities of the cruise port and the train station.}

The first of many waterfalls, we understand. I'm going to show only the best ones. We're climbing now. The houses are starting to look like toys.

The design of this track makes great economic sense. First of all, there is only one track going up and down, so they didn't have to build two tracks. But they figured a way to have one train going down and one going up at the same time, thus doubling their income from them. In the middle, the track branches into two parallel lines, a bit longer than either train. And we got to the middle first. One of the workers sprints out of our train, rushes to pick up a key from the keymaster (A shoutout to "Ghostbusters"), runs further up, opens a box, takes out a tool, runs to a junction, switches the tracks, comes back, then we wait for the uphill train to come, be switched to the alternate track rather than careen into us!

We climb higher still, and we can see the road doing a 180 before heading right again. Sharon is watching a San Francisco Giants baseball... No wait, scuse me. Sharon is checking what our next stop is going to be. I think. {They have video screens on board that show upcoming sights. Only one stop where you can exit before Myrdal}

Now this is exciting. We come to one of the spectacular waterfalls, and the train stops so that we can get out, take some photos and enjoy it. Here are all the 'gunners', making sure that they get to the front of the crowd. Then is a little teaser waterfall...

.. followed by a major one {Kjosfossen}. Then suddenly, what the...? Sharon claims she told me about this and that I wasn't listening. I cannot disagree with that. If you think of the old wooden sailing ships, and how the sailors would be tempted by Sirens on the shore, trying to lure then in, but the intention was for them to wreck their ship. This is sort of like that. The Norwegian name for this type of woman is HULDRA. So settle back and watch her tempt us. She's pretty good with all that blonde hair and red dress. She's hard to miss. {Music of a woman singing is playing as she dances}Now the cool thing is that she can move instantly from one place to another, and I mean instantly. She will seem to jump down into a shaft or something, then in a blink of an eye, she appears across the chasm in the trees. Sharon claims that there are more than one girl, and they only show them one at a time, but hey, I know what I see.

Finally I break away fom her grip and get a photo of the top of the big falls. This is the famous Kjosfossen Falls.


We move on, up and up, into snow. It's fun to watch the front of the train on big curves.

The houses up here are just beginning to be free of snow. I like the bicycleand skies on the front of this house. This fellow works at the top of the line, and because we bought round trip tickets, we just stay in our seats because we will simply reverse our direction as we sit, for the trip back down the mountain.

Sharon gets this shot of a guy actually having a little snooze. Can you imagine? This white-haired gentleman and his wife, we presume, are travelling together. They both have elaborate walkers and are significantly slow at getting around. But they are NOT slow in talking sharply to each other. His wife has a better camera and is way better at operating it, but this fellow has one too. Clearly it is hers that they are using to actually document the trip. He keeps saying, "Take THAT picture. Get that one. Don't miss that one. You have your camera on your lap. You should be ready for the next scene. We want to be able to relive this when we're looking at the pictures at home." She keeps saying, "I am NOT going to just take pictures. I want to enjoy the trip." He reiterates the thing about reliving the trip back home. And if she takes, say, five pictures in a row, he says, "You're not enjoying the trip. You're just taking pictures!" What a couple. They are great instruction on how to argue... Heh heh. His nose and facial features reminds me of W.C. Fields. {They were with us on the trip down from Myrdal and when we got to the Kjosfossen stop they were going to stay on the train. I said "You have to see this, you should get off here" So they did to get their pictures of the Huldra; you know, so they could "relive this at home"}


Before the advent of the train, this was the road down. Now it is used by bikers and hikers, up and down. Pretty cool. What? You want another waterfall? OK then.


The small settlements on the river are just fantastic. As we approach the bottom again, the village's buildings are starting to approach real size.

And finally we're down. Hot Dang! Still a fjord ride to do! We decide to shop, then go back to the camper, then come back when it's nearing the boat boarding time. As we near our place, there is a regular back yard, with green grass and trees and a fence around it, but it has these cute little white goats playing around. What's this little guy eyeing?


