Gaularfjellet Scenic Route – Norway 19/26

Sunshine! This Kvinnafossen waterfall was a delight on our way to the ferry.
We got the Sogneflorden Ferry from Hella to Balestrand.
Still some low clouds over the Gaularfjellet Scenic Route…
Interesting to watch them but we hope the views we are coming to see are not in the clouds.
Waiting for the sun to break through, we strolled along the fjord in Balestrand to the Viking Burial Mounds and found them guarded by this statue of King Bele.
Ooohhh Wow! Did you see that reflection? Stop the car!
Or how about this one? Surreal.
The highway engineer that designed this road in the 1930’s said that a good road is 10x better than a bad road, and a bad road is 100x better than no road!
We took these hairpin turns to climb up the valley on the Gaularfjellet Scenic Route.  We have a view!!!
The clouds are still playing around at the Utsikten Viewing Platform…. But that makes it a bit more mysterious.
Isn’t this spectacular! The Gaularfjellet Scenic Route basically follows the Gaula River – this looks like an oil painting.
The Likholefossen has this very cool pedestrian bridge so you can be right over the waterfall.
Like this. The sound is deafening – it is a bit of sensory overload with the sun and fall colors. Soooo much water!
And on the other side is a picture perfect wetlands. Really it looks like this – can you believe it?  We feel so lucky for a pleasant sunny day.
As we ferried back across the Sogneflorden we wondered: Is that the Loch Ness Monster in the water?

Jotunheimen National Park – Norway 18/26

Along the Sognefjord are some amazing waterfalls – some even have names like Asofossen.
At an overlook we see the village of Fortun and the massive Asofossen in the hill beyond, which names the river that flows through the valley. This is the beginning of 10 hairpin turns and as per Rick Steves “Treat Each Turn As If It Were Your Last!”
Wait! Stop the car! Luckily there was a pullover we could walk back across the bridge and take this photo of an unnamed waterfall with 3 snow covered mountain peaks in the background.
There you go…three peaks in Jotunheimen National Park.
The roads are all one lane with some passing pullovers so a bit stressful driving. Quoting Rick Steve again ” Tell your passenger to scream only when we hit something”. Ha! We climbed the valley of Jotunheimen NP on the scenic Sognefellet National Tourist Route.
The Nedre Oscarshaug viewing platform allows you to move the glass panels to line up with the mountain you are looking at to identify it. Very fun. The temperature has now dropped to chilly 3 degrees at around 1200 meters elevation. (37 degrees at 4,000′ above fjord/sea level)
A bit different day than when we toured part of the park on the east side from Lom. Our blog entry from first of September.
We hung out at a parking area to eat our lunch and watch the clouds.
We turned around at this lake area as the clouds were moving in.
We were glad we could have such beautiful tundra under our feet.
Really happy to be on top of the world here in Jotunheimen National Park.

Amla Bay and Urnes Stave Church – Norway 17/26

We are tucked into a cozy apartment on Amla Bay near Kaupanger (Sognejorden) for 5 nights.
We are the middle small green building, second floor. Nedre Amla are 6 attached homes that resemble the old fishing villages. Our owner has created an apartment above his garage for his visiting family and to share with travelers like us.
This is our view across the fjord towards Kaupanger from the dining/living room. Nice – more reflections!
Should we do the high dive?  Let’s just view the sunset for now…
…Great end to a rainy day.
Kaupanger has a nice Stave Church on a gorgeous site that was a pleasant 1.5 mile walk along Amla Bay from our apartment but there is a more famous one nearby.
We took a 15 minute ferry just a bit north across the fjord to Urnes or Orneset on a clear morning.
The Urnes Stave Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Only Norwegian Stave Churches (28 out of 1,300) have survived so they are a unique contribution to world cultural heritage.
We got a tour inside to see the original 1130 construction as well as some of the “drunken” modifications from 1662, which sawed off a main support stave (column) so these diagonals were placed to keep the building from collapsing. Medieval chandelier on left hangs from ceiling.
Original carvings at the column capitals. The  pulpit was added in 1690 by a wealthy benefactor.
The chancel extension and decoration from around 1601. At the foot of Christ on the cross is a skull and crossbones which represent that Adam is dead as Christ is resurrected as the son of god. Mary and St John as the grieving witnesses – the scene of Golgotha.
The wood siding and shingles are covered with a tar and coal mixture for waterproofing. It also gives the churches the characteristic black patina as well as makes them highly flammable – that’s why so few stave churches have survived through the ages.
Looking out the front door, across the graveyard, and the fjord beyond – all now vivid with moisture.

