29.07.2015 - 02.08.2015 15 °C
It was a sad farewell to Iceland but on the last night I finally saw a sunset from our 15th floor window. Photo uploaded for proof. You just had to wait up long enough and catch the 30 second event before it comes up again!
The three of us boarded our flight to Oslo, but Jacinda was heading back to London. Not sure why the best connection between Reykjavic and London is via Oslo but what the heck. We had a 40 minute stopover before our flight to Trondheim departed, which was always going to be tight, but we had to pick up our luggage and go through customs prior to boarding the flight to Trondheim.
The chaos at baggage belt 3 was absolutely ridiculous. There was 4 flights allocated to it, all at various stages of not started, baggage on belt and last bag on belt. We were waiting 10 minutes when the belt stopped. It was stopped for about 10 very frustrating minutes and about 10 minutes later our flight was classified as "baggage on belt" finally. We had priority labels on our luggage due to the short turnaround time we had between flights, but there is every chance that bright orange Priority labels went totally unnoticed as people on our flight were in cabs, showered and having dinner before we sighted our bags.
Anyway, 50 minutes later our bags were in our procession and off we went through customs (in 30 seconds) and off to check our luggage in to Trondheim. A nice fella sent us to the front of the queue and an interested service guy started checking our bags in, picked up the phone to determine our best option, then 17:00 clocked over and end of his shift. He hung up the phone, spoke eloquent Norwegian to a lady who was jumping into his seat and then we had to tell her the history and our desire to get on the next flight to Trondheim....all over again.
We were told our scheduled flight had been delayed 40 minutes but we were too late to catch it. Had to be checked in to the19:30. Bummer. Can't help but think the handover process cost us any chance but we were able to get into the lounge, pour ourselves some cold Carlsberg, grab some savouries and chill out. At least until we saw that our previous scheduled flight still had not left and was starting to board!
Anyway, into Trondheim and a nice hotel. Then onto an Irish pub for a drink and decided to grab a burger from Burger King on way back to hotel at about 11:00pm.
Trondheim was nice and houses over the water with canals, rivers and inlets everywhere. Very colourful but like Iceland, all of the houses are wood and 90% would be mustard yellow, cream, red/brown, or grey. Bet you didn't know that.
Our original plan was to catch a ferry or bus to Kristiansund but after driving on the wrong side of the road for a week, we backed ourselves to hire a car and drive there. This meant that we could then take it on to Molde via the Atlantic Road, which we wanted to do anyway. It is supposed to be one of the great roads in the world.
Kristiansund was levelled by the Gerries between 28-Apr-1940 and 01-May-1940, so there are very few old buildings in the town. Apparently very few people were killed in the raids as the town was evacuated, however the Yanks dropped a couple of stray bombs a couple of years later that did kill a few civilians.
The place is very neat and the houses (mustard yellow, cream, re/brown and grey.....there are a few Richie Benaud colours of white, off-white, beige and ivory that I am classifying as cream) look spectacular with the town surrounded by water.
We took off the next morning to Molde via the Atlantic road. Few navigational issues here and there but no big problems, still happily married but my relationship with Tom Tom is irreconcilable. The weather unfortunately closed in a little and there was sprawling rain and freezing cold winds. The Atlantic Road looks as though these winds twist it out of shape and some of the bridges are either an engineering masterpiece or an engineering balls up. I'm undecided.
"This stretch of ocean road has been named the "world's most beautiful car journey" (The Guardian, 2006) and "construction of the century" (2005). The Atlantic Road is also known as "Norway's greatest cycle route" (2010). The Atlantic Road is a National Tourist Route and stretches from Kristiansund to Bud. Your journey creates a fusion between the ocean and coastline, culture and history. Good places to stop, great viewpoints and fishing spots help make this an excellent road trip. Travelling the Atlantic Road in a storm is just as amazing as when the sun is glistening on the calm ocean."
The road includes 8 bridges with a total length of 891 metres, while the road itself goes for 8.2 kms. The construction of the road started on August 1983 and the construction took six years. It was opened on 7 July 1989. During construction the area was hit by 12 European windstorms.
Top 10 Most Beautiful and Killer Roads of The World;
Has the Atlantic Road as number 3, behind the Death Road in Bolivia (been there got the postcard, have the GoPro footage) and Overlap Pass, Switzerland. Looks like that is going to have to be on the bucket list so that we can get Gold, Silver and Bronze!
Molde was fantastic and as we got in around midday we were able to do a little trekking and found some some great vantage points to see the city from high and check out its 226 surrounding mountain peaks. Our hotel was grouse and sat over the water with all rooms looking out over the water, islands and snow capped peaks.
Louisa looked around town and I dropped the car off at the airport. "Airport" was perhaps a misused name for this spectacular, large slab of bitumen that runs straight into water. I waited there for 15 minutes for a bus or taxi back into Sentrus (city for you non-Norwegian speaking folk) and saw a total of 5 people. Not one plane, light or domestic. Could not even see a kite but a pesky seagull did seem to keep the air traffic controllers occupied for 10 minutes by not following instructions.
If I was to look up the world's busiest airports, I would not find Molde, unless you could count seagulls, sparrows and tumbleweed.
So I walked the 8 kms or so back to our hotel. The chances of a cleaner coming out of the dunnies wanting to catch a cab would have blown the queue at the Taxi rank to 2 and who knows what carnage could occur. I was hopeful of hailing a cab on the way back but the chances of that happening would be greatly enhanced if I knew what one looked like.
