Norway Travel Journal: the Fjords

This is the second part of our tour through Norway. We started our trip in the South-East.

> From Andalsnes to Stryn via Trollstigen

16-07-2013 Today we do nothing at all, just some groceries and gazing at the marvellous landscapes.

17-07-2013 Apparently in this region it never gets completely dark during this time of the year, as we could see light peeping through the curtains all three times Vera announced herself last night. Not every night in the Deryan Travel cot is a success when it comes to sleeping and some of them are not very vacation-like at all.
TrollstigenHowever, we soon forget about the poor sleep when, with our car fully packed again, we're headed to Trollstigen. What an incredibly beautiful, shimsical landscape this is. On our way up we make several stops, to enjoy the landscape and take pictures. The weather isn't very clear, but the fog patches between the mountains even make it more interesting. At the highest point two fantastic view points have been created, accessable via a foothpath and some stairs. In turns we go have a look, as Vera is sleeping in the backseat.
Unfortunately it starts to rain when both of us are back, but even now the landscape is breathtaking. There are lakes, waterfalls ans streams everywhere, adding the right athmosphere to the bizarre rock formations and mountains. Through this fairytale landscape we're driving to the ferry, which takes us to the other side of one of the famous Geiranger fjord's side arms.
Next we stare our eyes out at Ørnesvingen Viewpoint and Flydalsjuvet, two viewpoints high above the fjord. The giant cruise ships down there are no more than tiny boats from up here and the water is incredibly deep blue, even in this weather. Did we question ourselves before about where all the other tourists in this country were... now we know: they are here, enjoying the view.
At Djupvatnet-lake, high above Geiranger we barely see anyone else anymore and here it's no less beautiful. The remoteness and colours of the landscape almost look Kyrgyz here. When we walk around a bit it suddenly starts to pour again and we quickly move on to Stryn, our final destination for today.

> Fjords and glaciers near Stryn

18-07-2013 Drizzle, torrential rain, clouds and fog alternate today. Fortunately we planned a rest day anyway, after all those impressions from yesterday and we need to stock up on groceries too.

19-07-2013 The clouds are still dark and grey, but at least it's dry, when we head to Loen, a thirty minute drive from here. On the go the clouds are getting lighter and when we get out of the car at ancient Loen church the sun just runveils itself. KjenndalsbreenThe little church is wonderfully situated, above the Nord fjord and its white colour contrasts quite a bit with the dark fog patches, that are still hovering over the mountains. Inside we read about the huge waves, caused by two giant rocks from the mountains, which both fell into the lake in the early 1900's. More than a hundred people died; their names are engraved in two stone pillars in front of the little church.
As we continue our drive along the Loen Lake we see the colossus lying on an otherwise picturesque spot, where we have our lunch. Then it's only a short ride to the parking lot near Kjenndal glacier, but first we have to pay our next toll through an envelope in a mailbox.
At the parking lot we lift Vera in the Ergo Baby Carrier and we follow a fast river, where several waterfals fall into, to the glacier. The sun has now prevailed and the light is pretty awesome. The final stretch of the path is too rocky and uneven to safely pass with a baby on your back, so from a distance of a few hundred meters we check out the huge ice mass, before we turn around to get back to our cabin.

20-07-2013 We drive back in the direction of Geiranger through some dense fog, facing several kilometers long, dark tunnels once again. At the end of the fourth tunnel a surprise awaits us. As we're approaching the exit we see it's lovely sunny weather on the other side. The colours of the landscape are marvellous in this sunlight and the entire area looks completely different than three days ago when we were passing through.
We have to overcome quite some heights and apparently Veras guts are not completely adapted to this kind of things, since a meanwhile familiar odor fills the car. So before we can once again enjoy the Ørnesvingen viewpoint, we first have another diaper to change on the front seat, what just (not) fits anymore when Vera lies somewhat folded between the handbreak and door. We also return to Flydalsjuvet viewpoint and this place too is barely recognizable now that the ground fog has been driven back by the lovely sunshine, which made the colours of the landscape so vivid.
DalsnibbaFinally we take the mountain road to Dalsnibba, a summit from where we have an impressive view of the surrounding snow mountains, winding rivers and roads, dotted with miniature cars and here and there a waterfall splashing down. Vera enjoys herself with the many pebbles she finds here, while we take dozens of pictures. What a great place!

> Natural beauty near Flam

21-07-2013 Today we're headed to the South again. At the end of the umptieth tunnel we're once again surprised by the bright sunshine, while it was foggy and cloudy before. When we check our rear mirror after the next tunnel we don't believe our own eyes. A giant glacier is towering high above us and the picturesque landscape. Again water is flowing everywhere. Like a fellow traveler will say to us tomorrow: “when paradise exists, this must be what it looks like” We enjoy a picnic lunch at a wooden table with glacier-view and then we walk to a little lake at the foot of the ice wall. This is one of those places where you'd wish you could stay all day, but we still have plenty kilometers to cover before we're at our next cabin, so we have to move on.
An hour later we're at our next stop, Kaupanger's stave church. In the Middle Ages there were thousands of these wooden churches in all of Norway, but since then many of them have disappeared and now there are only twenty eight left. The church in Kaupanger is one of the biggest and is almost entirely made of wood, even the roof.
Ferry NaeroyfjordAt the end of the umptieth tunnel we reach the Naeroyfjord and we catch a ferry to the other side. The landscape has changed and is less rugged here, but it's still a pleasant boat ride. On the other side the king of tunnels awaits us: we go underground for almost twentyfive kilometers. As soon as we see sunlight again we're at our destination: our cabin by the river, between Flam and Aurland.

