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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Norwegian Fjords - Flam

So yesterday we were blown away by the beauty of Eidfjord, would it happen again today?  Well........ yes.  But in a different way.

The little town of Flam could be described as cute, and serves as the final stop for the Flam Railway. The line has ten stations, twenty tunnels and a bridge, all over a distance of 20km.  It travels through the beautiful picturesque countryside of Norway and rises 863m, making it the steepest railway in Europe and the most visited tourist attraction in Norway.  This probably explains why Flam has a little bit of the feel of Land's End about it, very touristy, but not much else going on.

The weather was good, and after our fantastic walk yesterday, we were hoping we might find another route today that would deliver the same experience, so we headed for tourist information.  Sure enough, there was a walking map available and we huddled over it eagerly.  There were a couple of routes that suited us, and we decided we would have a short walk over a small hill nearby in the morning, pop back to the ship for lunch, and then go out for a longer walk which included a climb and a waterfall in the afternoon.  We could then better prepare, i.e. carry water, hats, gloves etc for the more strenuous walk.

As usual, it didn't go as planned.  The short walk was little more than a potter around the local "sculpture park", and only took us about 20 minutes.  It did take us a little way along the route of our afternoon walk though, so we decided we might as well explore further.

The map was a larger scale than we are used to and the distance was easily achieved as we strolled along.

Before we knew it, we were at the bottom of the climb. Since the rest of the walking had been easier than it looked on the map, we sort of thought the uphill stuff would be too.  We thought it shouldn't take us too long to get up to the waterfall. We could nip back to the ship for lunch and then think again about what we wanted to do in the afternoon.
And again, it wasn't quite what we thought.  The climb was steep and went on and on and on.  We were pleased to be honest, this was the sort of terrain we'd been hoping for, but it was starting to take a lot longer than expected. We began to think that maybe we'd miss lunch, and also wish we'd brought water with us.  But we weren't going to stop now. 

Eventually we got there.  How could you not like these views?

A couple we'd met on the way up told us that despite the fact the path got steeper and turned into a scramble, it was well worth going a further after the waterfall to a better viewing area.  So that is exactly what we did. 
As always, getting down only took a third of the time of getting up. That would be because we weren't spending all our time taking photo's probably. We did get back in time for a late lunch, but decided that was enough for one day, and spent the afternoon pottering around the souveneir shops and eating icecream.  

Tomorrow we're in Bergen.  Last time we were there it rained.  A lot!  Hopefully tomorrow will be as lovely as today. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Friday 14th April - Eidfjord, Norway

First view of Eidfjord

We have had an absolutely brilliant day.  It didn't start off that bright, literally, because the porthole had been battened down and it was pitch black in the cabin when we woke.  But once we'd dressed and got out on deck, the sight of the fjord was enough to more than make up for it.

Glorious sunshine and glorious scenery. What more could you ask for?

With no escorting duties, and all this beauty to explore at our leisure, we were in our element. We wandered around the little town.  It wasn't that cold, although this little Norwegian Sparrow seemed to think it was.

We soon found a track leading out of the town, and we followed it.

We'd stumbled across a lovely circular walk, with plants, flowers and funghi we'd not seen before.
We were walking alongside the river Eio, it's sparkling crystal clear waters rushing the opposite way.  Signs told us that the Eio was the best river in Norway for salmon fishing.  I dunno about that, I just know that it was stunning.
On our right the river, and on our left the mountains.  I loved the green of the moss here.  We were tempted to follow the path uphill in the picture below.  Luckily we stuck to the main track.
Because it led to this beautiful lake, Eidfjordvatnet.
 With a lovely sandy beach and the warm sun, all we needed was a picnic.
We met a couple who explained that the track we were on was a circular route, and that if we carried on we would climb uphill for some glorious views before being returned to the port.  So that is exactly what we did.

I think Heidi lives here, or at least her Norwegian cousin.
And then the viewing point over Eidfjord, that ths Astoria berthed at the little quay.
And then back to the ship, but not before we'd popped into the tourist information to find out if there any more walks in the area that we might take advantage of, after all, we are coming back in October.

Back on board, everyone was out on deck as the ship pulled away from the little quay.  It was cold in the shade, or at the front of the ship, but lovely and warm on the sheltered rear deck under the sun. Somebody said "You just can't take enough photographs".  I know what he meant, cameras clicked away madly as we all tried to keep the views with us forever.

It takes a good eight hours to sail all the way from Eidfjord back to the sea.  We stayed on deck for the rest of the afternoon, soaking up the views.  As Peter said, it felt a privilege to be here.

It's now 9 o'clock, and we are sitting in Sirens Bar listening to the very, very excellent Allegro duo (and I mean that, they really do make an awesome sound together).  It's not quite dark, and we are able to watch the last lower hills and islands go past the windows.  We are on are way out to sea, but we'll be back in to the fjords and Flam tomorrow.  Could we have as nice a day as we've had today I wonder.  It will be hard to beat.

Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th April on the Astoria

First of all, if you are expecting a blog post for Amsterdam, I have to admit that we never went into the city.  The ship berthed in IJmuiden, and then it was a 45 minute bus trip into the capital, but you had to be on the bus by 9.30.  Peter and I couldn't be bothered to dash around to be there in time.

We did look over the side of the ship at IJmuiden to see if it was worth going out for a walk.  Looking out under a cold grey sky at the cranes, piles of gravel and the generally dockside type surroundings we decided there was nothing for us to see, and instead had an exceptionally lazy day on board.

So that took care of Wednesday, and Thursday was a sea day, and a rough one at that.  Because I'd hardly slept the night before, (something to do with being in a new bed I think..... perhaps), I was very tired, and with the rolling of the sea, I decided I needed to lie down.  So I think I slept most of Thursday

I did manage to get a couple more pictures of the ship - here they are.

The Show Lounge.  I remember thinking it looked a little gaudy on CMVs website pictures, but it's not really.

The Sirens Bar,