Fabulous fjords and glorious glaciers

We’re still some way north of the arctic circle, so nights remain rather short. Even though it is near the end of August, by 4 AM it’s already light outside and I’m woken by the vigorous flapping of our tent. The weather has turned completely and there’s a fierce wind blowing in from the sea. Around half past 6 the wind becomes so violent, our tent starts to collapse under the gusts so we decide it’s safest to just pack up and leave before it is torn to shreds. It looks like our neighbours are thinking the same thing. Some of them have left already.

Packing the tent is easier said than done. The wind is so fierce, we have to hold on for dear life. It takes us at least twice as long to take it down, but we manage to get it back in the bag without any damage. The only victims are 2 tent pegs which are lost forever in the sand.

The next hurdle is to get out of the bay unscathed. Luckily we have had some practice in Iran when winds were even more violent and we were actually blown off the road. Very cautiously rounding every corner, we finally get more inland and the wind dies down just a bit. But the weather still does not look very promising. Dark grey skies blow over at an enormous speed and they are carrying rain as well. We decide to leave Lofoten before we are blown off and skip the Viking museum this time. We simply don’t dare to leave the bikes out unattended because they surely will be blown over.

 Ominous skies
Ominous skies

We make our way up to Lodingen and take the ferry to Bognes. It’s cold, wet and cloudy so we are happy to stay inside and just sit out the ride.

Later in the day we end up on a small campsite near Straumen. We pitch our tent dry but the skies still look ominous. As on most campgrounds in Scandinavia, there’s a kitchen where we can cook our dinner but the ‘sitting room’ is a small garden house where one of our neighbours already has the fire going for the barbecue. We huddle in and enjoy the warmth of the fire. It’s been a long, cold, wet and windy day so we don’t stick around too long before retiring to our sleeping bags.

We are greeted again by some sunshine the next morning. After a nice warm breakfast we’re off again, continuing our ride south. The roads and views are still breathtakingly beautiful and we take our time to enjoy them thoroughly.

I had pinpointed a few glaciers in my maps.me app and early afternoon we reach Svartisen glacier. It’s a truly majestic sight. Although it appears it is only a fraction of the size it used to be a few decades ago.

 Svartisen glacier
Svartisen glacier

It’s the middle of the week and off season so it’s incredibly quiet on the roads. We head down to Jektvik where we plan to take the ferry across the Arctic Circle again. Since it’s off season however, there’s only 1 ferry going every 2 hours and we just missed the previous one. So we relax, enjoy the view and chat with Pasha, a fellow Russian motorcyclist.

When he gets out his stove and cup to make some tea, we eagerly join in. The sun may be shining but it still is only about 16°C.

 Lakeview
Lakeview

By the time we finish our tea, the ferry arrives and off we go towards Kilboghavn.

 Crossing the arctic circle on a ferry
Crossing the arctic circle on a ferry

Halfway into the journey, we cross the arctic circle. Another milestone and another reminder that we are slowly making our way home.

 The arctic cirlce
The arctic cirlce

There’s a campsite just off the ferry terminal. Pasha opts for a cabin, but we stick it out and put up our tent.

The next morning we’re super excited to get going. Today we have planned what we hope will be one of the highlights of our stay in Norway: the Atlantic Road. It’s a stretch of road just below Kristiansund sweeping and hopping from island to island. We have seen lots of pictures and YouTube videos of this road, so our expectations are quite high.

Shortly after we get going, the weather starts to turn again though. When we packed up our tent it was still nice and sunny but big clouds are blowing in from over the sea and we get a few drops of rain now and then.

The Atlantic Road is a toll road, so after paying our entry fee, we’re allowed into this playground of sweeping bridges. On YouTube, the number of bridges seemed endless, but only after a few kilometers and only a handful of ups and downs, we’re already at the landmark view of the entire stretch. Is this it?

 Atlantikstrasse
Atlantikstrasse

 

 Pretty busy despite the weather
Pretty busy despite the weather

We continue and turn more inland again and both Jo and I feel a bit disappointed. It felt like we went on this roller coaster that only did one loop when it promised a dozen.

 Sun piercing the clouds
Sun piercing the clouds

The last sight of the day is an impressive one: Trollstigen! Although it is wet and quite foggy, the ride up is just beyond words. The advantage of all the heavenly waters is that all the waterfalls are really big and powerful. At the top there’s the usual tourist trap but we park the bikes anyway to go and have a look at the viewpoints. The entire walk up to the 2 platforms is littered with ‘cairns’, those fake stone piles made by tourists who cannot seem to suppress the urge to destroy the countryside around them. In some places we even saw signs asking NOT to do this. We start the habit of taking them down, “unbuilding” them one stone at a time.

 Top of Trollstiegen
Top of Trollstiegen

We end the day on a campsite in Eidsdal. It is quite high up on the mountain and the prospect of having to put up a wet tent is not really one we enjoy. Although the owners are not at the campsite, there’s a message that you can take a cabin and then come and pay when they arrive, so we make ourselves comfortable. A warm, dry bed and the heating on full whack means we’re off to dreamland really quickly.

The next morning it’s still misty but at least it has stopped raining. The fog provides eerie views over Geiranger Fjord though.

 Misty fjord
Misty fjord

 

 Selfie with a fjord. A #fjordie, if you like.
Selfie with a fjord. A #fjordie, if you like.

After Geiranger, we turn inland, based on a tip that Bas from Hyperpro provided us. He was visiting Norway as part of his Summer holidays and I had seen these incredible pictures popping up on Facebook of a beautiful road he had taken from Lom to Sogndal. Turns out we were not that far off so we decide to go and have a look ourselves.

 Looking down the valley
Looking down the valley

This sweeping stretch of tarmac takes us inland through some very rugged countryside. It’s totally different from all the fjords but equally beautiful.

 That looks to cold for a wash
That looks to cold for a wash

After Sogndal I had spotted another glacier we could visit in Jostedal. It’s supposedly one of the biggest in Norway, but climate change is slowly eating away at this natural beauty as well.

 Glacier getting very small
Glacier getting very small

From afar you can see how impressive and big it is though, making it’s way down the mountain.

 Glacier
Glacier

After Jostedal it goes down towards Laerdal. It’s a Friday night and we are about to learn why we always see these big camper vans parked on peoples driveways. The campsite is pretty empty when we start pitching our tent and we pick a nice spot in the middle. By the time our beds are made, the campsite is more or less packed and we are surrounded by camper vans of all sizes. The biggest one is right next to our tent and it’s a full size converted tour bus! It makes us look like hobo’s… Just like Iranians, Norwegians like to camp, but on a totally different scale!

 

 Camper van bus
Camper van bus

 

 Selfie mirror
Selfie mirror

 

 Fjord
Fjord

 

Sofie Written by:

dreamer – traveller – citizen of Enduristan

When I’m not out there discovering the world on my motorbike, you can find me crouched on the sofa dreaming of far away destinations in travel guides, blogs and maps.