Although our outbound trip from where the Crown Princess was docked had taken us underground through the world’s longest road tunnel en route to the Borgund Stave Church and Lærdalsøyri we returned to the ship over the top of the mountains and headed towards the village of Aurlandsvangen with a stop along the winding road at the Stegastein Lookout.

Stegastein Lookout

The Stegastein Lookout is a viewing platform jutting out 30 metres from the cliff edge and situated 650 metres above sea level. I won’t lie: the name Stegastein really appealed to me. I think the combination of dinosaurs and robots from 2000 A.D. comics I read when I was younger just works well to make me instantly like a place. As luck would have it, though, the view was fabulous regardless of the awesome name although, as you can tell from the photos below, it was absolutely throwing it down with rain when we hit the location. I always find it amazing just how many people will stay on the bus in circumstances like that. We never do; rain can make for some truly atmospheric pictures and always helps with memories – “Do you remember that time we got utterly drenched stepping out onto that viewing platform?” – and in this case the sight of low cloud in the fjord valleys was breathtaking.



Aurlandsvangen

At Aurlandsvangen we had a short stop to wander around at our own leisure. Many people headed straight for the souvenir shops but we made our way instantly for the Vangen Church, the largest of the medieval stone churches in its county in Norway, having a free-standing wooden bell tower. It’s not that we don’t like buying souvenirs but when you have the choice between a historical monument and a store selling soft moose toys in red and blue jumpers we just find ourselves leaning in favour of the former option. We’re weird like that.

Outside the Aurlandsvangen church we braved the Norwegian drizzle for a little while longer, grabbing a few photos but coming to the conclusion that there wasn’t a whole lot of things to see or do in this town. Of course, if soft moose toys in red and blue jumpers are your thing then you’re probably covered.


Flåm

Our excursion came to an end and we were returned to Flåm but with several hours to go until the cruise ship needed to cast off we chose to have a look around the town to see what it offered. There were plenty of shops geared towards the tourist or avid clothes-buyer as I recall so not a great deal for us overall but the town was very attractive to look at, right by the water’s edge, nestled among mountains, and with wispy cloud passing through at strangely low altitude. The sight of the Crown Princess nearby lent everything a slightly surreal, wonderfully tranquil feel.

However, one thing we were told about on our bus drive back over the mountains was that Flåm had a brewery. I love the idea of drinking alcohol in foreign countries but to have something from a local brewery is even better. The brewery in this case was the Ægir brewpub. Not only was it a brewery, it was also a very attractive-looking one with decorations inspired by Viking tales, very popular with visitors, having some incredible chairs (which started a conversation about whether we could buy one and get it back onto the ship), and most importantly of all, some stunningly good ale. Not cheap, but excellent. So excellent, in fact, that my wife and I had three pints each at a mere £54. I’d like to blame being on a cruise ship for several days that only does bottled beers and not very good ones at that for this splurge of money at the brewery but the truth is that it was some of the finest ales we’d consumed so this might have happened anyway.

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