Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hardanger Fjord Road Trip

Jeffrey and I have been wanting to explore a different area of Norway for a while and recently took the opportunity to visit the area around the Hardanger Fjord.  Since early June is still not considered summer (a painful realization for me), especially in the mountains, it took a little research to figure out which roads would be open and what activities we would be able to do.  Bad news: we were a little early for guided glacier hiking and Trolltunga.  Good news: roads were open and the forecast called for sunny skies.  Remember Norway's National Tourist Roads?  Well, Roldal, the location of our cabin for the weekend, sits at the intersection of two National Tourist Roads - Hardanger and Ryfylke. I hope these pictures convey the beauty of this region - a truly spectacular weekend filled with...

Clear Blue Fjords

Snow Capped Mountains

Lush Valleys

A Stave Church 

And About A Zillion Waterfalls

That was all in one day, too!  One, glorious day.

Before heading back to Stavanger on Sunday, we drove to a farm in Buer that has a trail leading to an arm of the Folgefonna glacier.  Though it was too early to actually hike ON the glacier, we at least hiked TO it.

We were so glad we made this hike before heading home (especially with the snow slide on the way down - check out the video!).

PS I'm a visual person. Are you?  Well, here's a visual of the routes we took... just in case :)

From Oanes to Roldal - Ryfylke Route

Roundtrip from Roldal along the Hardanger Fjord - Hardanger Route

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sharing Our Corner of Norway

Since my mom's visit, we have had two more visitors - Jeff's sister, Jamie, and her friend Jen!  We already overcame our first-time-hosting-in-a-foreign-country jitters so we were ready to enjoy seeing our little corner of Norway discovered by new eyes again.  Here are a few highlights that we think every visitor should experience because a) they are close to Stavanger; b) they include ferries, tunnels, and breathtaking scenery and c) we don't mind doing them over and over because they are so fun!

First and foremost, we love showing off Stavanger (1).   Jeff and I laugh that we could be ambassadors for this small city we now call home.  What's not to enjoy? Drinks on the harbor. Walking along the cobblestone streets. Window shopping (take it from me, don't come to Norway to actually shop). Watching the fishermen sell their day's catch right off the boats.  This town is so different from any other that we (or those we know) have lived so we enjoy soaking it in.  Jen and Jamie were here on May 17th so the town was especially alive with the holiday's festivities.  We even had our picture taken with a lovely Norwegian in her bunad.

A visit wouldn't be complete without a scenic drive, and one of our favorite destinations is Byrkjedal (2), a candle factory amid the mountains.  On the way is the hike to Manafossen (3) and, if you're lucky, a little lamb friend to pet and *almost* take home with you.  

Last but not least, Preikestolen (4).  The last time we hiked Preikestolen, there was snow on the ground so this time it was like a completely different hike.  I thought I knew what to expect when we got to the top though, having seen it before. But, like Jen and Jamie, I couldn't look away. 

It's weird how something can go from foreign to familiar in such a short time.  I'm glad for the familiarity but sharing our little corner of Norway just reminds me of why I love it in the first place. So, past and future visitors - thank you for coming!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I Have a Secret..

At least that's the face I'm making in my new license photo (according to Jeff).  The important thing to note is we both got our driving licenses here in Norway!  And, yes, the photos are stereotypically bad and made worse by the fact that we weren't allowed to show our teeth.  I am not a closed-lip-smile person.  Years of orthodontic torture couldn't cure 100% of my adolescent overbite, so it's almost impossible to do it naturally anyway.  Therefore, I ended up giving my I-have-a-secret-and-I'm-not-telling face (according to Jeff).

At least I tried right?  I'm not even uploading an image of Jeff's. He didn't even try to smile so he has that I'm-tough-and-mean-and-never-smile face (according to me).

You may be thinking, you got your license? Big deal. Well it IS a big deal!  Not only is Norway full of scenic roads and destinations, but we also bought a car so... we kind of had to get one.  For locals, a driver's license can cost up to $5,000! And that's after a series of 6 courses, multiple practical driving tests in varying weather conditions, and they must be 18.  For us, being American, we had one chance to pass a one hour practical driving test. One chance that I almost blew because I could NOT get the car to start (it was one of those fancy hybrids).  Then I drove off with the parking break on.  So I guess the real secret is how I actually passed, and even I don't know that one.

By the way - our Norwegian licenses expire in year 2085! That's right - not until we are 99 years old.  Awesome. And a little scary.