View of Geirangerfjord leaving heading North
Two nights at Geirangerfjord was enough, we had done a month’s worth of washing, had a sit in the sun and watched the ships come and go, wandered round way too many souvenir shops and were both looking forward to somewhere a bit more peaceful and maybe seeing some trolls :). The route out of the fjord continued on Route 63, one of the tourist roads or ‘Veg’ as they call them. Pretty much as impressive as the road in, the Eagle’s Road has hairpin bends climbing steeply with not too much in the way of Armco, the worst bits were the dread of meeting a bus coming round the corner at the same time as us . Half way up there was a view point looking down the fjord, somewhere to stop for a photo whilst gathering nerves for the last few bends.
Mountain pass on Tourist Road 63
It’s been surprising to us just how often the road stops and we have to take a ferry, if we had a proper road map this possibly wouldn’t be so surprising – however as we are still working with our trusty atlas the scale throws up a few surprises. We are the 6 metre length required for the lowest car charge and it’s cost us £8-£10 on most crossings. Eisdal was our only unlucky crossing where we were charged the next length (fairly as we have bikes on the back) and it doubled the cost to £20.
The weather was looking ok for driving the Trollstigen Pass, a bit overcast but no rain all day. As we pulled over the final brow to the visitor centre we hit a wall of cloud and fog, visibility was so poor that just parking up was testing. We walked to the view-point, we couldn’t even see the a few feet ahead of us let along the famous pass, a series of harpin beds, 11 in all, that zig-zag up the side of the mountain to 825 metres above sea level in a 9% climb. It’s only open for 5 or 6 months of the year as snow closes the road from October through to early May.
For us it was a must drive, we had missed driving the complete Transfagarasn in Romania due to snow, so we really wanted to do this one in reasonable weather so we could at least see it.
They must be real then!!
Several hours later we were still sat there waiting for the cloud to lift, most of the tour buses and other tourists had gone down, the café and visitor centre had closed but at least 20 motorhomes were sitting it out with us overnight. Come the morning it was looking just as cloudy, we had breakfast and pottered around and then suddenly the cloud lifted. We shot along to the plateau viewpoint that looks down over the pass and our first view of Trollstigen – one of the most scenic drives in the world.
Trollstigen – worth the wait
There is a viewing platform at the top from which nearly the complete road can be seen, its looks great until you start spotting the vehicles trying to pass each other. Coaches crawling along allow motorhomes, cars and caravans to take the outside edges with absolutely no room for error. The longer we watched the worse my nerves become so of course Iain added to it by standing on the largest viewing platform that has a sheer drop of 200 metres, a glass fence oh and just a few holes in the steel floor so you can see the valley floor below.
Iain ‘hanging out’ over Trollstigen
Suffice to say, we made it down, credit to mon chauffeur – he did great, not sure I did anything other than scream how close the edge was several times! Once you are on the road (navigator view) it’s actually not as bad as some of the serpentine routes we have come across in Norway, the fact that 130,000 vehicles drive it every year means it seems better maintained and safer than some of the other mountain routes.
As we were in full tourist mode the next thing to do had to be to drive what the Norwegian tourist blurb calls ‘the most beautiful journey in the world’ the Atlantic Road. We had been debating whether to do this one as a few people had told us that many other roads were as good. But, being suckers for a well named road we just couldn’t resist. The route started in the old fishing town of Bud and followed the coast up through numerous small villages and hamlets, each one having the prerequisite small harbour, red wooden houses, thousands of tiny islands and views over the Atlantic.
For us and probably for most that visit, the small section that actually traverses the Atlantic is the piece de resistance. Eight bridges that come up one after the other in just over 800 metres linking small islets and skerries. A breathe catching moment when the iconic Storeseisundet bridge comes into view, appearing to be twisting into the Atlantic. In the middle they have built a floating walkway around one of the small islands, view out over the Atlantic with a few small islets and then nothing much until Greenland.
Storeseisundet bridge from the West
When we reached the end we took the advice of several who had been before and didn’t continue through the tunnel into Kristiansund, as if we didn’t make the cheap price it was going to cost us £40 to get there and then either the same to get back – or even more for a ferry. Instead we parked up on one of the many viewpoints along with plenty of other motorhomes and spent the evening looking at the Atlantic, end result was we then drive the whole thing again the next morning and it was more than worth it.
Storeseisundet bridge from the East
The Atlantic Ocean