Hell yeah! Norway 2011.
Why 'hell yeah'? Because riding through spectacular Norway scenery makes you want to say 'hell yeah, this is beautiful' every few miles! After riding through Ireland and UK, we got the will for riding even more up north. Norway was on our minds for some time, we had the opportunity and took it. Unlike usual, we started pretty much unprepared and hoped for the best; I bought some maps, guidelines and printed out the highlights so we don’t miss anything THAT important and we were ready to go. I took my privately owned GSX1400 for this ride, and was very happy to see how it will work out. Well, one R1200GS would be muuuch better choice, but nevermind. Anyway, let’s roll!
‘Riding the train’
After riding on the highway for 1100 miles to reach UK (2 years ago), we didn’t want to repeat it again. So this time, we booked the train from Trieste (Italy) to take us all the way to Hamburg (Gremany). Great way to spare the tyres and avoid those boring highways. So we started from Hamburg around noon, with the plan to reach the ferry port on the north of Denmark till the night. This was my first ride in Denmark and I was surprised by the driving culture out there- speed limits are well respected- so we had to slow down a bit :) Since Denmark wasn’t our destination, we just followed the main road up north, although it seemed very interesting and will definitely consider visiting it again.
‘Riding the ferry’
After the train, came the ferry. And I usually don’t like long ferry rides, specially when the weather is not, at least, superb- I’m modest, I know :) Anyway, after over three hours of riding (instead of two) due to bad weather, I was very surprised to see sunshine when we touched the Norway ground. Since the plan was to reach the popular Lysefjord till the evening, we hit the road number E39 and head west. Nature along was beautiful; riding through small villages following the curvy road between numerous lakes, blue sky and relatively warm weather (around 20 degrees) made our day.
Climbing instead of riding
6:30AM! Time to get up! The plan was to climb up to the Preikstolen; a famous mountain formed like a huge pulpit towering over the Lysefjord at incredible 604 meters (1982 feet)!
At the bottom, there are a few signs showing the way and the time one needs to climb up… It clearly showed: two hours. I immediately told Ana- this is 45 minutes for us, we are in ‘top’ shape… Yeah right- what a mistake- it really took whole two hours of walking and even climbing at some points- but when we reached the top, it was all worthwhile. The view, and above all the feeling at the top was priceless; silence, fresh air and pure nature mixed with a bit of fear… Definitely a ‘must see’ location! We continued driving north (road 13) towards Eidfjord; stopping every few miles to do some photography; you could just sense the force of water coming down form all the hills around us; ‘fossen’ is the word for a waterfall; and there were so many of them that we stopped counting.
‘Sogn og fjordane’
Next day without any big plans, we started riding west- we saw a road on the map that was marked as ‘Scenic’ and we just had to ride it. We weren’t actually sure where we’ll end the day, but we knew we can’t go wrong. Riding in Norway is just like that- with so beautiful raw nature all around, you just cannot miss. The only ‘thing’ is the temperature, especially for us used to warm summer- although it gets up to 20 degrees, most of the time you’re riding around 15 or less. Not bad, but it seeks for some adjustments. Especially that day- the road took us up the mountain pass where we had the chance to play with snow in the middle of summer!
Along the way we visited one of Norway’s famous stave churches, called ‘stavkirke’. They are actually made of wood, and date all the way from Middle Ages when most of the churches were made of stone. One of the most famous is Urnes Stave Church in Luster- not only the oldest one, it is also the only one on UNSECO World Heritage List. We ended the day cruising around the ‘Sogn og fjordane’ county; enjoying excellent asphalt roads, low traffic and stunning views. We made ourselves dinner in our ‘Hytta’ that evening- charming wooden apartment that can be found for rent almost everywhere along Norway..
This is what Ana wrote in her notebook in the morning: ‘ Waking up at 7 (Darko), and at 8 (me). Meanwhile, Darko made breakfast’. Very cool Ana :)
Before Geirangerfjord, we visited Dalsnibba, a mountain above Geiranger valley that offers a very good view on Geirangerfjord. Due to its height (1500 meters/4921 feet) and scenery around, Dalsnibba is also often called ‘the world’s finest view’.
When we started approaching the Geirangerfjord (the most famous fjord in Norway), rain started to approach us; so we quickly rushed to the other side of the fjord, stopping for some amazing views but unfortunately in the fear of rain. We did manage to find some accommodation before the rain really started, but due to the bad weather forecast for next few days, we couldn’t stay in Geirangerfjord for a day or two like planned.
Trollstigen and the Atlantic Road
Morning. The plan is to reach and drive through Trollstigen and head north to avoid the rain. Trollstigen is a huge tourist attraction and actually a second best known road in Norway- it is a road with steep incline of 9 percent and consists of 11 hairpin bends up a steep mountainside; with a waterfall right aside. And there is a stunning viewpoint above the road.
