Saturday, April 27, 2013

Norway: An Epic Drive

On a visit to the gateway to the fjords, we thought it would be nice to get out and see some actual fjords.  Typically one would do this on some sort of cruise, but considering the fact that (a) we are still in the pre-season ("come back in May next week.") so cruise options are somewhat limited and (b) a cruise confines us with our little sweet morsels to a small enclosed space for a while, we opted to take a scenic drive instead.

When we woke up on Saturday morning and it was absolutely gorgeous, no rain clouds in sight, it was just confirmed to us that we had to get out and see the countryside.  Interestingly, this had been marked as the "best day of the week" since the weather predictions became available a few weeks ago.  The forecast for the other days of our trip had since deteriorated, but Saturday still had a little sunshine next to it.  And so it was!

T and C walked over to the Avis city rental location after breakfast to rent the car.  We had a voucher for a free rental day, and as rentals here go for around $200 US per DAY, this was pretty much our highest value redemption ever.  We headed east on E16, then off onto County Road 7, which is not only the more scenic drive up Hardangerfjord, but it was the only option because E16 was closed due to a rockslide.

It's hard to describe the scenery that greeted us.  It was epic, grandiose, dramatic.  Sheer rock faces, hanging waterfalls, tunnels and bridges, chasms, crystal clear green water, and smooth, icy glaciers.

Trusty car

Thatched roof bus stop

Nursing break!

Lumber mill

The kids took a long nap in the car which gave Mom and Dad some peace and quiet to enjoy the scenery and some adult conversation - amazing!  We briefly considered deviating from our planned route to take a car ferry over to Kinsarvik, but opted not to wake them up, and continued our planned route out to Ulvik.

 Once there, my map showed a road spur that went up to a little collection of houses called Oso up in a basin, and then ended.  Since T loves to find The End of The Road, we followed it!  Well, at the end of the road, a sign indicated a scenic viewpoint if you went up to the left, so we did.... and climbed higher and higher, past the National Park boundary and the new power lines that were going in, up past where a single plow-width had been made in the snow, until there was enough ice on the road that we didn't feel comfortable continuing in our little compact hatchback.  It wasn't *quite* the end of the road, but it was close enough to the end of the plowed road (and the sheer rock faces that surrounded the box canyon) that we're going to count it.  It felt very similar to our jaunt up into the Chilean Andes a few years ago.


Funny travel-with-kids story: D is daytime potty trained.  Once we passed a certain point on the road, there were no more rest areas with potties appearing.  No problem, I figure - he's a boy, he can pee standing up.  Well, apparently peeing standing up is an acquired skill instead of a natural ability.  We gave him three or four opportunities, met with much resistance, before he finally gave up and just went in his pants, pretty traumatized by the fact that when he told us he had to go, we had not provided a potty.  Poor guy.  We'll have to work on that one.

We got back into Bergen and back to the hotel just in time for evening "appetizers," which we call dinner.  There was chicken/curry fried rice and some BBQ chicken.  There was also about 100 middle school boys and their chaperones, apparently over from Oslo for a basketball tournament this weekend.  The kitchen almost couldn't keep up with bringing meat out to feed them.  The upside of this situation was that the kitchen had left the pannekaken batter out and the griddle on for them (otherwise we would have missed  the pancake window!).  The downside was that the little hoodlums were swarming the griddle, and it was impossible to get in to it!  Finally T stood in the queue they had going, which was actually very orderly under the circumstances.  He chatted to them about basketball, and they seemed very polite and not like hoodlums at all.  And the only one of them who had a favorite NBA player chose Kobe and not LeBron.  So I take it back about calling them hoodlums.

After dinner, we all returned the car to Avis and had a cold but pleasant walk back to the hotel, and as it was pretty late, got to see a slice of Bergen nightlife.

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