31.08.2016 - 02.09.2016
We woke up to a fairly grim weather forecast, but the sun shone regardless. We spent the drive to Geiranger telling ourselves that it would all end soon but the sun persisted. We timed our arrival at the ferry terminal to perfection, and once onboard Simon was instantly claimed by three generations of Koreans for photos. Not to take THEIR photos, mind, but to be IN the photos. Apparently, with his sunglasses on, he looked like a Korean movie star. Apparently.
After doing battle with tourist buses, we arrived in Geiranger which was flooded. With cruise ship passengers. Walking on the road. Needlessly. Pat dodged them all somehow, and we headed up to viewpoints at Flydalsjuvet and Dalsnibba. At this point, the rain was still staying away but the wind decided to make its presence felt. Dalsnibba, at 1500m above sea level, is the highest fjordview from a road in Europe - a rather unusual claim to fame, but an excellent one that made for exceptionally good photo faffing opportunities.
We trundled back down the mountain into the town of Geiranger, sampled some local chocolates and some local beers and then it was all aboard to see the fjord! We cruised around for 90 minutes seeing the waterfalls (which Iceland had completely spoiled for us). It was absolutely impossible to fathom how farming on the edge of the fjord was managed - stories of children being tied up so that they didn't fall over the edge, and ladders being lifted to avoid an encounter with the tax man. Unbelievable. And it was also unbelievable that some people think it's okay to stand right in front of you when you're taking a photo, despite the fact that pretty much the whole outdoor section of the boat is vacant on account of the rain.
After that, it was time for our dinner - and time for the cruise ships to leave the harbour, much to Belinda's delight. The evening finished with whisky in tea cups - because holidays.
Next morning we awoke to the views of the fjord, and we buffet breakfasted to views of the fjord, and we packed our bags to views of the fjord.
We continued on our journey south, stopping off to change drivers at Lom Kirkje, a wooden church which looked all the more majestic in the sun with dark clouds behind it. We attempted to keep outrunning the rain as we zigged and zagged threw the Jotunheimen National Park. As we got higher up in the mountains, the temperature dropped until we could see glaciers and snow and the out-of-car time got shorter and shorter.
Eventually we wound our way into Laerdal for food, glorious food! The less-impressive-than-his-profile-picture Tomas showed us around our gorgeous yellow house for the night, and we settled in to enjoy our waterfall views, Daim icecream cake, hvitlok brod and cooking in a kitchen with no bench-level powerpoints.
Friday morning saw us on the move again, questing (as always) for more views. The Jurassic Park theme song came out yet again once we had worked our way up to Stegastein, a viewing platform jutting 350m over the edge of the cliff. The views were not bad, but we actually liked the views from Ås better, even though it was lower down the mountain. We met an American couple there who told us that "y'all should go to Flam" and indeed we did. Via a 24.5k tunnel. Those Norwegians know how to tunnel. They don't let a little thing like a mountain get in the way of being where they want to be.
So we arrived in Flam ten minutes before the train set off up the mountain. Perfect timing strikes again. While eating our sandwiches ('Flamwiches'), we chugged up one of the world's steepest and most beautiful railway lines, stopped at Kjossfossen (waterfall on the way up to Myrdal) and managed to resist the unexpectedly manly charms of the Huldra (forest spirit). Once we were safely back in Flam we embarked on an unsuccessful quest for yellow cake in Flam and Voss before giving up and tunnelling our way to Bergen.
Our Airbnb there was conveniently located within walking distance of a supermarket and we performed our evening shop with all the precision of a well-oiled machine. No more needing to translate every word on every packet' no more wandering aimlessly down aisles. We know that the olives are good, the dips are powdered, the brown cheese is a bit weird, and we even know how to operate the bread slicing machine. I did chuckle when I saw "Australian standard" sunscreen at the checkout though - SPF50 instead of the regular SPF20 on offer. And I absolutely can't wait to try my Cheez Doodles...