After Trollstigen, we reached ‘the number one’ road in Norway- Atlantic Road. It has been awarded the status of ‘national tourist route’ because of the architecture of the road and the bridges, and the incredible coastline it passes through. The 5 miles (8km) long road curves across low bridges, connecting several small islands in the Atlantic. What was fascinating to me was the feeling of Atlantic in the air, intertwining with cold winds, beautiful curves and pure nature along the islands. Fascinating!
It’s raining, man!
After breakfast in a nearby town Steinkjer, everything kinda smelled like rain. As we started, so did the rain; and it followed us (or we followed it) basically all the way until the end of the day; about 470 miles (750km) that day- and certainly some 370 miles (600km) through the rain. Of course, only local roads, no highway. Places that we passed I can’t remember, except Mo i Rana, which should be the destination. But, as it was raining, we somehow quickly passed through the center in search of a shelter. What a mistake. In front of us was a famous border of the Arctic Circle, with no accommodation along since it is a part of the mountain. Night had descended, the clouds grew darker, the wind got stronger, and it was of course raining… We drove another 90 miles (150 km) to the place where we found accommodation, around 23h. I do not have a single photo of the day; rain suits, rain covers and rain killed my will to take out the camera. Too bad..
Due to the lack of time, we made a plan to reach Lofoten (Lofotr) islands as our last destination on this trip- they are easy reachable by the ferry and on our way back we could ride through the islands back to the shore. The ferry drove us 3h30min, and we spent a good part of the day out there in the sun on the deck chairs and enjoying the view of the surrounding islands. It looked as the sky was divided into two parts- one cloudy that we left on the mainland, and the other part is the deep blue sky with no clouds; and in between as if someone had drawn a line with a ruler and not let the clouds pass on the other side. One of our most favorite ferry rides ever, could mach the one towards Vis Island in our Croatia.
Lofoten- I'll say it like this-really wow super ultra beautiful islands in the north of Norway, and anyone interested in learning more can google. I’ll try to explain that with photos- it is truly a must-see destination when in Norway. What may be the only problem is the weather. It changes quickly, from clear blue sky to dark clouds in just an hour or so. We were lucky; it was sunny, but quite cold despite the sun (about 12 degrees). Enjoying outdoors, horseback riding, fishing, excursions that include whale watching, are just a few of the various options there. We found accommodation very late- we didn’t even notice the time (around 23:00) since there is actually no night here…
‘Return home’ point
Despite cloudy and cold weather the next day (6 degrees), we visited a popular museum on the islands- The Lofotr Viking Museum; it is a reconstruction of the 83 meters long Chiefdom that was erected at Borg in the Lofoten Islands around 500 AD! From when we entered the Viking chieftain’s house, it was like being transported back to the Viking Age; a true experience with great guides, demonstration and food. Definitely worth visiting.
We continued riding south, again passing through Arctic Circle where we finally did see some blue skies; but cloudy weather marked the day. We stopped at Laksfossen- there is a small waterfall where you can see live salmon jumping out of the water trying to climb the waterfall. Beautiful scenery and an awesome restaurant above!
Oslo, Kopenhavn, Berlin and Prague
In next few days, we visited Oslo, Berlin and Prague on our way home. We were on a tight schedule and decided to spend only one day in each city- except for Oslo where a terroristic attack happened just one day before our arrival; so we spent only one afternoon there and moved on. We crossed from Sweden to Denmark over (and under!) the famous Oresund bridge- a bridge that runs around 5 miles (8km) above sea and then turns into a tunnel for its last 2,5 miles (4km). Very interesting to see and experience.
Kopenhagen (Kopenhavn) we liked a lot. The city is full of tourists, but most of these are young people, a lot of alternatives and various artists. We visited Nyhavn, a part of the town that looks very 'kopenhagen-ish'. Colorful alleys, restaurants literally one on another, canals and boats that operate on them… Nearby we also found the ‘Little Mermaid’ and other cultural attractions that mark the city. We spent a beautiful afternoon there before continuing to Berlin.
Berlin is a massive, historically rich and beautifully decorated metropolis and is one of the most famous destinations in Europe. We enjoyed the ‘whole day walk’ and finally got some sun to recharge the batteries.
After riding the highway for several hours and thinking about the romantic sunset along the Vltava River, the sequence was typical for us. We arrived 10 minutes after the sunset; we had a fight while looking for accommodation too long and finally walked along the Vltava River, but anyone on each side of the street cause being mad :) But the dinner brought us back together and we were again happy :) I blame the hunger, we’re all anxious when hungry :)
Home sweet home
We spent the day riding back home; had some stops for ‘fastfood-ing’ and of course a stop in Graz- you can always buy something there. We visited several bike stores and our favorite chocolate shop near the centre; and in 2 hours entered Croatia; as always we were excited to see Croatian flag, but also sad cause our adventure has ended.
We very, very, very much liked Norway and places we visited; as mentioned the raw nature, exceptional landscape and great roads are definitely a just few things to visit Norway (again) for!