Our fledgling love affair with Norway is sealed today. What we’ve seen to date was the lightest of a lover’s kiss: by day’s end we’re in the heat of a passionate embrace.
Having bolted into Bergen on the shortest possible route, we are backtracking along the scenic route as a precursor to our trek North. The drive takes us cross country to Hardangerfjorden and this is where we fall in love.
The countryside is exquisite. I spend most of the day hanging out of my window, desperate to capture even a fraction of what’s unfolding before us.
The day’s first surprise is a stunning waterfall: Steinsdalfossen. No 5km trek to to find this one. No. It thunders down, conveniently a short walk up a steep hill with walkway that not only takes you up to it, but under it and beyond. It’s stunning powerful – the roar standing under it is like a jet engine on take off. A green valley sparkles below. It’s one of the things I love about travelling without an itinerary – surprises like this are around every corner, all the more special having discovered them accidentally.
Shortly after, Hardangerfjorden stretches before us in all her glory. An endlessly deep blue, a colour that changes tone with each cloud, each ray of sun. Bergen may have been misted, but today is gloriously sunny. Having grizzled about the shots I lost yesterday, I wouldn’t trade today’s opportunities for anything. I lose count of how many pictures I take around the 250 mark.
Mine will no doubt, as did others before them, fail to scratch the surface of justice of what we’re seeing. Majestically glorious, heart stopping beautiful, my words are reduced to squeals. I let my camera do its best.
Our drive takes us through the Hardanger route, a landscaped parkland, 158 kilometres of extraordinary natural beauty that’s captivated hikers and tourists for over 100 years. No doubt a truckload (boat load?) of Vikings, well before. Chris and I have travelled extensively and this is hands down the most beautiful country we’ve seen.
By late afternoon, my camera has overheated, and we’ve started a terrifyingly steep, 7 hairpin turn, one after the other, ascent up a mountain.
I’ve worked out with years of experience, it’s not heights I’m scared of… it’s the plummet to death that gives me sweaty palms. Chris, as you will know though, is fearless. Even he though, has pause for thought when the motor home fails to takes a steep hairpin turn, slipping backwards through three attempts. I’m ready to be carried off to the psych ward, but he calmly backs down, floors the beast and clears it. That’s over 5 tonne of vehicle being trekked up 30 degree incline. I will say once more, I’m so grateful I’m not responsible for driving.
His end game has merit. We clear the tree line and enter snow territory at mountain’s top. It’s here we settle for the night, surrounded by hard core mountains, snow drifts; nature in its pristine, unspoilt glory.
As a bonus, the midnight sun is in full force, with only a couple of hours qualifying for twilight at best. Despite an intensive binocular search, I fail to find any wildlife. Luckily this is no hardship – the landscape keeps me enthralled well into the wee hours. I love this country.