Cities / Towns Visited: 43
Countries Visited: 13
Steps Taken Today: 14,487
Steps Taken Around the World: 1,510,469
We rose and made ourselves breakfast, before taking a quiet moment to sit outside and eat, while admiring the incredible view. To be honest if eating bacon rolls at the foot of a Norwegian mountain in a remote town to the sound of a waterfall isn’t on your list of things to do, I beseech you to reassess you life goals.
Checking out, we stowed our bags at reception and set off on one last adventure in Flåm before departing; we were going to hike up to that damn waterfall that had been teasing it with its beauty since we arrived. By now the morning sun was already beating down and it wasn’t long before we were dripping with sweat. As our clothes dampened we passed a field of hairy alpine cattle, of whom I felt hugely sorry for in this harsh sunlight, then up the mountain we went. It was probably about half way up that I came to the solid conclusion that being a morning person wasn’t simply a brain function thing for me, but most certainly also a muscle function trait. It was with a great deal of effort, and a little mental self encouragement that I managed to convince my legs to cooperate on the treacherously rocky path long enough for us to reach the best viewing spot. As the wind blew across the cascading water it met us in a cooler state. The view down over the tiny town in the valley and out onto the fjord was nothing less than picture perfect. Eager to get a little closer I clambered down a muddy path until I was almost at the very foot of the main free-fall. The air was thick with droplets, falling welcomely on my hot skin and filling my heaving chest. I was almost instantaneously rejuvenated in a way that only nature and water can provide. Standing with arms outstretched and head back, a rainbow dancing in the space between the water and me, it was the epitome of what carefree joy feels like.
Eventually the time came to descend, as we had a train to catch, but I will admit it was with reluctance that I walked away from my position. After grabbing food for the journey at a nearby bakery, we boarded the scenic railway which would carry us to our connecting train in Myrdal. Chuffing along, we headed through the mountains; like literally through, I’m talking pitch dark tunnels followed by stunning bursts back into sunlight where you were met by towering peaks, some still with snow clinging to the top, and tiny waterfalls rushing over their sides from the spring thaw. All that ran through my mind was the poem by William Allingham ‘Up the airy mountain, down the rushing glen, we dare not go a hunting, for fear of little men’. This scenery is the stuff of legends, it’s the backdrop of any reputable fantasy novel, and it is one of the only situations in which seeing a mythical creature would barely stir surprise.
Keeping this in mind, it was at this point that we stopped briefly, and were allowed to alight the train to view the waterfall which cascades down past and under the tracks. As we hopped down onto the platform and out of the tunnel, we were delivered onto a decked platform to the most fictional looking scene I’ve ever been thrown into. To the soundtrack of intoxicating siren like singing we were once more enveloped by the misty cloud of waterfall spray, and up on the hill beside it sat a ruined old stone house. Suddenly a woman (or possibly man in a blonde wig, hard to tell as it was at quite a distance and shrouded in mist) in a red/orange dress danced seductively. She was supposed to portray a Huldra, a mystical race of siren like women in Scandinavia who are said to lure men into the forest and ultimately to their death. Then suddenly she ran back behind the ruins and instantaneously (obviously by use of a second identically dressed person, but we’ll call it magic), she appeared from the other side of the house and scaled to the roof to continue her dance. And just like that the song was over, the figure disappeared and we were hustled back onto the train. If I didn’t have photos and slightly damp clothes I could have sworn it was all some strange dream.
Soon after, our train arrived in Myrdal and we swapped to our rather lengthy, but almost equally as beautiful, ride to Oslo. All ran smoothly though, and before we knew it were were settling into our budget hotel room. A quick trip to the local pizza shop found us a budget friendly, and pretty decent, dinner, before we slipped into bed.
My half asleep mind drifted back off into the mystical world we had just travelled from, to arrive in yet another metropolis. I couldn’t help but feel that although I undeniably enjoy living in the city, as there is something comforting about the constant hum of comings and goings which make you feel like a part of a complicated but highly functional machine; there is something soul soothing, rejuvenating, and imagination inspiring about being in amidst the lush green of the forest, or standing in the cool spray of a waterfall, or simply basking in the silence of a sun-drenched morning in a secluded town in the middle of nowhere, that you simply can’t get in a place where you personal space is constantly invaded by too many strangers in too little space. Magical things happen when you allow yourself time to get close to nature, so it is little wonder that stories of mystical creatures run rampant in places where man does not reside. Perhaps we’ll never find them, perhaps they don’t even exist, but maybe in wandering out into the wilderness a little, in search of them, we may accidentally stumble upon our true selves in our most natural form instead.