Travel Journal – Norway, Day Four

Today we left Hornindal for Gudvangen!

It was another day marked with lots of driving through the incredible, jaw-dropping vistas that are characteristic of Norway.

We drove through the villages of Loen and Olden and took a stop by the beautiful Nordfjorden.

Loen - Nordfjorden 1

Loen - Nordfjorden

Nordfjorden

Look at the color of the water! It was amazing.

There were a great many mountains around the area as well. It was really a treat being surrounded by so much greenery and fresh air, I refused to let myself fall asleep even when those long hours in the car began to lull me into a sleepy daze. I just didn’t want to miss all that beautiful scenery!

I don’t think I’ve ever been in such amazing countryside before than what we’ve experienced in Norway. Norwegians are incredibly lucky! Here’s hoping that this wonderful environment remains preserved as it is for years to come.

Loen Mountain

Mountains around Fjord

According to the brochures we picked up from the tourist centres and a couple of signboards, this area had once been devastated by a couple of rockfalls (in 1905 and 1936 respectively) from the surrounding mountains, creating huge waves in the fjord that ended up destroying many of the houses in Loen and killing a total of 135 people.

It was hard imagining a tragedy occurring in such a beautiful, serene place as this was.

Loen and Olden also had some lovely farm scenes along the way. I finally got my shot of a barn with a grassy rooftop!

Loen - Garden roof barn

Loen - charming houses

The spectacular scenery just wouldn’t stop!

Glacials!

Glacial Mountain

Mountain scenery

Fjord

Fjord seaweed

We also saw some sheep just chilling on the roadside like they totally owned the place. (they probably did)

Sheep on the road

As well as a herd of goats baa-ing at the motorists to get off their road.

Goats on the road

They didn’t look like much in this picture but trust me, they were all over the road!

We also went through loads of tunnels, including the Laerdal Tunnel, a tunnel that was 24 kilometres long – the length of a half marathon!

We had been through some pretty lengthy tunnels during our road trip in Norway, but nothing as long as the Laerdal Tunnel. Happily, most long tunnels usually mark off the kilometres as you drive along so you could anticipate how much more time you had left in the tunnel. The same goes with Laerdal Tunnel and we were counting off the kilometres as we drove and listened to Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail.

Laerdal Tunnel

We also came across a blue-lit stretch of tunnel every now and then in the Laerdal Tunnel which made the place look eerily beautiful and almost magical. I’m not sure what the reason was for behind the blue lights – maybe to make things more interesting for the cars driving through the tunnel!

After the Laerdal Tunnel, the longest tunnel before our stop for the day was the Gudvangen Tunnel. It was 11km long but it took much longer for us to make our way through largely because there were road works being performed in the tunnel so we were stuck in a line of cars waiting for quite a bit!

Due to the road works and the line of cars, we ended up missing our destination at Gudvangen Fjordtell which was located just outside the other end of the Gudvangen tunnel. We ended up driving on a little way more before realising we had missed our destination. We ended up driving up a steep hill which took us to the Stalheim Hotel, which had been one of our other options for tonight’s stay – though we ended up deciding against it because it was a lot pricier than the Gudvangen Fjordtell.

I was kind of glad of the wrong turn because Stalheim has a great view of the countryside below and we got to see it! We also took a quick stop at memorial stone erected to commemorate the poet Per Sivle.

View from Stalheim

View from above

Per Sivle memorial

Gudvangen from above

High Drop

It was a straight drop from the edge of that cliff and I was really hoping J would be careful, especially as he’s got the car keys with him! And of course because I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him ; )

We finally found our way back to the Gudvangen Fjordtell where we were offered a choice to stay at one of their ‘Viking rooms.’ We decided to take them up on their offer!

Viking Bedrooms

The Viking rooms were located in a large round building with a grassy rooftop and skylights in each room. I had previously read reviews of the Viking rooms on TripAdvisor. Some of the reviews had complained about being unable to close the skylight with a curtain during summer and therefore having a hard time to sleep as the sun never sets in summer! I was glad we were there at the end of summer so we had the night sky looming above us instead as we slept. In the day, we could also see the top of a glacial-covered mountainside.

Skylight

Viking Room Interior

Viking Bedhead

The room was rather fun – apparently it was designed in an ‘authentic Viking style’ with locally made wood carvings though I’m not sure exactly how authentic it was – it had a rather non-authentic feel to it! We had a rather itchy faux fur coverlet on our bed which we ended up pushing aside – it was too itchy and scratchy for us. For those staying in the Viking rooms, I also recommend keeping your curtains closed as tourists who visit the hotel in the morning have no qualms about peering in at these rooms and its occupants!

Viking reception

Gudvangen Reception

The restaurant and main reception area were also decorated in ‘Viking-style’ with long wooden tables and ‘Viking’ chairs.

Viking Dining Hall at Gudvangen

I’m guessing our meals were also Viking size because we had these huge amazing portions at dinner!

Viking dinner!

I ordered the salmon served with pasta, salad and fruit and wished I had been able to eat every bite. It was super incredibly delicious but the size defeated me at the end.

Our waitress was very friendly and helpful and she also helped us plan our sightseeing trip for the next day. We had planned to stay two nights at Gudvangen and wanted to take a fjord cruise from Gudvangen Fjordtell which is situated at a ferry wharf. She suggested taking the fjord to Flam where we could take the Flam train to the top of a hill followed by a bike ride back to Flam. The bike ride was downhill all the way, she assured us, and really easy. Hah! What she failed to inform us was that the first part of it would end with me nicknaming our trip the Bike Ride of Death. On the other hand, it could just be me being a big wuss on a bike!

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