Category Archives: Norway

Day 29: Oslo – where the adventure ends

Oh so sad….our last day as we fly out of Oslo this afternoon starting our epic trek home (three flights in total including hours in between at various airports).

After another carb-fuelled breakfast we went on our way and first stopped at the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture. There were two exhibitions, including work by Arne and Carlos, who do very quirky knitwear and fashion. I had never heard of them before but now I’m a fan – I really want one of those space invaders jumpers!

We also visited the National Museum, a bit damp as we got caught in quite heavy rain (our first since we arrived here luckily). The place was packed due to said weather but some great work – the Munch room was predictably the most popular, with another version of The Scream on display.

The storm clouds gather!

That was all we really had time for before dashing back to collect our bags – now for the marathon journey, not looking forward to this. Couldn’t we just move Australia a bit closer – even just temporarily??

See you Scandinavia!

A&C

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Day 28: Oslo

Back to Oslo for a day of exploring. As we went in search of some breakfast, we encountered hordes of Star Trek, Manga and Science Fiction garbed people – from what we gathered was some sort of geek convention. Hey, we are geeks too so full respect for their dedication. Some attendees went to great lengths to look the part!

We found some breakfast in a very old school style building – sort of like the Strand Arcade – and were certainly amused to see this sculpture although I did decline a holiday snap next to this most tasteful artwork.

I did have a Norwegian favorite at the cafe – brown cheese on a fruit roll –  I’ll try not to make any other comment than to say it tastes much better than it sounds.

Next we walked to the Edvard Munch Museum where there were multiple layers of security – kind of Get Smart Style. We understood this after we read that The Scream was stolen not once, but twice, in addition to another masterpiece (all were recovered thankfully).

There was a great selection of work here, and the recently restored ‘Puberty’. Below are some images of our favorites. For me, Munch has an amazing way of portraying the human condition, and these paintings certainly had an effect on me.

The rest of the day we spent wandering about Grünerløkka, full of hip cafes, bars and boutiques. It started to pour with rain and we hastily retreated into the cafe nearest to us and were rewarded with a yum lunch, a far cry from our potato chips on a roll dinner last night as we arrived way too late for any decent food places to be open.

I love the retro fit-out of this place

Tomorrow is our last day in Oslo before flying home – see you soon!

A&C

 

Day 14: Oslo

It was ‘hello breakfast buffet’ this morning then on our way.

Visited the Nobel Peace Centre – really inspiring and interactive exhibitions. The most striking visually was the Nobel garden, with small screens displaying the peace price winners. We heard that Aung San Suu Kyi would be finally coming to give her speech next weekend after being awarded the prize in 1991 – one week too late for us to be there unfortunately.

The other highlight of the day was visiting the Oslo Opera House – amazing architecture and an opportunity to take some cool photos.

A&C

Day 13: Oslo

Today we dropped back our car and took the Rauma railway from Andalsnes to Dombas – which is one of the most scenic rail journeys in Norway, not quite the same as seeing it from the car but certainly worth doing.

After Dombas it was onto Oslo. We arrived in the later afternoon pretty tired but had a wander. Unfortunately most of the galleries were closed due to strike action but we did get into the Contemporary Art Museum and saw a pretty decent drawing exhibition.

A&C

Day 12: Andalsnes and Alesund

Slept in after the epic amount of driving done yesterday! Cooked brekky in our little cabin at Trollstigen resort and made the two hour drive to the city of Alesund – which has a unique concentration of Art Nouveau architecture.

Basically the whole town was destroyed by fire in 1904, with rebuilding being between 1904-1907, giving it the unique feel it has now. A pretty little town, very quiet. Went to the Art Nouveau centre and walked up the 418 steps to the Kniven viewpoint with fabulous views over Alesund.

The 418 steps took their toll…

Drove back and had a quiet night at the cabin. Had a good chat with the owner of Trollstigen resort who enjoyed regaling us with the disaster stories of the area (like the Italian couple who froze to death on a glacier in 1979 and were found perfectly preserved years later). Cheerful stuff.

Our little cabin at Trollstigen Resort

A&C

Day 11: Åndalsnes

This morning we once again did ourselves proud at the breakfast buffet before a wander about town then we took a tourist ferry in the fjord. Weather was a bit icy but great sights and it was amazing to see old farmhouses perched high on precarious slopes along the fjord. These are all uninhabited now but maintained and preserved for history’s sake. There was one small farm where they had to tie the children down during the day to stop them falling off the precipice when unattended!

Drove out of Geiranger, lots of nice hairpin bends to navigate but great lookouts and as always outstanding views.

On our way to Andalsnes, we stopped by Gudbrandsjuvet, a narrow and high ravine through which the Valldøla River forces itself. They have built a very cool viewing area and building – bit of an architectural highlight.

thinking about…..chocolate?

Next was the tourist route – Trollstigen road. This was an amazing if terrifying drive down 11 narrow hairpin bends with mountains encircling it m including Kongen (the King), Dronningen (the Queen) and Bispen (the Bishop). To make matters even more ‘exciting’, much of the road is really only wide enough for one car at a time! As we were running late to check into our accommodation in Trollstigen, we decided to take a trip back up after checking in (twice the terror – yippee!) There is an amazing new lookout (which unfortunately we were unable to reach due to snow, but there is a very cool tourist centre under construction, which we took photos of.

I drove down these hairpin bends – trust me they are steep!

