Monday, May 21, 2018

Californication: Lake Bandak & Telemark Canal

Our last day on the road was spent largely on a boat cruise on Lake Bandak, plus a brief trip down the Telemark Canal, one of Norway's main attractions.

This was the view from our lodgings at Lake Totak early Monday morning. Purdy, innit?

One of the many locks along the canal.

The lock is closed behind the boat and the space filled with water until you're suddenly level with the water behind the gate in front of you. All is done manually, just like it was back in the late 1800s.

There are many pretty farmsteads along the way.

On both sides of the lake.

There's quite a bit of industrial history in the area, as cheap power became available to the factories.

This formation is said to be the ship of St Olav, a king of yore who brought Christianity to Norway. He apparently shipwrecked here and a dozen or more similar places in Norway...

Naturally, I was skeptical of both the lake and the canal.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Californication: Gaustatoppen

Sunday we got off to an early start again to drive down to Rjukan and the mountain Gaustatoppen. Apparently it's the mountain where you can see the most of Norway although that may be in some doubt. Regardless, the views are quite spectacular. You begin by taking a small train contraption into the actual mountain and once you're well and truly under millions of tons of rock, you take a kind of diagonal elevator or funicular almost up to the summit. The whole thing was built by NATO back in the 50s to provide easier access to the military listening station at the top and partially paid for by US tax dollars.

Going into the mountain.

Video from the train ride into the mountain:

The funicular.

At the top, you have to pay to use the restrooms. As a silent protest I held the door open for the next guy when I exited. Sue me, Rjukan! Sue me! I'll never stop fighting da man!

You can see quite a bit from up there, I don't really care whether it's the mostestest in Norway.

A long long ways.

Into Mordor.

Video from the top

The actual top. My legs were hurting too much for me to bother to climb all the way up there.

Naturally, I was skeptical of Gaustatoppen.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Californication: Geiranger

Our destination Friday night was Geiranger, a small village deep inside a network of fjords. The nature here is stunning and pictures from Geiranger are often used in ads for the Norwegian tourist industry. When we arrived in the evening, we first stopped at Eagle's Bend, up in the mountains above the village.

View towards the village.

View out of the fjord. It bends and forks off several times before it reaches the open sea.

A small stream was splashing down behind us.

And you could walk out on a glass plattform. Why do you insist on doing this to me, Norway?

Video from Eagle's Bend:

The views from the deck of our very nice little cabin at around 10PM Friday night. Albie squealed with delight when she saw it had a grassy roof.
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There was a thin layer of morning fog when we left the village on a 90-minute cruise of the fjord Saturday morning.

One of the many, many, MANY waterfalls lining the fjord on both sides.

This one is known as the seven sisters.

Apparently, the sisters are all gay.

The Devil was said to take refuge in the deepest, darkest parts of this canyon when he was surprised by a sunrise.

The deep cracks you see in the mountainside are fissures which will sooner or later cause parts of it to tumble into the sea. When that happens, Geiranger may be fucked. Fortunately, Norway has some of the best geologists in the world and the movements of the mountain are watched very, very carefully. This is the situation along a frighteningly large part of the long Norwegian coastline and I strongly doubt they can monitor all of it.

This seagull followed us for ten minutes on the way back.

Sometimes he came almost up to the railings.

"Oh, hai!"

A couple of places along the coastline, people were outside, waving to the boat. Either they're more bored than I'll ever be, or they know exactly when the boats are coming and get a cut from playing friendly farmers to stupid Germans. These places can only be approached from the sea, btw.

One of the nicer waterfalls along the way.

By this tiny cabin, some people disembarked to walk the long, winding road up to an old settlement way the hell up in the mountainside.

The center of Geiranger holds some moderately nice things, among them these old vehicles, painted in strong colors. These can be seen all over the county's tourist roads and is probably some type of outdoorsy art project.

We shopped at a couple of places, although the prices were quite steep, this being a tourist destination. Even yours truly, who's used to the insane Norwegian cost level, balked at some of the price tags. However, advice was free and I thought this one especially good.

This too!

Upon leaving Geiranger, we passed this heard of goats by the roadside. Very cute.

Further along, we paid to drive up to the mountaintop Dalsnibba, where they've made a huge parking lot and where one can take pictures of the lovely fjord and village and surrounding mountains. It's at appx. 1,500 meters or almost 5,000 feet above sea level.

The winding road up there.

Video from Dalsnibba:

Naturally, I was skeptical of Geiranger.

On the long drive back, we stopped for dinner at a place called Pollfoss. Good grub at a reasonable price.

We were greeted by this dog, who's the first animal I've seen to be stumped by my shadow. He tried to catch it and jumped on it several times.

The place had nice interior decorations.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Californication: Troll's ladder

We then reached Trollstigen, or Troll's ladder. I had thought the sight and experience of it would have shut the Americans up, but instead they made rude jokes about my driving. Honestly, some people....

Naturally, I was skeptical of Trollstigen.

The stream coming down the mountain.

Of course they couldn't just leave the stream be, they had to "improve" upon it. Bah, humbug.

Several characteristic mountain tops surround the visitor centre at the top of the hill.

You want waterfalls? Here's yer stinkin' waterfall!

The water going off the mountainside. Notice the other waterfall coming in from the right.

"Where the sun comes up / around ten in the morning / and the sun goes down / about three in the day..."

That's one hell of a road.

The descent on the other side is a lot less brutal and allows for some really, really purdy scenery. We stopped at this tiny settlement to take pics of the nice old cabins and yet another goddamn stream coming down the hillside.

As you can see, there are whole bushes growing out of the roof. The Americans fell head over heels in love with the tradition.


Further down, I stopped at the small canyon Gudbrandsjuvet. Sho, sho purdy.

My shadow on the rock.