Background: 32 years ago we traveled in Scandinavia - Sweden, Finland and Norway. We promised ourselves that we would revisit Norway. Years went by and this destination was so expensive it was pushed to our unreachable dream drawer, till 2011. I booked tickets 9 months in advance, and the production started rolling.
As soon as they opened the booking to Hurtigruten cruises, I booked it for 4 nights, trip leaving Bergen the same day we landed at 20:00, toward Harstad.
We reached Bergen and as predicted by the weather forecast, it was rainy. We received our National rented car - Volvo V70 STW Diesel - and went looking for Hurtigruten port in Bergen.
The ship we had the privilege to sail on was named after Hurtigruten's founder - Richard With who was put to service in 1993. When we saw the weather, the small cabin we received, and the amount of luggage we had to fit in it, our spirits fell a little. But at 20:00, when the boat left the port, the sky had cleared, as if the sky signaled it would be a successful trip. By the way, the cabin didn't grow larger, but became redundant because we were outside of the cabin all day long, and outer and inner decks.
During the cruise, the ship stops each day at different ports. I checked the various tours and registered in advance for a tour on the first day that visited Ålesund and Geirangerfjord. We were quite lucky there because when we arrived to Geirangerfjord by land the fjord was covered by fog.
Don't miss Ålesund with its beautiful art deco construction.
On our third day we took a tour to Svartisen Glacier, to which you arrive from the see by a smaller boat, where the lake created by the glacier meltdown separated us and the glacier.
After that we were taken to the bird island. Traveling near it, was the ship's crew feeding sea gulls while sailing - a fabulous view.
In Bodo we met our mother ship.
On our last day when the ship passed the Trollfjord at 23:30 we stayed awake till 12:30 and my husband till 1:30. The view was intoxicating. Trollfjord is just beautiful, and it's true the ship doesn't scratch the fjord boundaries but the place is indeed dramatic and the ship maneuvers here to turn. We chose to see the fjord on our way back but unfortunately the weather was so rainy and foggy and the ship didn't even get into the fjord.
When I booked the the trip we ordered only two meals a day. In the hearty breakfast they serve salmon, many different servings, cheese and a variety of eggs. At noon there was a big buffet in which we also ate a lot of Omega 3. For dinner we usually ordered a large shrimp and vegetable sandwich from the snack bar for 65 krone which was a reasonable price for what we got. One day we decided to replace lunch by dinner. We booked it prior, but when we came to the dining room, the manager arrived and said they were wrong and kindly asked if we were willing to sit at the captain's table.
I looked at my husband with astonishment - I wasn't dressed with my appropriate evening gown which would fit for the captain's table, the way I remembered it in mythological "Love Boat". For a moment I pictured the meeting with captain Stubing, but when we arrived to the table another couple of women sat there. Apparently, they overbooked their table also. So it wasn't a captain but two retired Swedish women.
We had a fascinating talk with them all evening, in which we got to know Sewden demographic issues, and the problem they had with the wildlife. Foxes, wolves and turtles get into people's gardens and destroy them and they can't do anything about it. At most, if there are more then 6 intruders in the garden they can call the authorities. They live in Stockholm, and not in some forest town.
It was a moving experience to get to know them and talk with them during the sail.
I reserved a room in advance in the visitor center residing near the famous lighthouse, but when we got there we saw it was a dump. We escaped quickly and immediately saw a sign on the right saying ROM = room. We got a house with a top floor kitchen, living room, TV, ground floor bathroom and a toilet for 700 krone with an amazing view to the islands. We did a tour near the lighthouse, and it turned out that our owner's grandfather was the lighthouse keeper and the room we stayed in was his room.
After fixing the accommodation issue, we drove to Bleik which was 7 km from Andenes on the western part of the island because we booked a trip for 15:00 for the birds islands. The ship was a fishing boat, no where to sit, just to grab some ship part and hope we won't fly overboard.
The ship rattled between the waves and we prayed for good. We knew in advance that you could not disembark on the Bleik bird island as it was 32 years ago, but the ship encircled the island and we had plenty of time to take pictures of the many Puffins. The Puffins can hardly be found on the island itself as in the last 10 years the sea eagles have grown in numbers and they preyed upon them. So they stay in groups among the waves. The tour was an hour and a half.
