Leonie Coombes

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

of the rush­ing, tum­bling river. We de­part with pleas­ant rec­ol­lec­tions of Flam but not one troll be­tween us.

Next to Balestrand, a cou­ple of hours from Flam by high-speed ferry (May to Septem­ber only), which lies right on the Sogne­fjord. Ringed by snowy peaks, this com­mu­nity of just 1800 per­ma­nent res­i­dents is blessed by such a rel­a­tively moderate cli­mate and fine scenery that tourists have been com­ing here for two cen­turies. Kaiser Wil­helm II made an­nual vis­its for 25 years un­til World War I. He loved the re­gion and the Nor­we­gian peo­ple, whom he ro­man­ti­cised as be­ing of pure Ger­manic stock.

The kaiser stayed on his yacht while other tourists gen­er­ally sought out the fa­mous water­front Kivik­ness Ho­tel. So do we. This white, Swiss-style man­sion of fret­worked tim­ber has been wel­com­ing tourists for 140 years. It has be­longed to the Kivikne fam­ily for five gen­er­a­tions, their shared com­mit­ment to hos­pi­tal­ity and the con­tin­u­ing up­keep of this sprawl­ing ho­tel is a story in it­self. Grand pub­lic rooms marry the style of English coun­try house with Nor­we­gian hunt­ing lodge.

Af­ter eat­ing on the run for days we are over­come by the ho­tel’s huge buf­fet, which in­cludes lo­cal seafood. Fine wines top off what could be the best view in the world, es­pe­cially as the sun sinks ever so slowly into a soft sum­mer night.

Af­ter ex­plor­ing the im­me­di­ate town­ship (al­low an hour if the pri­vate art gal­leries are open), we wan­der by

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Invit­ingly merry: Plea­sure craft at rest on the mir­ror-glass sur­face of Ber­gen Har­bour at dusk

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