From Munich to Sognefjord - Last Days of the Tour: Lavik - Viksdalsvatnet - Erding - 2200 km
The last day of our Norwegian tour was washed away by rain and a chance of the weather clearing was nowhere in sight. It was not the first time that we were in an epic place and the weather was trying to ruin our plans, but this time we were prepared. We knew clouds were on the daily menu at the fjords, therefore we disregarded the weather forecast and decided to explore the Northern region of Sognefjord. To avoid the delays caused by the tunnel works after Hoyanger, we followed the road towards East until Vadheim and there we turned towards North following the Route E39 in the direction of Sande. At Sande we turned again to East on Route 610 until we reached Hestadfjorden. We stopped a few hundreds meters after Hestad chapel where Hestadfjorden and the lake Viksdalsvatnet meet. We were somewhat sheltered by the huge mountain ranges which were blocking the rain pouring over Sognefjord. We found a clearing at the edge of what looked like a small settlement from where we could better photograph the lake. The road was mostly deserted and nothing was moving around the nearby houses. The rain started to drip as we were unpacking the cameras and setting them on the rocky edge of the lake. The mountain peaks got covered in a thick layer of cloud and the grey of the sky and the white snow covered summits were melting together to the extent we could no longer distinguish where land ended and the sky began.
The mountain covered with forests of different shades of green and brown could have been beautifully reflected in the lake if it were not for the raindrops to muddle the surface of the water. We started to shoot a timelapse as the scenery was still breathtaking and after about half an hour the rain stopped, the lake calmed down and the mountain got a gorgeous reflection in the water as if nature wanted to reward our perseverance of waiting in the cold and rain.
We breathed in the fresh air and took a moment to reflect on the beauty and peace of the place as the cameras were silently taking picture after picture.
Clouds gathered again in the sky and in short time it started to rain again. The wind arouse and wafted through the transparent surface of the water. The rain drops penetrated the lake with the power of a bullet piercing the thick fog. A passing car awoke us from our reverie and we decided to continue our tour around the lake.
The rain followed us throughout the rest of the day. We drove a little further towards East and eventually returned in the afternoon to the hotel.
It was the last night we spent at Sognefjord and based on our experience on the way to Lavik through the Hardangervidda National Park a long road was ahead of us the next day, when we had to cross the entire Southern part of Norway to reach our next destination. The evening went on quietly with a delicious dinner prepared and served by the courteous and kind Dutch couple who acquired and ran Lavik Fjord Hotel since 2004.
The next morning we bade our welcoming hosts farewell and started our next adventure. We didn´t cross the fjord with the ferry towards Hardangervidda National Park as we couldn´t drive as fast on the country roads as we would on the national roads. Hence we took off on the same road like the day before on Route E39, but instead of turning right at Sande, we continued on towards Forde. At Skei we left it and continued on Route 5 towards the south in the direction of Fjaerland. We were driving carefully on the undulating road, Greg paying attention to the road while I was admiring the epic landscape, when something happened none of us was expecting. I was watching the GPS and our surroundings when I spotted Boyabreen glacier.
We have never seen a glacier in our lives before, so we stopped to take a better look. We felt incredibly lucky to see it as originally we didn´t plan to visit this glacier, and due to the climate change and the planet warming we knew it might disappear in a few years and we might never see it again. Filled with the joy and excitement of a child we went on unaware that this journey reserved us a few more surprises. And we were closer to one of them then we could imagine.
We passed several tunnels and halted at a rest area after Fjaerland. As we looked around we spotted one of the narrower Northern branches of Sognefjord.
The mountains were rising high to the sky making the houses in the valley look like little ants at the feet of a tall man.
We attempted to climb Fuglefjellet when we arrived at Sognefjord with the intention to see the fjord from a higher point, but due to the sun setting early and the rugged terrain, our quest failed. However, before leaving the region of the fjords we had the chance to take one more look at the beautiful landscape just as we hoped from the very beginning.
The road went on in the mountains until we reached Mannheller Ferjekai where we crossed the fjord with the ferry to Fodnes. As we reached Lærdalsøyri it was time to say goodbye to Sognefjord, at this point we were entering the heart of the Norwegian peninsula crossing once again the snow capped mountains enjoying the view of the winter desert.
We reached Sandefjord in the evening where hot dinner was already awaiting us. We ate the food in silence, still perplexed by the quick transition from the remote wilderness to the busy city life.
The journey continued next morning with the ferry through the Skagerrak strait.
Within a few hours we landed in Denmark where torrential rain accompanied us while we traversed the country. No rainbow was visible on any side of the road and I officially lost the bet with Greg we made at the beginning of the road according to which I was declaring Denmark the country of the rainbows.
We arrived to Eckenförde late in the afternoon. To stretch our legs after a long journey, we went out walking on the beach and eventually took some nice photos of the city and had a delicious Chinese dinner.
Our journey ended the next evening after crossing Germany and being stuck for several hours in the highway traffic.
Was it worth visiting Norway at the end of autumn?
Our trip wasn´t organized with a tight schedule. We had our accommodations booked in advance and a few sights planned to visit, and also plenty of time reserved for random exploration. We were not seeking the mostly visited places and the most photographed mountain peaks and waterfalls, instead we left the country reveal its beauty willy-nilly. We were astonished how extreme the Norwegian geography can be, how long it can take to travel from one corner of the country to the other, and how peaceful it can be.
Would we travel again to Norway?
The answer is definitely YES. We only discovered a little part of this breathtaking country. And there are so many more places to see: the Lofoten Islands, the Norwegian cities, Trolltunga, North Cape and many other fjords. Greg has already started planning our next journey to Norway.
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