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Loen - Øvre Årdal, Jostedalsbre glacier

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Friday 05 July, Loen - Øvre Årdal, Jostedalsbre glacier

The weather has changed totally and rain is pouring down. But we have some experience now in countries with mountains and we hope the weather will be better when we are on the other side of this mountain massif. We are now on the west side of a large glacier field, the biggest on the european mainland. The Jostedalsbre glacier makes up the biggest part with its 24 glacier tongues: 475 km².
Roof with grass Goats on the roadMany houses in this area (and to the north) have grass growing on the roof. It is an excellent isolation against the cold, but the roofing has to be very good to keep out the moisture.
In the pouring rain we almost drive into a herd of goats, but fortunately we don't drive that fast and we are used to these sort of things after all the reindeer we have seen in the north.
Jostedalsbre glacierWe pass many long tunnels and suddenly we see our first glacier, immediately after coming out of a tunnel. And we are not the only Dutch who stop for taking a picture.
When we arrive at the eastern side of the mountain massif the weather is indeed much better. Just past Sogndal we visit another stave church, in Kaupanger, a small one. Then we drive back and go to the north. The weather has improved so much that we can picnic outside, on a parking place. It has become a habit to have a picnic along the road, especially because the prices are too high in Norway to afford a normal lunch in a restaurant.
Jostedalsbre glacier Jostedalsbre glacierFrom Gaupne we take a narrow and bad road through the Joste-valley. The last part is a private toll road and then we are near the end of the Jostedalsbre glacier. To go there one can take a ride by boat, crossing the lake.
Waterfalls WaterfallsAnd today is waterfall-day. We see dozens of them today and they are big. Back on road 55 we go further to the north because we want to drive around the fjord to visit the stave church at Urnes.
Feigumfoss falls LustrafjordDriving on the west coast of the Lustrafjord we can see the 218 meters high Feigumfoss falling down majestically, the highest waterfall but one in Norway. When we have driven around the whole fjord and are under the waterfall we try to walk the footpath to a panoramic viewpoint, but the sandy path has turned into one big pool of mud by the rain and we don't get a close look on the waterfall.
Walking in UrnesWe drive all the way around the Lustrafjord on a narrow road to Urnes. We hope there is a ferry from there across the fjord, that would save us a lot of time!
Stave church at Urnes Over the LustafjordThe unnumbered road to Urnes becomes narrower and narrower, and for the last 20 kilometers it is a single track road like the ones in Scotland, but without passing places. When we park the car in Urnes we still have to walk up a steep hill for more than a kilometer to see the stave church and the road is really very steep. We have walked a lot in this holiday but now we are really staggering up the last part.
But the stave church compensates for the endeavours we have to make. It is the oldest preserved stave church, dating back to 1100 AD. and parts are even older, once belonging to an earlier church.
House at Øvre ÅrdalWhen we arrive at the bottom of the hill the ferryboat is just coming in and within 20 minutes we are on the other side of the Lustrafjord. It is only a small ferry with place for 12 cars. Halfway the boattrip it starts to rain again and this continues until we reach the ferry (this time a big one) past Sogndal. Here we have to cross the Sognefjord, the longest and deepest fjord of Norway.
On the last part to Øvre Årdal we go into the mountains again and even get lost. Suddenly we drive into a tunnel and don't see anything at all anymore. No lights, no lines on the road, just a rock face before us. We go on very slowly and find out it is a U-shaped tunnel, very short and unlit. People who live here are probably used to this, but we aren't and we are startled for a moment.
But soon afterwards we find the camping and hide inside our cabin: it is too cold to sit outside. And we thought it would get warmer when we would go more to the south...


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