Friday, September 18, 2020

This year's tour of the west coast - day three

The next morning, I decided against driving further up the coast, as the weather was getting rainy and shitty as only a Norwegian September can.

So I started the long haul back home. As usual, I didn't stop to take pictures of all the lovely scenery I saw, if I had, I would probably still be up there...

Almost at the top of a valley I stopped and had a look around. On a big rock, dozens of vandals had desecrated nature by building these little towers of rock and how I hate them, both the people and the towers. They are a blight on the otherwise pristine scenery and must be demolished where possible. I went a little cray-cray as you can see.

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I then took the old, single lane road across the mountain (there is a much faster tunnel going straight through). As I started coming down on the other side, I stopped at a lake to get my bearings on the map. A beautiful rainbow appeared and almost as soon as I had my picture, disappeared again.

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The autumn foilage was out in full blaze.

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At yet another place, the clouds and the light interplayed so, so lovely. I don't think the pictures do it justice, it was breathtaking.

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Closer to home, I stopped to stuff face on a waffle. So, so good.

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

This year's tour of the west coast - day two (part III)

I finally reached my destination of Urke, a tiny settlement along the beautiful Hjørund fjord. It is home to a friend of mine, Jon Hustad. He's a well known journalist here in Norway and has a reputation as a cranky, show-me-the-numbers type of guy who doesn't deal in the plattitudes most others in his trade do.

He took me on a trip around the fjords, over some mountains and along some valleys I never would have found on my own. I got the full tour, sprinkled with anecdotes of his youth and especially about the history of the regulated waterfalls in this area, which have provided billions of dollars to Norwegian coffers over the years. He'd just finished a book about the subject and was therefore especially enthusiastic.

We finished off with a very good dinner at a hotel in the marginally larger settlement of Sæbø, having even visited the summer vacation home of the current PM of Norway, Erna Solberg. We joked about the complete lack of security, what with it being the Norwegian equivalent of Camp David.

On the west coast, you will often see food and wood just stored by the roadside, with a note giving the price and a box for the money. It is a quaint, very Nordic way of trade and can only happen in a society where people trust one another.

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The sign says "Wood for sale".

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The area is very, very pretty.

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The aforementioned waterfalls.

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Naturally, I was skeptical of the waterfalls.

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This group of buildings belongs to the PM's husband, it is their ancient homestead, so to speak. Here, she passes the summer playing candy crush and pokemon, I fucking kid you not. I wish I was.

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Dinner was had at the Sagafjord Hotel. Yum, yum, YUM. The fish soup was ok, the beef was great and the dessert was possibly the best I've ever had.

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This year's tour of the west coast - day two (part II)

I had not gone far, however, when I came upon even mightier views. The kind that makes your jaw literally drop and your mouth go gaaaaah. At Skjørbakkane was a fjord landscape with several arms stretching out, surrounded by mighty mountainsides. Here and there, a bit of green confirmed that there were people living and working on the land. It was the kind of pretty you wish you could bottle and take home with you.

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Driving along the fjord towards the village of Loen. There's a somewhat famous hotel there, the Alexandria, which operates a gondola to take you up the sheer mountainside. Sadly, the gondola was closed for repairs so I'll have to take it next year instead. I suspect I'll be whimpering in a corner the whole way up.

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This year's tour of the west coast - day two (part I)

The next day, I drove out of Voss towards Bergen, where I had some South African stash (plus coffee from Ethiopia!) I'd promised to drop off at a friend's workplace. The drive took about 90 mins and I spent an additional 30 just driving around, trying to find a street that would actually take me to within walking distance of the feckin' place. I should hasten to add that "walking distance" may differ for you, dear reader, and me; what with my neuropathic legs, shortness of breath and rotund appearance.

Afterwards, I drove into what can only be described as a postcard, or rather postcard after postcard. The road up to Urke, where I was going was very, very pretty with a couple of vistas, especially near Stryn, which were just mindblowing.

The bus stop shelters on the road between Voss and Bergen have grassy roofs on them. Awww.

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These were taken on the ferry between Ytre Oppedal and Lavik: 119646345_10164563062030294_3081729692076238893_n 119748735_10164563062255294_3183828618542569576_n 119750157_10164563061955294_8612823701122785877_n 

These were taken along lake Jølstravatnet, when I was driving (flying low?) towards the village of Skei.

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Finally, these were taken from the roadside in the hills above Byrkjelo, the next village over. One of the most stunning places I've ever seen, with mountains all around me.
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The snow is a part of the mighty glacier Jostedalsbreen. It is almost 500 square km big and is the largest on the European mainland.

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There were sheep in a meadow just below me and I could hear the clanging of their bells. 119621550_10164563358720294_2736826090668714825_n

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

This year's tour of the west coast

I was bored throughout much of September, so eventually I decided to spend a day or two on the west coast. My plan was to go to Hardanger, a very beautiful area just south of Bergen. The next day I would drop off some stuff from a friend of mine in Bergen, then head north to another friend's place. Along the way I'd stop and take a shitload of pictures. You be the judge on whether I succeeded.

I started out driving over to Valdres, then over Golsfjellet to the mountain plain of Hardangervidda. These pics were taken not far from Ustaoset:

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My first planned stop was at the lovely waterfall of Vøringsfossen. Not nearly the largest in Norway, but probably one of the most accessible and picturesque. Since I was there last, they've gone and built a bridge across it (probably to lure even more German tourists to their demise).

The upper fall & the bridge:

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The lower fall:

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There's a bit of water coming down the other side of the mountain as well, and this one often creates a very pretty rainbow.

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I then reached Hardanger proper. This is from the small village of Kinsarvik, at the opening of Sørfjorden (South Fjord).

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I drove alongside Sørfjorden all the way down to the industrial town of Odda, where the fjord ends and there's a tunnel beneath a big ole' glacier, Folgefonna:

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Now, I could have gone south and attempted a tour of the southern part of the peninsula, but I knew I didn't have the time, so that's probably for next year. Instead, I went north to take a ferry across the fjord. As I had almost half an hour to wait, I decided to stretch my legs and stuff face.
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The ferry port.

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View from the ferry, half way across:

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There were nice settlements and farms all around me.

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Lastly, I went up to Voss. On the way, I took a quick detour to see Steinsdalsfossen, which is much smaller, but even more accessible and lovely than Vøringsfossen:

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How this hasn't been used as the setting for a Norwegian "Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls"-type of movie scene, I'll never know.

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The 300 gram hamburger w/cheese and bacon I devoured at the Esso Deli de Luca gas station in Voss. Yummy!

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