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June 28, 2017 / Aware of the Void

Day 7 – Tunnel of Goats, Surprise Snow and Terror in the night.

We wake in our log cabin and the sky outside is grey and misty. Everything has a haze over it but off in the distance we can see the distinctive blue glow of the two local glaciers. We pack up the car and set off to have a closer look at one of them. Our approach is less dramatic in the car than the arrival by canoe a few days earlier at “our” glacier. We park up and walk to the lake at the bottom of the ice wall. We have spent a week looking at Fjords, glaciers and spectacular landscapes and we have agreed that we have all run out of superlatives and just keep reverting to “wow!” with different intonations. Coffee and cake sets us up for the drive ahead.

Myself and Lolo have been sharing the driving and Niro or Nivetha have been excellent co-pilots using the sat-nag (not a typo) and controlling the AC. On the longer drives sharing has worked really well as the other driver can flake out on the back seat and sleep or enjoy the scenery. I continue to amaze everyone with my ability to almost instantly pass out once I’m not in control of the car.

We once again climb up into the mountains and just as Lorraine is getting into her flow on the windy roads a really heavy fog descends. Driving in fog is stressful at the best of times but on these mountain roads with hairpin bends and low visibility it can be positively terrifying. We push onwards and at end of a long tunnel we are confronted by a massive amount of goats. The tension mounts in the car as I leave and try my hand at some amateur goat herding. I manage to shift them all to the opposite side of the road – much to the surprise of the driver parked there having similar panic attacks.
Lorraine bravely let’s me take over driving for a little while. Progress is slow but steady and eventually the fog lifts to reveal more “wow”. 

First officer Nivetha finds a supermarket on our current route and we stop for provisions and we have a picnic in the car as it’s cold and rainy outside. Hummus sandwiches are amazing!

We enter a tunnel that seems to go on forever but when we reach the top we are surrounded by snowy peaks, waterfalls and breathtaking beauty. We spend an hour cracking ice on lakes and just chilling – literally and metaphorically.

The drive down the hills towards our camp for the night is spectacular and eventually I have to resist the urge to stop the car every 5 minutes or we will never reach our beds for the night.

The campsite is at the bottom of the mountain and is flanked on all sides by wild flowers.

We are told there is a waterfall nearby so we go exploring. We are not disappointed!

Dinner is an amazing pasta verde and we kill off the bottle of Bacardi. 

Having told Niro and Nivetha about Lorraine’s night terrors as a joke over dinner a few nights before I think it’s ironic that Lorraine wake everyone in the cabin screaming at 1am with a full on attack. I’m normally next to her when this happens and I can offer reassurance without too much drama and often Lo only knows about them when I describe them the next day. This night we are in bunk beds and as she half wakes in terror convinced that there is someone in the room a half naked Irishman seems to drop from the ceiling in front of her! Between adrenaline and laughter it’s hours before anyone gets back to sleep. The perfect end to the day!

June 28, 2017 / Aware of the Void

Keep on Fjording

Getting settled into another cabin meant that I could pull on my running gear and go out for another adventure. We have been walking a lot everyday and the glacier hike seems to have found totally new muscles.

Our log cabin is in a town called Boyem and it’s just at the end point of a Fjord. 3km away is the village of Mundal. It is also known locally as Booktown. I decide that I probably have 6km left in my legs for the day and set off at a nice pace. 

It’s definitely colder here and at times I can see my own breath suggesting it’s somewhere in the region of 8c. The run along the Fjord is beautiful and I run past the town a little further up the waterway than planned but the view is giving me energy.

On the way back I try and take a few pictures but the combination of being covered in sweat and the icy wind make stopping a little uncomfortable so I push on home a little faster taking in the view and thinking about the spicy Sambar that Nivetha has planned for dinner.

June 25, 2017 / Aware of the Void

Day 6 – Gjerde to Boyem and a bit of Booktown

We wake with a post glacier walk hyperness in a campsite in Gjerde. I’ve had my first really decent meal in a few days as we had a great kitchen and lots of ingredients. I’m struggling a bit with vegan food here and finding it much easier to just cook it myself when I can. 

We set out on the road to find a Stave church in Urnes. We leave the car at the ferry port and decide we would all enjoy a walk up a big hill.

The church is from the 1100’s and would have been used to try and bring Christianity to the Vikings. It’s really beautiful.

This part of the road trip seems to whizz by in a series of roadside stops to snap pictures. I think in theory this was supposed to be our shortest drive between two points but or constant sightseeing prolongs the drive in a wonderful way.

