This is our first real driving day in Norway. We picked up our rental car from the Europcar depot in Bergen this morning and the weather didn’t look good. It was raining constantly and it continued until late afternoon. Out itinerary was that we would head into Norway’s fjord country today and we were looking forward to grand views and striking scenery. The rain laid much of that expectation to waste as thew mountains were covered with cloud and visibility was poor. The Norwegians are welcoming the rain as they have had a long hot and dry summer. However, we tourists just wish it would go away.
We did come across one outstanding feature and that was the waterfall, just near the town of Voss. It was magnificent in the way that it tumbled down a cliff face right behind a farm painted in typical Norwegian red colours. It was hard to photograph with rain drops covering my camera lens every time I lifted it up to take a photo. In the end I managed a couple of shots, free of raindrops, by resorting to holding up an umbrella and shielding my camera from the rain that way.
We travelled through around forty tunnels today. As we first headed up the fjord from Bergen, there was a tunnel under every ridge that came down to the waterline. Some tunnels were only a few hundred metres and others were as long as 5 kms. Later, the tunnels went right under mountains. Doing this made this area accessible as without them, this fjord area would only be accessible by boat.
Our tour notes suggested that in one place, we should take the road over a mountain pass with its excellent views, rather then the road through a tunnel. We debated which way to go one look at the low cloud on the mountains suggested that we wouldn’t see any views from up high so the tunnel won.
This was some tunnel! it was 25 kms long. Our Lonely Planet guide described it as the longest tunnel in the world (unless the Chinese have built a longer one since the guide book was printed).
We reached our overnight stop at a cute little hotel on the fjord at Fjaerland. It was still raining so we gave away any more thoughts of exploration and set up camp form the night. The view to the window would be stunning on a clear day. To our left, we can get a glimpse of the tongue of a glacier coming from Norway’s largest ice field. and to our right we can see down the glacier towards the sea. We can’t see the sea, obviously, because this fjord is 250 kms long.
We can see that Norway and Iceland are clearly different. Iceland’s topography is bare and stark. Norway on the other hand is mountainous, but these are softened by the forests. There are almost no trees in iceland. There are many more little towns and villages scattered across all of Norway, where towns in Iceland are few and far between. In a more affluent country like Norway, the roads are much better – smoother, more signage and more traffic. Both countries do have one thing in common however- there where to stop at any of the best photo opportunities.