Without doubt the jewel in the Scandinavian crown. Norway builds upon the lush lowlands of Denmark, the heavily wooded ...er...woods of Sweden and then adds in mountains, fjords, craggy rocks, torrential rivers and pricing gone mad. £36 for 4 kilos of washing!!! It's true. Plainly we didn't pay it But the launderette place woman didn't even crack a smile when she quoted the price. Why would she? With chocolate bars at £2.50, 10 small cans of Heineken at £26 (in a supermarket) and pretty much everything requiring a mortgage to purchase this is the normal. So anyway let's talk about this beautiful country...
Day 1. We cross the border and within a few miles a huge moose lumbers out of the forest. Very exciting seeing one up close. Apparently the adult male weighs about 700 lbs and grows to 2 metres to the shoulders which leaves a whole load more to be concerned with if you count the neck, head and yearly renewed antlers (or paddles as they are know) which span nearly 2 metres across...... Good example of England crazy weights and measures system there miles/kilometres/pounds/kilos.
We were going to stop in Trondheim and head up to the Artic Circle but the consequential loss of a week with a sick car would take up too much time and petrol money, so we content ourselves with getting to within 300 miles and bank 4 days to keep our pace more leisurely to work our way down the west coast.
The trouble with driving long distances is that it becomes difficult to stop. You get sort of wrapped up in the drive and the need to cover miles so upon reaching Trondheim we decide to keep going until we eventually stop on a path to a disused quarry for the night. Quite pretty even if it doesn't sound it.
Oh yes. We are experiencing the weirdness of the Scandinavian summer. Sunsets at something like 11.40pm, then it's a little bit darkish for a while then everything is bathed in light again 3.15am. It really messes with your head and times when we would normally hit the sack we are thinking shall we go walking or running or whatever.
The scenery becomes more and more impressive as we start to move south again and lakes and rivers, fjords and mountains are now always in sight. We stay on the marina in a sleepy little village called Vinjeora one night and just as we are about to go to bed - it's 11.15pm - some fishermen/towns folk start moving stuff about on the dock like its midday. Why not? It's bright enough. It's in this same spot that the next morning we spend some romantic time with with the sliding door wide open, looking out on the lake and do some post coital otter watching. two of them frolicking on the banks.
There are recommended tourist routes dotted around Norway. Driving or biking routes that take in exceptional scenery and from Kristiansund we take the first of these on our list. the Atlantic route. A beautiful drive where we stopped at pretty much every available pull in to click pictures and gasp a bit. The winding road twists and turns through land and seascapes. Trees and lichen covered rocks are reflected upon crystal clear water of lakes or the placid fjord waters from the Atlantic. Along the way there are numerous short hikes where you can leave the van and head off to get lost in stunning views across the ocean from a craggy height or over the water splashed land that is dotted with channels and ponds. Our drive meanwhile takes us through tunnels, over bridges and upon ferries - each slowly ramping up the charges we will have to eventually pay for all this loveliness. We finally park up for the night in Isfjorden (ice fjord) for the night and end the day with a bike ride up the fjord to look at the scenery - starting at 10.15pm.
Today we really put Crawlie through her paces by following the Trollstigen route that rises up and up and up through loads of hairpin bends to a magnificent viewpoint....in theory. However once again theory spites practice and today it used the mediums of rain, mist and dark cloud to do so.
No sooner had we set off the skies darkened and stayed darkened and moody all day. On the one hand somewhat disappointing but on the other it makes everything look menacing and foreboding. With everything bathed in half light and shrouded in mist it makes you think of trolls, Norse gods and Kirk Douglas as a Viking. This route has it all - steep drops, lush pastures, thick forests, ribbon lakes and tumultuous waterfalls crashing down hundreds of feet. Crawlie soldiered on, no complaining, slow and steady, up and down, on and on soon taking a long downward road where her brakes were overheating and the gears crying out for some relief. It's strange that you get so disorientated here. You feel you are near sea level because of the lakes and you suddenly come across a vista that shows you to be hundreds of metres up and similarly thinking we were still a long way up on this day we rounded a bend and are suddenly confronted by two huge cruise liners that are unloading passengers into a long string of coaches. Soon they too will have the magnificent views of cloud, rain and mist to enjoy..
All of this loveliness all blends into one. And , since I wrote this daily in rough at the time, I realise I may be over stating or repeating my feelings. this is something you will have to forgive. As I have said before. These blogs are to capture our thoughts and feelings and memories so we can look back at them one day and relive it all again.