Bergen

Thursday 17 October 2019

It was a drizzly, miserable day when I woke up in the staff car park of the IKEA store near Bergen. I’d been awake since 6.0am when staff began arriving for work. I was going to take the opportunity of using the IKEA free bus into town which started the day 10.0am so I had plenty of time to have breakfast and get the van sorted out and park it in the main car park, where I felt it would be safe to leave for the day.

The bus journey into Bergen was excellent. The coach they used was very comfortable and each seat had individual seat belts, which the driver insisted everyone put on before starting the journey.

I got off the bus in the centre of town and began looking round. Bergen has a very old street on the waterfront, that’s apparently recognised by UNESCO as being of special significance due to the age of the shop fronts there and is a protected World Heritage Site.

Things were looking very damp this particular day and it was apparent that some of the buildings were definitely wonky due to their age.

I found Bergen to be a really interesting town with lots of quirky and old buildings like this one with a huge mural painted on the side.

I took a walk along the harbour side and came across the Green peace ship Rainbow Warrior tied up in one of the inlets. I have to say she was looking a bit worse for wear and exhibiting some obvious battle scars, but it was good to see she was still around. 

Further along the quayside I saw some huge deep sea trawlers. I couldn’t get very close because that part of the port was fenced off, but they were very impressive.

I made my way back to the centre and on the harbour side there I saw a fish stall and restaurant  and thought I’d see if there was anything I could afford. I chose to have a bowl of their fish soup and it was absolutely delicious and contained a dozen scallops, prawns, pieces of lobster and crab, all in a delicious soup. It was served with bread and butter and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So at 3.0pm I caught the bus back to IKEA and got back in the van ready to begin the journey to Oslo. I really enjoyed Bergen and would definitely consider going for a long weekend sometime. There’s plenty to do and see there. Thanks to IKEA!

On the road again I came to a large rest area with good facilities and decided to bed down for the night.

The King’s Road, Stalheimsfossen and Flat Pack Furniture!

Wednesday 16 October 2019

I woke up this morning surrounded by huge mountains. I’d parked up in the rest area a near the village of Stalheim on the E16 when it was dark and didn’t really see my surroundings. They looked very foreboding in the cold grey light of a rainy morning.  So I had some breakfast and got ready to move on. 

I’d only travelled a couple of kilometres up the road when I spotted a large waterfall on my left that definitely looked worth exploring. So I parked up and and looked at the information board nearby. 

Turns out I was on the remains of the “Royal Road Between Oslo and Bergen” and the waterfall was Stalheimsfossen. 

These information boards can be really informative.

So I walked the 0.9 kilometre with the Sony camera and kit to see what I could see. 

On reaching the waterfall it was quite impressive, being about 400 feet high and roaring, as the water plunged vertically over the cliff edge. 

Stalheimsfossen

I took some stills and then went back to get the drone. 

Stalheimsfossen

I filmed a couple of minutes of drone footage and then returned to the van to continue on the E16 towards Bergen. I passed through Voss and Vaksdal and arrived in Bergen around 4.30pm. 

I found from “Campercontact” that IKEA, near Bergen , allowed campervans to stay overnight in their car park so I parked up there and discretely sorted the van out for a night stay. 

Church, Train, Cruise Ships and a Spectacular View

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Straight after breakfast I headed to Borgund to see the world famous stave church there. The place was deserted as most things are at this time of year. I had to smile at a notice on the door of the visitor’s centre that said “Closed until April 2020”. The centre was a large building with lots of facilities inside for video shows and lots of souvenirs, etc. Are there really so few visitors at this time of year to justify closing the centre for so long?

Anyway, the church itself was available to look at, although I couldn’t get inside, which was a shame, but I’m getting used to the fact that places here are only open for a short time in the summer. I took quite a few pictures without the intrusion of lots of tourists which is a bonus I guess.

At almost a thousand years old, the church is exceptionally well preserved and is dedicated to the St. Andrew. It features lavish carvings including the roof carvings of dragons’s heads. The church here is one of Norway’s oldest preserved timber buildings.