Jostedalsbreen National Park – Norway 16/26

On the road  we head south along Innik Fjord (Nordfjord) on a rainy sort of day. But we could still appreciate the grandeur.
At the top of the map – we left Stryn heading south to Fjaerland (in bold on map), then down and up to Gjerde to explore the east side. The Jostedalsbreen glacier, the largest glacier on the European mainland.
Fjaerland is at the end of another fjord (Sognefjorden) – and as we have now learned all these fjords are carved by glaciers. We have come here to see another branch- Boyabreen- which you can if you look closely through the high humidity.
If you have looked at any promotional brochures of Norway you will have seen this well placed sauna with a view in Fjaerland.
Meeting up with some ice explorers and scientists at the world class Norwegian Glacier Museum.
This is as close as we got today to the glacier – the Boyabreen Glacier branch.
Always relieved to find some conveniences especially in such scenic locations.
A lush green high humidity rainy sort of day was our best chance of exploring the east side of Jostedalsbreen NP.  There were more waterfalls and water on this route than we remember ever seeing anywhere – obviously abundant due to the rain quantity.
This unique visitor center – Breheimsenterret – seems to  extend right from the glacier itself (seen flowing down the valley at the right)
It reminded me of a Viking helmet from this direction. Museum is in lower level with a good movie with screen that goes up, curtains open for large window to view glacier – National Park worthy experience.
Really the best way to spend a rainy morning! A waffle with strawberry jam or a sweet local pastry with fresh brewed coffee. Universal…
Clouds seem to lift so we drive toll road to Nigardsbreen Glacier.
The glacier melt off has left this beautiful milky lake. The boat will cut 20 minutes off the 45 minute hike to touch the glacier but we thought hiking on wet rocks in the rain was not going to be worthwhile.
So we picniced in our car while watching the clouds play, tried to count all the waterfalls, and enjoyed the lush green from all the moisture.
The force of the waterfalls is breathtaking. We may not have experienced what we planned but we appreciated our explorations and the many moods of the landscape.

Lovatnet Lake – Norway 15/26

We took our coffee from our cabin at Mindresunde Camping to the shore of Lake Strynevatnet as the morning was so calm,
This is the farm across from our cabin reflected on Lake Strynevatnet.
We drove through Loen and loved the valley clouds over the Innvik Fjord.
Possibly the same cloud has now settled over Lovatnet Lake. Amazing color of the glacier melt water as it reflects the sky on this crisp September morning. We are repeating our route from yesterday as the forecast is to be sunny today.
However, there is a low cloud at the end of the road near Kjenndalsbreen Glacier. These waterfalls seem to fall right from the cloud.
The sun might break through so we can see the Kjenndalsbreen Glacier.
The Kjenndalsbreen Glacier is a branch of the Jostedalsbreen glacier, the largest glacier on the European mainland.
Ice and water and rocks: Carving the land with their power.
The sun finally illuminates the Kjenndalsbreen Glacier. The ice looks so blue because it absorbs more red and yellow light and allows more blue light to pass through. This is more noticeable on large blocks of ice like a glacier.
The lush green landscape on our hike at the base of the Glacier.
The green is so green. The color of the moss is so vivid. Quite a feast for the eyes!
We enjoyed the sunny day with a picnic along Lovatnet Lake looking back at Kjenndalsbreen Glacier.
And back at “our” Lake Strynevatnet we soaked up some rays, appreciated the clear skies and the wonderful reflections.

