Written 29th July
With blue skies, bright sunshine and, most importantly, a couple of cups of tea inside you, Norway is stunning. It's like taking a deep breath and feeling your lungs fill, your chest expand and your ribcage open. The daylight, landscape and possibilities are endless. Simply exhilarating.
And we have had the best 24 hours.
First stop, the Saltsraumen, the world's largest maelstrom. A 3km long, 150m wide sliver of a strait , through which 400 million cubic metres of water are forced four times a day at speeds of up to 20 knots. Apparently, with an incoming tide at the correct equinox, season and relative position of the sun and the moon it is colossal. But even with an outgoing tide on a random wednesday evening in July, it is pretty spectacular.
and momentary whirlpools appearing and disappearing
like the whole sea is being boiled in a giant saucepan.
And then the jet boat came out to play and show off..
It's awesome. In a way which is completely not captured in a photo of course :)
As lots of people seemed to be fishing, Will even took his newly mended rod down to the edge, but with the weights gone - substituted with bike spoke caps - the float broken - substituted for a bit of cork - and the reel not very firmly glued back on the rod, it was doomed for disaster. When, after a few goes, the cork floated off merrily into the maelstrom and the weed caught the hook and caused the reel to snap off again, it was clearly time to admit defeat. Ironically, the float, the lack of which has put a final end to all attempts, was originally the easiest bit to replace. But a while ago, and believing we had an inexhaustible supply, we stopped saving corks as we figured there was no need - well, we had a float but nowhere to fish, every possible engine airleak which could be plugged with a cork seemd to be holding firm and where in the world would we ever stop drinking wine?? - bother.
We hunted round the van in vain for things that might float but the only alternative floating things we could think of were witches and, inexplicably, we're carrying even fewer of them than corks. They would probably be a bit tricky to cast anyway....
Ho hum. Back on the road. And wow, what a road.
but, it started well with mountains wreathed in wispy clouds
and, on popping out of the umpteenth tunnel, we found ourselves down on the coast
and bathed light of the setting sun, peeping out between the horizon and the low lying clouds,
casting its pink hued rays across the cliffs.
Our destination was a glacier, recommended to us by the aperitif-sharing french van dwellers we had met on our first night in Norway, although as it had taken him three goes to find the right wiggle on the map and the instructions were a bit vague - 'the little road on the right after the first tunnel but before the second' on a road full of tunnels - we weren't holding out much hope...
But we found a road, between two tunnels and set off, gamely ignoring the signs which said 'Warning. Construction Road. May be liable to closure at anytime without prior notification' (in english, my norweigan isn't that good!). I mean, what could possibly go wrong??
Had I been giving those same instructions, I would not have stopped at the 'little road between two tunnels' part. I would have gone on the include the 3km of steeply uphill, twisting, unlit, pitchblack, semi-abandoned tunnel - honestly, the road was disintegrating on one side, no lights at all, I really expected we would just find a dead end, blank wall at the end where they'd got bored of digging and be faced with the prospect of reversing all the way back down. So much so that when we did see the light at the far end, it gave me such a shock I thought it was the proverbial train steaming towards us at full tilt... And then, further uphill, there was the unexpected fork in the road with a 50:50 chance of getting it wrong... I don't know, maybe we were on a different road entirely... but we did find a glacier. Where the road came to an abrupt stop in a cliff of boulders that formed a dam, a scramble to the top of which resulted, finally, in the desired glacier view, blue ice glinting and pink topped in the last dying rays of the sun. Hurrah!
And so today, bright and early in the afternoon, we left Jules basking in the sun and went off in search of it.
Scrambling over the strange and stripey rocks, scored and scarred by the inexorable relentless march of the glacier, untold millenia ago.
Where, after a couple of hours, we found ourselves still only about half way to the headland corner which we thought would afford us the best view,
and absolutely no hope of getting to the actual blue face of the glacier.
It didn't look to far away but it was one of those frustrating climbs where the top beckons, tantalisingly close with the promise of spectactular views if you just make it that little bit further up, only to dash your enthusiasm at every ridge with just a little bit more of the same ahead.
But we made it up to the snowline and were rewarded with fabulous views of the lake and over the hills and far away.
On top of the world!
So far so good, heading on then. Skirting the snow line, we crossed the barren moonscape,
scrambling over the loose boulders, round the lakes
and freeclimbing up bits of sheer rock wall with barely enough places to wedge your fingers and toes. Exciting stuff.
It all looked doomed to failure about halfway back when we found ourselves faced with a shallowish, plateau swept by sheets of icy water,
But fortunately some further searching found a narrowing of the torrent such that we could cross the remaining deep rivulet by dint of chucking rocks into it until there were enough stepping stones to leap between. Woohoo
Wicked. What fun!
accompanied by the setting sun
What a perfect day. This is definitely more like it!