The 16th July on a cloudy day we drove about six hours through Sweden to Norway to stay the night in Ringerike after getting lost in Oslo’s maze of highway construction around the city. We stopped in Honefoss and went into the shopping centre for some supplies. It looked very small but as in many places with harsh winters it was enormous with two large storeys underground.
We enjoyed the leisurely drive through the mountains and stopped at the Gardnos meterorite park. It did not look like the
desert craters you often see with meterorites but was heavily forested and green because of all the rain in Norway and also
because it was 500million years old and 5 kilometres across.
The weather deteriorated as we got into the mountains and we had heavy rain and a cold 7 degrees but as we drove on down to the
Sognefjord it was a bit warmer and the temperature doubled.
We stayed a couple of nights at the beautiful little town of Undredal right on the Sognfjord and boasts the smallest church in Norway and goat’s cheese. There are 100 inhabitants and 500 goats.
The following day it was Summer again 25degrees and sunny. We drove the 6kms back to Flam and took the 2 1/2hour round trip
on the Flamsbana (train) up the mountain to Myrdal which was very scenic and we had a stop to see the magnificent Kjosfossen
waterfall on the way and back. The trip cost about $75 each which was very reasonable considering a 250ml bottle of water from
the cafe cost $5.
The railway museum in the the dock area was interesting but apart from that there were only souvenir shops, one cafe selling
espresso coffee and a couple of icecream vans. Flam seemed to be a stop for cruise ships which didn’t seem to be too popular
with some of the locals by the sign we saw on the plastic wrapped bales of hay with “no cruise ships” written on them.

Norway has such an abundance of water – fjords,lakes, waterfalls and rivers. On some of the mountain tourist routes there was still a lot of unmelted snow and ice. Cows, sheep, goats and horses appear to roam freely in many places which made for cautious driving especially in some of the older darker tunnels where in one we found three sheep huddled together.

Most businesses and shops seem to work Monday to Friday 9-5pm and even most of the cafes in the towns were closed on Sunday even in peak tourist season.

The camping places didn’t seem to open until 11am but worked later until 10pm. A lot of the the service stations only had a self service facility. The price of diesel was a hefty $2.35 a litre. Prices in Norway we found pretty steep.
Coffee or an ice cream are $5-$6 and a small pastry could be up to $10. At the camping site near Bergen they wanted $20 forone day’s internet which we declined as that didn’t guarantee good access.

To catch the ferry for a trip along the narrowest fjord the following day we walked a few metres to the small dock area in
Undredal and switched on a light which flashes to let the local ferry know to stop and pick us up. The ferry started from Flam to Gudvangen and the round trip took about three hours depending on how many stops it had to make at the few small villages along the fjord. The Naeroyfjorden was spectacular with steep rising mountains on either side.
The local ferry had a loudspeaker to give us points of interest on the way in six different languages. The cost was about $70 per person round trip and well worth it.

Our friends in Norway recommended we take a route over the mountains “the snow mountain road” down to near Laerdal and we were glad they did as it was a spectacular drive with patches of snow that had not turned completely to ice, dripping into many
areas to form lakes. In some places the snow looked like sand on a beach.

We drove on to Fodnes and took the ferry to Manheller which only took 15 minutes and from there to Sogndal to spend a couple of nights there at the camping site at the base of the fjord. The camping sites along the fjords have the most ideal positions.

The ferry services from every side of the fjord were excellent and we didn’t have to wait more than 15minutes at any of the ports. The longest services only took 20minutes and some only 5minutes. The camping site at Kjornes was ideal being only 1 kilometre from the town of Sogndal.

We found a small cafe (the only one open on Sunday) run by an Italian and his Norwegian girlfriend. They had only been open
for five weeks and served excellent coffee. The Italian had come to Norway 18months previously as he could find no work in Italy.

Another day we spent driving along a national tourist route along the Lusterfjord to Turtagro with spectacular views along
another mountain road. We felt as though we were on top of the world. We stopped on the fjord in Marifjora where I had stayed
in 1989 which was a small town with a lovely hotel called the Torvis.

Our Norwegian friend Olaf ordered good weather for and he kept his word because for our entire stay in Norway we were blessed with hot, sunny days with temperatures of 26-30 degrees even in Bergen which is normally renowned for constant rainy days.

