I am in Norway for my first visit! And so begins my blog, to share my first impressions of the country, and continue with my experiences when I move here.
I thought I’d share a few written impressions of our trip from Oslo towards the West Coast of Norway. Destination: Osterøy, the largest inland Island (it is surrounded by fjords) and about 26 miles from Bergen.
The trip took us from the “hills” around Oslo to the mountains of Western Norway, past beautiful scenery into even more beautiful land. There are so many shades of green in this country, I do not think there are enough descriptive adjectives.
The major roads in Norway are good; the drivers are considerate and very careful. When compared to any road I have been on in the U.S., traffic is nonexistent outside of Oslo. The major roads we traveled on are two-lane only (although the real mountain roads are another story!); how accidents don’t happen as drivers get distracted by the passing scenery I don’t know! I imagine you get used to it, but I hope I never take it for granted.
Ascending gradually into the mountains Jan showed me our route on the map, but I quickly didn’t really care to follow that as the one-dimensional paper couldn’t show the real drive, and who cares about paper anyway when the rocks and boulders and different trees and farms and barns and sheep and homes and people and … and … and … are so much more interesting. It was partly cloudy as we left Oslo, but after a few hours on the road we could see the rain/fog clinging to the tops of the mountains. And that was where we were headed.
The temperatures dropped, the rain turned to sleet, then snow. Views of the mountains were gone, but the beauty of the weather (the direction of the wind-blown falling snow, the winter-bare trees where just a few kilometers below the color of spring flowers and trees had filled my eyes) was stark and wild, yet peaceful. Winter really is my favorite season!
The trip down this mountain was spectacular, and I do not mean in the bright, sunshine-filled photos of Norway mountains that I have seen. The drive was a little cautious, a little slippery. The road was very narrow, my first introduction to true mountain roads. As we descended the snow turned back to rain. I looked up from the the car and could see those foggy clouds we had just been in. They were clinging to the sides of the mountain. Above them I could see the mountain top, bare and winter-bleak. Below the fog to where we were, muted green trees and shrubs in grateful early spring bloom were part of the scenery. It was all a little gray, a little drizzly, a little subdued. And it was all majestically beautiful.
I quickly learned how necessary tunnels are to navigate the mountains in Norway. Jan wanted to take me across two of the mountains between Oslo and Bergen, as the view from the top of the second was spectacular and would give me an introduction to the true West Coast of Norway. But after the weather conditions of that first “smaller” one he decided to not risk the next mountain. And so he took me through the longest tunnel in the world instead, 24.5 kilometers long (a little over 15 miles). That is an experience in itself for my semi-claustrophobic self, knowing we are under tons of rock and dirt and massive MOUNTAIN.
Just before entering that tunnel we stopped in Lærdal for dinner. But first Jan took me to a sandy area there, and in the drizzly rain had me bend down and put my fingers in the water. Here, he said, is the ocean.
Miles inland, the Sognefjord brought us the ocean. It is almost more that my East Coast Maryland brain can comprehend! 🙂
We encountered a travel problem about an hour from Osterøy. A major tunnel was closed for road work through the night; we could go through the tunnel in a caravan but that would mean waiting several hours until about 1:00 am when the road crews escorted waiting cars through. But Jan knows the mountains, understands the roads, and off we went on a narrow strip of paved path that bypassed the major E16 route between Oslo and Bergen and the tunnel system that was under construction. Without experiencing THAT trip yourself, it is really difficult to share it with you! Narrow roads that fit one car, zig-zagging up and down and around and under and through rocks and gulleys and the mountainside … we didn’t meet a car traveling in the opposite direction but if we had there was no room to pass on stretches of the road. It was an “experience” and one I will adjust to … I hope … eventually! 🙂
And then, just after the late-May southern Norwegian summer sun set about 11:30 pm, we crossed the bridge onto Osterøy. I’ll post my thoughts on our time there soon, but it’s enough to say that my experiences there were of warmth and acceptance and genuine interest.
I am falling in love with this beautiful country, and the Norwegian people!! I am so excited to move here and begin my new life.