Saturday, May 3, 2014

Road to Vik: The Better Norway in a Nutshell. Sognefjord.

Flaneurs' Delight. A Driver's Better Norway in a Nutshell.
If you are driving, enjoy instead a quiet drive off the main roads, to Vik.
Surprise!

Vik, according to one site, was the place from which Viking got its name -- a small place today, but its skills and culture in history huge.  See http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/420178/Norway/39300/Earliest-peoples#toc39302. The usual commercial Norway in a Nutshell is a canned tour junket on fjords, up steep inclines by antique trains, seeing flora and vales.  Fine.  Choose an alternative, if you are lucky enough to be driving.

From Flam, navigate the Gudvangen tunnel east, and veer off at a little sign aiming north, away from the Bergen area where most of the traffic goes.  Do it because there will be such changing topography, weather, sights and views, that you may agree with us that this is a better Norway in a Nutshell than the usual commercial  Norway in a Nutshell, Rick Steves' endorsements of the touristy notwithstanding.

The drive to Vik is a must-drive, more varied, more dramatic, and not so frenetic. 

Start in the lowlands, with the cows, and a herdslady.


Don't try to rush. There's more.


Then, start to climb, still with greenery around, and find a view of Sognfjord in the distance. Clouds coming.


The road turns above the treeline, a tundra-ecosystem-like place, and suddenly we are above some clouds.


Glory be! The views won't stop!


Look down if you dare. We did.

At one of several summits, a glacial lake.



Snow. Perhaps a glacier? Up close, road to Vik.


Up and down the valleys.




And there at Vik, a view coming down the mountain, the fjord, the town


Vik boasts two medieval, lovely old churches:  see Hopperstad Stave Church, with its dragons reaching for the sky.


Then a little ways up the mountain again, Hove Stone Church, with its dragons tucked under the eaves....


On the way back, the weather cleared. Views look different.



Stop on the way back, above the tree line again this time in the sunshine. Why on earth do we mow our lawns? Look at the variety of lichens, mosses, little flowering things there, all low, below the radar of the winds they prosper..



Lovely scrubby things amid the rocks.  Everybody has to exit the car to examine them.Ooh.  Aah!


What ho? Someone lives here. Missed that before.


And who else inhabits these regions?  Jaiette and other Trolls....

Troll on the road from Vik, Norway. Jaiette troll.

Trolls mythology in Norway.  See http://www.squidoo.com/troll-of-norway.  Now.  Scared yet? Ok. On your way, now.

Aaaargh!




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