Articles tagged with "fjord"

Fløya

Fløya

Hiking trails led away from the cable car station up into the hills, so I decided to walk for a while. Quickly I was away in the quiet mountains. I headed up a steep path to a ridge, which looked like the highest point around, but once I got there I could see there was another higher peak further on. The path flattened and dropped, and then rose up to Mount Fløya, 671m above sea level.

The day had started out overcast but some sun had broken through the clouds. I was alone on top of the mountain, and I sat for a while, taking in the views over the wild countryside.

The only reason to come down was that I had to find my way to the airport for a flight back to Oslo. This was a very annoying business, first of all because I was extremely content up there and didn’t feel like starting my journey back to London, and secondly because it was the World Cup final, and in a moment of appalling planning, I’d booked a flight that took off at the precise moment the game started, and would last for pretty much the exact time football games last for. I could only hope it would go to extra time.

We landed, and I got a train back to Oslo. As I walked through the station, I heard a sudden roar, and found a pub where the game was on. It had gone to extra time, and Spain had just almost scored. The Norwegian crowd was definitely backing Spain, and when they scored with just a few minutes to go the pub went wild. Out in the streets of Oslo, a car full of Spanish people drove around the block a few times, hooting its horn. If there were any Dutch around, they were keeping it quiet.


Journey to Skjervøy

Journey to Skjervøy

My day in Tromsø started badly. Somehow I’d imagined there would be breakfast at the hostel, and with breakfast one normally gets coffee. But there wasn’t, and I had no supplies. I was a long way from town, and for a moment the day looked bleak. But then I found out that they sold bad coffee in the reception, at outrageous prices. I happily handed over a wodge of kroner, drank the mediocre brew, and then headed out into a bright warm day.

I had no plans, except a vague thought that I’d like to get a boat somewhere. I walked into the city, and down to the quay, but I couldn’t find any useful-looking information about what was going where. Then by chance I wandered into the tourist information office, and by chance I picked up a leaflet about Skjervøy, a village to the north of Tromsø. It turned out I could travel there by bus, and then catch the Hurtigruten back down the coast. The bus was leaving in half an hour; I bought a ticket and headed north.

The best plans are those that are never made. Nothing is better than the spontaneous, and I knew straight away this was going to be an awesome journey. The bus left Tromsø and headed inland, first of all stopping at Breivikeidet where a ferry ran across the narrow fjord to Svensby under an incongruously hot Arctic sun.

Then from Svensby the bus carried on to Lyngseidet, rounding the fearsome looking Lyngen alps, snow covered and jagged. At Lyngseidet we boarded another ferry to Olderdalen. The first ferry had been cool; this one was awesome. Crossing a deep blue fjord surrounded by towering snowy mountains on a hot day in the Arctic Circle could not be anything else.


Ammassalik circumnavigation

Ammassalik circumnavigation

The next day when I got up at 7am, the village was covered in a bright white fog. I was imagining that I might be forced to have a very boring day not doing much, but quite suddenly the fog disappeared, and I decided to go on a boat trip with six other people who were staying at the hostel.

The plan was to circumnavigate Ammassalik island. This 70 mile trip would take us to a couple of the remote settlements in the district as well, and hopefully down Sermilik Fjord. This bit depended on the ice having broken up enough for our little boat to get through. Ably piloted by our boatman, Tobias, we set off.

It was still a bit cloudy as we sailed away from Tasiilaq. Our little motor boat was pretty fast and as soon as Tobias put the power down we all had to huddle down to avoid some serious wind chill. We headed anticlockwise, and once we were in the open seas we passed some huge icebergs.

The sun was beginning to come out. We sailed for a couple of hours, stopping on an island with some ancient Inuit ruins before we reached the village of Tiniteqilaaq. I’d thought the scenery up until now had been pretty amazing but here it blew my mind. We docked in the village, climbed a small hill and suddenly had the unbelievable Sermilik Fjord in front of us.


Down the fjords

Down the fjords

We had a fun night out in Bergen. The streets were full of students wearing red trousers, in some kind of post-exam celebration. Everything was lively and we didn’t get back to the hostel until after 4am. We’d booked ourselves tickets on a train to Voss, leaving at 7.50am, and when we got up at 7, I was not filled with enthusiasm for the day’s sightseeing.