We watch him stand on his hind legs for half a minute or so, dancing back and forth to keep his balance as he eats a blossom or some leaves off this tree.

Now the cool thing is, when we got to the boarding place, there were three lines: one was for major group tours, one was a special tour called Norway-in-a-Nutshell, and the third one - actually in the middle slot, behind three separate chained entrances, was for individuals. There were about a hunnert people in each of the tour lines, and two (YES I SAID TWO!!!) people in the line for individuals. Can this be? It be.

 


When they started loading, they shuttled us into the tour line on our left after a bit, but we got on in the first quarter of all the people. The people in front RACED to get the good places (chairs in the open, top deck facing backwards and in the back, next level down (our level), main deck, facing however you wanted to turn your chair. When we got there, there was a single chair next to the railing and another unoccupied chair at a table for six. I grabbed the sixth/empty chair from the table, moved it to beside the single one at the rail, and waited for Sharon, who very smartly sent me ahead to do this. We had our chairs, even as more and more people poured onto the deck looking for seats. {Yea, Bob}

We were set. Woohoo.

A few shots as we cruise.


This is the captain of the boat, talking with one of the passengers, telling how his grandpappy behaved when he was in the German army in World War II... I conjecture. And the lady responds with the Klingon sign for "Blabbedy-Blabbedy-blab-blab-blab." The captain is mesmerized. HIP-no-tized. {BTW Bob and I were the only ones, I think, to see dolphins in the fjord.}


OK, I know. "Bob, when can we see some more waterfalls?" Well, here you go. And then, inevitably, it's time to disembark. The black curvy thing in the upper left corner of the second photo is actually the rotatable upper part of the bow of the boat. At the dock, they rotate that thing up, then drop a barrier, and we all go charging out, each with a hand on the back of the person in front of us. Pushing. And pushing. And PUSHING. Wait, no, that's the Tokyo subway. Never mind.

Now to find the bus that will take us back to Flam. Here's a huge group of tour people, waiting to get onto their bus, while we wait - just the two of us - at ours. As we move our gaze 90 degrees to the right, we see this cool sod-and-grass covered building.

And another 90 degrees takes us to the buses behind us. But finally our driver comes - a very personable fellow {Norwald, I think}- and we're riding as shotgun as you can get. First seat on the right side of the bus, just behind the hop-off-hop-on door.

Sharon gets this cool photo of the driver's panel while we are in the tunnel, and I show my new Norway hat, just purchased at the "mall", where the driver drops us off. {He tells us that he only drives this route every other day as they are concerned that the driver will get sleepy in the long tunnels if he drives every day.}

Recapping a little, below are the three 'gates' we were all lined up at, to get on the boat today. Can you pick out the middle one? Ain't it beyootiful?And the diagram below shows the harbor, with a cruise ship docked.


I like this little jolly troll guy. I didn't realize they had tails. And sharp teeth! {The Norwegian Trolls, not quite sure they are the same as Elves or Leprechauns?}

Sharon adjusts the position of his tail, to see if he has any objection. And I show off my new baseball cap, bought here just now.

We carry all our gear and new purchases (me carrying mine on my head), and as we come to our camp, find a sitdown restaurant {After we went to two others recommended and discovered that they closed at 6PM until June 1, which is obviously the tourist season here and we are just early.}has been temporarily set up on the front lawn of our property. We check out the food, it looks good, and we sit down for dinner. Cool. Sharon may be able to recreate the names of what we ate from looking at these leftovers. {Mine was BBQ pork neck and Bob had the chicken, both with roasted potatoes and a salad.}

Then it's back to the motorhome to relax, reboot, and upload all the day's MANY, MANY photos from my Canon, my iPhone 6+ and Sharon's iPhone 5s.

And THATs the name of THAT tune. Night, yall.
Bob and Sharon

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