We had read a couple of reports that the Briksdals glacier was worth a visit, not sure what we expected but finding 12 coach tours at the base wasn’t one of them. Would love to have said we hiked up to the glacier, it was steepish but very like doing the Snowdon Conga – follow the kagool in front and you couldn’t go wrong. For those not wanting an hour uphill walk there was an option of using a “troll cart” being a 4×4 golf buggy, popular with many of the Asian visitors until they found out it dropped them a good 15 minutes walk to the glacier :).
On the way up
Briksdalsbreen ends in a small glacial lake 346 metres (1,135 ft) above sea level. For us the most astounding thing was the marker posts showing where the glacier has grown and receded over the last few hundred years. Even in the 20 th century it receded by over 2500 ft in the first half of the century revealing the lake and then grew by 1600 ft in the second half recovering the lake again. It looks like the ice is going to break off any second, we sat for half an hour with our butties and a flask waiting for an ice slip but nothing doing.
Briksdalsbreen – lake currently visable
Following our trek we treated ourselves to coffee and cake in the cafe at the car-park. Fully expecting to shell out enough to buy a new kidney we were pretty happy at less than £5 for cake and coffee for two. Norway is without doubt a bit contrary on prices, its either eye wateringly expensive or cheaper than your average trip out to the seaside in the UK.
We have found campsites at £35, then again we have found just as many charging £15 – usually on the side of a fjord with everything thrown in on the cost. Service Points for motorhomes wild camping (water fill / empty and loo empty) are all over the place – usually free. We found one the the other day that was the 5-Star of service points, so much so it even had a guest book so you could comment on how you found the facilities to empty your loo!! it was amazing, Iain was in there 15 minutes he was so impressed.
Jostedalsbreen National Park
With wall to wall sunshine forecast for Friday we chose that as our day to arrive at our latest Unesco site, Geirangerfjord. Two hours drive on wonderful roads, scary tunnels and views that delay progress as they beg for photo stops every mile. We have never come across so many switch-back roads before, up and down each mountain on route, the smell of smoking brake pads (usually ours) pervades the air at the bottom of every mountain. Again there were surprising amounts of snow and ice covered lakes as we crossed the mountains, whilst the roads are completely clear we passed drifts on the sides well over 7 and 8 ft deep.
The tunnels are freaky, too empty, too eerie, often no lighting and rough sides. Midway through many of the longer tunnels are sets of gates with traffic lights which go red if the gates are closing (if floods are due!) – so 3.5 km in if they close am intrigued as to what your average car and caravan does to turn around as there isn’t usually a turning point.
Frozen lake on the road over Dalsnibba mountain
The route over to Geiranger took us along Oppstrynsvatnet, a fjord that stretches forever with towering cliffs and the greenest water we have seen. As with everywhere we go in Norway most houses, sheds and holidays huts had grass roofs, it’s the norm rather than the exception to see them even on modern family houses. Many have flowers growing and we have seen loads with small shrubs and trees shooting out from the roof tops. It is on the project list for when we get home – maybe the shed first and then see if it catches on with the rest of the street :).
Hairy houses – the norm in Norway
Geirangerfjord is listed as one of the most visited and photographed places in Norway, it is so easy to see why. Sheer cliffs each side with the small village at the head of the S shaped end of the fjord, visiting cruise ships come and go throughout the day and evening. We were told it has rained every day for the last three weeks, the luck of the trolls was with us then as we came down the mountains to clear blue skies, snow capped cliffs and pure green fjords.
Our first view of Geirangerfjord
The village consists of a good number of souvenir shops, a couple of restaurants and a large hotel. It caters very much to the cruise ships and to the out-door adventure types – trips on offer ranged from Rib rides, a Renault Twingo safari (no really) and Road Skiing. The latter seems popular here, we pass someone skiing along tarmac roads at least a few times a day, and have even seen a few going up the mountains – we have so far resisted the urge to hurtle along on 4 ft long roller skates and pretty sure we are not going to be tempted any-time soon.
Home for the weekend
Today its been less sunny, a fair bit of rain on and off. We wandered around the village and the tourist shops checking out the millions of wizened trolls for sale and mingling with a few thousand Brits off the Arcadia cruise ship that is docked in the bay here, it felt a bit like being in the Lake District on a wet Bank Holiday. Arcadia left at tea-time to the sound of guns being fired from the quay-side, returning the salute with several loud blasts from her horn.
Big and noisy neighbour last night – Arcadia
The Norwegian Tall Ships race has been on this weekend, lucky for us three of the ships arrived this evening, then an further four have appeared to yet more gun-fire and all anchored just outside our windows :), whatever else may or may not be expensive here the views are priceless!
Two of tonight’s neighbours