Thursday – our flight to Trondheim in Norway involved two flights. The first one from Edinburgh to Oslo and then Oslo to Trondheim, both with SAS. Arriving in Trondheim around 5:30 we picked up the rental car and drove to our hotel – the Scandic. Booking showed parking available and even a picture that looked like parking right at the hotel but alas not even close. The parking was at the train station a 10 minute walk away. The hotel turned out to be a convention hotel and our room was the furthest possible from the front desk. Not only that, but it was right next to the train tracks so all night the sound of trains as if they were coming right through the room. Horrible hotel. Trondheim itself, we were a little disappointed with as it was too industrial. But the old wharf area was nice. We found a nice little restaurant by the ‘Old Bridge’ and found out first hand just how expensive Norway is. The cheapest bottle of wine is $100. The meal was $251 and that did not include a first course! Wandering back to the hotel we stopped in the Dyre Halses Gate area for a dessert at one of the many outdoor restaurants.
Friday morning we walked around Trondheim for a while visiting the Nidaros Cathedral, the Archbishops Palace and a shopping mall!!. Actually we both bought shoes there! Back to the car and head out of Trondheim to Kristainsud, the Atlantic Road and ultimately Molde for the night. The Atlanterhavsvegen or Atlantic Road is A unique stretch of road which takes you right out to the ocean’s edge. In 2005, the road was voted Norway’s «Engineering Feat of the Century», and is also known to be the world’s most beautiful drive. It connects Averøy with the mainland via a series of small islands and islets spanned by a total of eight bridges over 8274 meters. The road was opened in 1989. This night the hotel was much better. Our room looked over the fiord so piece and quite. Walked out to dinner to “The Taste of India” for a nice hot curry – Cost $265! On the walk back along the harbour front one cruise ship was leaving and another one was right there waiting to dock. Obviously a popular spot for them.
Saturday leaving Molde our first stop was a ferry from Slosnes to Arfarnes – a short 15 minute ride. Continuing along the road we reached Andalsnes. Here it is time to stretch our legs. A little mountain called “‘Romsdalstrappa’ entices us to put on our hiking boots. A tough hike that took us up right from sea level to 2034 feet. At times there were just steps with a chain to hold on to. If you stepped off then it was a long fall to the bottom!! Needless to say it was in an area similar to this that Bernadette tripped over a tree root and gave herself a very large gash on her leg. Fortunately we had our first aid kit with us and we got her bandaged up. Going back down was just as hard but the views we had from the top were amazing.
Not long after we arrive at the Trollstigen or the Trolls’ Road. Trollstigen is Norway’s most visited tourist road, and this masterpiece in engineering in the midst of majestic natural landscape made our drive a true joy ride. The eleven magnificent hairpin turns of Trollstigen offer numerous highlights of fantastic scenery along the mountain road. Each bend has its own name, often named after the person who supervised the construction work on that particular section. At some locations you discovered that the road is carved into the mountain itself and in other places built in stone. Historically, Trollstigen used to be an important transport passage between the villages Valldal in Indre Sunnmøre and Åndalsnes in Romsdalen. When the road opened in 1939 it wasn’t long before Trollstigen became a tourist attraction. A further ferry takes us over to Eidsdal. Once again the scenery is breathtaking but near the end of the road at Geiranger we encounter another of those hairpins roads – Ørnevegen (“the Eagle Road”) is the name given to the steepest part of the road up the mountainside from Geiranger to Eidsdal, 620 metres above sea level. Here, the road twists through eleven hairpin bends as it climbs up to Stigrøra, 858 metres above sea level. Geiranger is our stop for the next couple of nights. The room in the Hotel Geiranger overlooks the Fjord – you could not ask for anything better than sitting out on our balcony, with a glass of wine/beer enjoying the view.
Sunday after a nice leisurely lie in, we went down for breakfast and then went for a walk around the town, as small as it was. We wandered along the shore line through a large camping area and then up to a waterfall – another nice waterfall that included about two hundred plus steps so that you could see every inch of it!! Wandering back to the harbour we booked two tickets on the 11:30 90 minute fjord cruise. 11:30 came along and off we went on the cruise which took us out into the Geirangerfjord to the point where it joins up with the sunnylvsfjord. we passed the fjord’s many waterfalls, including the Seven Sisters, the Suitor and the Bridal Veil. Half way along a large cruise ship appeared and slowly made its way past us to dock in Geiranger. The cruise was fine but 60 minutes would have been enough. Back in the harbour we watched the cruise ship slowly turn around so that its bow faced forward ready to leave. We did a quick shop through the tourist shops of which there was basically one before the onslaught of tourist appeared. Nothing to buy though but in hindsight we could have bought a couple of nice Norwegian coats that were substantially reduced in price , view end of season. The rest of the afternoon we just lounged around in the room doing nothing – for a change. That evening the cruise ship left port and when we awoke the next day another had replaced it.
