Flåm Railway

After our boat trip through the Sognefjord, we took the Flåm-Myrdal railway, billed as one of the world’s great scenic railroads, back to Bergen. Built by hand in the 1920s and 1930s, it is an amazing thing. By the way, if you’re thinking of going, the right-hand side is the better view.

The Flåm railway is a 20 km (12 mile) line and purported to be one of the steepest rail journeys in the world at a 5.5% grade. Over that distance, the train climbs to a height of about 2,800 feet from sea level in the fjord.

Tracks were laid in 1936 and the first scheduled train ventured out in October 1939, just in time for the German occupation of Norway during WWII.

Passenger trains started running in 1941, 65 minutes downhill and 80 minutes uphill, which is still what seems to be the timing of the rides. There’s a double track at only one location on the journey to allow the two trains that operate on the track to pass each other.

It is a truly beautiful ride, with a stop at a waterfall to get out and stretch your legs and listen to the kitschy siren.

Toward the end of the ride, the clickety-clack over the tracks might tend to bring on sleep or boredom.

But, it’s worth trying to stay awake in order to enjoy the scene at the end of the ride.

The Flåm Railway ends at Myrdal and you’ve got to really hustle over to the connecting train to Bergen, lest you end up, like I did, in a middle seat, surrounded by other tourists (the Chinese are everywhere these days).

Back in Bergen, we wandered around the UNESCO designated Bryggen, Bergen’s old city from the Hanseatic League days, before calling it a day.

Bryggen is beautiful, but it has been burnt and rebuilt so many times over the centuries that it’s hard to tell what is original (if anything) and what is a reconstruction. At any rate, it was the golden hour and worth a couple photos.

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