Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet-Me-Halfway Honeymoon: Part 8 - Geirangerfjord, Norway

May 21 (Wed): Gorgeous Geirangerfjord - Day 1
For the first 8 days of our trip, we were constantly moving from one city to another and didn't spend more than one night at one place. Since Geirangerfjord is known as one of the most famous and beautiful fjords of Norway, our initial plan was to spend 3 nights at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, taking into consideration of our budget (the accommodation here costs more than our next destination) and knowing that our trip is coming to an end soon, we decided to cut short our stay to 2 nights and spend the last few days of our trip just chilling and enjoy each others' company without overwhelming ourselves with too much activities.

Our 5.5 hours drive ended on a high note when we finally arrived at this AMAZING viewpoint - Flydalsjuvet. This viewpoint offers an excellent view over Geirangerfjord, one of the best in my opinion. If you look far ahead towards the mountains, you'll spot a zig-zag road and that's where our accommodation for the next 2 nights was located. 

Best of all...we had the viewpoint all for ourselves. =)

From the viewpoint, we drove on for 10 more minutes and tadaa...we have arrived at our destination - Grande Hytteutleige og Camping

We absolutely didn't expect that our cabin was right by the fjord and had such good view of the mountains and Geirangerfjord!! Instead of planning any activities, we decided to just chill on our veranda and enjoy the view for the next 2 days

Guess how much we paid to stay at such a beautiful place? Only NOK430/night (RM230) for a 4-bed cabin. =) The common practice for renting cabins in Norway is to bring your own bed linens/sleeping bag (or you can rent it) and clean up before leaving. Shower and toilet facilities are shared (but very clean) and you gotta buy shower tokens that costs NOK15 (RM7) for 5 minutes of hot shower. =P We wanted to cook so we rented the cooking equipment for NOK50 (RM27). All in all, this place is definitely value for money. 

May 22 (Thurs): Gorgeous Geirangerfjord - Day 2
Apart from visiting the famous viewpoints that are easily accessible by car, the 2 popular activities in this area are hiking and kayaking. We decided not to kayak coz it's quite expensive and we'll probably end up kayaking aimlessly anyway. And thanks to the recommendation of our Canadian neighbor, we decided to go for a hike at one of the many hiking trails around Geiranger. 

We've been pretty lucky with the weather so far on our trip but unfortunately, we couldn't escape the rain in Geiranger. Hubby wanted to be 'adventurous' so we got ourselves all 'geared up' to hike in the!!

We randomly picked this 'Gomsdal' trail based on the vague description of our neighbor without knowing where it will lead us to. Btw, blue jacket + red umbrella!!

Saw this out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere house with a perfect view of Geirangerfjord after hiking for about 20 minutes. We continued hiking along the trail aimlessly for 10 more minutes before concluding that this trail ain't gonna bring us to any spectacular viewpoint. At this point, both our shoes were already soaked in mud and water. =.= 

Stopped by Ornesvingen viewpoint on our way back to the camp site for this magnificent panoramic view over Geirangerfjord. 

Went back to our cabin to rest and made hot dogs for lunch, while drying my shoes. =P

The rain finally stopped at 4pm so we drove back uphill to the Queen's Chair. This awesome viewpoint is just slightly further down from the Flydasjuvet lookout where we stopped by the day before. 

Perfect spot to enjoy a perfect view of the fjord. =)

We saw someone filming some stunt at the edge of the cliffs but they were done when we arrived so we missed it. But I have a feeling that it was this extreme artist doing the stunt.

Can't get enough of this breathtaking view.

Stopped by the Geiranger Fjord Center and walked along the boardwalk to feel the waterfall gushing under us. 

I wasn't satisfied with the gloomy picture that we took from the Ornesvingen viewpoint in the morning so upon my request, hubby drove up the zig-zag 'Ørnevegen' (Eagle Road) again. =P Ain't easy driving on this road coz the 5km road turns through 11 hairpin bends up from the Geirangfjord to the highest point 620 meters above sea level. =)

One more panoramic view of the fjord before we bid goodbye to this place the next day.