In order to get warm after the cruise, we went back to Andenes, to a restaurant recommended by the locals right near Andrikken Hotell, a block beside it. In the front fast food, and behind fish. We ate creamy fish soup and a great fish. The dishes are quite large and it cost 660 krone for a couple. We decided to satisfy in one dish or we'll go bankrupt by the end of the trip. The place is called Lysthuset Sørvesten Restaurant, and more details can be found here:
The next day we had a booking for a whale trip, but after the scary experience with the birds island we decided to give it up. Instead we traveled to the neighboring islands. First, we got to Sortland to make sure the cabin we booked indeed existed, and indeed a huge cabin was waiting for us there, one of the prettiest and most expensive of the trip.
The next day we decided to exchange some cash, do shopping, and fill up our gas tank. Tasks which seem very simple in any trip, turn out to be hard ones. A day earlier we saw in Sortland port a shopping center, a bank, and a gas station and we assumed all tasks could be completed there.
We went for the first bank and they told us they didn't have cash. We searched for another bank - none. Shopping was easy - we spent 400 krone in a few minutes. We wanted to fill gas with a credit so we wouldn't waste the little cash we had in our pocket. After entering the gas station and a thorough explanation from the girl at the counter we finally managed to fill the gas tank. It was also difficult drinking coffee from machines. You get change in gas stations and super markets only from special machines.
We drove south toward Melbu and got into a place with a bank looking for cash. On one of the places they told us that we won't get cash in any bank in the area because it's a well known problem existing from last year - banks don't hold cash money. All transactions are done using credit cards.
So, if you come to Norway better bring with you local money for the entire stay, in addition to credit cards with an electronic chip. They were willing to accept signature but with chip it was simpler.
We got on another Hurtigruten ferry at 13:00 as planned for another cruise toward Svolvær. I remembered on the first cruise they mentioned that they exchange money. So I went to the clerks on the third floor and wanted to exchange. At first the cashier was willing to exchange only 500 Euros, but then she called her superior cause I wanted to change 3000 Euros. After I explained to him my problem he was willing to change 1000 Euros. I sent my husband after half an hour so he could exchange too. Of course this guy knew the connection, but was willing to exchange him 1000 Euros also. Overall, it was enough for the rest of the trip.
So, we gained from the cruise the money exchange, watching an orchestra playing in the intense cold, rain and wind but didn't give up, and some gloomy landscapes.
We got back from the ferry at 18:00, and given our experience headed toward our booked place at Lofoten Guesthouse (formally known as Anne Gerd's Lofoten, http://www.lofoten-guesthouse.com/). It was an expensive accommodation. You reach it with the GPS easily and the view behind the house is amazing. We got to the house and it turned out they had a computer break down, and all of the reservations had been deleted, us among them. I booked in October and had a lot of email correspondence with her. Didn't think there would be a problem here. She apologized many times and called a friend of hers who had a lone house in the historic center of Svolvær near the Rorbus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorbu), and managed to get us the house at the same price we booked at her, just without the breakfast.
The house had an amazing part of the mountain called "The Svolvær Goat"(http://www.gonorway.com/norway/articles/175) which is one of Lofoten's symbols (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lofoten), to many Rorbu houses and fish drying flakes (hjell).
Mrs. Ann bought us some coffee and also took us to a place we wanted to visit near the river - Magic Ice (http://www.magicice.no/). This place is a huge hall with temperatures that are freezing to death - you need to wear all the clothes you brought including your coat, wool hat, and gloves and you will still get cold shock upon entrance. I got in, got out, recovered, and got in again. I love the cold, but not that much.
We got into Borg to visit the Viking Museum (http://www.lofotr.no/) . In 5 centigrade temperature, with wind blowing, we felt we were totally freezing, when all we did was get into the main building after buying a ticket in the new building. We saw the exhibition which was very suitable for kids. We didn't even dare go on the viking ship. We got to the building where the souvenir shop was located to get some soup and get warm. Our noses were leaking the whole time and we had to use toilet paper (tissue was in the car). We bought two magnets for 55 krone each - quite expensive for other places in Norway.
30 km before Å we decided to give up due the stormy weather, the fog and the mist, and we got back to our pre ordered place for the night in Ballstad, a place called Solsiden-Brygge (http://www.solsiden-brygge.no/). We got a very comfortable apartment with bed sheets, kitchen and toilets at lower price than we agreed in our email correspondence.
