Norway 21-07-19 to 23-07-19
What a few days it has been. We left Hjelmeland in pouring rain on Sunday, the spot we were camped on was slowly getting more and more waterlogged so there didn’t seem lot of choice. We decided to head up towards Flam (pronounced Flom by those pesky Norwegians and their funny letters!).
Anyway, we got very wet so we decided to stop at a ski lodge for the night at Roldal. It was dry at least and we spread everything out all over the floor as we only had underfloor heating, there was no way to dry everything otherwise. It was restful if nothing special. We completely blew our daily budget of the window on the chalet, two days money for one night! That didn’t include the fact we were unable to buy food as on a Sunday nearly everything is closed, Clair rustled up a concoction from the stuff w were carrying. Its certainly not like in the UK where everything is now open on a Sunday and corner shops are open until late.
Moving off in the morning we headed via Langfossen waterfall, yet another spectacular sight in the never ending compendium of mind blowing things to see in Norway.
We got delayed there talking to a Brit who was having a guided holiday by some Swedes but after an hour or so we hit the road again heading on to Flam.
Our aim was to get to Flam in the early afternoon and get a ride on the tourist train which over the course of 8km rises nearly 900m following a winding route cut into the edge of the mountains. Of course, being Norway there was a bunch of tunnels on the way. Oh and waterfalls, epic scenery, music and dancing. I kid you not.
The train pulled into a halt on the way for a photo opportunity of a particularly wet waterfall and after a couple of minutes there was loud music and on the rocks next to the falls a dance by someone who was supposed to be a local siren type of spirit, Somehow the green wellies didn’t do it for me and although they were a fair distance off, I’m pretty sure it was a man in a wig.
As an aside, a quick thank you to my brother Ian, he paid for my train ticket for my birthday. It was much appreciated. The two hour round trip cost £55 each!!!!
Flam is at the end of a deep water Fjord and as we prepared to leave in the morning a huge cruise ship pulled into port. I was glad we had got the train the day before as you can imagine the tourists flooding off. There is not a lot to do at Flam other than the railway and electric hire cars other than walking. I met one of the electrics cars, nearly head on a bit later that morning on the way to our next stop.
The next stop was Stegastein. A famous viewing platform, as long as you’re a tourist, we mentioned it a couple of times to locals later in the day and they had no idea what it was. To get to Stegastein you have to follow what was the old road up and over a mountain until you reach the viewing platform. It was narrow with several hairpins, as per usual cut into the side of the mountain. It was going up here I nearly hit one of the electric hire cars. It was my fault, apparently they drive on the right over here.
Anyway, many photos were taken as you can see. Then I noticed the road carried on a bit, in fact, it was signposted to another town. Clairs TomTom said the road was closed but I couldn’t resist a look. I zipped up the road and got to the snow gates and could see the road went up and up into the distance so I went back and talked her into making the trip over the mountain. I had two wonderful bits of logic for this. One, it wasn’t as twisty as going back down the hairpin bends and Clair had got to her limit going up. Two, it was the old mountain road before they cut (yet another) tunnel 11km into the mountain so it couldn’t be that bad. I could see on the map that the road just wound around before joining the main road we wanted to be on in 24km. I badgered Clair into going for it even though she didn’t want to. She really had reached her limit going up the hairpin bends.
We started up the mountain and I confess it was making me nervous. My Garmin was telling me we had gone over 1000m, then 1100, 1150. Visibility dropped to almost zero. We could see the white lines at the edge of the road and nothing else. We continued at less then 30mph. Clair was terrified and extremely angry with me. Rightly so in my opinion and having got so high there was really no turning back. We kept going up, the cold seeped through our jackets and mine leaked it was so wet and misty up in the clouds. Every time I thought we had peaked, the road would drop and then raise up again. 1200 meters, 1250, 1300, 1350. We crossed the plateau. We were above the clouds now and the edges of the road were visible again, there were large patches of ice at the sides of the road often dropping away into broken rocks. Eventually we found a spot to stop. Other than the fact we had no idea what to expect on the way down, we had crested the summit and had both relaxed enough to actually enjoy the ride.
Coming down was a breeze. I was dreading dropping back into the clouds and having no visibility again but on the other side of the mountain it was sunny and clear and the smiles came back out again. Clair forgave me this time. We even stopped again for more photos on the way. As an added bonus the road wound all the way down to sea level where we found a beautiful location to make our dinner on a bench by a fjord.
We spent the rest of the day winding along through multiple tunnels, over hills and mountains, eventually getting to a campsite at Grodas we had picked for our evening stop. It was rubbish, we decided to move on and look for something else. Wow! (again), we found a tiny site with loads of static pitches and just a few camping spots. We were right at the waters edge. It was the best site we had stayed on and it cost 100 krona or about £9 with no extras for showers. It was silent, the mountains on the other side of the fjord were covered in snow patches and when the sun lowered and lit the peaks up it took our breath away.