We check into our second campsite of the trip and our first cabin. It’s fantastic. I go off for a run and the rest of the gang follow me towards booktown/Mundal at a much more sensible pace.

The town is beautiful and I kind wish I’d spent a bit longer looking at it. My run had me hot and sweaty and the Norwegian air temperature was not fun when I stopped so I ran home and waited for Nivetha to cook one of the most amazing Sambar that will ever be enjoyed in Norway.

June 25, 2017 / Aware of the Void

Day 5 – I’m feeling glacial, we should be glacial.

Day five see us in the carpark of the guest house at 7am making sandwiches for our lunchtime trek up the glacier. A two hour drive from Laerdal and a short ferry trip saw us at the Ice Trolls meeting point.

We get a short briefing on how to use the canoes and the next thing I know I’m paddling towards a glacier. This is a wonderful way to approach. Your slow enough moving that you can enjoy the scene but so full of adrenaline that you can’t get bored.

A twenty minute walk over rivers, rocks and boulders and we are at the starting point for our climb. We get crampons an axe and thered together for the stroll on the ice.

My words and pictures canning do this experience justice so I’d suggest that is you ever get a chance to do something like this grab in with both hands…

June 22, 2017 / Aware of the Void

Run Fjord your Life

In theory I’m currently training to do a series of half marathons over the next few months and potentially a full marathon before the end of the year. I had hoped to keep up my training regimen while we traveled but Niros shoes losing there soles in Oslo and Sunday shop closures in Bergen had hampered my plans as it turns out my having a spare set of footware was really useful!

My first run in Norway followed one of the Fjords and I have to say that I think it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever run. I was tired from the long days drive and was not sure what the town offered for a hungry vegan but wanted to try and do a lazy 5km just to feel it in my legs. 

The scenery was majaetsic and before I relatives I’d hit 5km and needed to run the same distance back. So my first run in Norway was an accidental 10km and a new personal best. 

June 22, 2017 / Aware of the Void

Day 4 – Gudvangen, Flam and onto Laerdal

ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!! 

If I’m very honest this is about the only aspect of this adventure I’ve had any input into and that was from a purely administrative point of view. For about 4 months before we set off I lied about booking the car. In my defence between study and work I did not have a whole pile of spare time to consider the rental options in Norway in the end I panic booked a VW polo about 3 weeks in advance. 

The car was collected from a rental hub on the far side of Bergen and getting used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road only took the crosstown spin.

I sat in the car and asked “what’s next” a series of things that might be nice to see were programmed into the SatNav – the trip has been well planed it’s just me that’s a bit hazy on the details.

The spin into the country was pretty fantastic. Someone had joked that the drive from Bergen to Gudvangen was the boring part of the journey as it’s mostly hills and tunnels. I found it pretty amazing. There is something wonderful about driving through a tunnel that is 26km long. 

As we drove into Gudvangen it was agreed that we needed more adjectives. WOW! Is not enough.


Flam was a little weird. We arrive and there was a massive cruise ship docked. It was surrounded on both sides by the rock walls of the Fjords. Here’s one for the fact fans. Many Fjords and deeper than the oceans that the join. This one is 1.8km deep.

Laerdal was supposed to just be an overnight stop to get us closer to the glacier in the morning. We checked into a pretty unique guest house. The guys had a look around the town for something to eat and I went for my first run in Norway (separate post for that adventure)

Laerdal is a beautiful sleepy town with a few restaurants and a disproportionate supermarket. It also had this hidden gem.

June 20, 2017 / Aware of the Void

Day 2 and 3 Bergen Interlude

Bergen is great. It’s an odd mixture of day time frantic as the city fills with cruise ships and tourist and at night the locals reclaim their streets. 

The two days here blended together in a wonderful way the even thought it’s only just happened I’m losing a sense of what order we done things.

Highlights include a visit to Edvard Greigs home to have a nosy and enjoy a recital of some of his works in the concert hall and a walk through the grounds.

I think you can’t really say you’ve been to Bergen if you have not visited the Leprosy museum. It’s only open for a few weeks every year but was filled with interesting facts and artefacts. For instance I never knew that Hansen was the most famous Norwegian 

Getting high in Bergen is pretty easy. You can just use the funicular. It was a bit misty when we done it but we still got a sense of the city.

The fish market and Bryggen area are beautiful. We spent too long swanning around in the rain to visit the Hanseatic museum but it seems like a good excuse to revisit.

Bergen is already on the revisit list.

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