June 5, 2014

Balestrand, Norway

Jun 2011

Getting to Balestrand is half the fun. 

You start at Oslo railway station in the morning and take the scenic train to Myrdal travelling across Norway (from East to West).  At Myrdal you cross over to the Flambana mountain train and go to Flam.  The journey is a slow ride through spectacular mountains, waterfalls and toy towns.

Flambana train from Myrdal to Flam

Flam is so small that you can walk from the railway station (at one corner of the town) to the port (at the other corner of the town) in a minute.  Of course you would take much more than a minute to do that distance because you cannot rush past the beautiful setting.


Flam

The cruise boat that awaits you takes you through the picturesque Sognefjord.  Ready yourself for a two hour cruise through one of the most scenic spots in the world where tall mountains meet deep waters.  All of us kept standing on the deck for the entire distance and did not seek the airconditioned comfort the seating area.  The only sound we could hear was the clicking of the DSLRs.

Sognefjord

Balestrand is in the middle of the beautiful Sognefjord.  One look and you can understand why this was the favorite summer vacation spot for European monarchs in early twentieth century (before they all started fighting World War I).  


Balestrand Town

What happens in Balestrand?  Nothing really.  All you need to do is joyously sit and take the scenery all around you: tall snowcapped and lush mountains meeting serene emerald green water.  


Balestrand

Carl, a local lad who drives speedboats in summer and does website design in winter, took us on a speed boat ride through one arm of the fjord to Fjaerland.  

Carl and his speedboat

Fjaerland has just one street (full of second hand book shops) eventually ending in the trek to Jostedalsbreen Glacier.  (What can give more joy than a good book at a low price when you are on a true vacation with nothing to do surrounded by all that gorgeous rock and inviting water).  

Boat to Fjaerland

Boat to Fjaerland
Fjaerland (Glacier in horizon)

The half day ride to Fjaerland and back in the fjord was amazing albeit slightly scary  (Carl does take the “speed” part of his “boat” seriously).


We stayed at the same hotel that German emperors stayed: the 150 years old Kviknes Hotel, by itself a tourist attraction.

Kviknes Hotel

One thing unique about my days in Balestrand:  I never looked at my watch even once.  Measuring time by the sky was indeed a delectable luxury!


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