There’s more information about the stave church at Borgund here

My next stop, not too far away the small village of Flåm. I was surprised to see as I approached the village, the same cruise ship I had seen in Geirangerfjord, the AIDA Mar. As before the huge liner dominated the village and its passengers seemed to fill the village shops, stuffed full of souvenirs. Flam centre is a good example of a place created just for tourists and in particular cruise ship tourism. The ships dock very close by in the deep water fjord (Aurlandsfjord) and passengers only have to walk 100 metres or so and they are right in the middle of all that’s on offer.

There’s quite a bit to see and do here like the Flåm railway. This will take you on a two hour return journey to Myrdal at the top of the mountain. Here are some facts about the journey

  • The Flåm Railway is 20 km long
  • It has 20 tunnels
  • It took 20 years to build
  • Approx. cost NOK 20 million (when completed in 1940)
  • The Nåli tunnel (approx. 1,300 metres) between Kårdal and Pinnalia took 11 years to build
Flåm Railway

Find out more about the railway by clicking here.

In addition to the railway, Flåm can also offer a cruise along Aurlandfjord in the world’s first all electric carbon fibre cruiser, pictured below.

“Vision of the Fjords’

If you prefer, you can take your car (or camper van!) up the winding, twisting, hairpin bend filled road up to the Stegastein Lookout Point as I did. A specially built platform that sticks right out from the mountain side, gives you a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and fjords. It was evening and well into the “blue hour” when I got to the top, but well worth the drive.

Stegastein Lookout Platform
The view from the Stegastein Lookout Platform with golden trees in the “blue hour”

The journey back down to Flåm was ‘interesting’ with it’s many hairpin bends in the dark and an occasional meeting with large red deer stags in the middle of the road!

It was just about dark by the time I got down to sea level again and just in time to see ‘AIDA Mar’ leaving the village for it’s next stop on the cruise. These vessels do look spectacular as they leave port with all lights blazing.

‘AIDA Mar’ leaving Aurlandfjord.

Now I think I need to find somewhere to sleep.

Glaciers, Treebeards and Sheep!

Monday 14 October 2019

The first thing I wanted to do today was take some photographs of the Bøyabreen Glacier that I was parked next to. I wanted to get closer to the glacier itself, but due to the size of these things I realised it was much further away than I thought. Access was also difficult because of the steep walls of rock on the approach to it. Finally, I couldn’t see a way around the melt water lake beneath the glacier, so I abandoned any hope of getting closer and reverted, once again, to the 100-400mm lens to get close ups of the summit of the ice.

Bøyabreen Glacier from the glacier lake
Bøyabreen Glacier close up

About an hour’s drive up the road there was another glacier called Supphellebreen. This one came from the same enormous glacier that was out of sight in the mountains behind called Flatbreen glacier . There is a hiking trail up to the edge of Supphellebreen that takes about three hours (each way). There’s more information about this area at the FjordNorway website here. If you are planning a serious roadtrip to Norway, I recommend that you include this are in it. It is stunning.

The glacier is surrounded by rough scrub land dotted with old, twisted birch trees covered in tree beards, that I find really interesting.

woodland surrounding the Supphellebreen glacier

I continued on the E5 heading for Sogndal and whilst stopped for a brew in a rest area, I was closely inspected by sheep no. 66204, who I suspect was expecting some food!

Baa!

I arrived in Sogndal, quite a large town, and continued to a little village called Kjornes and booked into Kjornes Camping for a one night stay. I parked up next to the fjord and settled down for the evening.

Kjornes Camping with Sogndal in the distance.

Right Time, Right Place.

Sunday 13 October 2019

It had crossed my mind this morning to return to a place near Geiranger called Dalsnibba Mountain Plateau but it meant a 5 hour round trip from where I was and though it was somewhere I wanted to photograph, I decided against it and instead headed towards Sogndalsfjøra through the mountains on route 55.

I joined route 615 and came to Lake Lykkjebøvatnet the morning mist was rising from the lake and I knew it was one of those moments when everything is right and you know you’re in the right place at the right time. I spent over an hour photographing this scene from every angle I could think of and the small details of reeds and plants in the lake.

Lake Lykkjebøvatnet

I then came to a village called Byrkjelo in Nordfjord, where artist Stig Eikaas displays his creative collection of large sculptures. Some of the pieces are humourous, some are poignant and others memorialise characters from the area. They are certainly worth some of anyone’s time to observe carefully for a while.

