We just returned from a road trip around Finland. You might be wandering how it was? Well, they say a photo tells a thousand words.
I have to dig through hundreds of photos first and finish the photo-report of Norwegian trip. But yeah, expect first Finnish posts in a month or so.
Leaving Bergen behind, we ventured inside the fjord country on a road towards Sogndal and beyond…
And off we went… through countless tunnels piercing through Norway.
Early morning mists over one of the fjords – note the snow patches in the mountains…
It might be early, but not for this cheery viking dude 🙂
As we were driving along, the lanscape became more and more mountanious with numerous waterfalls…
…and rivers running along the valleys.
Entry to the vast and spectacular West Norway Fjord area – UNESCO’s World Heritage Area
It so fascinating how in Norway, the landscape changes so dramaticly by just driving around the corner
At one time you are driving through narrow glacier valleys…
…which seem neverending…
…and all of a sudden, a fjord appears in front of you.
Lærdal road tunnel – the longest road tunnel in the world!
Architect was clever enugh to break up monotony of driving in a tunnel by creating such galleries every few kilometeres…
which are all “painted” by different colours of light, so you are in constant anticipation of the next colour and the drive through feels like a breeze.
And as soon as you exit the tunnel, the Sognefjord greets you. This is the longest fjord in Norway reaching 205km inland from the ocean.
Bright red Sogndal’s Stedje church with graveyard.
Beside the chuch stands a rune stone from aprox. year 1100. The inscripton says: “King Olav shot between these stones”.
Today, Slovenia experienced some heavy thunderstorms. Luckily, the region where I live, didn’t suffer hail or heavy downpours but just after the sunset, we were witness to some spectacular atmospheric discharges, resulting in a spectacular natural fireworks in the form of lightnings. I have caught just the end of the show, so here are just a few photos that I managed to take before the end of it.
And a perfect song to go with the photos:
After a good night’s sleep, we headed to downtown Stavanger and do a quick tour of the city center.
Stavanger’s city center Braivatnet lake is home to ducks and swans and the walking path around it attracts lots of people, while the restaurants offer nice views.
Sea inlet called Vagen host a small harbor, West side being primarily industrial.
Typical white wooden facade houses rise above Vaden inlet.
One of the ships on the Easter side of the Vaden contrasted by some old buildings, including the beautiful Victoria Hotel.
Eastern side of the Vagen inlet, full of picturesque houses housing bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Beautiful Victoria Hotel in the old part of Stavanger next to the Vagen inlet.
We immediately fell in love with the old city center with its amusing little shops and bars…
…as well as colorful houses, which brightened the otherwise cloudy skies.
You couldn’t help but smile when you were reading slogans above the shops-
Street art also flourishes in these parts, but as you can see, the graffiti are Norwegian themed (we are in the land of the trolls afterall).
Lamp posts are nicely decorated with flower pots, giving the additional color to the already colorful streets.
Stavanger Cathedral – the oldest cathedral in Norway. It was finished around 1150 but has gone through quite some changes during the centuries.
Leaving the Stavanger behind us, we embarked on a journey over a diverse West coast towards Bergen.
And here we are, on the road again – inbound Bergen.
Almost every piece of meadow is used as a pasture, bordered by the road on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other.
Every once in a while, the pastures are broken by small villages with a few houses and mandatory pier for their boats.
One cannot travel from Stavanger to Bergen without crossing the fjords and Ocean. Immediately after exiting Stavanger to the North you enter a tunnel which is at its deepest point 223m below the sea level!!
Slightly larger ferries connect the E39 Stavanger to Bergen road in two places.
Serene landscape of the West coast islands.
Beside ferries and tunnels, bridges play an important part of the road network as well.
Straight to Bergen or right to another ferry?
Ferry ride part 2. Bergen is close now.
There is quite a lot of shipping in the coastal waters, contrasted by hilly background of the fjords.
And finally, our destination – cottage in a camp just outside of Bergen.
After our hike to Preikestolen, we finally arrived to our camping cottage in the middle of Stavanger. After a quick shower and cloths change, we decided it would be nice to buy somewhere a bottle or can of beer (hell, we have deserved it!) and enjoy the well deserved rest. Well, we had no such luck – stores were already closed and petrol stations, unlike in most of the Europe, don’t sell any kind of alcohol beverages. Alright, a lesson learned but at least we visited a Sverd i fjell monument. This has to be one of the coolest Viking monuments ever – uncovered in 1983 by King Olav V, the monument commemorates the battle of Hafrsfjord that took place in 872. In that battle, King Harald Fairhair emerged victorious and joined several smaller kingdoms under his banner, first move in uniting the Norwegian kingdoms. Swords are more than 10m high and are planted in the rock by the shore. The highest sword (and most adorned) is representing King Harald’s while the slightly smaller and plainer ones are of two defeated petty kings. After paying respect to my spiritual ancestors, it was time to head back to the cottage. I apologize to my friends who had to wait in the chilly evening for the “perfect” blue light. 🙂
The main target of our first full day in Norway was a climb up to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) cliff. Probably the most famous cliff in Norway (besides Trolltunga) and much more accessible to the masses. Luckily, September is a month, when crowds disappear and although there were people up there, it was not as crowded as it can get in the summer months.
Recently, Preikestolen featured in the final scene of final episode of Season 2 of History Channel Vikings series, with King Ragnar Lothbrok sitting on the cliff.
Parking at the foot of the Preikestolen trek. Parking costs 100kr for cars and prepare to have change with you.
Informative sign of what lays ahead of you. While it says 2 hours of walk, we climbed in 1.5hrs with a rather poor physical condition at the time. There are two steeper parts, one right at the beginning and the other one just before the 2km mark.
Typical Scandinavian forest greets you most of the way, but you will enjoy limited views of the fjord just at the start of the tour. Oh and don’t be affraid of zip-liners over your head.
One of the steeper, rockier parts. Good footwear is essential and even more so, when there’s bad weather.
Soon after climbing the second bigger and at the same time steepest climb, the terrain flattens and you are greeted by two lakes.
Surrounding views from there are just spectacular… It feels like you’ve entered some other dimension… maybe even some Lord of the Rings movie.
Did I mention spectacular before?
Almost at the top of the climb.
As you reach the top, the path gets narrow and follows the curve around the top of the mountain. There are some cracks along the way.
A view of the Lysefjord, just before reaching the Preikestolen.
And finally, the Preikestolen in sight! And what a sight it is!
A crack on the plateau – ultimately, the cliff will fall down into the Lysefjord but geologists say that this will not happen in the foreseeable future.
While on top, a Search and Rescue Eurocopter arrived, responding to an emergency call near the Preikestolen.
Some are more brave than others, but I didn’t want to risk vertigo at the edge of the 604m vertical fall to the fjord.
A view of the Lysefjord towards the East.
When we arrived to the plateau, we noticed almost anyone who arrives, jumps near the edge, while someone else is taking photo of their feat. Initially, that was not our plan, but then a man approached us with a photo request and after we took photo of his jumping family, he insisted he will return the favor. So we did jump after all!
Saying last goodbyes to this amazing geological work of Nature.