I had heard from those who had visited Norway that its fjords were one of the most beautiful natural formations on the planet. So when my family and I paid a brief visit to Norway as part of a two-week trip across Europe, I figured I would experience a sort of life-changing epiphany upon laying eyes on the country’s famous glacial formations carved out during the last Ice Age.
Our trip to Norway got off to a rough start. When our plane landed in Bergen, a medium-sized city on the west coast, we were immediately surrounded by thick, grey, low-hanging clouds. While the airport shuttle took our money, we found that public transportation did not accept American credit cards. As a result, we ended up having to walk for nearly an hour through the cold and rain from our rental place to the nearest ATM to withdraw Norwegian kroner.
Fortunately, the next day made the trip worth our time and my parents’ money. After a quick breakfast, we hopped aboard a train to Myrdal Station, located nearly three-thousand feet above sea level. Near the top of the mountain, I noticed a peculiar sight—snow. Never in my life had I seen snow at the end of July, yet patches of snow dotted the mountainside as if it were early March. Although the day started out rainy, the clouds broke on cue as the train pulled into its final stop. Despite the bright sunshine, I was blasted by an icy wind as I stepped onto the platform. The thermometer read forty-one degrees. Although I had brought a jacket, I had decided against bringing gloves, and before long I could hardly feel my fingertips.
We rented four bikes, for my parents, my sister, and me, and set off down the mountainside towards the village of Flam, more than two-thousand-five-hundred feet below and situated next to the fjord itself. The scenery was breathtaking, better described with pictures than words. The air was fresher than anything I had ever inhaled before and the sound of birds chirping mingled with the rushing of a hundred mountain streams felt as if it were straight out of a movie. As I rode down the well-maintained mountain path, I encountered a herd of goats grazing lazily under the warm sunshine. As I stopped to take a picture, one of them nosed up next to me and began to chew on the zipper of my jacket! We arrived in Flam after about two hours, delayed by our frequent stops to photograph the Norwegian mountainside.
By then, the sun had disappeared behind the clouds again and a brisk breeze bit in from the west. The boat ride through the fjord itself started out drearily. The rain began again and the frigid wind stung my face. Through the fog, the cliffs appeared as muddy brown walls on each side of the dull black river. Suddenly, near the end of our trip down the fjord, the clouds broke and the sun emerged. A rainbow materialized behind us and the scene came to life. The cliffs transformed into majestic towers glancing over the sparkling, deep-blue water. The air felt fresh, reminiscent of autumn, yet at the same time, humid as if it were spring. I started to reach for the camera but changed my mind. Another photograph couldn’t fully capture the totality of the moment around me. I put the camera down and gazed at my surroundings, realizing how fortunate I was to be witnessing a form of natural beauty that few would have the opportunity to experience in their lifetime.
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