The next day we woke up for a brighter morning, and my husband told me - "Can we go back without pictures of Å ?" Despite the very long drive required for this day we decided to go back in that direction. What got us more excited was Reine.
When it was time to look for a place to stay for the long night, we thought of settling in camping at the Lofoten's entrance - but we couldn't find it. We decided to check the cost of staying at the hotel but the price (1250 krone with breakfast) convinced my husband to keep looking.
Camping we saw on the map eastern toward Sweden turned out to be closed. We found an X on the sign directing to it. We asked in the gas station where we could find a place for the night, and eventually we found a hotel at Bjerkvik, considered a workers' hotel, but set on the banks of a fjord with an amazing view to the fjord, comfortable rooms with excellent breakfast for 1090 krone. Hour was 20:30 so we also ate dinner at the hotel - meat with unrecognizable side dish for expensive 279 krone.
But the view the next day when we woke up was a huge compensation for the price we paid and all the cloudy days we had experienced so far.
This day was one of the prettiest days of the trip. The road crossing Norway to Sweden, 10E, close to Narvik, was one of the prettiest roads on the trip. Full of snow, lakes, some frozen and some melted, sun was shiny painting all in deep shades of blue. Sometimes there were diamond like sparkles in the water.
Once we got close to the reservation, a huge blue lake and a saddle shape mountain welcomed us. The lake hypnotized us with it's beauty... Finally the day painted in blue with the sky up high. First thing, we went to the reservation center where I found an interesting board with all the pictures on birds that exist in the area, with a button beside each of them. When you press the button you can listen to the bird tweet. Recommended! (There's also toilet there). Before the visitor center there's an example for Lapland tent.
We crossed the road below the tunnel and turned right onto a bridge where we parked our car and started walking by foot along the reservation canyon. The canyon is rocky, some black and some marble like gray. We went to the end of the canyon and then got back to the bridge and turned right on the south bank for a circular walk till a wooden bridge and back on the north bank. The entire walk with a 5 minute break took two hours and was wonderful.
Finally we were wearing sun blocking hats and not wool hats.
Right after we finished walking we went for our pre booked place Abisko Mountain Lodge (http://www.abiskomountainlodge.se/en/). Turns out they have four cabins. Each cabin cost 950 krone. The cabin was equipped with kitchen and toilet but the shower was in the shared main building, few steps of distance - nothing to worry about.
Right after we settled and ate soup with meatloaf, we drove toward Kiruna (40 km for each direction). On the way we encountered our first surprise, in the form of 4 reindeers who were very close to us and walked in the woods. Before we had the time to relax from the sight of the 4, another reindeer just crossed the road and turned to a dirt road. This was our second surprise. We immediately u-turned and drove to the road he went down. It was just waiting for us to shoot him, and this is what we did.
We decided to eat dinner at the lodge. The cost for full service (appetizers, main course and deserts) for a single person was 430 krone. So we decided to take only main courses - 250 krone for each, which was very expensive to the food samples we got. Indeed the food is served very nicely, but there's not much to each. Lucky we weren't too hungry because of the soup we ate when we got there.
The woman running this lodge was very nice, she talked with us a bit, and explained that the next day everyone was going to the meadow celebrating the coming of spring. Only the next morning, instead of waking to spring, we woke to a rainy and cloudy morning.
This flower below symbols the coming of the spring.
We didn't go into Narvik. Last time we visited there we took the cable train (Fjellheisen), however this time it was still closed. The Fjellheisen is open from 12/6 -30/8, 13:00-21:00 and it's very recommended for those of you in the area.
Toward lunchtime we started getting hungry. We drove many kilometers without seeing any restaurants. With no choice we entered a camping site, but the restaurant was closed. We arrived to another town and one lady told us in 15 mins drive, we'll find Kobbelv Vertshus Tavern (http://www.visitnorway.com/en/Product/?pid=107764) which is a good place to eat. She mentioned that if we miss it, our next chance for food is in Fauske which was too far for our starved bellies.
The next 15 mins felt like an eternity. Suddenly, our salvation arrived and we saw their sign. I'm marching ahead hearing the noise of a waterfall. I forgot that I was hungry, and discovered a huge waterfall I didn't know, even from all the books I'd read, that this existed. A small troll was located on a rock which split the water. Only after filming and shooting this huge waterfall did we enter the restaurant.
