We woke to find the overnight wind had eased slightly and the horizontal rain was now just isolated showers, so we headed off to explore. Although quite a small place, Flam is spectacular with brightly coloured wooden lodge like buildings, set against a back drop of sheer faced mountains and, courtesy of the heavy overnight rain, a torrent of waterfalls cascading their way down into the fast flowing stream and into the deep fjord. It’s effectively a small village in a bay at the end of the fjord. Therefore everything it had to offer was within a short walk of the ship and this included numerous gift shops, cafes and the Flam railway.
A trip on this is apparently highly recommended as it winds its way up the mountains and takes in some fantastic views, including a stop at the bottom of a big waterfall. This is the excursion we would have gone on if it hadn’t been £60 per person. It did also include an afternoon tea in a hotel at the top, but for a 3 hour excursion it seemed a tad pricey. Tickets at the station were available, but only for much later in the day and too close to the “back on board” time for our liking. Tickets direct were at a much more reasonable price of around £30 each for a return.
So, instead, we had a good wander around, including a little hike up a hill to get a nice view over Flam and the ship. Then on the way back we stopped in a cafe to experience a traditional Norwegian “vaffle” covered in strawberry jam and sour cream. Yum! Back onboard, despite the vaffle, we enjoyed a pizza from Frankie’s whilst sat on the upper deck looking out at the serene view.
Before sail away we spent another peaceful couple of hours relaxing on the balcony. The only sound being the constant roar from the distant waterfalls and occasional toot from the train as it came and went on its merry mountain journey.
As we prepared to set sail, the Captain came over the ships announcement system, this time not in the cabin and his address this time contained less bad news. However, he did warn of some lumpy seas on our way to Bergen, a swell of up to 6 metres. Not bad news at all as far as I was concerned!
The sail-away down the fjord was simply stunning with dark, jagged, craggy rocks looming over the ship on both sides. They seemed so close and it looked like you could reach out your arms and touch them on both sides of the fjord at the same time. With the sun often peering out from the broken clouds as it started setting, long shadows were cast from the cavernous rocks over the water below. Bursts of bright sun rays engulfed the coastal greenery and the quaint village houses like spotlight beams, highlighting their magical colours and making the many waterfalls glisten. The glaring white snow capped peaks in the distance gave sharp contrast to the patches of piercing blue sky and fluffy grey clouds that completed the beautiful picture perfect scene as we made our effortless way gliding along the fjord, barely a ripple from our wake to disturb the still waters.
With the darkness increasing, the idyllic backdrop started to disappear and it was time to head below and prepare for the evening. Dinner in the buffet was an Indian theme with various curries and sundries. Unfortunately for those non-curry eaters onboard, there was no cooked alternative in the buffet and the wait in The Beach House was estimated at an hour. As we were on late sitting in the main restaurant, we decided to opt for that instead, but, feeling rather fussy, we were not grabbed by anything on that menu either! So it was back to the buffet and curry for me, with my wife opting for just cheese and biscuits.
The couple sat in front of us also had the same problem as one of them was a non-curry eater. They too were having a similar conversation about the lack of alternatives in the themed buffets. The themed buffets themselves were a good idea and ensured some variety day to day. It’s just the choice was so limiting for some people.
The main show for the evening was another West End musical inspired production, but this time featuring older, so called classics such as Oklahoma. Not for us, so we passed on it but stuck our heads in near the end just to have a quick look and see what it was like. Everyone there seemed to be enjoying it and a queue was forming for the next performance even before the previous one had finished. We settled in Tamarind ready for The Electrix to belt out some pop and rock tunes… much more our thing!
We also played a game of spot the waiter, trying to find someone we’d been asked to say hello to. It was a fun game trying to read the name badges and guess the names of the waiters as they whizzed by so fast on their merry dance of nonstop drinks deliveries. The waiters all seemed to be quite cheery souls, had good banter with the passengers and were a marked improvement over the miserable and not so friendly buffet and restaurant staff we’d encountered. We never did find your friend though Danielle!
As we turned in for the night the ship was just exiting the never ending Sognefjord and heading back out to sea. Suddenly we were pitching and rolling a lot. Looking out over the balcony I expected to see towering waves but was surprised to see what appeared to be relatively small waves with occasional white tops that couldn’t have been more than 4metres. I don’t know if it was the angle of the waves, or the fact that we were fairly near the front, but the ship didn’t seem to be riding them too well… much to my own enjoyment! My poor wilder beast of a neighbour didn’t sound like he was enjoying it so much and I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself at his discomfort, thinking what great payback it was for the constant noise we’d suffered all cruise due to his late night drunken crashing and banging! Not very charitable I know, but he truly deserved a sleepless night!
Next would see two days at sea……………..