‘What is the view like?’ She asks. I reply that this is probably Norway’s most photographed fjord. We are talking about Geiranger, of course.
There has been a lot of snow in the mountains this year and as we began our journey, the road FV63 finally opened by The Troll Path ‘Trollstigen’ after the winter closure. The path was on our must-see list, should we get the possibility to drive there. Not too long after, the stretch from Langvatnet down to Geiranger opened. No reason not to take that part of the road too.
There is no sun, but fortunately the clouds are not too low, so we have a nice view of the mountains and the fjord. Luckily it is still too early in the season for the great hordes of cruise ships that come to the village.
The wind is cold and bitter when we turn onto FV63 from the south, and the snow verges soon become higher either side of us. Here and there snow scatters down onto the road. I look back to see if our guests in the vehicle behind clear any avalanches. Everything is OK. We take it easy as we drive through a part of Norway that is still wearing its winter coat. We pass cabins that have not been visited for several months. They would need digging out first. Soon, though, we see the landscape opening up towards the Geiranger Fjord. The bends in the road start to get tight. The view is just getting better as we drive closer and soon the snow disappears too.
Love. A popular phenomenon has seen its beginnings in Geiranger too. While the guys admire the fine stainless steel railing, we girls are more focused on the padlocks hanging here, soon to be many more, no doubt.
We park down by the ferry pier to take a look around Geiranger. Down here there is a really strong wind and we don’t feel like staying outside too long. We use the toilet, have a little browse around the tourist information (connecting to the Wi-Fi), and admire some old buildings close by. With the exception of a bus full of French tourists rushing into the souvenir shop, very little is going on here today. Soon though, this will change. Geirangerfjord is on UNESCOs World Heritage Site list, and up to 700 000 visitors (and more than 200 cruise ships) are expected to visit during the year. *
No cruise ships here today. The biggest boat we see is the ferry from Geiranger to Hellesylt that left the wharf as we arrived. We considered travelling on this ferry at an earlier stage in the planning of the trip. It’s a beautiful journey, but that was before we knew that certain mountain passes would suddenly open again. Therefore, our priorities changed.
On a warmer summer day it would also be tempting to hike to one of the farms surrounding the Geirangerfjord, the old farm ‘Skageflå’ being one. You can take a boat to Skagehola and from there walk the 45 minutes up to the farm. The return can be done over the mountain. Another time perhaps.
We jump back into the vehicles, creep slowly around the hair pin bends and stop in Ørnesvingen (the Eagle’s bend), at the viewing platform a little way up the hill. We admire the stunning view. The fjord lies there so quietly, like the calm before the storm. In a few months it will seethe with life down there. Today we see only an occasional boat chugging along past the waterfall ‘The Seven Sisters’. We can see a little of it from where we stand and one of the other old farms clinging to the mountainside. The fact that someone actually settled here and built them is impressive.
We continue over the mountain, arriving at Eidsdal, where we take the ferry to Linge. Still cloudy in the sky but it stays dry. The sun makes feeble attempts to shine through the clouds. We head along Storfjorden before the road takes us inland and up towards the mountains again. We stop for a while, at Gudbrandsjuvet, where interesting architecture is interacting with the river that cascades down through a gorge.
The cafe hasn’t opened for the season yet. Something warm would have been nice. We drive on, returning to winter, with white topped mountains and high snow banks. Fortunately the road is dry though.
Suddenly we are there, at the ‘Troll Path’. We park up at the visitor centre near the top and are greeted by a freezing cold wind when we step outside. Inside the centre there is big fire burning in the fireplace and it is tempting just to stay there. Another English couple agree with us. Tony and I discuss coffee drinks again, but here they can only offer plain black coffee. The cafe has a touch of canteen about it, it’s cold and naked, but the building itself is very interesting. It really focuses on the real star here, nature. With large panoramic windows to the mountains and water mirrors that play with the contrasts of the surroundings.
We crawl back into one of the cambulances for a lunch of hot soup. Needless to say it warms us well and soon we are ready to meet the elements. We manage to make our way down to the first observation deck, having clung to the rail a few times in the strong wind. The second observation deck is closed due to risk of avalanche (although we see that a few people are ignoring that). Unfortunately we don’t quite catch the view all the way down the valley.
We embrace it soon enough anyway, as we begin our journey down with our four wheelers. We are greeted by sharp bends and steep mountainsides. Around us tower the peaks of the ‘Bishop’, the ‘King’ and the ‘Queen’. We take it slow. Focussing on the driving, we also try to enjoy the view as well. We are high up in our Land Rovers, which makes it more exciting when being close to the edge. In our case it is Joe, driving a right hand vehicle on the right side of the road.
What a beautiful and dramatic piece of Norway! The sky is not blue, but the weather has really stayed fine anyway. In our opinion we’ve been lucky, again.
* Source: www.visitnorway.com