After a long ferry journey where we both enjoyed the luxury of being indoors for a while we arrived into Bergen. The ferry provided more opportunity to see some more of the less populated areas of Norway but really, we felt like the views we’d already experienced on our bikes were just as good. We had arranged another Warmshowers host in Bergen and after a small ride around the city we made our way to the home of Helle and Jan. It was a beautiful place, set up on the side of a steep hill (most of Bergen seems to be on steep hills).
We were made to feel most welcome there and tried to repay their generosity by helping out in the garden and cooking a meal. We were also extremely lucky with the weather as Bergen is famous for its very high rainfall. This also lead to excellent views of the city when we took the funicular up to a lovely view point in the mountains. On our final night we made our way back into Bergen to sample the night life and stay at a local hostel so as not to disturb Helle and Jan on our return. This meant we left Bergen feeling a little weary and perhaps not as well rested as we should have after a few days off the bike! The first day our main target was to get out of Bergen and find a place to camp. This we did, finding a nice slope on the side of one of the many lakes. It was a peaceful place and when we awoke the following morning to the sound of rain, we both agreed one more rest day before the final push back to Oslo wouldn’t hurt!
Once we got moving again light rain followed us for a couple of hours. This then turned into torrential rain and by the time we reached Osøyro we were completely drenched. It didn’t take long for the ferry to arrive and we were glad to get on board. It was due to be a short crossing however there were some technical problems which meant we were able to wait on the ferry for a couple of hours. It was a great chance to warm up and try to dry off again before we ventured off outdoors. once again. They managed to get the ferry going and we soon arrived into Fusa. After the extra day off and the boat delays, we were now ‘behind schedule’. We rarely had a schedule but while in Bergen we decided we would book the infamous train ride back to Oslo so needed to get to Voss by a specific time. The rest of the day passed without any seriously heavy rain and the cycling was, as had become the norm for Norway, absolutely fantastic. More ocean roads, fjords, lakes and cliffs met with quiet roads meant what most cycle tourists can only wish for! The evening arrived and as we passed a farmer in his field we decided to stop and ask him if it would be okay to stop there. He turned out to be a very generous chap and not only did he let us stay, but he showed us down to an indoor shower which was usually reserved for his Airbnb guests. A hot stew followed by a hot shower lead to a great night’s sleep and we were up and away in good time as we continued the journey east to Tørvikbygd where we would take yet another short ferry to Jondal. The Norwegians have recently built a new route from Jondal to Odda which comprises of two tunnels both over 10km each. Unfortunately bicycles are prohibited which meant we would be taking the long way round. The upshot of this was that we didn’t have to share the road with the majority of the vehicles driving from Bergen to Oslo. Once again, quiet roads met ideal cycling conditions. We found ourselves tackling a major climb in the afternoon. This was a little unexpected as normally we can find through Google what the terrain will be like. On this occasion, this wasn’t possible so we were ‘riding blind’. After the last series of hairpins we reached the top and cooled off on the descent where we stopped for a late lunch where we were joined by a local dog we named Dave. After a quick chat with Dave’s owner we pushed out a few more kilometres before arriving into Utne where we found Norway’s oldest hotel. As it was the eve of my birthday we decided to stop for a pint. We also filled up on CocaCola and found a camping spot just a few kilometres down the road. Although the questionable hotdogs we enjoyed for lunch were wreaking havoc with our stomachs, I have to say it was a wonderful spot to enjoy my 29th birthday. As we sat on a rock looking out across the water, snowcapped mountains in the distance, all was good with the world.
