521 Kilometres of Cloud and Fjord
Ok, I get my big, looming, cloud enshrouded just-as-good-as New Zealand fjords on this trip.
We check out of our hotel quite early (for us) and are on the road by 9:30, foregoing the fast route and taking the scenic road from Bergen to Oslo, through some of the most beautiful cloud scapes and fjords in Norway. We highly recommend it!
The clouds are hanging low and grey again with a gentle rain falling as we pull out of Bergen. No one had quite prepared us for the diversity of landscape that we would travel through over the next 9 hours. We start through one of the many tunnels we will go through on our drive to the capital and break into a fjord-filled pine and rock-faced landscape, sheer wet cliffs reaching up to the sky. The road is windy and in many places turns into a one lane road heading in which ever direction the first car or bus to arrive is going. We skirt tranquil fjord lakes being cracked by the occasional waterfall, tumbling bridal veil-like from the tops of the mountains. Many hair-pin turns greet us as we seem to be heading up.
Hopping on the Ferry to Oslo
The road continues in this way for about 2 hours until we stop in Bruravik to take the ferry across the fjord to continue on our way to Oslo. Shortly after we get off the ferry, the road turns away from the fjord and follows a river up, and up, and then we enter a tunnel – 8 kilometres long – and in it we rise and rise. When we exit the tunnel, we are into a completely different landscape than the lush wet greens we left below – we are above the tree line, driving through tundra on the Hardangervidda, the largest mountain plateau in Europe, between 1,100 and 1,300 metres above sea level. We drive along, amazed at how quickly the environment has changed, passing the occasional cottage, tent and campervan. The temperature has fallen as dramatically as the scenery has changed. We are now down to 7° with a wind blowing and large patches of snow still visible. We stop for lunch at a café that appears to be the last outpost on the plateau before we reach the North Pole, and dressed as we are for early spring, we are not dressed appropriately. We have soup and tea for lunch, and marvel again at the cost of living in Norway – C$19 each for a bowl of soup!
A Lonely Drive
We continue our lonely drive through the permafrost and tundra and we eventually make it back down into the alpine valley and start to run parallel with the famous Oslo to Bergen train route. It is said to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. Judging from what we have driven through so far, we would agree. We pass camp grounds full to the brim with camper vans, tents and trailers, all seeming to be enjoying the “summer” holidays. Norwegians, it appears, love to camp. At this point in the trip it has taken us just under six hours to travel 300 kilometres and we are just looking forward to the last two hours of easy driving on a relatively larger highway when we approach an abrupt detour sign that points us north and out of our way! Our road is closed! We have no choice but to follow the flow and we head back up into the mountains for about an hour and cross over to the alternate road that will take us into Oslo. The view is, at this point, much less interesting – how many pine trees and beautiful vistas can you take in one day?
We coast into Oslo at about 6:30, check in to our hotel and make our way, somewhat wearily, around the downtown of Olso, focusing our attention for tonight anyway on the main street, Karl Johans gate. We are fjord and cloud-scaped out!