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Published: August 18th 2017
We took our time getting to Andalsnes, driving alongside fjords and crossing one by ferry. We arrived early evening, unloaded our bags and went searching for an evening meal. We thought we would try a local restaurant but there was not many to choose from. We settled on a local café that served homemade burgers. Without salads or fries they cost $30 each. So, I might as well mention at this point in the blog how expensive we found Norway,
Coffee- between $6- $7.50 (tea slightly cheaper)
An ordinary sandwich $15, a good one $20.
A glass of wine (20ml) $18-$20 (did not want to spend $80 - $100 a bottle!!)
A bottle of beer $15
An average, but decent, main meal in a hotel or reasonable restaurant for two $120.
A fast meal: pizza, burger etc. $30
Water $5-$6 a bottle.
Hotel accommodation were on average probably $60 per room more expensive than similar ones in Denmark & Sweden.
However, the driving in Norway was easy, conditions were really good, roads were smooth, with not much traffic, given the time of year with tourists around with frequent tunnels that were well lit (sometimes) and regular ferries. Some roads had tolls but our hire car was fitted with automatic charging equipment that debited my credit card. As it turned out we didn’t use many toll roads and were surprised that the bill came to $6 only at the end of the hire period after driving over 1400kms in the week we had the car. Geiranger to Lom
This stretch of the tour promised to be the highlight, as it covered the Geiranger Fjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site with two national parks. The weather had been mixed at best for the two previous days and we were desperate for some blue skies. We woke up to grey skies but no rain. The
On the way to Dalsnibba
first part of the drive was to take us up the Trollstiggen which is a hairpin road that zig zags and climbs to a height of 1000m in a short distance. It was spectacular to look up at this road from the bottom and the photo does not do it justice. At the top there is a man made waterfall and viewing platform that hangs over the edge. The view should have been great but the valley below was covered in low cloud.
However, after we left the top of this mountain and descended into the next valley the weather broke, the sun came out and there was a blue sky! We approached the fjord and Geiranger town from high and the view down below was stunning. After many grey days there was the sparkling blue/green of the fjord. The view was improved by the offset of a white cruise ship. On the way down, viewing platforms were available to take more great photos. It was good to see but we had a tinge of disappointment that we had to wait 3 or 4 days for this kind of weather as the drives we had, had around
the other fjords and mountains could have been as good as this.
We had lunch in the town, which was full of tourists, and had for the first time in ages, the opportunity to change into T-shirts and shorts.
The next scheduled stop was at Dalsnibba, about 40km from Geiranger town. Here you access The Skywalk Mountain Plateau, which at 1500m provides breathtaking views of the fjord and the winding road leading up the mountain to it. The guides tell us that from this vantage point we are looking at some of the best views in Norway. At this height there was plenty of snow to play with and many of the children were happily throwing snow balls at each other.
. Our next overnight stop was at Lom, a town that was chosen only because of its location on our route and we did not know anything about it. However it was pretty, and had a really interesting Stave Church and graveyard. It dates back to the twelfth century and is one of the oldest in Norway, with an original medieval dragon crest. The graveyard was beautifully maintained with flowers
growing by each gravestone.
We followed the National Route for the rest of the afternoon skirting more fjords and with the sun out we enjoyed more stunning views. We took another car ferry crossing the Songeford again.
About one km on the other side of the fjord we were shocked to find that we had to drive through a 24.5 km long tunnel! The Laerdal-Aurland tunnel is the longest in the world. It takes into consideration the mental strain on drivers so is divided into four sections separated by three large mountain caves that are illuminated. Joyce and I had no idea about these as we entered the tunnel and as we approached the first cave we were completely caught by surprise as the lighting changes from white to yellow to green then blue (with a dash of orange). We were prepared for the next cave and had our camera at the ready and taking photos and a video.
Overnighting in Aurland we left it mid- morning and drove the 8km to Flam. This was the town on the fjord where the railway spur from the Oslo line ran to. It
was a pretty and pleasant town with an interesting museum providing information about the construction of the rail line. We arrived in Bergen late afternoon, dropped off the car at the airport next morning to catch our flight to Stockholm……
A couple of other things to mention about Norway:
Outside Oslo, most houses are made of wood. In the countryside, many are painted exactly the same dark red colour. This is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years when paint was expensive and red colour was easily obtained from ochre and used on least expensive houses which were used by farmers and the working class. Whilst other houses were painted different colours; yellow for middle class and merchants, and white for the wealthy as this contained zinc.
Also, for insulation purposes, some country properties have grass, and wild flowers , growing on their roofs, You can sometimes catch the sight of these even on letterboxes and bus stops!
Similar to Leprechauns in Ireland, Norway has its Trolls. In Norse folklore Trolls are ugly and dim-witted and can be dangerous to humans. You can find Troll souvenirs in
Lom to Aurland
every tourist shop and as mentioned previously some road passages have name associated with them.
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