From Munich to Sognefjord – 9 days, 4700 km, 7 wonders
Updated: Dec 2, 2019
In the time of exotic travels, when most of us dream of sunny beaches, refreshing tasty cocktails and entertainment delighting all 5 senses, Norway engages successfully in the contest for tourists with its unique scenery: eerily high mountain peaks, steep massive rocks ready to fall on one´s head, wild waterfalls, flamboyant colors overshining the long dark nights. The Norwegian landscape is protean to the extend one can never get bored. During summer, fjord cruises, mountain wanders are the highlight, whereas in winter the northern lights and the winter games attract thousands of visitors. If you happened to visit Norway, what would you rather see? Where would you start your journey? Would you go in summer to the fjords or are you a thrill seeker and would hunt northern lights?
We asked ourselves these questions too when we started to plan our trip and decided to try something different: explore the Norwegian landscape in autumn. Many photographers agree that autumn is the perfect season for photography as nature turns colorful. Different shades of yellow and brown pop up amidst the green crowns and the vibrance is more intense when lit by the golden sun.
However, Norway is literally closed from October until May, at least most of the services meant to entertain the regular tourist. There are no more fjord cruises, many camping places close at the end of September, there are no more available glacier guided tours. Despite the odds, we took our chances and decided to go on a Norwegian tour by car, crossing the whole southern part of the country up to the longest fjord in Norway, Sognefjord. Whether the tour is doomed to failure, washed away by constant rain or it will end in an unexpected but hoped success, follow us on our 9-day journey and read the story of a lifetime adventure.
Day 1. From Erding to Eckernförde – 900 km
We started our journey in Erding, a small town near Munich, planning to leave by car early in the morning. Greg never drove 950 km in a day before. The longest route he drove through was from Hungary to Italy, about 800 km, and that was a long time ago, during summer. In October the weather can be tricky; fog, snow, rain can impede the progress and the days are shorter. Since I prefer driving in day light, we concluded to leave early hoping to reach our first destination by sunset. The packing took us longer than expected and we left only by 8:30 when the sun was already high up in the sky and we could have even seen it if the town hadn´t been covered in a thick layer of fog. The Saturday morning traffic already started to slow us down as we approached Ingolstadt and Nürnberg.
Not that it had any importance on which day of the week we set out on the road. The German highways are constantly overloaded by the traffic, as if it was the purpose of life of this country to be always on the road: no matter if for work, tourism, car race, hobby or relaxation. The famous unlimited speed on the highway cannot even be enjoyed, as one is constantly slowed down by traffic, road works or the regular speed limitations when driving on the outer rings of the cities.
The hours passed, the harvested wheat, barley, corn and hop fields along with them as we went by Bayreuth, Leipzig, Magdeburg and Hanover. Some hills made the geography more interesting, but only some thin, sickly forests gave some color to the landscape. There were considerably fewer service stations then in Austria. We were not thrilled by the idea of having to refill the tank at a service station on the highway as the fuel costs sometimes 40 Euro cents/liter more than in a city, but we had no choice as one tank was not enough for 900 km. We decided to fill up only as much as to get to Eckernförde and there we would fill up the tank again.
The journey passed almost eventless. We enjoyed the trip savoring the tasty sandwiches, fruity marshmallows and sweets we packed for the road. After 7 hours, Greg still showed no sign of fatigue, when we were approaching the Northern part of the country. The scenery started to change, the vegetation looked wild and alive. We passed from the highway to the country road which lead near woods of tall, rich beech and fir trees with crooked branches. Marshes and moorlands were alternating with the lush woods, remnants after the Scandinavian ice sheets retreated some hundred thousand years ago. The houses were no longer plastered as it is common in Eastern or Central Europe but were made of brick. The first time I´ve seen houses with brick exterior was during my internship at a school in Belgium. I found them exotic, charming, full of character and robustness, contrasting well with the scruffy houses of Eastern Europe.
We arrived to Eckernförde at sunset. The streets were almost empty despite of a pleasant weather, still around 15 degrees Celsius. Brown leaves were drifted by the warm wind on the wet road like the dry shrubs rolling on the empty sandy small towns in a Western movie.
We fueled the car as planned and checked in at the town´s hotel where we dropped off to sleep satisfied of our first day´s victory and impatient, looking forward to the next day’s adventure.