Monday we headed out earlier as wanted to miss all the tourist buses that were lining up at the dock to take the cruise tourists out for the day. Again a very steep and windy road out of Geiranger. We thought the landscape was pretty bleak but nothing to what we would see a little later on. Passing various lakes we then arrived at Grotli. Here we took Gamle Strynefjellsveg or road 258 in plain man’s language. This road was built in 1894 and its surface is still gravel, i.e a dirt road that could make your car look really nasty. It takes you across the Strynefjell Pass – 3417 feet. It is only open in the summer. If you want to see bleak then this is the road to travel. breathtaking scenery basically driving through what was once a glacier bed. We perhaps saw 10 cars in the 75 kilometres drive. At the far end we passed the Stryn summerski area. While there was lots of snow there we did not see any skiers – perhaps too late in the summer season. Continuing on we start driving down into the Stryn Valley with its green pastures and what a contrast to the previous two hours. The route takes us on through Videster, Hjella along the shores of Oppstrynsvatnet to the town of Stryn itself. Just outside we stopped for lunch overlooking the Innvicfjorden. Continuing on we drive though Jolster and down in to Sogndal on the Sognefjorden. Our stay for the night was just 25 kilometres from this place in a very small village nestled in between the mountains – Marifjøra. The Tørvis hotel, our stop for the night is a hotel with a history dating all the way back to 1639. The room they gave us turned out not to have been made up but the second one was fine. I think there were 4 other guests staying at the hotel and at dinner you could hear a pin drop. The hotel was closing down for the winter at the end of the week so the staff etc were at a minimum. Nice hotel though.
Tuesday – here we come Bergen for our last two night in Norway. We back track in to Sogndal and then head to another ferry just past Kaupanger, the Fodnes- Mannheller ferry. This again was a short ferry trip taking us towards Laerdal. We stopped here for a while a walked around the historic part of the town – The Old Lærdalsøyri village has 161 protected buildings. Some of the houses there date back to the mid-18th century. On the night of 18–19 January 2014, a major fire destroyed at least 30 buildings. From here we had two choices – take the Laerdal Tunnel or take the Aurlandsvegen road. The tunnel is 24.5 kilometres long and is currently the longest tunnel in the world. Because of its length it is divided out into sections separated by three 30 meter wide mountain caverns. The caverns are meant to break routine and allow for a short rest. Blue and yellow lights illuminate the roof of these caverns, giving the impression of a sunrise and creating a funky atmosphere. But we decide not to take this tunnel but rather venture up the Aurlundsvegen. This is a snow route and even during the mid summer you can see snow piled up against the road. As usual the scenery was outstanding and this continued all the way in to Bergen. For the last two nights we had booked an apartment. It was very centrally located but missed a few comforts!!
Wednesday was the last full day in Norway. Heading off to the funicular Fløibanen , which takes you to a stunning view-point at Mt Fløyen. Arriving at the top we took the required photographs, though the weather was still little cloudy. Off we hiked on a 13 kilometre walk to Ulricken. The first few kilometres were up hill but the path was excellent. On reaching a plateau the direction signs to Ulricken pointed to a rough track and then seemed to disappear altogether. There was a cyclist up here and he pointed us in the right direction. We were never in the wrong direction but it was good to get a second opinion from a local. For the first 2 hours maybe the path/route was okay with either gravel, loose rock or dry river beds. As time went on the path got more and more rocky meaning you had to watch your steps very closely. The dry river beds got wetter and wetter. The mountain got steeper and steeper. Reaching the top, things levelled out and for the next 2 hours we were walking along the top ridge of the mountain but gladly increasing altitude all the time. Every two hundred yards or so where large rock blocks that kept us on the right path. At one stage we stopped for our lunch. Continuing on the terrain got more and more difficult with physical climbing up rock faces – and down rock faces. A few people were walking towards us and told us it had taken them 4 hours to come from Ulricken and the going was very tough. On we travelled and in fact it only took us another one and a half hours to make it to Ulricken – albeit a tough slog. Ulricken is the highest of the seven mountains that surround Bergen? It has an altitude of 643 metres or 2100 feet above sea level. The sky was completely blue when we got there and the surrounding views were worth the walk. We met a lovely lady from Australia at the top Esta from Brisbane. We talked to here for quite some time, exchanging instagram details!! We headed down the cable car from here and then caught a local bus into the central part of Bergen. Esta gave us a recommendation for dinner ‘Bare Vestland’. It was very close to where we were staying and excellent.
Thursday. All in all our week in Norway was everything we had expected and more. The drive and scenery was some of the best we have experienced. But it was time to depart so off we drove to the airport to catch the 12:55 flight to Stockholm with a connecting flight to Edinburgh. In Edinburgh we rented a car to get to Glasgow Airport. It cost 25 pounds and took 2 hours maximum to drive, compared to a bus at 22 pounds and 3 to 4 hours. With the luggage we had and having to get to the airport hotel on top of that, the car was well worth the extra 3 pounds!
It is difficult to say what was the best part of our 7 week journey. Three countries: France; England – South Downs, Cornwall, The Peaks, Yorkshire Dales, The Border, Isle of Skye and; Norway Trondheim to Bergen. We travelled over 5500 kilometers, walked 440 kilometers with no scratches to the cars and only one semi serious scratch to the leg. Each leg of our journey (pardon the pun) had its own beauty and would not hesitate to go back to any of the locations. Norway might be questionable but that is only because of the expense.
A wonderful seven weeks.