27 July 2011

From Coast to Coast Expedition - Day 15

1,860 miles (3,000 km), 4,000 photos, 379 videos and 15 days later we are back to our base. The expedition is over and our heads are bursting with impressions, memories, and plain dizziness out of the stunning nature we had the opportunity to see. We are thankful we got back safe.

We started the trip here, at the southernmost tip of Norway.

We traveled to Oslo.

Then on to quiet valleys

and stunning mountains,

breathtaking fjords,

curvy narrow roads

and countless tunnels.

And we took pictures.

We took ferries from coast to coast.

We became part of the World BASE Race 2011

and Molde International Jazz Festival.

And we took pictures.

We picked wild berries

and went fishing along the Atlantic Road.

We reached one of the former capitals and then tragedy struck Norway. About 100 people died in the first ever mass killing in peaceful Norway after WWII.

We set back to experience life as it was 4 centuries ago.

And we took pictures.

We got swept away by surreal scenery,

slept in our van,

drove for hours on end,

got our van brought back to life after the challenging roads of Fjord Norway,

But most importantly, we never stopped documenting the beauty around!

Life on the road was mind-blowing and every inch of the way was worth it. We are now slowly adjusting to town life and seek quietness to re-live the moments of the past 15 days. 

Thank you for taking the trip with us, you have been the most wonderful and supportive companions!

25 July 2011

From Coast to Coast Expedition - Day 14

Once again, thank you all for your empathy. As Annette said under my previous post, the rest of our trip cannot be the same. So, Trondheim is the northernmost point of our expedition. From here we head back south to the living museum of Røros - an old mining town, placed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Røros began to take form in 1646 when the first copper ore was extracted on the nearby mountain plateau. 

We are excited to walk along the quiet streets and to smell the old wooden houses. 

The town lies up on an expansive mountain plateau in Central Norway and has a lovely summer climate. The winters though are quite a different story. The temperatures can go down to -58 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius). 

Touching the thick wooden walls we try to imagine what life used to be here before electricity.

24 July 2011

From Coast to Coast Expedition - Days 11, 12, and 13

Early in the morning we go back to the Atlantic Road. We get accepted in the pack now. Vultures waiting for the clouds to clear, praying for some wind, or even waves. 

Yes, we'd rather have enormous waves washing the road than this indifferent gray sky.

We wait and wait, move from bridge to bridge but it is all the same. No sun today. Still, we take our photos to share with you.

And we go.

Another day spent on the road. Another night in an unknown city.

We are in Trondheim, once the capital of Norway but still the place to crown the king. It is the home of the biggest church in Norway, the Nidaros Cathedral, where St. Olaf was buried – an orthodox saint and a driving force behind Norway's final conversion to Christianity.

The view from Nidaros Cathedral

And it is raining.

We spend the next two days on the streets and in the cathedral of Trondheim. We take the 172 steps up the tower to see the town from the once highest building in town. It still is impressive. Even in the rain.

The afternoon of July 22 starts with the terrifying news of the bombing of the government quarters in Oslo and the shooting on the Utøya island. The rest of the day disappears in following the news and talking with relatives over the phone. The worst attack of Norway since WWII. Everyone is in shock. According to the news 93 people are dead on the island and in Oslo. No words can explain how terror stricken Norway is at the moment.

Thank you, my friends for the emails and concerned comments. We are in shock.

21 July 2011

From Coast to Coast Expedition - Days 9 and 10

The farther north we drive, the less and worse Internet connection there is. Updating the blog becomes harder and harder, and uploading photos is almost impossible. Tourists around here are probably smitten most of the time and have no time for virtual life.

We are headed north, to Molde. And we are in a hurry, Moldejazz has just started. This is one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. That tiny little town of Molde at the top of Fjord Norway comes alive for a week each July. 

The streets are packed with jazz lovers, jazz singers, jazz/blues/country players, real South American Indians, and basically anyone else who managed to get to Molde to sell their art or craft. Every possible scene has become a jazz scene now and there are tens of languages to be heard around.

The feeling is more like being on a fair and the intellectual air that Jazz usually implies is lost in between booths offering soaps and free meditation tips. 

But Molde is beautiful. And charming. Dramatic peaks scrape the clouds and they pour over us relentlessly again and again, and again. Then sun, then rain again. That weather better make a choice already!

At Molde we meet the 4th of the ships of the Hurtigruten fleet. Do you remember when I wrote about the 5 day live TV marathon? It is exciting to visit the places that were shown on TV so soon and even meet some of the boats on the route!

  The longer we travel the more we get the feeling that Norway's sole purpose of existence is to showcase its magnificent wild nature. It seems that every road, railway or ferry route is there just to show that insane beauty, not to assist travelers in moving from one place to another. We often wonder what it is to live in these places. How do you grow up with this scenery? Can anything else in the world ever impress you afterwards? Could you be indifferent to that mind blowing landscape you wake up every day to?   

The road is calling us again and we head to the Atlantic Road, voted for the Norwegian Construction of the Century and is ranked first on The Guardian's list of the world's best road trips. It is a road that goes through an archipelago on the west coast and stretches its bridges for 5 mi (8 km) connecting small islands that are close enough... but we are unlucky. The clouds are low and it is raining again, no pictures can be taken. 

We wait but nothing changes for an hour and we decide to drive. Every rest place along the road is packed with RVs. Like vultures closing in on their prey, they patiently wait for the exact light and weather conditions to take their picture of the curvy road. There is no place for us and we head on to Kristiansund. We'll spend the night there and come back tomorrow. Hopefully in better weather. 

18 July 2011

From Coast to Coast Expedition - Days 7 and 8

We bid Geiranger farewell on a rainy morning. The prefect time and setting to leave this piece of heaven. If it wasn't for the dark clouds we could have lost ourselves here for a whole eternity. 

After a magical boat trip through the fjords and 60 mi (100 km) on land to the North-West we reach the coast. Civilization. Ålesund. Unique architecture, attention to detail, steep winding streets and sun. It is hot! 
Ships come and go. People are sunbathing on their yachts. Ålesund is colorful and cozy, situated on several small islands and surrounded by mind blowing scenery. 
There are Beatles fans everywhere

Did you spot the dog?
The town was burnt to the ground in one January night in 1904 in one of the most fierce fires in the history of Norway. Only one person died that night. The town was rebuilt by 30 Norwegian architects in stone, brick, and mortar in Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), the architectural style of the time.

That vast sea of brick buildings in the heart if Fjord Norway seems unreal, like an oasis, but at a moment when we are not thirsty, nor need any rest. We do spend 2 nights here though, right on the beach. The warmest nights since we started the trip.