After a night where it never really got dark (read about camping in Norway here), we woke and got packed, then hit the road. Our goal today was to find and check out the city of Flåm.
First stop was Uvdal to see a small stave church, because, well, who would’t want to check out such a cool little church…
After that we made our way to the city of Geilo. After a quick stop to pick up a toothbrush since an unnamed 15 year old forgot to pack his, we found a picnic table, ate some breakfast, and then walked around the downtown area.
Back on the road, we pulled over to see another stave church (this one in Hol), because I really do struggle to pass one without stopping for the photo op…
… and then we took a scenic drive over the mountains. We spotted a waterfall and took a little time to walk out and explore.
As we started the drive down the mountains, we saw a spot to pull off on the side of the road, and I’m so glad we took the time to pull in.
I can share pictures here, but you have to understand: they do not even begin to show what we saw there. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my entire life.
The picture can’t show you how incredibly tall the mountains were, their jagged edges cutting sharply into the haze filling the sky. And as big and majestic as they were, you can’t look at this and understand the stark contrast of their size with the depths they reached as they met the water below. The picture makes the water look so close, and yet in reality, it was so far from where we were. It really was breathtaking.
It wasn’t just my experience either. Each of us had a difficult time putting into words what was before our eyes. And all of us agreed it was a highlight of the week, and truly unforgettable.
We finished the drive down the mountain, and arrived in the small town of Flåm (pronounced with an English long O). I’ve heard of this city and was really excited to see it. And while it was cute and included a lot of the iconic styles many equate with Norway, it was also incredibly touristy. A cruise ship was docked, and tourists were everywhere. Prices at the open air market were jacked up to about twice what we see in our town, and every possible souvenir and ‘traditional’ food were being hawked. We had tried the previous weeks to buy tickets for the famous Flåm railroad, but thanks to all the tour buses and cruise ships, everything was sold out.
We took a short walk up to an overlook spot and that was nice, but all in all, I have to say we definitely found better sites and cities on the trip.
One thing the boys did find interesting in the gift shop – which, by the way, was larger than most of our grocery stores – was a postcard for the world’s longest car tunnel. They were fascinated, we thought it was interesting, then thought nothing more of it.
But as we began our drive, we suddenly found ourselves entering Lærdalstunnelen, the very tunnel they were so fascinated by. And it is impressive, and really long. 24.51 kilometers/15.23 miles long and taking about 20 minutes to pass through, with wide and colorfully lit ‘cavern’ sections every 6 kilometers to allow drivers to rest and to keep everyone from feeling too claustrophobic.
After a bit more driving, we found our favorite camping spot of the week and got settled for the night. Day 2 was a fun-filled day!