We fully expected Norway to impress, it has already gone beyond impressing and is fast becoming jaw dropping. The weather has been up and down, sometimes that just adds even more, seeing somewhere in a mist and cloud, then the sun pokes through and the view changes from stunning to breathe taking.
Iain’s stunning photo of Hardangervidda
Following route RV7 – across the Hardangervidda we pulled in for morning coffee break at Lake Skiftessjøen, where the edge of the lake is lined with hundreds of small cairns and has views over the glacier. Along with several other moho we stuck the kettle on, poured the coffee and spent an hour taking photos as the view changed every few minutes as the sun broke through more of the clouds.
Once we left the lake the day settled into a pattern that has continued all week, drive for 10 minutes, stop get out and take photos, drive for 10 minutes, repeat. As we headed over the pass the snow thickened, and at every parking space small groups of children were running around in the snow. Snow in July is too wonderful to ignore, as soon as we found a parking spot to ourselves we were out there – and yes we avoided the yellow bits! In some places a few inches deep, in others literally several feet deep – if this is summer cannot imagine it in winter.
You can’t beat snow in July
Just before Eidfjord, there was a small cafe, a car-park and over-looking the area a 7ft troll stood high above on the next hill. Most of the snow had gone on the path up to the troll, making it somewhat of a tricky, slippy and muddy path but our first real troll so we needed to brave the elements. Since then there have been more waterfalls than we could count, several gigantic trolls, too many tunnels to mention and yet we still stopped for photos every couple of miles.
Baxterbus down below from the troll point
Another day another bridge – the Hardanger Bridge opened in 2013 – another of the longest this time in Norway. Overshadowed by another first for us – as we left the bridge we entered a 7 km tunnel and after 500 metres there was a roundabout in the tunnel! We had heard of tunnel roundabouts but experiencing one is one of the strangest driving experiences, it looked like the Starship Enterprise was beaming down through the rocks. We took the wrong exit off the roundabout and had to come back to it again, our most worthwhile wrong turn to date.
Tunnel roundabout – mind boggling
Waterfalls have ranged from the spectacular to the unbelievable, Voss was incredibly busy with bus loads of tourists, others as we climbed up and down the mountains were just as stunning but not a soul around.
Everywhere we go the hardy Norwegians are out in force, we see them at every picnic stop be it at a tourist attraction or at the side of the main road. Rain or shine, the tablecloth comes out followed by picnic hampers that Fortnum and Mason would be proud of. Guess that they have long winters so make the most of the long summer days, sun set this week has been at 1114 pm, the days just never end its fabulous :).
The roads marked as tourist routes are not subject to tolls so we followed the E13 from Voss to Vangsnes, . The switch back roads up some of the passes were views I could have done without. At the top of one of the passes there was a platform being built that hung out over the valley to give a view back down over the roads, I left Iain to get that photo. Some of the roads are not very wide, despite the fact there are buses and wagons, along with a few hundred motorhomes, trying to squeeze through. Too often for my liking we were breathing in to get through a gap with a sheer drop on my side of the road.
Switchback heaven – Utsitken RV13
Sognefjord was our first ferry crossing, a 15 minute hop over for just under £12, not quite a cruise but as close as it gets as we were first van on so had the view over the open deck. Whilst we are sure Sognefjord looks perfect in bright sunshine, it has to be said it is far from shabby in any weather. The third largest fjord in the world, 127 miles long and at it’s deepest over 4100 ft – which is deeper than Ben Nevis is high. Dotted along the edges are numerous small fishing villages, some of which date back to Viking times. The pace of life seems slow, no-one rushes, cars wait to over-take, people have time for a smile and a word – the Norwegians have got the pace of life just right for us.
We are quietly parked up on Nordfjord at Olden for the evening, well it would be quiet if we weren’t within spitting distance of both the Caribbean Princess and Balmoral cruise ships, moored less than a couple of hundred metres in front of us with generators working over-time. At the quay side it’s a hive of activity with a few thousand people racing around the dozen shops trying to buy as many souvenirs as possible, taking trips on the toy town train or a double decker bus trip up the glacier (rather them than me!) and rib rides on the fjord. Strangely mesmerising just sitting looking at cruise boats that are going nowhere.
Iain and Caribbean Princess
Me and Dora – happy as can be in the snow in July