Their Sun is like Our Moon that Ran Out of Batteries

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Europe » Norway
August 18th 2009
Published: August 28th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Norway Lake Norway Lake Norway Lake

near Hovet
Slartibartfast: "Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I think that the chances of finding out what's actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, 'Hang the sense of it,' and keep yourself busy. I'd much rather be happy than right any day."

Arthur: "And are you?"

Slartibartfast: "Ah, no. (laughs) Well, that's where it all falls down, of course."

From: Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

There are no straight roads in Norway.

They all go meandering around some fjord, twisting around a lake or powerfully zigzagging up a pass. The roads are almost never level. They keep bobbing up and down. At one moment you are at sea-level and a few minutes later you are at a snowy mountain. Enter a tunnel and some moments later you are down at a low river delta. Up and down. A manic-depressive topography.

It’s been a while since our vacation was so time-limited - less than 2 weeks is what we got. Norway was not our first destination alternative for our very short break. We like being thorough and wanted a place we can “cover” in the limited time-frame. At first we thought about North-Greece but the expected crowds discouraged us. Then we thought about one of the “Stans” of Central-Asia but we could not find a rent-a-car in any of them and one of them has recently cooled off relations with the West due to extremism. We thought it better not to go this year. For a long time we were sure we would go to Georgia until 2 weeks before departure when the mother-in-law of one of Yaron’s colleagues (who is from Georgia) told us we should not go now due to a awful combination of bad politics, dreadful neighbors and coup in the air.

So we decided on Norway with its geography-challenged roads. We always did want to see some salmon jumping in a Fjord and from reading Douglas Adams's “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” we knew that Slartibartfast - the designer of planets, specializing in coasts - won an award for designing Norway's "lovely crinkly edges"

Norway landscape lived up to expectation. Every place we looked was postcard-perfect scenery. This made my disappointment in the middle of day 6 of our vacation so devastating.

It had been raining on-and-off since we landed. It was almost constantly cloudy. We found no correlation between the weather forecast and the actual conditions. On day 3 we lingered a full day and night in Jotunheimen National Park for the weather to clear enough to take a short walk. It did not. So we drove north to Trondheim were the forecast was fairer and even if it isn’t we “can find something to do in the city”. It wasn’t fair and we didn’t even enter the city from the gloom . We continued along the beautiful Atlantic coast road all rainy and damp. It was now day 6 and the forecast was for sun. But at noon, with us about to start what was expected to be one of the most spectacular roads in Norway (Trollstigen - the trolls ladder) we experienced the rainiest day yet.

I was utterly disappointed with Norway. Every place I looked was a picture perfect view. Nature was all around us waiting to be walked in and felt with all our senses and we were cooped up in the car for the last week waiting for the sun to come out. We could barley open the window to take a sniff at some fresh air. This was Norwegian summer sun. And to think that in winter they don't even have a sun! No wonder Scandinavia has such a high suicide rate.

From my disappointment I thought of all the bad things in Norway. All the reasons I didn’t think I would like traveling in North Europe in the first place have come true. The ridiculously high prices, the lack of good local food, the excruciatingly slow roads. No real cultural experience. “Sterile cleanness" when I like my travels to be filthy, challenging and tasty. And NOT rainy!

But most of all I felt disappointed with being in the car most of the day. I kept thinking how I will survive a year cooped in my office when I didn’t get a chance to roam free on my vacation.

Hagit and Liya were sleeping and I had no inclination to go up a nice but crisscrossing road in this weather. So I continued driving along the fjord with the general direction of Ålesund 2hr away thinking we can visit the aquarium there in bad weather as well. I drove fast. I wanted out of this weather.

1hr 20min later we were in sunny Ålesund. We had a lovely afternoon and then drove the 2hr back to the Trollstigen area. We slept in a beautiful cabin above Eidsdal and woke up to perfectly clear skies. They were clear for ½ a day. This was enough for us to do a nice day walk and recharge our batteries. In the early afternoon the sky was cloudy again and we arrived at an excellent cabin overlooking a Fjord in Loen. We entered the room and just spent the time looking out the window. When it stopped raining we went out to stroll on the waterfront and play in the playground with Liya.

That’s when I “got” Norway. There is no need to drive from place to place. All places are stunning. All you have to do is stay in one place and wait for some fair weather to reach you.

The rest of time in Norway was still mostly cloudy. The sun peek-a-booed a few times. We drove much less every day, finding a place to stay early and just ambushing the good weather spells. We got to hike a few times near Jostedalsbreen national park.

