Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meet-Me-Halfway Honeymoon: Part 5 - Flam, Norway

Now that we've survived the first half of our trip traveling on various modes of public transportation, we were excited to finally get our rented car and begin our self-drive road trip! Even though this was a budget trip and renting a car is probably not the cheapest option, we concluded that this part of Norway is best traveled by car coz driving through one of Norway's 18 National Tourist Routes is the best way to experience some of the wildest and most beautiful fjord, mountain and coastal scenery that Norway has to offer. Norway's government has indeed successfully defined the quote 'it's not the destination, but the journey that matters most'...literally! =)

May 19 (Mon): Self-drive to Vang Camping at Naeroyfjord

Picked up our Volvo V40 Cross Country from Hertz in Bergen without any hassle. We were supposed to get a VW Golf but I guess they were all taken. I don't know much about cars so I'm not sure if the Volvo was a better car or worse, I think it looks nicer though...haha! Anyway, the Volvo is manual and runs on diesel so I guess it's fuel efficient. Hubby managed to get a 20% discount from his insurance company so our 7-days car rental costed NOK2246 (RM1230). We also saved on insurance coz it's already covered under hubby's car insurance. 

Norway has right hand driving so hubby had to be the driver for this entire trip...haha!! =P While I didn't need to drive, my job as a passenger wasn't easy coz I had to be the navigator, photographer, and videographer without falling!! We didn't rent a GPS but bought a broadband card that lasted for a week for RM55. So I only used google map (plus all the homework that I've done before the trip) to navigate our entire journey.

One of our first impressions of driving in many tunnels!!

Blue skies, snow-capped mountains, serene lakes, empty's impossible to fall asleep with all these breathtaking scenery along the way!! 

Entering Naeroyfjord and getting near to our destination...surrounded by steep mountains, thundering waterfalls and picturesque villages along the fjord.

Finally arrived at our destination - Vang Camping after 3 hours. Such a pretty place!!

This is the 'real' Norway that I'm talking about! Nothing can beat nature's beauty!! Most tourists (especially cruise ships) will make a stop in Flam but since we were driving, we had the flexibility to stay slightly further away from the harbor and railway station at this tranquil and beautiful campsite surrounded by waterfalls.

The owner wasn't around when we arrived but we saw this cute little post-it at the reception window saying that cabin no. 12 was reserved for us...haha! Best of all, all the cabins had keys on the door so anyone could check-in anytime. Such a safe place and laid back lifestyle! We booked the small cabin for NOK300/night (RM165) which was a lot cheaper than hotels and it's definitely value for money coz our small lil' cabin was equipped with a small kitchen, refrigerator, king bed and most importantly, a priceless scenery. =) Even though the bathroom facility was shared, we pretty much had the whole place for ourselves as we were the only ones there. One thing we learned about staying in cabins was to bring our own bed linens (i.e. pillow case, bed sheet, & duvet cover). We didn't have a duvet cover but hubby's blanket and my sleeping bag worked fine.

Went to the Joker grocery store nearby to buy some food and saw this view right by it.

Had pasta, salad and grapes for dinner. Simple dinner surrounded by waterfalls. We just chilled and relax for the rest of the day before another long day ahead.

We made most of our own meals during this trip especially after getting a car coz it was very expensive to eat out. To give you an idea of how expensive is expensive, RM32 for a hot dog+Coke, RM13 for an ice-cream, RM12 for 1kg of banana, RM19 for a can of Heineken. You basically need to forget about math when shopping for groceries in Norway. =P

May 20 (Tues): Flam - Stegastein Viewing Platform at Aurlandsfjord

Started our day early at 6.15am and continued our northbound journey. Our first stop for the day was at Flam, a touristy small town 30 minutes away from Vang Camping. Saw a some passengers chilling on the balcony of the huge Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked at the harbor. 2 contrasting ways of exploring Norway, budget road trip vs luxurious cruise trip. =P 

After a quick pit stop at Flam, we continued our journey towards Stegastein viewing platform along Aurlandsfjellet National Tourist Route. I was so busy taking pictures along the way that I didn't even realize the sign saying that the road from Aurland to Laerdal is closed. The road was winding, narrow and uphill all the way. Our timing was good coz it was still quite early (7am) so there weren't other cars around. I couldn't imagine how is it possible to drive through this road in the summer with all the tour buses crowding this small little town.

Stegastein viewing platform, where nature and architecture combine to offer a dizzying view over the fjord landscape. We had the platform all for ourselves...awesome!! =)

The view from the platform was absolutely stunning!! This beautiful country was constantly surprising us with all these breathtaking scenery along the way. =)

Panoramic view from the transparent edge of the platform. Anyone fancy a slide into the fjord?

Continued our journey along Aurlandsfjellet...the route runs from fjord to fjord across high mountains where snow remains most of the summer. I was so excited to see snow on both sides of the road at this time of the year...pls bear with me coz we don't see all these in M'sia. =P

As I said earlier, we didn't know that the road was still closed (coz they haven't cleared the snow) until we saw this road! We can't continue our journey over the mountain so we had to turn back, go downhill and use the Lærdal Tunnel (under this mountain) instead...what a bummer! Luckily we started our journey early so we still had time to make it in time for our next adventure...glacier hike!! =) 

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