Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Flam Railway, Water Spirits, Dragons

The Flam Valley.  Flam is on the Aurlandsfjord, off the huge Sognefjord. In 1923, the Norwegian State Railways began construction of a spur to Sognefjord, from Myrdal, using the Flam Valley to access the larger fjord. The earlier mainline route, completed in 1909 from Oslo to Bergen, had followed a milder, more level route.  See FN 1.

Get the last or nearly last train, about an hour up and an hour back, so it is less crowded and you can zip from one side of the car to another with your camera. The unobtrusive loudspeaker in the cars points out the sights, and some local lore and mythology, including about water sprites singing to men to follow them into the mountain, never to be seen again.  Ha ha.

The train kindly stops.  Everybody take a stretch. Nice music piped in.

Hey! Look over there! All tourist eyes and cameras swing valley right. Yes! She found us!

But what is she? 

There are tales of male Nokken, or Fosse-Grim (fosse - waterfall, I think) who lured women and children in waters to drown. Old Norse "nykr" or water horse. See Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neck_%28water_spirit%29

This, however, is like a Naiad, but those stem from Greece, I think, see http://www.lenntech.com/water-mythology.htm/, or perhaps the German Lorelei, or a Siren. Do searches.  Nonetheless this Naiad escapee in Norway has found a home. Are there Norse naiads?

And then she is gone. Luckily, Dan did not follow. Next sight! A lovely, isolated farm.

Back at the station, find the dragons have not been forgotten on the eaves.  Well done.

FN 1  This railway trunkline took nearly 20 years to complete. I do not recall a specific exhibit on the effect of the Nazi Occupation in the 1940's on the railway.  Was passenger service stopped? Maybe no news at all. Steam engines!  These were electrified in 1944. See http://www.visitflam.com/flam-railway/historical-background/

Maneuvering the steep mountain grades required vast engineering skill , boring through mountains, crossing the valley in switchbacks. Leave Borgund for Flam, pick up two hitchhikers for company (we set a firm stopping-let-off point), where there is also shelter and a phone, here, the turnoff for Flam itself. 

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