The place was a popular restaurant with a big hall. You can have a buffet for 250 krone or a salmon with a side dish of mashed sweet potatoes and free salads for 90 krone. We chose the latter. We chose as many Omega 3 we can put on our plate and left full stomached on our way.
Fauske is well known for its marble quarries, located in the municipality. The marble, know as Norwegian Rose, is exported to many countries, where it can be observed in many monumental buildings, among them the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the imperial palace in Tokyo, etc.
The marble is is pinkish and stripped. We thought we may observe buildings in the city with this marble, but I guess they didn't do construction with their own marble. The only place we saw a bit of marble was in the town squares and in the museum.
Morning, sun was shining and we drove toward Bodø but this time we didn't pay it a visit because we saw it in the past. So right before Bodø we turned to road RV17, considered one of the most beautiful roads in Norway. When we passed Saltstraumen we were able to see from the bridge, the tidal current forming. We were struck, not wanting to move trying to understand this amazing natural phenomena.
Later we used two ferries to cross, the views were indeed amazing, and unlike the view you see from the boat in the Hurtigruten sail, the RV17 also passes near Svartisen Glacier but in another region than we had seen during the cruise. The distance is further, but a glacier is a glacier, and always exciting.
At 18:30 that day we reached a camping site at Mo i Rana. The camping didn't have vacancies and we were too tired to continue driving. The owner told us that in 15 km there would be another camping site. I asked him to call them to check if there was room there, because if not, I'd start to look for a hotel in Mo i Rana, but gladly there wasn't an answer there. So I pressed him a bit and asked if he had another vacant cabin to assist us. He considered this, and told us there was an apartment he was reserving to someone till 19:00 but since it was 20 min to 19:00 he'd give it us, and hope he wouldn't be rebuked. We paid for the place and vanished hoping the family he reserved the apartment for wouldn't suddenly show up.
It was a well equipped apartment, with a 52" TV. We couldn't figure out how to turn on the stoves but from obvious reasons we didn't ask. So for dinner we ate salad.
From Mo i Rana E12 we left to the east, this is the blue road. We didn't have to visit it, so we continued south on E6 and near Korgen we were supposed to pass a 10 km tunnel.
We hate tunnels, and I immediately noticed in the map a byroad reaching all the way to Løkvatnet. We immediately chose it and this was a very good choice. It was 13 km of beautiful roads, snowy mountains with snow reaching sometimes up to 1.5 m and frozen lakes. We enjoyed every moment of our selection.
We continued with E6 which drives along the famous rivers, Namsen and Vefsna.
The first large powerful waterfall was Laksforsen Falls. This site can be seen from the coffee house balcony located in the place. Of course we indulged ourselves with coffee and delicious cheese cake.
Before we arrived to the waterfall I suddenly saw at the side of the road a herd of reindeers. We immediately parked the car so we wouldn't bother them nor interfere with traffic, and started following them. A moment later the herd became startled from an SUV coming too close to them, and decided to flee and cross the road. We immediately moved our car and got closer to them. In the herd there were 15 animals and it's the largest herd I'd ever seen free in nature, right before our eyes.
My husband and I love waterfalls, so this day was a celebration for us. We drove from one waterfall to another, and after Laksforsen we searched for several other waterfalls we had trouble to find. In one of the cases we got into a super marker and asked the cashier about a certain waterfall and said it was shut down for tourist. We thought to ourselves - what does it mean the waterfall was shut down. It's not a faucet you can turn it off. So we left the super market driving slowly until we reached a bridge with a great waterfall rushing below. We drove into a dirt road, parked the car and walked some distance until we saw we're in the right direction.
The waterfall was pretty hidden by trees, without any point we can shoot it properly. The probably maintained this place in the past and decided at some point to cut the expenses the let the vegetation grow wildly. We got back to the car only to discover that we brought with us aunts which climbed till knee height. After thorough cleaning we got to car and drove.
After our incident the day before, I called at 9 am and booked a place for that night. According to our expected progress that day I booked it at Steinkjer, however when we reached there at the end of the day the owner told me I didn't booked. I brought the camping book and showed him the place with its phone and he admit that indeed it's his but insisted I didn't talk with him. I remembered all call details and tried to refresh his memories but in vain.
