Today was brilliant! After a really good sleep in a proper bed, we both woke up refreshed. My only regret was that despite having an ensuite, I hadn’t needed to use it in the night. One of the pleasures of staying in a hotel occasionally is that you don’t need to traipse across a field to the wash block in the middle of the night when you need a pee, so I felt slightly cheated that I hadn’t needed the luxury of just stepping out of my bed and into the bathroom. I did, however, make good use of the bath – my first bath for probably three months. Pure luxury.
As ever, our forward planning was non existent. However, on this occasion, our lackadaisical approach to this trip proved to our advantage. The day turned out to be beautifully sunny, without a cloud in the sky, and so any plans that we may have made went out of the window. We sat in the van, and Howard said, ‘Right, where to?’. We looked on the map, and studied our options. We had spotted a campsite further north on our camping App, and the most sensible way to have got there would have been to drive the main road, through lots of tunnels, and arrive early afternoon. Instead, we decided to back track to Gudvangen at the end of Naeroyfjorden, and catch the car ferry across to Kaupanger. A British couple, who we had met on the campsite in Flam, had told us about this ferry, and it sounded wonderful.
So we set off, having no idea as to whether or not we would get on without a reservation. We arrived with about twenty minutes to spare, and, as luck would have it, there was space on this small ferry that services communities along the fjords.
The trip was sublime. The sun was shining, it was actually warm, and we sat out on deck in comfortable chairs, joined by just a handful of others car drivers. What a contrast from our tourist ferry two days earlier. It was bliss! For the first time since before we left for Iceland, we actually felt warm!
Naeroyfjorden must be one of the beautiful fjords in Norway, and clearly deserves it’s UNESCO status. We had seen it two days earlier in the gloom, and it had still looked impressive, but today it was just wonderful. From Nearoyfjorden, the ferry then travelled along Aurlandesfjorden, and into the main Sognesfjorden. The first part of the journey was undoubtedly the most impressive, with the towering cliffs and narrow fjord slowly opening up into the much wider Sognesfjorden. We stopped just the once at Amla, a small farming community on the fjord side, with no road access, and two people alighted. The whole journey to Kaupanger took two and a half hours – we could have been there in half the time if we had driven, but it was one of the best experiences we have had so far in Norway.
Once off the ferry, we headed off past Sogndal, and stopped briefly at Fjaerlandsforden, another tributary of Sognefjorden, just to admire the view. In the distance, we could see the soaring mountains of the Jostedalsbreen National Park. As we drove closer, we spotted the edge of the huge Jostedal Glacier, the largest glacier in mainland Europe. The views were just stunning, and just before the entrance to a tunnel, we spotted a sign to the glacier itself. We travelled down a small track, and there it was – the leading edge of the massive glacier, with ice blue melt water rushing off down a river. It was just a wonderful sight. We eventually dragged ourselves away, and headed onwards to our campsite for the night.
The campsite sits at the head of Gloppenfjorden, a tributary of Nordfjord. We have been given a pitch right by the fjord side. When we arrived, the tide was out, and a small stretch of sand led down to a jetty. On the side of the jetty is moored a replica Viking Ship. So tonight, we have eaten our tea, looking out over the fjord, with a Viking ship bobbing on the water. Strange, but quite magical.
Howard has just come back from washing up to tell me that the honeymoon couple in the monster Winnebago from our Bergen campsite have just turned up. They also appeared on our campsite in Flam. They must be stalking us! We haven’t actually seen them, just their huge vehicle. Howard says they have a British number plate, and has decided they must come from Essex. You see, this is what happens when you are away from home so long – your imagination takes over!
But it has truly been a wonderful day. Completely unexpected – a ferry trip, a glacier, and now a Viking ship and a stalking Winebago. Who would have thought?!