Flam sits on a small plain at the mouth a fjord in Western Norway.
And they are here to serve the nearly one-half million tourists who visit each year.
Everything I dislike about travel was present today, crowds of people, tour buses, and shops filled with the same cheap tourist trinkets…and trolls everywhere!
But all that was more than offset by the fjord safari we went on this morning.
Our group of four were on a small motorboat with only two other people and our guide / captain. He took us out for 2 1/2 hours into the fjords, where we could observe up close waterfalls splashing into the fjord after falling 500 feet down the sheer face of a mountain, small settlements of people living on narrow strips of land between the base of a mountain and the water’s edge, and goats defying gravity on the faces of steep cliffs.
The views were breathtaking and accompanied by the excitement of skipping over the swells in boat, being temporarily suspended over the water, and then slamming down on the water to only go airborne again on the next swell. They had warned us in the port talk yesterday that this was a strenuous excursion and people with back injuries should not sign up.
At one point in our tour our guide pointed out a mound of rocks on the shore he said was a Viking burial site. He told us that when a Viking man died, they would kill his wife and children so they could accompany him (along with his possessions) to Valhalla, the Viking heaven. Later when our guide pointed out an old church in one the settlements, I asked whether, after being converted to Christianity, the Vikings stopped murdering the wife and children when the father died. He said they did stop. He said Christianity had a civilizing effect on them. It usually does.
The fjords are indeed beautiful. I’m really a city boy, and I haven’t been camping since I was a kid. I prefer the Ritz Carlton to a tent and campfire. But one cannot know the Creator and not appreciate His creation. And in the fjords one sees the Creator’s handiwork: canals etched into stone with giant glaciers and then filled with beautiful clear water, a painting created by the Creator on a rock canvas. As Hugh Miller said, God’s “hand is impressed on the entire universe.” GS