Friday, July 10, 2009

Old Aurland Highway

Aurland Fiord

Typical terrain on the old highway

We were parked, admiring the scenery, and this couple pulls up, hops out, the woman starts climbing the slope, skis and poles in hand, then skis back down; then back in their car and drove on

Standard hairpin

Vicki made me pull over when she saw the turbuss coming

At Sognesdal we provisioned up and sought advice from the local tourist information center. The fiords of Norway are vast and intricate, not little indentations in the coastline, and some serious planning is in order. Despite all the tunnels and bridges and ferries, there are some places you can't get to from here, and some places you have to go through if you want to get there. Throughout Scandinavia, the “I”'s (tourist information centers) have been consistently helpful and informative, as was Sognesdal's.

We drove down the west side of the Lustrafjord from Sognedal to Mannheller, had lunch on the dock, and then took the ferry (every 20 minutes) across to Laerdal. It's a 10 minute boat ride, but it saves perhaps a hundred miles of driving. From our sometime guide, Rickie Stevie, we had determined to drive from there to Flam, from which there are a number of interesting scenic options. The new road to Flam involves the world's longest tunnel, 24km, which apparently goes under mountains and glaciers. But we eschewed this, taking instead, the old Aurland road, across the 4,000 foot Hornadalen, one lane with turn-outs, 12 real hair-pin turns, all of which Rickie Stevie says “is worth the messy pants.” In some respects it reminded us of the Beartooth Highway in Montana, alpine plateau and plenty of mountains, frozen lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, and the rest to see. It was not really all that bad a drive. We stayed at a real campground in Flam and made our plans for the next few days.

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