Now that we've seen the fjord from many different altitudes and angles, it's time to see the fjord up close. That's the best part about our camp site, this small dock is just 1 minute walk from our cabin and there's no better place to experience the beauty and tranquility of the fjord. Once again, I'm mesmerized by Norway's natural beauty. =)

That's it for Geirangerfjord. 2 more posts to go before I wrap up on our Meet-Me-Halfway Honeymoon series and move on to blog about our epic cycling trip. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Meet-Me-Halfway Honeymoon: Part 7 - Driving in Norway

Norway's National Tourist Routes are perfect depictions of the quote "It's not the destination, but the journey that matters most". Of course, there's also the train ride between Oslo and Bergen with the Bergen Railway that's known as the most exciting and beautiful train ride in the world. But since we were driving, we decided to make full use of our rented car and planned our routes to cover 3 of these tourist routes - Aurlandsfjellet, Sognefjellet, and part of Geiranger-Trollstigen. A lot of these routes are only opened in the summer (they're covered in snow for most of the year) and we were really lucky that these routes were opened for traffic just one week before we arrived. =)

"There are still roads that are not merely designed to get you to your destination as quickly as possible. National Tourist Routes in Norway are beautiful drives with that little bit extra. The routes are carefully selected by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, and each of the 18 routes has its own history and character. Our job is to make sure the routes are adapted to travellers' needs. We do so by building spectacular viewpoints with service buildings, car parks, furniture, paths and art."

May 21 (Wed): Sognefjellet & Geiranger National Tourist Routes

After a chillaxing morning, we bid goodbye to Jostedal and continued our drive up north to our next destination - Geiranger. After an eventful glacier hike the day before, the only plan we had for the day was to drive for a couple of hours. According to google maps, our 237km journey (Route 55 -> 15 -> 63) should take approximately 3.5 hours but we ended up spending 2 more hours on photo stops. =P

5.5 hours on the road sounds boring but it definitely wasn't boring at all, even though the speed limit of 60 kms/hr on an empty highway was pretty annoying. =P The first part of the drive brought us through some fjords, valleys and waterfalls, the 'same old' scenery that we've been seeing for the past few days. =)

After driving for an hour, the landscape changed dramatically from green to white as we drove through Northern Europe's highest mountain pass...WOWW!! I was so excited when I saw these mountain plateaus covered in snow, pardon me for my sam-pat-ness!!! Gopro, camera, ipad, phone...everything was on my lap coz I had to capture all these beauty with each of the!! 

Can you imagine these roads were still covered in snow just one week before we arrived?? It's really impressive how they cleared the snow off the roads with banks of snow up to ten meters in height!!

The 'snow wall' was so cool we had to pull over the car randomly on the road for photos. The road was quite narrow but fortunately we were there before the high season so there were hardly any cars on the road!!

Oh yeah!!!

I'd be so dead if that snow wall suddenly collapse. =P

First time on a highway that's absolutely silent and tranquil. No people, no car.

Just the two of us, the mountains, and the snow. Felt like we were in our own world!

The gloomy weather made the surrounding more mysterious...imagine being stranded!!

Entering Geiranger-Trollstigen route...the blue layer of water above the ice looks cool!

I took so many photos along the way coz it was so so so B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!!

I was holding my Gopro stick outside of the window for almost half of the journey. =P Finally edited my first Gopro video, here's a glimpse of our 4-hour journey in 3 minutes. =) Thanks hubby for bringing us to our destination safely through these windy roads. <3

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Meet-Me-Halfway Honeymoon: Part 6 - Glacier Hike in Norway

I'm seriously lagging too much behind with my Meet-Me-Halfway Honeymoon series. It's been almost 4 months and I'm only halfway through with my updates. =.= The past month had been nothing but work leaving me with no time for blogging. I just returned from another trip so that means more blog updates pending. Still not quite done with work yet but I shall squeeze some time this weekend to blog. 

