I Kayaked the Norwegian Fjords
In early 2022, our annual return to Europe was upon us - but where would my boyfriend, Griffin, and I go? After some time hashing through our wish list, we decided on a July vacation in Scandinavia. Starting off in Amsterdam, we would make our way to Scandinavia via Scandinavian Airlines. We would visit Stockholm, Sweden for 3 days, and then spend a total of 4 days in Bergen, Norway before connecting back home through Warsaw, Poland.
Bergen is like a fairytale - surrounded by Norway’s mountains and fjords, with colorful wood homes scattered along the wharf. Seafood, salmon in particular, is plentiful, along with glimpses of mythical trolls (a staple in Nordic folklore) tucked behind cobblestone alleyways and dense, woody forests.
Our main reason for being in Bergen was not only to enjoy all that the city has to offer, but to head 3 hours north by train to Flåm, the home of one of Norway’s largest fjords - Aurlandsfjord, to kayak.
The journey to Flåm by train is considered one of the most beautiful (and steepest!) in the world. Departing from Bergen Station, Norway’s national line, Vy, brought us to Myrdal, where we then hopped on the historic Flåm Railway. This railway takes you through the Flåm Valley, carving through mountainsides, gorges and waterfalls. Halfway through the trip, the train stops at Kjosfossen waterfall, where we could disembark onto a viewing platform. Keeping in tune with Norwegian folklore, a woman appears from behind the waterfall, with white, blonde hair and a red dress, dancing along to a
Norwegian folk song. This woman is Huldra, a siren forest spirit of Norse mythology. Not to fear, this act is performed by students at the Norwegian Ballet School!
Once arriving in Flåm, we were completely captivated by its beauty. Surrounded by mountains, the Aurlandsfjord flows through multiple villages and farms, with a depth of 3,156 feet!
Upon arrival at the kayaking point, we were greeted by our guide and our group. Marije, our instructor, learned to be a kayak guide in high school. In Norway, outdoor activities are considered just as important as academics, where students learn kayaking, climbing, skiing and even glacier trekking. Marije was also a glacier trekking guide, and had spent previous summers working at a traditional brown cheese farm - all before 17 years old. The rest of our group consisted of Kitty - a Chinese woman who had arrived by cruise liner, and Lib - an Irish woman who was traveling solo. After introductions and safety lessons, we were geared up and ready to explore the fjord.
With Marije at the helm, we coasted between the vast mountain peaks, dotted with sheep and mountain goats. We were surrounded by history, passing Viking graves on their way to Valhalla , along with a sunken WW2 ship, that Marije made sure to call out when we were kayaking above.
Not only was kayaking the perfect experience to take in the beauty of the fjord, but also to learn about Norwegian culture. Marije shared many stories from her childhood in Flåm, and how it is common for children to leave home around ages 13-14 to larger cities for their education. My favorite story of Marije’s is how her family would ski to a random spot near the fjord and camp during the winter - as Norwegians have the ‘right to roam ’, also known as allemannsretten. This law has been in place since ancient times.
Our trip to Flåm was a once in a lifetime opportunity, coupled with magnificent views, peaceful waters, and a glimpse into Norwegian life on the fjords. We were left thankful for our experience, and warm, dry clothes!
Sometimes, traveling isn’t as peaceful as kayaking through a Norwegian fjord. Check out The Parking Spot’s travel tips on how to plan a successful vacation , and how The Parking Spot can create a seamless airport parking experience for you.