We continued driving toward Trondheim and found a motel with large rooms for 600 krone and bed sheets for 25 krone per person. We ate a dinner of schnitzel, french fries and salad for 125 krone per each.
We woke up in the morning and drove from Trondheim to Kristiansund via a 5.6 km underwater tunnel toward the Atlantic Road. When we got there the sky got cloudy, however we couldn't stop admiring all of the islands. Before the curved bridge we got up on a hill and took plenty of shots of the bridge and surrounding islands. It wasn't rainy, but rather foggy though.
We decided to sleep in the area and give the bridge another chance the next day. We drove to a nice town called Bud. Bud is a very picturesque fishermen village which is worth a visit. If we hadn't wanted to visit the Atlantic Way the next day I would have missed it, because it wasn't in our original plans.
It has plenty of Rorbus, a hill from it's cliff there's an amazing view of the islands and the remains of canons and ditches from WW2. On the cliff's wall you can find a nesting ground for seagulls, and below, a rock park. Many houses are just lovely.
On Bryggjen i Bud (http://www.bryggjen.no/) I had read a recommendation on the internet. The restaurant is located on the sea shore. On every table there's a cute lighthouse (which can be purchased) and you can see from the window the view of the outside islands. In the summer there's a buffet. Since we were off season we ordered a fish plate with three types of fish and a side dish of potatoes, carrots, and broccoli for 215 krone for a plate.
The next day we tried the Atlantic Road again but the sun still didn't show up. Sadly, we continued toward Eide and from there to Molde.
All I remembered from Molde was a statue of a girl with a rose basket. I didn't remember where it stood in the city. This time we passed through the city's impressive church and reached a trumpeter statue near the dock. A bit before it, there was a market with colorful balloons that caught my attention. When we crossed the road we saw a golden building - the town hall - and in front of it, I guessed right, an "old" friend of mine, the statue of the girl with the rose basket.
From Molde we continued toward Åndalsnes, and passed on the way Romsdalsfjord from the north and south banks - the view was pretty. We stayed at Åndalsnes Camping which was right near the green colored Romsdal fjord, in front a tall mountain with a cloud in its peak. We ate bean soup and meatballs that we cooked and we immediately went for an evening drive toward Dombås.
The living room was spacious with a large table and a well equipped kitchen. We paid 895 krone, and it's very recommended.
The road to Dombås was one of the prettiest roads we've driven on this trip. The Romsdals river flowed beside us in green color, high mountains with snowy peaks in some, waterfalls in many shapes and forms. It was an extraordinary tour. After Verma there are three huge waterfalls, and later on you'll find an enormous waterfall - Slettafossen. This waterfall cut deep in the rock and created a canyon.
Right beside this waterfall, when you cross the car bridge, there's a souvenir shop with trolls in the front.
This is where we met a guy from Åndalsnes who told us that he hadn't seen this kind of water flow in more than ten years.
The next day we woke up to a rainy and foggy morning. The mountain in front of the cabin just vanished. We debated what to do and decided to drive toward Ålesund which we already saw in the Hurtigruten cruise, to delay the time we needed to drive on the troll road.
We got near it and then saw a 6 km tunnel. We immediately turned back toward the troll road. Indeed the road is curvy and narrow, but since the hour was 9 am, we hardly saw any cars from the opposite direction. It was a bit scary since it was rainy and foggy and we didn't know when we'd encounter thick fog.
Luckily, the drive to the top was with good visibility. When we reached the top we couldn't see the curvy road anymore because the fog got thicker. The waterfall on the troll road was very impressive, and the road revealed higher parts of it as it climbed higher. Upon leaving the troll road we saw walls of snow and we couldn't believe the height the snow reached.
At 14:00 we reached Geiranger, and we couldn't even see the fjord. He was obscured by a thick fog. Even the Hurtigruten boat anchoring at the pier you almost can't see.
I told my husband we needed to stop the trip and search for a place to stay. He thought I was crazy for stopping in the middle of the day but I insisted we couldn't drive this way. You don't see a thing and it's scary.
The camping in Geiranger was full so we turned toward the northern exit and by the hotel we saw another two camping sites. We chose the left one and got a cabin on the fjord bank. The cabin cost us 1040 krone.
