GI, Chinkee and Ate Fely had been on a trip to Prague, and after that it was time to see more of Norway. So, we decided to take a short trip to Bergen. Since Øyvind was still at work, he took 2 days vacation, and we made for a long weekend - 4 days from friday to monday (May 24 to 27).
Our summer house is 1 hour drive from Oslo in the direction we were going to drive, so we decided to leave thurday evening, staying the night at our summer house. That way we would have an hour head start the next morning.
Going to Bergen crosses the mountains. This early in the summer, there is still lots of snow up there, and of course we had to stop so our guest from close to the equator could frolic in the snow. Well, maybe not frolic, but at least throw snow balls at the photograper.
Going down again on the west side of the mountains is Vøringsfossen, one of the major tourist traps.
Of course we had to have a look too, but that turned out to be difficult for the ladies. This sight happens to be one of the large water falls
in Norway, and the rails are close to the edge of the canyon, with a vertical drop of 1000 feet. This proved to be too much for the ladies, they were getting weird feelings in the stomach, and had to retreat to safer ground while Øyvind spent some more time taking pictures.
This particular water fall is closed down in the winter, and the water is used to generate electricity. When the tourist season starts, enough water is led to the falls to make a suitable spectacle for the visitors.
This route going to Bergen is the scenic one. There are picnic areas along the road on most roads that tourists might want to use, and normally they consist of some tables and benches for sitting down to eat. Occasionally the table is roofed over. But on the road going down the valley from Vøringsfossen were several small picnic areas placed a short distance apart, that were something special. Each one had only 4 tables, but they were placed in a cross with a stone wall separating the tables, and a very solid roof covering it all. Very nice. Too bad someone with no knowledge of what spray cans of paint are supposed to be used for had been there.
Norway is a country with many and large fjords. Sognefjorden is the longest in the world, 200 km long, and probably the deepest, 2000 m at the middle. The mountains around at that point are also 2000 m high, which makes a total height difference of 4000 m between the mountain top and the fjord bottom. All these fjords make ferries necessary many places. This is a small crossing, the actual crossing time only 10 minutes. Later on in our trip, we will be taking a ferry that takes 3 hours. But more on that later.
In Bergen, we vere so lucky to have Albert and Virgie Capati to take care of us day and night. We came to Bergen Friday evening, and stayed until Saturday evening. During that time we had a hectic program visiting sights and people.
Edward Grieg (1843-1907) was one of Norway's most known composers. He lived in Bergen, and his house at Troldhaugen is now a museum.
According to Arthur Rubinstein, Rachmaninov once said that Grieg's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, A minor, op. 16 was the best ever written. It is a major work in the history of Norwegian music. He also wrote numerous 'Lyric Pieces', short piano pieces that were eagerly played by amateur and professional pianists alike.
To the left, we are standing outside his house, which is opened up as a museum. In the center, we see some of the large Rhododendron bushes that grow all over the area. To the right is a house close by.
Bergen lays nestled between 7 mountains, known as 'the seven sisters'. One of them, Fløyen, has a cable car running to the top. We went to the top, and from there we could see all of the center of Bergen. Central to 'down town' Bergen is the fish market. In the summer, you can get all kinds of fish food there. How about a salmon burger?
There is a cafeteria close to the university in Bergen. When GI visited Albert and Virgie the first time, she was introduced to several young filipinos that turned out to be relatives. Here we see Zharon Mejia and Melisa Mejia. Melisa owns the cafeteria, she and Zharon runs it togheter. We had lunch there, and the servings were tasty and large.
Saturday evening we drove to Voss, to visit Alice and Justo ('Just' for short) Folloso They have a house very nicely situated by a river a little way outside Voss senter. We stayed the night, GI and Øyvind had a room in the lower floor of the house. This was cool and nice, after all the heat we had been having the lately. Next day we went to church (actually a chapel), and left in time to reach Gudvangen for the longest ferry ride of the trip.
Going to Gudvangen, there is a part of the road where it makes 13 tight switchbacks in only 1.5 km. The maximum descent ratio is 1:5, the steepest of any public road in Norway. Øyvind had a hard time convincing GI to go on the surface, since there is now a tunnel going underneath the whole thing. But Øyvind does'nt think the view of Norway from the inside is very interesting.
Nærøyfjorden is Norways wildest and narrowest fjord. There is a ferry that runs from Gudvangen at the end of the fjord, to Kaupanger on the other
side of Sognefjorden, and then on to Lærdal. Total time for this trip is 3 hours.
In the summer, this ferry is used mainly by tourists, only a small part of the cars have Norwegian plates. A couple of years ago, a tunnel connecting Gudvangen and Lærdal was opened, and most people use this road. It is faster, and cheaper. But we were out to see the sights, and had no interest in driving through the worlds longest tunnel, 24 km long. In addition, there are two shorter tunnels, one is 11428 m long, and the other one is 5053 m long. That's a total of 40 km driving inside Norway. No thank you.
The last part of the trip was uneventful, finally reaching home after a little more than 3 days. But the weather had been wonderful on the whole trip, not a drop of rain at any time.
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