We were happily snapping away and lost track of time, only to see that workers had blocked the road back down at 8pm (it was 8.45 at this time). Some serious panic ensued and we asked if they would let us through but no avail – we were told we had to go the long way back – instead of 20min, some three hours later we stumbled into our cabin, exhausted and hungry – and none too happy. Apparently the road closure is not a common occurrence, lucky us. Never mind, we survived the Trollstigen road!

A&C

Day 10: Geiranger

Took a walk to a valley lookout near our cabin then got some supplies for brekky.

 

Today was the drive to Geiranger – probably the most popular and well known fjord. The drive was beautiful – we took a detour off the main road to drive up near a ski resort at Videsetter- unfortunately a the main part of the road was closed but once again a magic drive – we’ll let the photos do the talking.

 

Coming down into Geiranger was one of those sights you see but cannot quite fathom. The vastness and sheer prettiness of it can almost not be comprehended. Lots of tour buses encountered on the way down – a bit hairy when navigating narrow hairpin turns – and let me tell you those buses do not slow down one bit!

Staying at the Grande Fjord Hotel – views from our balcony right over the fjord. Stuffed ourselves heartily at the dinner buffet (first decent meal in a few days) – I dubbed it the ‘big butt and belly buffet’ as that’s what we’ll have if we keep eating like this!

A&C

Day 9: Stryn

A lazy morning after the hectic pace we kept yesterday. Missed the breakfast buffet 😦 so bananas and biscuits again!

Wandered about the historic part of Laerdal, took some pics then hit the road.

View from hotel room – lovely indeed.

As per Helsinki, everything grinds to a halt on sunday – hardly anything is open but we did manage to find some lunch supplies at a supermarket along the way.

Stopped by a little town on the water at Solvorn and had a break at a little cafe with a coffee and home made oat biccy – Discussed biscuit recipes with the lovely lady who served us – showed some patriotism by extolling the virtues of the ANZAC biscuit!

The drive today was once again jaw droppingly beautiful, looping along lakes and fjords – loads of photo opportunities!

A small detour to the Bøyabreen Glacier, andarm of the Jostedalsbreen or Jostedal Glacier, the biggest glacier in continental Europe. – words failed me and photos will just not provide justice to the experience.

We hoped to be at our little cabin by 6pm at the latest but we ran late and got hopelessly lost so arrived at 9.30. Sheer fluke we found it at all – everyone we asked along the way spoke barely any english so we cobbled together directions as best we could, drove at least 10-15kms the wrong way in both directions!

Basically a cabin on a locals farm – very sweet place and incredible view – the only sound is the baa’ing of sheep! We needed linen and towels but did not realise we needed to give notice of this – the look of panic on the poor owners face! – he took a very long time to fetch the linen and realised he had to do a laundry and dryer run – they were still damp when making the beds – oh dear!

Cheese on toast for dinner as no local place to eat and these were the only supplies we had – looking forward to the buffet dinner tomorrow night!!

A&C

Day 8: Lærdal

Wow what a day we had.

Caught the early  train at Flåm station (Flåmsbana Railway) to the mountain station at Myrdal – which is 865 meters above sea level. It was a 20km ride each way (return trip). We even got a little snow at Myrdal! This is one of the highly recommended train rides to do when in Norway and we could see why.

Having fun again with the tilt shift effect

Yes, this lady did a nice hypothermic dance on the waterfall for us.

After returning to Flåm we headed back to Gudvangen to get the ferry from there to Lærdal. This is one of the amazing fjord trips to do when here. It took three hours and the beauty made our jaws drop. It was also flipping freezing, all the air blowing off that arctic temperature water!

Got to Lærdal and checked into our hotel (which has great views of the town from our window) and after a brief drive around decided to try the 45km Snowvegen (Snow) road, the old route from Lærdal to Aurland- which the Lonely Planet Guide describes as a “heart-stopping” drive that climbs from sea level twisting with hairpin turns to 1306 metres. Despite some initial extreme trepidation from the driver (yes that would be A) and a small case of the vapors, we ploughed on and am certainly glad we did – in this case fortune did favour the brave.

The view at almost every turn was incredible and we eventually were driving through a road that literally carved through the snow banks. We encountered a very excited couple in their campervan (one of the few other cars we encountered) who said it was the most amazing thing they had seen – we concur! Also stopped by the Aurland lookout – a very cool design indeed.

 

Drove back via the traditional route – the Lærdal tunnel – which is the longest road tunnel in the world – all 24.51 kms of it -it is broken up into sections to take into account the mental strain and potential claustrophobia that people may suffer on the 20 min journey – there are three large mountain caves with blue lighting with yellow at the fringes to give the impression of sunrise.

A&C

Day 7: Flåm

Picked up our rental car from AVIS this morning and set off for Flåm. Interesting time adapting to left hand drive and changing gears all while repeating the mantra ‘stay right, stay right’ (the road, not politically).

First stopped in Voss (Norway extreme and adventure sport capitol), for lunch where we spotted a flat white on the coffee menu! – much excitement ensued. You have to get excited about a coffee when we need a personal loan to purchase one.

Next was a drive via the Stalheim Hotel – renowned for it’s amazing view. A few photos then down a very steep and winding road before heading to Flåm.

Flåm is a small and sweet town. We stayed at the Flåm Hostel – which was really immaculate – even shared bathrooms did not seem like an issue. Met an older Kiwi couple travelling around Norway for two months – the first Antipodeans we have run into if you can believe it. Dinner at the hostel and an early night.

A&C