We decided to drive up to the National park in Nigardsbreen to see a glacier. A small boat took us across to within half
an hours walk of the glacier face. There were many guides to accompany people onto the glacier if you wanted to walk
or hike on the ice but we didn’t feel the need to do that and the glacier was a spectacular sight from it’s base anyway.

Back to Sogndal for a coffee and some supplies and then we travelled the length of the Sognfjord driving up and over the
snow road instead of the driving through the longest tunnel of 24 kilometres. There was luckily very little traffic along the
way. There were no camping sites close to Lavik so we took a ferry to Oppedal and drove to an idyllic spot nearby in Brekke
with a new camping site “Botnen” which was still partly under contruction. It was 26degrees at 6pm when we arrived.
It was really wonderful to have good weather as the fjords and mountain scenery were so much more spectacular with blue skies
and sun.

The drive the next morning to Bergen took us through the most tunnels we had encountered. The best camping site was about an
hour by bus and light rail away from Bergen but it was a relaxing ride after being in the van for many days and cost about $20
each for a return journey. It was 1989 when I had last been to Bergen and I had forgotten how beautiful the old hanseatic
city was with it’s large harbour, beautifully manicured gardens, rows of colourful wooden houses in Bryggen and the fish market at the harbour’s edge. We found some good small cafes and interesting narrow streets with a lot of street art on the walls.
Once again when we veered off the main tourist drag we were on our own. We spent the afternoon and early evening wandering the treets and getting our bearings.

We planned our trip to Norway and didn’t realise that the tall ship’s race to Esbjorg from Bergen was from the 24-27th July
with an expected 500,000 people and over 70 tall ships and over 3,000 crew. We therefore got up early on the 23rd when some of the ships were due to arrive and made our way to town and up to the Floibanen (funicular)and travelled up to the top of the mountain to see the amazing view of the picturesque city and a couple of the ships sailing into the port. We were fortunate to start off early as the queue for the funicular was very long by the time we came back down again.

The Russian ship the “Kruzenstern” was the largest and second to arrive and we went on board to see the ship which had a complement
of 186 sailors of which 120 were cadets. It made the Leeuwin on which we used to sail look tiny. There were lots of tourists
wandering around the harbour and through the fishmarket and the atmosphere was lively. There was a lot of seafood for sale, fresh and cooked but was very expensive. The giant crab with it’s enormous claws was over $100 a kilo.
We stopped at a bench and had our pre-prepared sandwiches instead. We treated ourselves to a good coffee once or twice a day and most cafes had good free wifi. I had bought some fresh salmon the day before and we had a meal of that in the van.

I took so many photos of the fjords, the mountains and rivers but it really was impossible to capture the majesty of the scenery in a photo but that didn’t stop me!

We found a lot of people of all ages quite obese and we thought that the cheaper junk food on offer may also be to blame. There
was the usual McDonalds and Burger King with their special offers of burgers, chips and drinks and we saw so many people walking
along carrying cans of coke. So many women in particular also did not flatter themselves with the clothes they wore which seems to be a pattern in most countries.

We left Bergen on the 23rd July and the drive to our next stop was via a long and winding road to the next ferry.
We crossed the Hardangerfjord in bright sunshine towards an 11 kilometre tunnel. When we exited the tunnel into the town of Odda it was to cloud and rain for a couple of hours as We drove along another snow mountain road with spectacular waterfalls on both sides of the road. Many of the old houses there had grass roofs and some even with trees growing from them.
The temperature got down to 14 degrees and then by the time we readched the town of Roldal it had risen again to 28degrees.
The next morning we drove the 4 1/2 hours to our friends in Arendal.

Arendal is a very picturesque town and it was lovely to see our friends again there. It was 2years since we had been there and that was without Van Mauriceson. The house is on a small island is in a lovely position on the edge of a forest. We spent two relaxing days there and went on a couple of short walks around the northern and southern tip of the island and had a great fish meal and evening in Arendal
town. The weather knew we were leaving Norway for as we left Kristiansand on the 27th July to catch the ferry to Hirtshals in Denmark. It was raining and cooler again.

Travelling in Europe is a challenge when choosing clothes or rather keeping Summer and Winter clothes out at the same time not like at home in Australia where you pack your winter clothes away until the following winter and the same applies for Summer clothes!

We will return one day to Norway to explore some more of their extraordinarily beautiful country.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.