I dozed on the train. The skies were dark and I thought we were finally going to have some famous Bergen rain, but it held off, and at Voss the sun began to break through. We then got a bus to Gudvangen, and by the time we got there the skies were clear.

From here, we got a boat to Flåm. It was a stunning ride down the Nærøyfjord, hemmed in on either side by towering cliffs, with waterfalls plunging from the heights. All was still except for the hum of the boat, and the waters were like glass.

We chugged along, and very occasionally there was an isolated house perched on the edge of a cliff. If I ever become spectacularly rich, I’m going to buy one of them. Eventually we reached the end of Nærøyfjord and turned into the Aurlandsfjord. I didn’t want to trip to end but after two hours we were approaching Flåm.


Oslo

Oslo

This trip was my first ever with Ryanair. For just fifty pounds each, me, Eldrik and John got flights from Stansted to Sandefjord. It seemed outrageously cheap at the time, but later I’d come to see fifty pounds as about the maximum I’d ever spend on flights within Europe.

The journey started painfully slowly. We got a train from Tottenham Hale which stopped at every single station on the way to Stansted. It seemed to take hours, and when we got to Stansted Mountfichet I almost lost it. What the hell is Stansted Mountfichet? Why would anyone want to get off there? But we got to Stansted eventually, and flew north. I was looking forward to visiting my first Nordic country since Iceland three years previously. Our plane dropped below the clouds and a rainy Norway came up to meet us.

The bus to Oslo turned out to be three spaces too small to carry everyone. We stood, and got the journey for free as a result. It was the only cheap thing we would get all weekend.

During the journey, fine weather broke out, and it was sunny and almost warm when we reached Oslo. We stashed our bags at the station, bought tickets for the night train to Bergen, and headed out to explore. We got a boat across the harbour to the Bigdøy Peninsula, and had a look around the museums there. In the Kon Tiki museum, I was astonished at how small the Kon Tiki was. The Fram museum was closed by the time we got to it, but we looked through the window at the ship which Fridtjof Nansen deliberately froze into the Arctic ice, to drift across from Siberia to Greenland, and which took Amundsen to the Antarctic in 1911.


It’s a long way to Akureyri

It's a long way to Akureyri

We arrived in Iceland at about 1.30am. It’s not a very convenient time to arrive in a country, really, but our flight had been late taking off because of storms in Reykjavík. There were no signs of any storms when we arrived, though, and we were off the plane, out of the airport and on our way into the city centre within half an hour.

And so we found ourselves in Iceland’s famously hedonistic capital at 2.30am on a Friday night. We appeared to be the only sober people in the whole city, and as we wandered around with our backpacks trying to find a place to stay, a car load of fabulously beautiful Icelandic women kerb-crawled us, screamed unintelligibly and then drove off. Eventually we found our way to a campsite, set up our tents with daylight beginning to appear, and grabbed a few hours of sleep.

We got up early the next day, and paid BSÍ, the Icelandic bus service, a call to buy our ‘hringmiði’ bus tickets with which we could travel around the outside of the country. The bus ticket seemed like good value, but then we went to a supermarket, to encounter for the first time the abject horror of having to pay £2 for a loaf of bread. Fresh fruit turned out to be considerably beyond our means, although caviare, bizarrely, was not. So after a frankly ludicrous dinner of caviare on toast, we went to bed, ready to be on our way at 6am the next day.

The weather on our day in Reykjavík had been nothing less than utterly miserable. Imagine the grimmest of grim British winter days, and it was a bit worse than that. We were very relieved that within half an hour of our bus leaving Reykjavík on day 2, the clouds were breaking up, and blue sky was visible for the first time. By the time we were an hour out of Reykjavík, it was a cool but sunny day.

The scenery on the road to Akureyri was amazing, and we took many photos as we passed at least 30 dramatic waterfalls, jagged mountains, and the Arctic coast of Iceland. By the time we reached Akureyri, six hours from Reykjavík, it was a pleasant and sunny 22°C.

We whiled away the five and a half hours before our onward connection came by basking in the pleasant sunshine and throwing stones into the Arctic Ocean. We’d temporarily left Iceland’s grim climate behind: the north and east of the country suffer from the worst winters, but they are often sunny in summer. So although we were only 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle, we slapped on the sun block and enjoyed it while it lasted.

Our bus from Akureyri to Reykjahlíð took us past some more great scenery, and an amazing sunset made it all the more memorable. We were all in really great moods by the time we got to Mývatn. They didn’t last…