That night we went burger hunting. Well I went burger hunting for research and development reasons, not unlike the Japs and whales. I am pleased to announce the ABI in Norway is 152. This places it ahead of Iceland in burger unaffordability, given I found a basic burger in a basic pizza place that cost around $38 AUD.
Australian ABI 424
Iceland ABI 200
Norway ABI 152
Average Australian monthly wage: $3,396 AUD Plain burger is $8 ABI = 424.5
Average Icelandic monthly wage: ISK 292894 ($3,000 AUD) Plain burger is $15 ABI = 200
Average Norwegian monthly wage: NOK 34,604 ($5,792 AUD) Plain burger (Mushrooms, Onion and Bacon) is $38 ABI = 152
Damn lucky the Norwegians get paid a fortune or it would be down into double digit territory not seen since Emperor Nasi Goreng forced the burger industry into prohibition in the 1930s.
Next morning we had a bus to catch at 10:00 and had to deal with a 15 storey hotel with one lift operating. We were only on the fourth floor but our luggage was bulky and the last two floors were via a spiral staircase. That had broken leg written all over it but we managed to kick all the cleaning staff and their trollies out of the lifts for 10 minutes and hijacked a lift. Made the bus with minutes to spare. Bus to where you may ask, as we did numerous times.
Just for the record, we were going to Andalsnes. Apparently a lovely place and we had two nights booked at a hostel there, called the Andalsnes Hostel. Where? Andalsnes. Not one person knew what we were talking about when we said we were catching a bus to Andalsnes. Finally Louisa showed a bus driver the place on our itinerary, and he said, "Oh, Oondoolsness." I said, Where? Is it near Andalsnes?
Oondoolsness, pronounced, Oo n dool sness ("oo" is as in "Goodes" not "boo"). Anyway Oondoolsness was very similar to Andalsness so we stayed there to find there is a massive outdoor rock concert on that night, starring Status Quo and some highly rated European bands. Unfortunately we had a train trip to Dombas booked and we weren't due back till 8:00pm and Status Quo were on 6:00 to 7:30pm.
The train trip to Dombas was spectacular with waterfalls and steep cliffs. The Troll Wall was one such cliff that boasts the longest vertical cliff climb in Europe. Too many lunatics dropping off it either accidentally while rock climbing or deliberately through base jumps have meant that you can't climb it now until they have cleaned up all the bodies at the bottom. This is a massive bummer as Louisa and I were keen to have a crack at it.
It is about 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) from its base to the summit of its highest point. At its steepest, the summit ridge overhangs the base of the wall by nearly 50 metres (160 ft). A hell of a lot of training by Louisa and I is now going to go to waste. Should have bought return tickets to Oz after all.
After getting off the train we ran into a few, well a lot really, pissed Status Quo fans back in Andalsnes/Oondoolsness and they were pretty good fun. Pissed Norwegians are actually easier to understand than sober ones. Perhaps it is a universal language of long pauses, exaggerated hand movements, lengthy blinks and a few "I love ewes" thrown in that make it all so easy to understand. I think if I had have taken one more minute in the loo, Louisa would have been over Leif's shoulder and back in the concert's beer tent!
We headed back up the hill to our hostel which is about 1.5kms from Sentrum, in the midnight dusk all set for our big trek the next morning to Romsdalseggen, Fjord Norway.
Romsdalseggen is located in the northern parts of Fjord Norway. The hike takes us over mountains, overlooking fjords, summits and waterfalls. The hike starts in the Vengedalen Valley, and you can choose among three routes, with different levels of difficulty. The most extreme route requires climbing equipment, so we won't be going there. The hike takes between six and nine hours, depending on the route you choose. You get a view of the Romsdalsfjord and the ocean, and the mountains of Trolltindene and Romsdalshorn. This is rated in the top 10 iconic treks in Norway.
Unfortunately, the weather turned overnight and we woke up to low cloud and drizzle. We opted to take the later bus, 2:00pm in the hope that it would clear a little. It didn't and the travel people said don't risk it as there are some tough ridges and the views are the thing....and they won't be there. By changing our travel plans to Geiranger the following day, from an 8:15 am departure to a 5:00pm departure we could, in theory do it tomorrow as the weather is forecast to be better.
So we decided to do that, but what to do with the rest of our day in Goodestown? Whilst in the Tourism office we were approached by a couple off one of the cruse ships that is in port for the day to join them in a taxi and do the Trollstigen. Trollstigen is a serpentine mountain road in Rauma Municipality Norway.
It connects the town of Åndalsnes/Oondoolsness in Rauma and the village of Valldal in Norddal Municipality. It is a popular tourist attraction due to its steep incline of 10% and eleven hairpin bends up a steep mountainside. During the top tourist season, about 2,500 vehicles pass daily.
The road is narrow with many sharp bends, and although several bends were widened during 2005 to 2012 it is extremely tight for buses and there are plenty. It is a bit of a dice throw when driving it as to whether to wait for a bus to come through or hope to find a spot between where you are and where the bus is. Downside of waiting too long is that the traffic behind you can back up and then you're caught in some deadly embrace where neither stream of traffic can move. Who will reverse back up or down a road like this???
At the 700-metre (2,300 ft) plateau there is a car park and several viewing balconies overlooking the bends and the Stigfossen waterfall. Stigfossen falls 320 metres (1,050 ft) down the mountainside. The pass has an elevation of approximately 850 metres (2,790 ft).
We survived that and now back in our room hoping that the weather breaks so that we can do the Romsdalseggen Ridge walk tomorrow in 6 hours or we miss our bus to Geiranger that leaves at 5:00pm.....oh the stress.