Next morning we were feeling a little worse for wear and it wasn’t just the rum. We assumed the dumpster-dived hotdogs were probably a bad call and made a mental note to steer clear from meat unless it was in-date and in a shop, rather than in the bins next to the shop. Despite the slightly queasy stomachs the cycling was unbelievable. We had now turned into the long and narrow part of the Hardanger Fjord and better still, we had a strong tail wind. It was some of the fastest cycling of the trip and with fantastic views, stunning waterfalls and easy cycling it was a great morning’s cycling. In the early afternoon we arrived into Odda, the largest place we had seen since leaving Bergen. We enjoyed some free wifi in the town library and did a big food shop. If I recall, we were unlikely to get to another decent shop for a couple of days and there was a chance this would be closed anyway, due to it being Sunday soon. It was for that reason, our heavily-laden bikes wobbled off from Odda later that afternoon. This was far from the first time we’d been in this situation, the difference here was we had to cycle up a mountain first before we could start to consume our supplies! Tomorrow we would be hiking to Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue), another infamous Norwegian landmark and one we were very excited about. Despite the heavy bikes, we plodded onwards and upwards and we were both surprised by how much our fitness improved as we reached the Trolltunga Visitor Centre. Unfortunately camping was forbidden around this area and we would have had to hike a few kilometres that evening to arrive somewhere we could camp. Not to matter, we were by now, expert stealth campers and as we rode off down a track, past the ‘No Entry’ and ‘Danger of Death/Explosions’ signs we managed to find a quiet little spot in some trees where we were fairly well hidden. Another lovely evening with an Al Roberts’ Spaghetti Bolognese and a couple of beers was a perfect end to an unusual but awesome birthday.
Next morning we packed up stealthily and quickly and made our way to the visitor centre where we left the bikes for the day and picked up the path to Trolltunga. We had heard that this hike was a lot tougher than Kjeragbolten and the first kilometre didn’t disappoint, with steep steps forming the majority of the footpath. We reached the first plateau and beautiful views were revealed as well as the snow line on the hills above. Once we crossed into the snow navigation became easier by simply following the footsteps of others. Trolltunga has become a very popular tourist destination in Norway and we met many people along the way, despite it still being very early in the season. By lunchtime we reached the infamous spot and did the necessary photo shoots as well as enjoying our homemade sandwiches with one hell of a view. Sitting on the edge of Trolltunga was definitely one of the main highlights not just of Norway but of the whole trip. We made quick work of the hike back down and we even raced down the treacherous last kilometre. We reached the bottom in high spirits but feeling a little on the tired side however, to keep decent progress we then had to get back on the bikes. The first few kilometres were an absolute pleasure, rolling down the steep road we had cycled up yesterday. Our wheel rims were hot by the time we reached the bottom due to the high speeds and hairpin turns. We then carried on down the Hardanger Fjord where we bypassed a number of tunnels and were able to enjoy cycling on our own private roads. We struggled to find a camping spot and as our tired bodies shouted for a rest we settled on a field by the side of a road. It actually had great views but we think a couple of locals weren’t very happy as they stopped to watch us, didn’t wave back and then stood there on their mobile phone. We think they tried to call a local farmer but either way, the night remained uneventful and we were able to slip away the following morning without trouble.
It was once again lovely cycling as we rushed towards Kinsarvik where we were aiming for a 11am ferry. After getting held up by some pretty major road works we just made it on time only to find out that the ferry would be leaving in a couple of hours. The ferry took us back to Utne, returning to one of the places we had already been for one of the first times on the trip. From Utne we took another ferry to Kvandal. This was to be our last full day of cycling in Norway and once again it didn’t let us down. We found ourselves with one last big climb, passing a monstrous waterfall on the way up, stopping at the viewing points and enjoying a short break in the fanciest toilet I’ve ever been in! The rain set in as we began our gradual descent towards Voss. Before we realised we were out of the woods and into farmland with very little opportunity to camp. Once again, a friendly farmer saved us by letting us stay on his land. It was an incredible spot, by the side of a river with a big rock protruding out into the bend. Sadly a little of the beauty was lost due to the torrential rain which had poured down all evening and night. We pushed our loaded bikes back out of the swamp-like field and rejoined the road to Voss. We managed to find a local campsite where we were able to wash our clothes and even better, ourselves! It had been too long since the last shower with too many mountains, kilometres and rain showers so this was a real luxury. Voss seemed to be another nice place although we didn’t have much time there before we were taking the train back to Oslo. After a big delay, we finally managed to get on a train later that evening where we somehow ended up in the private cabins. We lay on our beds, wearing clean clothes and drinking a beer while looking out of the window to more amazing views. It felt like we had completed Norway and everything that it threw at us and were being justly rewarded for our efforts. That evening we arrived back into Oslo and not long after we began our respective journeys to Dusseldorf (me) and Hungary (Al). We would be returning in a week after some rest and recuperation and surprising our loved ones with an early visit.