Joan @Planet Joan mentioned that the photographs of the fjords and mountains in Norway reminded her of the Scandinavian murder series on TV and I can see what she means although when you’re actually there it just looks majestic, despite the greyness.
But it means that the occasional patches of greenery, the rare places where there is enough earth to actually grow some grass long enough to make hay, are a sort of Norwegian equivalent to seeing an oasis in the desert. A real feast for the eyes.
I’m sure that must be what makes these wee settlements so attractive and comfortable looking, well that and the fact that they look like something that a model train enthusiast would set up to landscape their train tracks.
Some of these houses are only used in the summertime, there’s a danger of avalanches in the winter and even in the summer there’s danger as some of the houses now have huge piles of scree balancing behind them. It looks like if you moved one small piece of stone then the lot would come tumbling down. I saw a few houses that I definitely wouldn’t want to live in for that reason.
Olden was the second place we sailed to on our recent trip to Norway. I had never even heard of the place, I felt a bit embarrassed by that but actually visiting Olden cured me of that as it’s really a very small place, but rather lovely.
We were keen to get off the Black Watch and into the lovely countryside, we had eschewed (how do you pronounce that word? I opt for shoo rather than chew) the organised trips and took to the road, winding through some house lined streets and going up into the road that leads to the scenic Oldeelva river.
It wasn’t a blue sky day but I’m quite glad of that as the low wispy cloud was so atmospheric.
In parts the river became a roaring torrent.
Walking further on you reach a lake, called Floen. When we got back to the ship later that day we seemed to be regarded as heroes for managing to walk that far, and back again of course. The onlly other people who went there under their own steam had used hired bikes, and we beat them there!
I had wanted to go and visit a glacier too, but if we had gone on that arranged trip we wouldn’t have been able to do the walk, a glacier visit will have to wait for now.
The photo below is taken from the bridge over the river at Olden looking up the valley back towards Lake Floen.
On the way back to the Black Watch we decided to take the path along the opposite side of the river, but eventually the ground became very boggy so we had to go further up the embankment onto the hillside where it was drier. All in all I think we must have walked about seven miles or so. The photo below of Olden and the Black Watch at anchor was taken when we were really quite tired and longing to reach our temporary home. It was a great afternoon out though!
Church building designs are usually quite distinctive, each country has their own style. I must say I like Norwegian churches or kirks as we say in Scotland. The really old stave churches have incredibly steep roofs that I love, they seem like something out of a fairy tale book and a bit like somewhere a witch might live although I’m sure I’m not meant to think that! This one just has simple pan tiles though.There was some digging going on in the foreground of the photo below, pipes being renewed I think, but it gives you an idea of the surroundings.
Flam church was built in 1667 and the altar piece is dated 1681.
Internally it’s quite dark, probably because of the folk art painted decoration, but I really liked it, although as ever I’m not keen on depictions of crucifixion. I think this must have been a Catholic church.
There were trees and animals painted all around the walls, if I had gone to that church I would have spent all my time looking at the decor. It would have cheered up my church going days no end!
Although most of the lights were on and the window glass is clear it still seemed dark, compared with outside anyway, but I think that might all add to the cosiness of it on a wintry day.
It’s all made out of wood but there seems to be more than one layer of cladding on the walls so hopefullly that insulates it a bit.
Prior to Flam church I had only visited the Fantoft Stave Church in Bergen before and I recall that as being pitch black inside. I see from the link to it that it was burnt down in 1992 and has been rebuilt exactly as it was, it certainly looks as I remember it from way back in 1970. Do you see what I mean about looking witchy?! Mind you in Scotland we used to add fancy pointed clay or metal points to rooftop edges – to stop witches from settling on them – I’m not kidding you.
Our first port of call in Norway was Flam (pronounced flom as in from) , somewhere that I had never even heard of before so I had no idea what to expect. As it turned out it was perfect for us, just some shops selling the inevitable trolls and knitwear as well as T shirts and mugs, the usual tourist stuff.
We hadn’t booked any of the organised trips, preferring to be independent and strike out on our own, so that is exactly what we did. The weather was fine and we were keen to stretch our legs so we went a walk in search of the source of a large waterfall, sadly we didn’t find it as the route became too muddy after a long yomp uphill and we had to give up, in fact nobody seemed to have managed to get to the waterfall.
High above the river there is a small group of buildings as you’ll see if you click the photo below to enlarge it. I suspect that those places are only inhabited in the summer months. Apparently Flam only has 350 inhabitants.
Turf roofs are fairly common in Norway, in rural areas anyway.
The river is very fast flowing and noisy and it has a lot of fishing platforms situated above it, you can walk on some of them. Strangely though there are also ‘fishing forbidden’ notices there too. In the background you can see that waterfall we didn’t reach.
The bird life and planting in this part of Norway seems to be much the same as in the UK, but I’ve never seen a tree like the evergreen one in the photo below before. It was very pretty with ‘fruits’ like teeny trees on it, lemon yellow.
We passed a church at one point and luckily it was open so we were able to have a peek in it, but I’ll leave that for another time.
From Lysefjord we sailed into Aurlandsfjord which turned out to be even more spectacular. It’s a branch of the much larger Sognefjord as in the map below. If you look to the right hand side of the map you will see Aurlandsfjord.
The photographs don’t look that wonderful, it was a grey day, but I think you can get a flavour of the ethereal atmosphere with the wispy low clouds.
I think of Norway as being just like Scotland – with knobs on! It always amazes me that trees can thrive in such grim growing conditions, this is a very heavily wooded mountainside and the trees have their roots in the rocks.
Aurlandsfjord leads to the small town of Flam (pronounced flom as in from) and on the way there there are small communities, wherever there are some small patches of greenery people have settled there. These pieces of fertile land are few and far between, most of Norway is too rocky for growing crops. That was the whole reason that the Vikings had to get on their ships and look for somewhere else to live, the land couldn’t support all of the inhabitants.
Some of these houses are only lived in during the summer, they look idyllic to me but I can imagine that the winters are long and grim.
I was quite happy with our grey sky views of the fjord but if you want to see other people’s blue sky photos have a look here.
The next Norway post will be of Flam.
For the first couple of days in Norway we sailed through some fjords before actually getting off the Black Watch.
There are loads of waterfalls tumbling down the sides of the mountains. It’s all quite magical, so atmospheric.
Pulpit Rock below is famous, it’s a flat piece of rock about 25 metres square and people go up there to sightsee, I’m not sure I fancy that!
These are just a wee taster of our first fjord on our trip, I have loads more photos. Sadly they don’t capture just how spectacular the area is – but I’m sure you know that feeling when you look back at your own photos, they still bring back the memories though.