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25th March, 2013


Overnight we moved on to Flam, entering the Sogne Fjord in the early hours and, after 90 miles or so, passing into beautiful Aulands Fjord as dawn was breaking. Flam lies at its head and we were the first passenger ship of the year to arrive. The harbour master, despite the below freezing temperature, seemed very pleased to see us. I guess that he must have thought, ‘at long last, I have a ship to look at from my office window’.

From Flam runs one of the world’s most famous railway lines, the Flamsbana, which climbs for 20 kilometres up to the Myrdal plateau, 866 meters above sea level. Work on the line started in 1923 and it was eventually opened in 1940, connecting with the Oslo to Bergen main line. I have made the journey in summer, but never in winter, so we joined the afternoon excursion of RJ’s in the first two carriages. Behind us there was a carriage full of tourists from Asia who, judging by the volume of their conversations, were very excited at the prospect of this one hour journey.


The train climbed out of Flam, around sharp bends and snaked its way gradually upwards, passing through 6 kilometres of tunnels that had been hand cut from the rock, each meter taking a month’s hard labour. The views were spectacular and at one stage we could see three levels of the railway spiralling above us. The train stopped for five minutes at the Kjos waterfall where there was a mass exodus onto the narrow ledge. In the summer this waterfall thunders down from above and passes through tunnels under the track providing hydroelectric power. Now the waterfall was completely frozen, so a great photo opportunity and one which our fellow Asian travellers very vocally encouraged their friends to pose for.
Shortly after the train stopped at Myrdal, we were advised to stay on board for the fifteen minute wait prior to returning and on no account to cross the tracks as the Bergen train was approaching. This message obviously did not quite sink in for everyone as the platform was quickly swamped by our camera clad Asian friends, one of whom thought the best picture could be taken while standing between the rails of the ‘up line’. He moved rather smartish when he and his friends realised the increasing volume of the whistle they could hear was coming from a tunnel just a few dozen yards away. We returned back down the valley in glorious winter sunshine, the trees still dormant waiting for the first vestige of spring. In a few months the ice will have gone and the whole vista will be transformed. Finally we pulled slowly away from the dock, the last port call of this extremely successful cruise in search of the northern lights. The weather has been beyond our wildest expectations and our passengers are justifiably pleased. They will take home great memories, hundreds of photographs, and of course, their red jackets.

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