From the sculpture park I could see the mountains that form part of the Jostedalsbreen National Park. The mist was rolling around the peaks and it looked fantastic.

Jostedalsbreen National Park

I put the 100-400mm lens on to get as close as I could to those snowy peaks.

It was now around lunchtime and in a village further on called Byrkjelo I found a superb local bakeri, BakearJon, selling huge cinnamon buns. Unfortunately they were only sold in twos and again, unfortuantely, they were baked the day before, so were being sold for 30NOK (c£2.60) for two! Well it would have been rude not to buy two wouldn’t it 🙂

I thought the day couldn’t get any better until I joined the E39 and drove into a very deep valley called Stardelselva and spotted a small tree, picked out by the sun, with gorgeous autumn coloured leaves between two green trees. Out came the camera again.

Stardelselva

My wildcamp site for the night was the parking area for Bøyabreen glacier. It might be the 13th of the month but this was certainly my lucky day!

Bøyabreen Glacier

Mountain Clouds and Sailing Ships

Saturday 12 October 2019

A cold grey rainy day when I woke up today in the rest area. I must comment on the facilities provided at this rest area, they are superb. Running hot water, very modern clean toilets and a large area to park in. Well done Norway and the Stryn Kommune. (These things are important when you’re living out of a van!)

…they were very clean and warm inside!

I started driving along route 60 then joined the 692 heading west towards Sandane. I’d decided to go to the western tip of this particular group of fjords and eventually to Fløra to look at the landscape that accompanied the fjords I would travel. 

Morning clouds on the mountains

As usual I was not disappointed. The mountains were high and covered in cloud that covered and uncovered the peaks. I stopped on a number of occasions get some images and a time lapse at one point. 

I love these mountains surrounding the fjord

I eventually reached Fløra and found it to be quite a large port town with a couple of old sailing ships moored up in the harbour. 

I had a look around and did a bit of food shopping and then began going back along the peninsula the way I had come on the route 5 and to a rest area called Eikefjord not far out of town to stay for the night. 

The Scariest Photo of my life!

Friday 11 October 2019

Today I had the scariest shoot I’ve ever had. I’d seen a particular location I wanted to try and photograph some time ago and I found it this morning. The light wasn’t perfect (is it ever!) but I thought it would be worth a picture.  There was one small problem. To get the right angle requires the photographer to set up the camera on the edge of a 1000+ feet high cliff. Anyway carrying my full photo rucksack and tripod I made my way to the point I needed to be.  That was fine until I discovered that I suffer from vertigo quite badly. I have never moved so slowly and deliberately in my life. I was on all fours because I just couldn’t bring myself to stand up. So it took me about 15 minutes to just get into position and set the tripod up then attach the camera with the appropriate lens. 

All in all, it took me around 30 minutes to get the image I wanted. I was glad to get back to a safe place, even if I did have to crawl. I hope you like the photograph. I’m very pleased with it, but I’ll be staying away from cliffs in future.

On a cliff edge!

I went into Geiranger to try one of CafeOle’s superb home baked cinnamon buns again because I reckoned I deserved it, but when I got there just after 10am the cafe was still closed so I went back up above the village and took the pathway down the side of the Storesfossen waterfall and got some photos. The pathway takes you back down into Geiranger so once again I called round to the CafeOle that I was happy to see was now open!

Eat cake……!

As I walked through the door the owner greeted me with a smile and asked me which of her freshly baked cinnamon buns I would like? I chose one and got myself a coffee and after a chat I went and sat by the window to watch the passers by outside. 

It didn’t take long to finish my delicious treat and I said my goodbyes to the owner and left to return to the Silver Fox. 

I drove over the mountains south along route 63 eventually joining the E15.

In the mountains I’d noticed icicles on the rock face creating really interesting patterns at the side of the road. I decided to turn around and go and photograph them, well it had to be safer than 1000′ cliffs!

I joined the E15 and headed towards Stryn and as I dropped into the valley and lower ground, once again I was overwhelmed by the colour of the birch trees that lined the road and the mountain sides. They were so vivid. Stunning.

I continued and pulled into a rest area at Stryn with good facilities and set up the van for the night. I was tired, having driven quite a way from Geiranger. Tea time, a bit of editing and blogging and time for bed!