I left the excellent campsite at Geilo and took to the E7 route heading south. The trees were just stunning in their autumn colours that seem to get more saturated as each day passes. Near a place called Nes in Buskerund Kommune I came to Lake Hallingdalselva where the reflection of the wooded area opposite was just exquisite. Once again I saw a house that seemed to have been built in just an ideal location. The whole scene just had to be photographed.
The silver birch trees above made a really good tryptic I thought (I may swap them around when I get round to printing them!)
The weather this morning is looking really good. The rest area where I spent the night was adjacent to a magnificent bridge, marking yet another piece of superb engineering by the Norwegians. Hardangerbrua spans Hardangerfjord and this morning it looked superb as the morning cloud began to lift around. To me the cloud looked almost unreal and I took an hour or so to find the best view of the structure.
So I moved on and made my way along route 7 towards Oslo and I passed through the beautiful village of Eidfjord.
A little further on I came to a spectacular natural phenomena that is Vøringsfossen. The Vøringsfossen Waterfall has a free fall of 145 metres and a total fall of 182 metres, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Norway.
To witness the huge volumes of water from the Hardangervidda plateau drop to the valley of Måbødalen below is an impressive sight in natural and idyllic surroundings.
I spent almost two hours at this location and took stills, video and drone footage.
As I got back on to route 7 it began to sleet that added to the already snow covered mountains and I consulted “CamperContact” for nearby campsites. Geilo Camping looked good so I headed for it.
When I got there, it was just what I was looking for and I booked in for the night. With good Wifi and excellent facilities, it was a good choice and doing housekeeping in the van was a good idea.
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.
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.
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.
I took some stills and then went back to get the drone.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!