Driving up Trollstigen and doing the Fjord cruise - Andrew Fernando
We left Trondheim on July 15th morning to visit Geiranger the most anticipated part of our trip. This is one place we had to visit during our trip. We were told by our friends, that our Norway visit would not be complete if we do not visit Geiranger.
We have now passed the halfway mark of our trip. So far we have enjoyed everything we visited. We stayed in small towns and a few big towns. We passed many small villages, had lunch in tiny restaurants on the road, made our lunch in some places and had them in rest areas on the side of the roads. We have seen countless snow capped mountains and water falls every day. We talked to local people whom we met, when we stopped to eat or have coffee.
There are two or three different routes to drive from Trondheim to Geiranger. We talked to some of the local people and the receptionists of our hotel to find the best scenic route to Geiranger. We found the best route was via Dombas and Andalsnes. The stretch from Andalsnes to Geiranger is considered part of the golden route. We did not realise what a golden route it would become.
The initial stretch from Trondheim to Dombas was comparatively easy to drive. The road was beautiful with many mountains, winding roads, water falls and tunnels. We have got used to seeing them every day and there was nothing unusual about them. The second part of the drive from Dombas to Andalsnes was also easy though the roads were winding and we had to drive at a lower speed. After Andalsnes, Mala took over driving. We stopped at a souvenir shop and bought a few items. We were in no hurry and drove leisurely.
Suddenly the landscape changed. The road became narrow and we were climbing a steep mountain.
We have driven up steep mountains before, in Nuwara Eliya, in North Italy and Alps in Europe. But this was different. We could see the winding road far above our heads, four or five levels higher. There were vehicles climbing up closer to the top of the mountain and a string of vehicles moving down in the opposite direction. The worst part of the climb was the narrow road. There were places where there was no room for two vehicles to cross,. Our vehicle that was climbing and closer to the edge of the road had to stop and allow the descending vehicles to pass. It was not a job for the faint hearted. Mala was driving and I was thinking why I got her to drive. She was cool headed and proved she was capable of handling any difficult situation. I had the camera with me, but I was not thinking of taking any photos. We thought of taking a photo only after arriving at the top of the mountain and the road became flat.
We later read about this road stretch and found the following facts:
This is called the Trollstigen or the “Troll Ladder:”. Driving up or down this road is a dramatic and exciting experience. The road twists through eleven hair pin bends as it climbs up to a height of 858 metres. In some places, it is cut into the rocks of the mountain and in some places it is built on stone walls. There is a bridge across Stigfossen waterfall. At the top there is a view point and a restaurant.It is said that his majesty King Haakon VII opened this road in 1936. This road is closed in Winter and normally open from late May to early November. Building the road was considered an engineering achievement. It was broadened from time to time in some places to accommodate the many long coaches and caravans that uses this route.
We then drove along a fairly flat road for some time. There were fruit stalls on the road selling cherries and strawberries,. We stopped at one place and bought strawberries from two young children who were selling them. Strawberries were really sweet and tasty unlike the tasteless sour ones we get in Australia. We later stopped at another stall and bought more strawberries.
We were now getting closer to our destination Geiranger. At one place, we saw many vehicles parked on the road and people getting down. We stopped the car to find that place is a great viewing point .We could see the Geiranger fjord down below in all it’s glory. We could see the surrounding hotels and the caravan parks. We could also see a cruise ship majestically sailing in the Fjord waters.
When we arrived at our hotel Geiranger Fjord Grande hotel it was time for dinner. Our hotel was right at the edge of the Fjord facing the water. We got a good room with a clear view of the fjord. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and relaxed in our room.
We have already booked a Fjord cruise, on line, next morning at 9:00 AM. The cruise was on a small vessel enough for about 50 people. The cruise lasted nearly 90 minutes. There is no doubt that Geiranger fjord is the best and the most beautiful fjord in the world or at least the best one we have seen in our life. There are no words to describe it’s natural beauty. It is a spectacular and unique creation of nature that cannot be duplicated by human beings.
During our cruise, we saw the tall vertical rock walls and the numerous waterfalls springing from those rocks. The rock walls rise up to a height of 1400 metres above water and reach a depth of up to 500 metres below the sea level.
We saw the Seven sisters waterfalls and the Suitors waterfall. The legend of the seven sisters is that they were dancing playfully drawing the attention of the Suitor. The suitor was flirting with them on the opposite side, but never succeeded in getting any of them. He continues to remain on the opposite side of the Fjord.
There were several abandoned farms within the fjord area. They would have lived there with very little contact with outside world.
After the short cruise, we came back to the hotel and checked out to start our next adventure.