Reflections and a Viking Ship – Norway 14/26

Wonderful morning reflections from Mindresunde Cabin on Lake Strynevatnet.
Our first view of Lovatnet Lake and it’s peaceful valley on this calm morning.
The Kjenndalsbreen Glacier and the valley it has carved into Lovatnet Lake. This is a branch of the Jostedalsbreen – the largest glacier in mainland Europe.
Lovatnet Lake had a couple major landslides and subsequent tsunamis that filled in this part of the lake.
Our return trip down the valley has a bit more sun highlighting the Kjenndalsbreen Glacier above Lovatnet Lake. We pulled into a drive to allow traffic to pass and the owner pulled in behind us. We were invited to visit and learned from Mr. Horgrenning the story of his farm, the family that emmigrated, his trip in 2001 to USA. I found this interesting story about the farm online
That is worth a close up shot!
About an hour away in Nordfjordeid, we went to the Stagastad Viking Museum.
The lovingly recreated 30-meter long Myklebust ship really allows us to experience the craftsmanship and quality of construction as well as the shear size of this Viking Ship.
Stagastad Viking Museum is also a great building right next to a community park on the fjord. There is an excellent movie on their website.
King of the Fjord!
Nordfjord and our final reflections of the day.

Tundra Above Geiranger Fjord – Norway 13/26

A pleasant morning as we headed south on Geirangervegen.
We walked around the tundra area with the lush green mosses  and interesting rocks.
We are at around 1,000 meters (that is 3,280 feet above the fjord).
We are in the mountains now!
We thought this area was picturesque.
We took the toll road up to the Dalsnibba Sky Walk at 4,920 feet.
Very dramatic to look out across to the glaciers…
…and to look back at Geiranger Fjord. I feel like an eagle.
The Heillstuguvatnet Lake on the Gamle Strynefjellsvegen – another scenic national tourist route!
The sun played peek a boo – it seemed to be snowing on the mountains! We enjoyed the fall colors and managed to hit pretty much every pot hole on the gravel road – ha!
A rapid on the way to Hjelledalen Falls shows the glacial color of the water.
Our cabin for the next few nights is this one on Lake Strynevatnet at Mindresunde Camping – our base to explore some glaciers in Jostedalsbreen National Park.

Geiranger Fjord – Norway 12/26

The first snow on the mountains for the season or so we learned from the locals from this top at Eidsvatnet Lake.
Eidsvatnet Lake was a pleasant stop before winding our way up that valley.
We stopped at the Ornevegen Viewpoint to get our first view of Geiranger fjord.
It is at the top of these switchbacks!
One of the most beautiful fjords, a UNESCO world heritage site!
There were 2 cruise ships and many tour buses in town so lots of people. A couple from New Zealand chatted with us and offered to take a photo.
This adorable cabin is where we are going to spend the next few nights – the very tranquil Hole Hytter.
Henry enjoying the view from our cabin at Hole Hytter
It is  an amazing view from the dining table as well.
Norway’s first National Tourist Trail is a dramatic walk/stairway from town to the Norwegian Fjord Centre following this waterfall.
Geiranger fjord is part of a UNESCO world heritage site to protect the Western Fjords of Norway. It is a very special area of the world with this interesting museum to learn more.
The fresh cinnamon buns were delicious!!!!
This model of the Seven Sisters Waterfall, which is 1,350′ tall, shows how deep the fjords are – about 800′ under water.
We took the 20km ferry round trip to Hellesyit to experience being on the water and seeing the entire fjord.
The Seven Sisters Falls were impressive.
As were the falls on the other side of the fjord.
We even saw some kayakers – they might have been warmer than us.
But we got a bit of sunshine and enjoyed seeing the entire Geiranger fjord!
The Queens Chair at the Flydalsjuvet Viewpoint was put in by Queen Sonja so we could all experience the majestic beauty of her country.