Norway in a Nutshell – on your own

If you consider travelling to Norway and want to avoid organised group tours, or if you are Norwegian, this short little trip in beautiful scenery and nature is covering green valleys, steep mountains, challenging roads, glaciers, summer ski, famous UNESCO heritage fjords and massive waterfalls…

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We chose June for our 6 day trip, and you will see how nature is wild with plenty of water and extremely green this time of the year. Daylight till late and white nights where we drove. This month has tourists on the roads. We started in Oslo where we rented a 4WD and drove up to Gjøvik, by Lake Mjøsa where we started (can go straight from Oslo of course).

DAY 1: Gjøvik – Lillehammer – Otta – Sjåk:

We started our roadtrip at the Lake Mjøsa (largest lake in Norway) on a perfec June sunny summerday. The lake was like a mirror. First stop for lunch in Lillehammer, and had a pleasant surprise at the Parken Restaurant. Nice selection of salads and a very cute cafe indeed. At Lillehammer we shopped the necessary mountain outfits and hiking gear. Norrøna and Bergans recommended, but you can find better deals at outlet stores at Strandtorget. In fantastic weather we left the ex-olympic city and drove on-wards to Gudbrandsdalen (the valley Gudbrandsdalen). If you love the Norwegian ‘brunost’ brown cheese with sweet caramel taste, this is the place one of the king’s of this cheese come from.

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During our roadtrip we saw many cows, similar picturesque as on the Freia Melkesjokolade wrapping, we named them ‘melkesjokoladekuer’ (milk chocolate cows). Drove via Lom, where we wanted to stay at Fossheim Fjellstue, but they were fully booked. I would recommend that you book ahead for this nice place or eventually drive up to the Brimi Fjellstue not far from there (the famous chef Arne Brimi sets the scene both places). We had to continue to the Sjåk Turistheim which was an extremely basic experience. The place has not been upgraded since 70-80ies. We stayed in the main building, a very boring room. The place has potential, could have been updated to local charm and use what’s around the spectacular nature. 840 NOK a night. We slept OK, and woke up to a fantastic new day.

DAY 2: Summer SKI at Stryn – Geiranger:

Fantastic weather and sunny day we drove from Sjåk to Stryn through the snow coverede landscape and got to the summer ski center. This is skiing on the glacier. We rented ski, poles, boots and helmets, fully equipped for a fab day! We had fun, and it was like Easter snow conditions, a bit slushy and soft snow. It had snowed a few days earlier so good off piste snow conditions.

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Nice weather on the slopes!

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Get up early, because the parking is along this road! When its full its full! Photo with Path application. Retro style.

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Stryn Sommerski is the land of Moods of Norway, and we captured the pink tractor of course. You can buy Moods clothes in the ski store, at very good prices compared to Oslo. This is homeland pricing!

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On our way to Geiranger we had so much fun on the road. Everything from taking photo of the GPS curved roads to actually enjoy the views to the famous Geiranger. Many places to stop by the road, so take your time and just ‘be’!

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We managed to see the cruiseliners from the view point before they again sailed back in the Geiranger fjord.

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Once in Geiranger this was a small little town. Nothing special really – would have expected a more cosy down town – but there are a few streed and charming places by the waterfront. We found a charming cafe in an old white house named Old Ole. Nice view over the bay. Like a dolls house. Very good dinner with raindeer and cod served with nice glass of red wine.

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Overnight planning in Geiranger failed. Our plan was to stay at Union Hotel, but they had a big event this day. The other alternative that we believe is a must next time, JUVET, could only accomodate us the next day. We had to go from our 5 star idea to a 0 star solution….

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We ended up at the camping cottage at 440 NOK per night. We arrived just around 10 pm, last minute to get the cottage before the owner drove away. Needless to say, we managed OK and enjoyed the nature and did not spend to much time in the cottage. If you don’t mind basic accomodation this might be the place for you, and rent the place with direct view for a week! Very cheep!

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We had a bottle of Chablis wine and sat by the fjord till mid-night. Pictures tell that we just soaked in the natural wonders. We watched the tides coming in. The UNESCO heritage Geiranger Fjord is a must. Exploring it on your own is recommended. Peaceful by the fjord, a night in June.

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Midnight walk with the June summer flowers alongside the Geiranger fjord. See the light of an almost white night.

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Surroundings of the camping place, not bad at all.This is how far you can get on a small path. And you are almost alone, nature plays music, you hear the water from the steep mountains eager to get into the fjord.

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DAY 3: Geiranger – Hellesylt – Hornhindal – Loen:

Woke up in the little cottage and bunk beds to a rainy day in Geiranger. We got out of the cottage and had coffee at a small coffee shop in town, just opposite the Moods of Norway shop, yet another tractor there, this one painted gold!

Decided that it was sufficient time for us in Gerianger and with the rainy weather our reservation at Juvet was less attractive. We took the car ferry ,which was a tourist ferry indeed, onto Hellesylt. On this ferry, along with 50 Korean guys, we were Asian tourists as well and took photos of all water falls, the famous Seven Sisters from all angles. In this blog zero pictures, I will not upload our 300 pictures from the boat trip and waterfalls here.

To do on the ferry: eat the traditional Svele at the MRF ferry. A must. Svele is an extraordinary good pancake like cake. Why they don’t advertise the specialities? Try also what they label ‘norwegian porrage’ (in English) which is a particular sour cream based pourrage, have it with cinnamon, sugar and butter, and raisins! I suggest MFR ferry copy other tourist destinations: take photo of the food! 🙂

Geiranger with its fantastic UNESCO protected nature is also great on a bad weather day. Luckily I had a good down jacket on!

