From Oslo, I went initially to Flam for 24hrs, which I wrote about in Norway in a Nutshell part 1, and Flam and Flam, and Norway in a Nutshell part 2, and then spent 3 days in Bergen, on the coast. While I was there, I mostly walked around the town, seeing museums, which I might write about another day, but today I going to write about the fjord cruise I did up the coast, to see a glacier. My plan for this trip to Norway was to spent time on the fjords, so when I was in the tourist information place in Bergen and saw a leaflet about a day long trip to a fjord, with a glacier to see as well, well, I had to do it. It wasn’t an organised trip though, the fjord cruise company has put together an itinerary of boats and a bus and museum entry to get tourists to the glacier and back, but there was no tour leader.
The day began early, with an 8am departure from the docks in Bergen. The first 4 hours were on a big ferry. This ferry holds several 100 people, most of whom were tourists doing other day trips and travelling, and probably some locals too, going home or to visit family further along the coast/fjord. We made a few stops along the way, to pick people up or let others off. At first the journey was quite boring, as I was on my own, and I didn’t take a book, but then I realised you could go up on deck – I was sitting inside. So, I spent the last couple of hours going up to admire the views of the fjord, which is called Sognefjord – which were stunning. I never stayed on deck for long, as it was way too cold and windy, but it was worth it for the views. What I didn’t realise at the time, Sognefjord is the largest and deepest of Norway’s fjords, and has several tributaries stretching even further. And two of them are my old friends, Naeroyfjord which I was on a few days earlier on the Norway in a Nutshell Tour, and Aurlandsfjord which is goes to Flam!
Eventually we arrived at our first stop, Balestrand. This was only a quick stop, to get off this ferry and onto a much smaller boat. Balestrand itself looked like a nice town, only small, with just over 1000 inhabitants, but with a hotel, and the fjord and countryside to explore it’s probably popular with tourists.
The second boat took us along the Fjaerlandsfjorden, which was narrower than the Sognefjord, but just as pretty – although the weather wasn’t good so I didn’t go up on deck. This trip was a bit quicker, about 1.5 hours, arriving at the tiny village of Fjaerland before 2pm.
As we got off the boat we had our first view of the glacier!
We were then met by the closest we came to a tour guide all day – the man who organises the next bit of the day – the minibus to the glacier and the glacier museum. There was actually too many of us to do it all together as we couldn’t all fit in the minibus (20 maybe in total), so we were split into 2 groups, and after first group had been taken to the museum the minibus returned for us and took us the glacier.
Sadly, we didn’t go right up to it, but we got reasonably close it. It was at the top of the hill, and we stayed at the bottom, but we still had a pretty good view, and we were close enough to feel a chill in the air which could only have come from the glacier. As we arrived the sun came out, and as the surrounding countryside was really beautiful, so it was a lovely way to spend 40 minutes.
Then, it was our turn to go to the Norwegian Glacier Museum. The museum was all about glaciers – how they are formed, the impact they have on the countryside in terms of glacial melt every year and also how they form glacial landscapes over the years. There is even a small area which made up to resemble a glacier so you can pretend to go for a walk inside a glacial tunnel. It was really interesting, and I enjoyed my time there. As a bonus the sun was still shining, and there are viewing platforms on the roof so I went up to them to admire the views and take photos. It was absolutely stunning!
Sadly, eventually it was time to return to the dock, and board the boat back to Balestrand. Fortunately the sun was still out, so I sat on the deck, taking in the views of the mountains falling into the water, and of isolated communities.
Sadly, the clouds and rain returned, and I spent the return journey in the big ferry back to Bergen sitting inside. By the time we returned to Bergen at 8.45pm, it was pouring with rain and I got drenched walking to the hotel. But, it was worth it – it had been a lovely day out.