We decided it was time to pull ourselves off the sofas with our picture-window view and check out the fjord for ourselves.
We had a big excursion planned for lunch at a famous hotel up in the mountains. Being the intrepid travelers that we are, we decided to forego the big tour buses and strike out on our own.
First, we took the bus to Gudvagen, a town down the fjord.
It was adorable – we couldn’t resist stopping for waffles (a Norwegian specialty).
We also liked the sod-topped buildings – done for warmth in winter. Notice that they are watering the roof!
Next, we called the Gudvagen taxi to take us to the mountain hotel. But oh no – when I called the number the Tourist Information desk gave me, I got a clipped pre-recorded message in Norwegian. Hmmm . . . I approached a souvenir vendor and asked them to listen – bad news – the number was disconnected. So – you guessed it – we had to call our old taxi back in Flam to come get us (a lot more expensive since he had to drive all the way from Flam – the route we had JUST taken by bus!).
When the taxi arrived and we explained that we had called the Gudvagen taxi, he simply said, “Disappeared.”
I raised an eyebrow at Frank. It turns out the taxi driver and his wife (“a local girl”) had a falling out, and the driver ran off in the taxi. Our Flam driver sort of whispered this – obviously the word had not gotten out yet.
But with that problem solved (and a little poorer), the Flam taxi dropped us up way high in the mountains at our lunch destination.
What a site! My parents had been here on their trip 20 years ago and told us not to miss the historic Stalheim Hotel, which dates from 1885 (although there has been an inn here on the old mail route since 1700s – where the royal mailmen would swap out for fresh horses). The inside is filled with heirlooms of the old days.
The Stalheim has been called one of Norway’s most scenic hotels and was featured in Conde Naste’s “Room With A View.”
We made a bee-line to the lawn, where we had had a delicious picnic of smoked salmon bagel sandwiches overlooking the valley below.
We caught the bus back (much cheaper than taxi) down the the old mail road – one way and with corkscrew turns down the mountain – the steepest road in Norway.
Once back in Gudvagen, we hopped a ferry back to Flam. We timed it all just right, so only a dozen passengers sailed with us – we had the whole first floor to ourselves!
We traveled down what is called Naerofjord (because it is so narrow).
I kept jumping up to take pictures. It is hard to capture the expansiveness of the mountains.