We couldn't enjoy the views, so we drove to the town center look around in the local souvenir shops. We bought some magnets.
We entered Laizas restaurant, located near the big souvenir shop. The place is open from 10:00 to 22:00 and they serve salads, pizza with surprising toppings, fish soup, sandwiches and hand made caked. They also have take away service. We chose a pepperoni-mushroom-pineapple pizza. It was delicious and the pizza arrived really quickly.
We drove toward Grotli and who just waited for us on the road? A white reindeer. Last trip when we were driving in the wood a white reindeer crossed in front of us and we were in such a hurry to take a picture of him it all came out blurry. This time we got as compensation three reindeer. What an excitement.
We drove toward Sandane to see the waterfall at Eidsfossen. We saw a sign directing us to the deep of the woods, and when we arrived we saw a huge waterfall spraying water like a geyser. Naturally there was a hydroelectric power plant there.
We continued driving toward Florø hoping to see another waterfall I remembered on the map, but on Rygg we did a u-turn and came back. Only on the main road we saw another nice waterfall which was probably what they meant.
We drove toward Balestrand where we arrived after a mountain pass with 1.5 m snow and lakes which started melting.
The descending road is very curvy.
In our plan we were supposed to reach this hotel in the evening, similar to the hour in our last trip here. We planned to eat in their dinner buffet in which they serve fish dishes of all kinds, and many deserts. However, we arrived at noon and had to satisfy ourselves with several small dishes at lunch for 195 krone.
Apparently, this hotel expanded since our last visit, and a new structure was built adjacent to it, with very different architecture, unlike the old part built in colonial architecture.
The next day we drove into Jotunheimen (“Home of the Giants”) park. Most of the ridge is a national park which offers plenty of treks. Since we're not fond of treks, we were satisfied by the roads.
This ranch is located on the way from Sogndal to Lom not far from Sogndal. There's a turn sign to Hafslo and Tang. The family owns four huge cabins, well equipped with great view to the lake. The family's horses eat grass and walk between some fences they built for them. There's a boat with which you can sail on the lake. This place is a very comfortable exit point to visit nigardsbreen glacier and the stave church at kaupanger. It cost us 800 krone (June, 2011).
The cabin was huge with three bed rooms, large living room and kitchen.
The next day we remembered we missed visiting the stave church at kaupanger. We visited it and it seems less impressive than what I saw in the pictures. Visit in the place cost 50 krone.
The church was built in 1184 and well decorated from the inside. It looks like an upside down viking ship.
Nigardsbreen Glacier is one of the prettiest glaciers in Norway. Access to it with a car is very simple, and there's a nearby parking lot. You can notice the glacier blue cracks from the parking lot even without binoculars. From the parking lot you can walk on big stones, but it requires adequate walking shoes, and being in a good shape. You should take into account the walk is strenuous and may be dangerous in case of falling.
You can also take a boat from one side of the parking lot to the other side of the near lake, and from there walk a bit to reach the edge of the glacier.
There are two types of tours on the glacier. An hour trip, which is suitable to families with kids, and a three hour hiking tour.
In the place there's also a visitor center. From its back side you can see most of the glacier. In the visiting center there's a cafeteria, and a souvenir shop. Entrance fee is done in a cabin along the way to the glacier. You just calculated the cost, and put the money in the envelope.
We continued driving to Lustrafjord which is the innermost arm of the Sognefjord - the largest fjord in Norway, and the third longest in the world. We were very excited with intense green colors and the fjord currents. We declared it the most beautiful fjord. Well, maybe second after Naeroyfjord (Nærøyfjord).
We drove along the Lustrafjord and couldn't find any place to eat. Eventually, we found some rest area, in an amazing place viewing the Lustrafjord and stopped for a picnic.
1 km right after the Lustrafjord ends, there's an emerald colored lake. It's very pretty but after seeing Lustrafjord we weren't too excited.
The ferry from Laerdal to Gudvangen stopped after an hour in Kaupanger, and it takes three hours. On a sunny day like we had it's amazing. In Laerdal you can see a reflection of the mountains on the fjord water. On the way you see waterfalls, snowy mountains (in June) and several small towns. The part of Nearofjord (Nærøyfjord) is amazingly beautiful.