22-07-2013 Through a new series of tunnels we drive to Stalheim, a hotel with a magnificent view of the surrounding fjord landscape. We follow the road down on the other side, where the gradient of no less than eighteen percent strongly reminds us of a certain adventure on motorbikes in Northern Thailand.
At the foot of the hill we park the car and on foot we follow a stream to the waterfall where it originates. Our picnic spot for today. Only late in the afternoon we return to our cabin.

23-07-2013 At the end of our village a narrow road descends, offering better views of the Naeroyfjord at every turn. After a short stop at the highest point, Stegastein, we continue our tour along this socalled Aurandsveien. We descend a little more to reach a wonderful plateau. The various types of moss on the giant boulders add colour to the landscape here, while everywhere pieces of snow are melting into little streams, which, in turn, are forming fens. We stop for lunch in this deserted landscape, by one of those fens. AurlandsvegenA couple of sheep also lunch here, but as soon as they notice us they are frightened and run.
Just after noon we move on, along rocks, snow, fens and streams. Somewhere we see a hamlet of wooden huts, surrounded by sheepfolds. Except for the flowing water it's quiet here. On the other side of the plateau we descend through vast coniferous forests to another arm of the fjord, to drive back to our cabin through the twentyfive kilometer long tunnel.

24-07-2013 From our campsite we take a walk to the fjord, picking raspberries on the way; they are growing by the side of the road here. We also notice that every garden in this area has at least one fruit tree or shrub. Apples, pears, gooseberries, red berries, there's plenty of it growing here.

> South to Eidfjord

25-07-2013 In a little more than two hours we drive and boat further South, to Eidfjord, where we have a little house right by one of the far corners of the fjord. Nature's still beautiful here, but the hills are sloping and less exciting than the ones at more Northern places we visited. The area around Geirangerfjord and Trollstigen are still our favourites. We've hardly seen places as mysterious and beautiful as there.

26-07-2013 Sleeping wasn't that easy the past few days; the Deryan travel cot obviously needs some adjustments befóre our next trip. So Vera is still very tired this morning. (We won't mention the circles under our own eyes, since this was our voluntary choice.) That's why we first let her sleep a bit more, before we go out.
Only around noon we're headed to Voringfossen waterfall, about six or seven kilometers from our campsite. The road to it has so many crazy bends however, it takes us at least twenty minutes to get there. Our appearance with stroller and baby on the path up to the viewpoint causes quite some raised eyebrows, so we definately continue our walk on the naturally paved path of pits. The final stretch Peter has to carry the stroller and Yvonne the baby... the baby carrier would definately have been a way better choice, but like we said... raised eyebrows... so going back is not an option anymore. The viewpoint is a bit disappointing and back at the parking lot there turns out to be some sort of a photo-viewpoint as well, with a somewhat indistinct sign to it. Of course there's a smooth asphalted pathy leading to the place. The height of the waterfall is impressive, but the place itself isn't all that special. We've been more impressed in the past few weeks, like that time when we saw ten waterfalls splashing down in just a single glance.
We continue our route along road number seven, a great ride through rocky highlands, with every now and then a glance of the next glacier, and regularly little lakes and snow by the side of the road. Nature strongly reminds us of the huge country of Mongolia and just like there it's hard to catch the vastness of the landscape on camera. Bummer, but the camera in our heads stores it all.

Lunch on the plateauTomorrow we return to South-Eastern Norway, but because of the readability of this story we prefer to keep it in chronological order.

> to Bo

27-07-2013 Today is another travel day full of contrasts, with a great variety in landscapes. We see the Hardangerfjord, surrounded with apple- and morello trees, with high up there the umptieth glacier of this trip, rocky highlands, with lakes and waterfalls, long tunnels, snow, ice and extensive pine forests. Somewhere on this route our car is threatened and attacked by a dangerous... sheep. We'd love to finally encounter a moose by now, so we make a funny face and quickly continue. Our stopover is in Bo, at a real family campsite, as we soon find out, complete with entertainment and playground. Full of Norwegian families, all of them practising national sport number one: bbqing.

> Heddal stave church and back to the Netherlands

28-07-2013 We start our final day of this vacation in a realxing way, with a pancake party. Next we follow a little road full of bends to Heddal, Notodden, where we'll be checking out a second stave church. When we get there we see a sign at the door: “silence, service”. Ah, yes... Sunday! We assume the service won't take that long anymore and on a bench near the entrance we wait and enjoy ourselves with our favourite pastime, even after all these years of traveling: watching people. Saint Olaf's day at Heddal Stave churchOur wait is rewarded, since some real Vikings in costumes are coming out when the door opens?!? It happens to be the annual Saint Olaf's day and a number of descendants of King Olaf, Vikings who are Christians, as they say themselves, have attended the service. They also give a demonstration in sword fighting and tell about the Viking ship that they built. Fortunately there's someone who translates the most important things for us, so that we can understand their stories too, how useful that the Norwegians know their languages at least as good as we do.
In the afternoon we go shopping for our return journey, stock up on Brunost, the local cheese, and relax a bit more. It's still vacation time after all.

29-07-2013 After brakfast we start this long travel day. By noon we're in Langesund, where we have lunch before boarding the ferry. At two o'clock we leave this wonderful country, full of nature and great landscapes, to get ashore in Denmark about six hours later. Tonight we sleep in the same motel like on our outward journey, to cover the final kilomers back to the Netherlands tomorrow morning.

> More Info

Also check our Norway info page, where you can find a lot of information about Norway and come see our photos from the South-East of Norway, Fjord Norway 1 and Fjord Norway 2.