May 20 (Tues): Nigardsbreen Glacier Hike

After a quick photo stop at the Stegastein Viewing Platform, we continued our journey for 3 more hours to Jostedal, passing by more tunnels and the amazing scenery continues. =) 

With so many fjords in Norway, it's common for the highway to end suddenly and the only option to continue the journey is by ferry. This was the Mannheller-Fodnes/Rv5 ferry which took about 25 min and costs NOK103 (RM56). We've traveled in Norway by rail, flight, bus, car, and now ferry, what else are we missing? :P

Beautiful weather and scenery along our way. =)

Entering Jostedal Glacier National Park, the scenery just keeps getting better!!

After 4.5 hours of driving, we finally arrived Breheimsenteret (Glacier Visitor Centre) at 10.45am. Our timing was perfect coz we had to pick up and pay for the glacier hike tickets at about one hour before the hike starts at 11.45am. There were several glacier hike options available and we chose the Short Blue Ice Hike at Nigardsbreen Glacier. In fact, the tickets weren't cheap, NOK460 (RM250) per pax, but we didn't want to miss out on this experience. How often do we get to see glacier, moreover walk on it! :P

Nice view of the glacier and its surrounding from the parking lot where we waited for our guide.

Our glacier guide helping to fit our gears before we start our hike. There were a total of 4 couples in our group and the other couples were at least 20 years older than us.

We thought we would be fitter than the others in our group but surprisingly, they hiked faster than!!

The glacier looked so near from the parking lot but it was deceiving coz we had to hike for about an hour through rocky grounds before arriving at the glacier. 

I shouldn't be complaining when I'm surrounded with such breathtaking scenery along the hike. :P

There was this part where the water stream was too wide for us to leap over so our guide brought some planks to help us over. =)

Finally arrived at the foot of the glacier!! Time to put on our harnesses and strap the crampon to our shoes. Our guide also explained about how to use the ice axes and how to walk on the glaciers.

For safety purposes, we were all roped together in a line with the guide at the front of the line followed by me then Daniel and the rest of the group. So basically my front view for the entire hike was our guide's back(side)!!

As you can see from the pics, we were hiking up and down on ice and thanks to the crampons, we didn't feel slippery at all!!

It was cool to walk by cracks and deep blue holes with water gushing into them, I don't even dare to imagine what would happen if someone falls into these crevasses.

The glacier is lot bigger close up filled with crevasses, tunnels, waterfall shafts, valleys and seracs! We were told that the ice is not white and looks kinda 'dirty' coz of the dust that gathers on it.

 Took a break for lunch and snacks halfway through the hike. What an experience to have a simple 'picnic' with such a cool backdrop!

And a view like this!!! Absolutely AMAZING!!!

Time to begin our descent after a short lunch break.

We spent about 2.5 hours on the glacier but it felt longer than that. We both concluded that choosing the short hike was sufficient coz it would have been too tiring if we went for the longer one. We were very lucky that the weather was very nice and the skies were blue, but we ended up pretty tanned from the sun reflecting off the ice. =) 

We completed our glacier adventure at about 4pm and all we wanted next was a good shower and dinner.

Checked-in our 2nd cabin for this trip. Our 1-room cabin cost NOK350/night (RM192), which was very reasonable for Norwegian standards. The location of Jostedal Camping was perfect coz it's only about 5 minutes away from the glacier. The scenery around the campsite is also very beautiful surrounded by snow-capped mountains, farm and glacier river. =)

The cabin was also extremely comfy and well equipped! They've got free wifi, common bathroom, and kitchen for us to make our own meals. The host, Astrid, was such a nice lady! We told her that we were traveling on our honeymoon and she gave us two shower tokens as a small honeymoon present. =)

Our simple but yummylicious dinner with an amazing scenery. =)

Absolutely love this place!! What a great place to relax and unwind. The 'late arrivals' note shows how chillax and nice the people are!

Oh yeah!! Finally completed this blog post since it's been in draft for more than a month. We'll be continuing our journey to Geirangerfjord next but before that, we'll be driving through some cool areas so stay tuned to my next post! =)