We ended the week having a good time. But remembering the feeling of disappointment I had on that day along with my preconceptions about travel in northern Europe resulted in our decision that apart from my mandatory business trips here and the fact that we might want to experience living here once it will be a long time before we return to vacationing in these parts of the world.

Next year we will go to someplace warm.

And sunny.

Maybe some beach.

Someplace 3rd world …


maybe some place with hurricanes

maybe not.

Norway - Bottom 5

#5 Roads - the roads are painfully slow. you might cover 250km in a FULL day of driving. The road are narrow with many places not wide enough for 2 cars to pass. There are NO highways. The highest speed limit on most roads is 80km/h and even that is unreachable most places. All “highways” pass trough little villages that reduce the speed limit to 60 or 50km/h. and sometimes the road jut ends and you have to wait for an expensive ferry to take you on the rest of your way.

#4 Food - Norway is not the place to go to have a culinary experience. Apart from the ridiculesly high prices (25USD for a small hamburger and fries) the food is not that special or even tasty.

#3 Iedfjord - the LP guide book mentions this at the top of its “top-10” Fjords. Don’t get me started on why it’s NOT. Just trust us when we tell you to skip this boring, unattractive, un-scenic, crowded little spec of a place.

#2 Accommodations - since Norway is so expensive we mostly stayed in huts at campsites or simple room hotels. We still paid 100-180USD for a night. Usually in these placed breakfast is not included . In all places bed-linen is not included in the price (need to pay extra), and cleaning of the room in not included in the price (clean yourself at the end of the stay or pay more) and. How rude!

#1 Weather - see story above

Norway - Top 5

#5 Roads - what wonderful scenery! What excellent maintenance! How convenient it is to find a rest area or picnic table! What excellent views! No delays for traffic or road work. Most surprising was what was missing (and I took us a few days to notice this….). No posters to distract you from enjoying the view. There are no billboards in Norway to tarnish the scenery. Not even little signs advertising a place to sleep or eat in. Just 100% nature around a compact non-environmentally impacting topography blending road.

#4 Food - - in all the places we stayed in we had a little kitchen where Hagit managed to make tasty dinners with fresh food we bought in the supermarket. Nothing fancy. Some fish, some salad, some soup. Yummy!

#3 fjords - though not unique to Norway the Fjords are bind-boggling amazing. And Norway has so many its like a fjord zoo. The clear water, green hills, steep cliffs, snowy mountain tops. Truly Douglas Adams was right to award this creation.

#2 Accommodations - next week we will describe the wonderful rooms with a view that truly made our trip worthwhile (just a teaser for next blog 😊 )

#1 Weather - arriving back, we left BEN GORION airport at 4AM. We were immediately struck by 25deg Celsius air with 80% humidity. Why couldn’t we have stayed in the cool rain just a little longer?

Additional photos below
Photos: 65, Displayed: 28


Melting Glacier Melting Glacier
Melting Glacier

Kjenndalsbreen glacier
Geiranger FjordGeiranger Fjord
Geiranger Fjord

enjoying the view
Geiranger FjordGeiranger Fjord
Geiranger Fjord

looooooong way down :)
the first perfectly clear skythe first perfectly clear sky
the first perfectly clear sky

so we took the opportunity to take a day walk
the first perfectly clear skythe first perfectly clear sky
the first perfectly clear sky

hagit carrying Liya up to a lake meadow

28th August 2009

Very interesting!
Thanks for you blog. I was thinking of visiting Norway and since the weather you experienced was so bad - I will think again! Best Wishes, Rod the S
28th August 2009

Excellent entry guys!
Yaron, first thing which came into my mind reading this blog is how good a writer you became, not just a talented photographer anymore. You'll end up as an LP author eventually ;) Also, I sympathize with your ordeals with the crappy weather. Rain is definitely the number-one killer of our trips. I can still remember the frustrating 10 days we found ourselves shut down in stormy Pucon de Chile cursing the Aztec gods brought it upon us. But then we had several other month to compensate ourselves with. A quick hop to Europe is a totally different story when weather mocks you. Anyway, I can't wait for the next adventure/entry. You still have an open ticket for next year in Mont Blanc should you change your heart as for N. Europe trickiness. Cheers pal, Ohad
30th August 2009

Fresh perspective
Hey guys, I like your stories, as they are different from others on the site, due to your travelling in threes as you put it. Highly recommended, keep it up! Greetings from (currently) Singapore, Ben
7th April 2011
Free the Elk!

wow he is massive ;-)

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