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The Fjord – Up Close and Personal
By Trish Smith
12 October 2010

When I told a Norwegian friend that I would be traveling to Oslo, he told me that I should take the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour. It is exactly what it sounds like – an easy introduction to the spectacular scenery of Norway, in particular the magnificent Sognefjord. I smiled and told him I’d already booked myself on a three day tour.

The first leg of the trip was to Flåm, a small town located at the very end of one of the branches of the Sognefjord, a six and a half hour train journey from Oslo. From there you can stay on dry land and head further inland along the Flåm River or wander back along the edge of the fjord and just soak up the phenomenal beauty of the area. I have traveled to some breathtakingly majestic places in my lifetime and Sognefjord is easily in my Top Ten. Maybe even my Top Five. The Grand Canyon. Uluru National Park. The Great Barrier Reef. Southwest Tasmania. Bryce Canyon. Yellowstone National Park. Piha Beach NZ... OK, Top Ten.

Flåm is one of several stops you can make on the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour, but most tourists opt to just stay for a couple of hours before boarding the Ferry that takes them to Gudvagen, then the bus to Voss and on to Bergen. I chose to stay in Flåm for the night so that I could take a ride up the fjord in a small boat rather than just see it from the deck of the Ferry. Also, the hotel I discovered during my online research beforehand had a microbrewery next door to it and I was keen to check it out. In the name of research, obviously.

Despite my best efforts to avoid strenuous physical exercise on this trip I hired a mountain bike from the Tourist Information Centre and rode along the fjord from Flåm towards the town of Aurland. I had hired the bike for an hour, which was more than enough time to make the trip there and back again, but I kept stopping to admire the view so never actually made it to Aurland. And by ‘admire the view’ I mean I stopped, climbed off the bike, removed my bike helmet, unpacked my camera from my backpack, and stared in wonder. And pinched myself.

Something possessed me to wade in up to my ankles. It was so cold that it hurt. And I almost slipped in. And the nice man from Michigan who offered to photograph me thought I was a bit daft. But I wanted to be able to say that I had seen the fjord, and really experienced it. Did I mention it hurt?

You can find out about the must-do Norway in a Nutshell tour at www.norwaynutshell.com
I stayed at the beautiful Flamsbrygga Hotel www.flamsbrygga.no/en/
And yes, the beer from the Ægir Brewery was well worth sampling, and will warm your cold toes right up. Read more about it here: www.flamsbrygga.no/bryggeri/
(The writer traveled at her own expense on the Norway in a Nutshell tour)

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