You should reserve the cruise a day before, because during the season there's great demand. For the reservation I was told they charge an extra 25 krone. However, on the ferry they didn't charge it.
In the rest of the day we drove to Ovre Ardal - which was described in Lonely Planet as the prettiest road in Norway. It's possible that if we wouldn't have driven through the amazing road between Norway and Sweeden, the road with which we bypassed the tunnel or the amazing 15 roads before that, we would have admired it.
But it was a narrow 33 km road, so narrow two cars from opposite directions can hardly cross each other. Luckily our drive was around 17:00 with almost no cars coming from the opposite direction.
I almost didn't shoot the road from all the stress that a car would come in front of us. This is a toll road that accept only credit cards. They cancelled the option for cash money. So, don't forget that if you pass here, credit card is a must!
At the end of the road, you suddenly see dark green shaded fjord, and a waterfall to the right of the road, and indeed it's the prettiest part of the entire road - the fjord appears behind the trees' branches every time the curvy road descend to it.
We arrived to our cabin at Laerdal by 18:30, and went for an evening tour to the stave church in Borgund (appears as stavkirke in the signs). Stave churches were build by the vikings based on their knowledge in building ships.
We arrived to the church and found surrounded by scaffolds. We talked to the foreman in the place and he told us the church is in renovation for three years and by Christmas they'll finish the work. A scent of fire was in the area, and he told us this is a materiel they put on the wood to prevent fires. The church was closed for visits.
We crossed the road to the other side and the visitor's center was still open. We saw there a model of the church and we asked some questions about the historic road - we saw a sign leading to it bypassing the two tunnels we passed when we arrived here.
From the stave church in Borgund starts the historic route, which is a charming road passing a river creek, and along the way a huge water fall. This road is passing the two tunnels (one of the 3 km long) from the way from Borgund to Laerdal, and it's much prettier.
We hardly saw cars while we drove it. In the visitors center on the Borgund Stave Church's visitors center you can get free brochure with a map detailing the tows, bridge and waterfall.
We got the camping at Laerdal which is 5 mins from the port from which the ferry was leaving the day after, and we checked the routes from the camping so we wouldn't have any surprises. We also passed trough Leardal old city when we shot some houses, did some grocery shopping and closed another day.
The next day we rose early so we could get to the ferry on time. We were asked to be there by 8:10, and because we were too afraid we wouldn't be ready on time, on 7:00 we were set to go. To do some tour along the fjord.
The greeting morning was perfect for the cruise, and we were well compensated for last time. The nicest part of the cruise is the part in which the ferry entered the narrow part of the Nærøyfjord. But the entire cruise was amazing. At first we wore some coats and hats, but later on the sun warmed us and we took our coats off.
When we got off the ship, we turned according to the signs toward Stalheim. Last time when weather was foggy and mountain was partly covered by clout it was a very dramatic look. Without the clouds it wasn't as unique. So know, that perfect weather isn't suitable for every site.
We stopped eating at Voss town center, very close to church were we got decent meal foe 139 krone. Voss is nice but isn't worth a special visit.
We headed toward Granvin. We planne÷d a certain camping there but it was closed. The hour was 16:00 and it was getting foggy outside. Eventually, we found a large cabin for 850 krone. The spacious cabin was required because we had to repack everything in two cases. During the the trip we used another bag, and we had picnic box with food. We left the remains to the picnic owner.
We drove from Granvin toward Bergen. We stopped at Steinsdalsfossen which was an amazing waterfall. You can go behind the waterfall and see a white screen of crushing water. Sadly, our umbrellas were already packed in out suitcases, so we didn't do it. Highly recommended!!!
Near the waterfall there's a souvenir shop and clothes which are very cheap relative to the prices we saw in Norway. I bought a wool hat for 50 krone, compared to many other places I saw it for 65-85 krone. The shop also give us tax refund receipts, so you can do all your shopping here and not carry gifts along the trip.
The way from Granvin to Bergen took three hours including spending half an hour on the waterfall. The road was pretty and could have been prettier on a day with better weather.
We entered Bergen from the north entrance according to the GPS. We wanted to get to the fish market and we had 3 hours before our flight. We parked in the closest parking lot according to the map and it still required walking quite a distance, with pain in my legs and rain (no umbrellas). The map got soaking wet, and I used my hands to protect my most valuable asset - my camera.