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After a short pique nique by the lake at Hornindal we reached Loen. The beautiful afternoon embrased us when we arrived at the Hotel Alexandra in Loen, by Nordfjord. In need of a serious pampering after the camping cottage experience, we checked into a nicely decorated room with a beautiful view. Sank down in the lovely outdoor jacuzzi where we could watch the snow covered mountains against the fjord!

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We ended the day with a long and nice dinner at the hotel Alexandra along with a bottle of sparkling rose wine recommended by Benny, whom deserve a special thank! This was the end of the camping life for a while! 🙂

DAY 4: Lodalen – Bødalsbreen – Lodalsvannet – Utviksfjellet – Sogndal – Lusterfjorden – Turtagrø (Jotunheimen:

Aah what a day! We started it a bit late. Lazy morning in the nice bed at Alexandra and just in time for a wonderful breakfast by the window at the hotel, including a personal note and letter from the Hotel Alexandra’s restaurant chef. This letter said that he wished us all the best in life and that we had been an interesting couple to meet. I shall dedicate the trip to Lodalen and Bødalsbreen (glacier) to Benny and thanks for his advice! And for your words of wisdom and your company! If you ever read this blog, please know that!

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Lodalen – Bødalsbreen – the glacier: we drove along Lodalsvannet (the lake) and up the spectacular steep road to a plateau where you can park the car. Having a 4WD was nice! From there we started our hiking towards Bødalsbreen (Bødal Galcier).

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After a cloudy morning we got to see the glacier in the sunlight agains blue sky. What a view!

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The nature and the glacier around is magnificent!

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Shurain jumped into the glacier water and can now brag about tick off on that to do list!

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The trip from Bødalen was in fantastic weather, and we also managed a short pique nique at the Lodals vannet.

A short rest and soaked in the nature around. Nice farmers welcomed us to chill at their beach. No tourists and a small rock beach surrounded by flowers and green trees. We even saw fish in the very clear water.

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From Loen we drove past Utviksfjellet, Sogndal and spent some time in Luster, inside Sogne fjorden. What a place! We will return here again! With that we had seen 3 fjords in 3 days.

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From Luster we drove to Turtagrø. The road trip up to the mountains from the Luster fjord is picturesque and fun! Includes milk chocolate cows and wild flower fields with sheep and goats!

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Greeted by Raindeer! We arrived at Turtagrø very late, but we had booked beforehand and they waited with dinner for us in the living room by the fire place. Before we had this delicious meal we were greeted by the rain deers that had been observed over 3 days just at the staircase of the hotel. This hotel is the newly built hotel on ruins of the former institution for climbers and mountain experts. And the institution is still very much alive!

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We ended the day with a fabulous view towards the majestic Jotunheimen mountains, and the view towards the fjord on the other side!

What a natural experience this day! Good night!

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DAY 5: Jotunheimen!
A full day hiking in Jotunheimen natural park. We had the summit of the mountain Fanaråkken as our goal. We wanted to see the views of Jotunheimen from one of the highest mountains.

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Respect the mountains! Unfortunantely we had to change goals and plans. Mid-season hiking in this area was difficult as it was too much snow that partly covered the marked trails. To walk on snow without ski was too dangerous, even though we tried for a while. The rest of the day we changed route and went for the lower hills around. We had a full day and jumped from one dry spot to the other! If you do this in June, please make sure you don’t challenge nature and make any dangerous routes! We gave up, but had a good day! Despite the cloudy weather this was a terrific experience, and we saw the glaciers and ice and snow melting in a wild nature. Saw 3 guys in the morning, apart from that we had everything for ourselves!

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Way back to the hotel we had a very pleasant 3 course dinner along with a nice bottle of dry white. Pleasant evening at the softly decorated living room, warm fire place and loads of intersting books in the Turtagrø library. We became really inspired to explore hiking in the Asia region. You don’t have to be a moutain climber or expert to enjoy the Himalayas!

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DAY 6: from Turtagrø via Sognefjellsveien – stopped at Juvasshytta – Lom – over to Valdresflya – Fagernes – Oslo: roadtrip and nature!
We basically saw the entire Jotunheimen in one day via the car window! Had a few stops, includng the intention to see Galdhøpiggen (Norway’s highest mountain), but everything disappeared in the thick fog. It’s a summer ski center at Juvass Hytta as well, but did not really see the dimentions of it due to the weather conditions. Back to the valley, including a short stop at Elvesæter, down to Lom again, and then back up to the mountains again, on the other side of the mountain massive.
We stopped a few places of interest, by Besseggen (next trip!) and Bygdin, but no hiking this day. Beautiful scenery, and if you have 1-2 more days this is a must in addition to Galdhøpiggen!

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After our drive via Fagernes we finally ended the evening back in Oslo and checked in at Hotel Gabelshus. This hotel is a smaller and more local hotel in the Frogner residential area. Get a double room and you will have more space! The hotel has included free salad and snacks buffet in the evening, including one nice sunny day with BBQ on the terrace!

This was a fantastic road trip, and we had not planned much ahead. Pack warm clothes, including for summer ski and mountain hiking! Don’t forget swim wear!
We loved our Norway road trip and will do it again some time, but before that we will perhaps go straight back to some of the hiking paradises we have just discovered!

Feedback on this blog post is appreciated!

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