We woke early the day we arrived in Flam as we had booked the Flamsbana mountain train excursion with Celebrity Cruises before we sailed. We had visited Flam the year before, unexpectedly making an overnight stopover due to bad weather preventing us from getting to Geiranger as planned.
The station is only a stone’s throw from where the ship docks and it is much cheaper if booked direct, however, we knew from our previous experience that there is often very limited availability unless you are on an excursion. After an early breakfast in the cabin, it was time to head to the meeting point.
After a short walk to the station we climbed aboard the train. The ride up the 880m mountain was very picturesque with some beautiful waterfalls and craggy rock faces along the way. We stopped off halfway up and got off the train at one of the bigger waterfalls for an all too brief photo stop. At the top we were treated to coffee and waffles in a hotel before taking a stroll to the viewpoint looking down over the tranquil green valley below. Despite forecasts to the contrary, the weather turned out to be glorious. The mountain air was so clean and fresh and with the sun shining down on the peaceful scenery, we felt incredibly relaxed. Before we knew it an hour had passed and it was time to get back on the train to come down. The journey down was equally as scenic and we had another stop at the waterfall, this time the nymphs of the waterfall came out and danced their magical dance for us in the mist. Some people decided to walk back to the ship down the mountain. It was very tempting on such a beautiful day but we decided to take the easy route instead. Apparently you can ask the train to stop at various points on the way down so that you can get off and walk back. From the very top we were told it was a 2 hour downhill walk through the valley back to Flam.
Once we were off the train it was time for a wander in the warm sunshine and of course time to get some shots of the ship set against the wonderful Flam scenery. We found a nice spot on a little stony beach with a few picnic tables on the nearby grass. Suddenly a helicopter appeared over the peak of the mountain and descended on us, landing right in front of us on the grass. Fortunately it wasn’t for a medical evacuation from the ship! The co-pilot jumped out and attached a long strop to the underside of the fuselage and connected the other end to some sort of girder like structure. The helicopter took off with it in tow, leaving the co-pilot on the ground. She looked a bit lonely there all on her own until two officers from the ship out for a mountain bike ride went up to her and started chatting. I wandered over and joined in. I asked what they were doing and she explained that the structures were radar reflectors that were being installed up the mountain as part of a geological survey due to movements that had been detected in the rock. We chatted some more and it turned out the helicopter would also be with us in Geiranger the next day where for 1000 NK (£100) you could take a scenic 15 minute flight. From chatting to the officers I also learned that the fine weather would last the next few days and that the North Sea would be fine for our return. After watching the helicopter come and go a few more times (once from right underneath it as it hovered and the co-pilot attached the strops), it was time to move on and take a relaxing stroll around to the other side of the fjord.
The sail away from Flam down the Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord is not to be missed. With the mountains looming over you so close you could reach out and touch them; and the sun setting behind them casting a warm orange glow on the occasional snowcapped peak; it is simply stunning and worth forgoing dinner or any early evening theatre show. We stayed out watching the scenery go by for what felt like hours before the light faded and temperature started to dip. The relaxing sail away was a perfect ending to a fantastic day in Flam.
Our next port of call would be Geirangerfjord…………..