Iceland Adventures

This past August we had a short 3-day layover trip in Iceland on our way to Norway.  Three days was certainly not enough time to do Iceland justice and we only got a small taste of this beautiful country.  The excerpt below of a poem by Icelandic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson describes some of the beauty of the country.  Hallgrimsson was a poet, author and naturalist in the 1800’s. He remains one of Iceland’s most beloved poets, penning some of the best-known Icelandic poems about Iceland and its people.

Iceland

Iceland, fortunate isle! Our beautiful, bountiful mother!
Comely and fair was the country, crested with snow-covered glaciers,
azure and empty the sky, ocean resplendently bright.

Here came our famous forebears, the freedom-worshipping heroes,
over the sea from the east, eager to settle the land.
Raising their families on farms in the flowering laps of the valleys,
hearty and happy they lived, hugely content with their lot.

Up on the outcrops of lava where Axe River plummets forever
into the Almanna Gorge, Althing convened every year.

Oh you children of Iceland, old and young men together!
See how your forefathers’ fame faltered — and passed from the earth!

– Jónas Hallgrímsson

IMG_2581 (3)

We have written a few blogs about our few days in Iceland which you can find below.  We hope you enjoy the posts and our photos which may prompt you to take a trip to Iceland yourself!

Iceland – Reykjavik

Iceland – The Golden Circle

Iceland – Vik to Keflavik

Norway Adventures

This past August we had a wonderful trip to Norway.  I was in constant awe of the beauty of the country with all of its fjords, waterfalls, mountains, and wonderful nature.  While there, we discovered this poem by Jon Østeng Hov.  He is a Norwegian nature photographer , author and nature conservationist. He reminds me a lot of Colorado photographer John Fielder.  I tried to find an English translation of the poem without much success.  I put the words into Google Translate and here is how it translated.

Must greet from the mountain

 

Shall greet from the mountain
I will bid;
it looked so beautiful inside.
In the floods the myrduna wore a bride,
while the wings played such linen.

It was easy in the bush, it was such a choir,
and singing until my ear searched.
And ripe, my love, met my trail,
where the path along the pelvis broke.

It sparkled in the iron, it was shining in the wake,
and the joy in my chest broke.
Over the aurete, the big fish shone straight,
while the mountain breeze scratched the crust.

Weather hard stood mountain björk, windswept and low,
while nevera pleasantly smiled.
And underneath its lauvheng with joy I saw
that the wild reindeer was quivering.

To greet from the mountain – the eternal country
where the musk and the jervers live.
My longing in has become like a fire.
Only there I get peace and calm.

 – Jon Østeng Hov

IMG_1745 (2)

The mountains in Norway truly do greet you with a peace and calm as you take in their beauty!

We have written several blogs about our travels around Norway which you can find below.  We hope you enjoy and hope that reading our postings and viewing our photos provides you with some peace and calm as it did us.

Norway – Oslo

Norway: Oslo to Ulvik

Norway: Hardangerfjord

Norway: Ulvik to Hafslo

Norway: Aurlandsfjellet

Norway: Lustrafjorden & Nigardsbreen

Norway: Hafslo to Linge

Norway: Geirangerfjord & Linge

Norway: Linge to Andelsnes

Norway: Andelsnes to Oslo

Norway: Olso – Final Morning

Norway: Olso – Final Morning

Our final hours in Norway.  We got up this morning and had a few hours to look around Oslo before heading to the airport for our flight back to Iceland and on to Denver and home.  Our Airbnb was close to the city center so we got up and headed out to see as much as we could see.

Our Airbnb was on “Embassy Row”.  Directly across the street was the Embassy of Italy.  To the right of us was the Embassy of Israel and Embassy of The Republic of Korea.  To the left of us was the Embassy of France, Embassy of Chile, Embassy of Estonia, and the Embassy of Cuba.  One block down the street was the Prime Minister’s Residence.  A couple of blocks away was the Royal Palace.

The Embassy of Italy.

IMG_7351 (2)

Prime Minister’s Residence:

IMG_2008 (2)

Another building across the street from the Prime Minister.  Not sure what this building is.

IMG_2006 (2)

IMG_2007 (2)

We headed into the Palace Park and made our way to the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace was built in the first half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence of the French-born King Charles III of Norway, who reigned as king of Norway and Sweden. The palace is the official residence of the current Norwegian monarch.

IMG_2012 (2)

IMG_2014 (2)

IMG_2036 (2)

Some shots around the Palace Park.

IMG_7383 (2)

IMG_7386 (2)

IMG_7377 (2)

IMG_7414 (2)

IMG_2038 (2)

There was some type of changing of the guard happening at the palace while we were there.

IMG_7382 (2)

We continued on, past the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. This is Norway’s oldest law faculty, established in 1811 as one of the four original faculties of The Royal Frederick University (renamed the University of Oslo in 1939). It is one of Scandinavia’s leading institutions of legal education and research.

IMG_7398 (2)

An old building on Karl Johan’s Gate which houses the Hard Rock Cafe.

IMG_2017 (2)

The National Theatre is one of Norway’s largest and most prominent venues for performance of dramatic arts. The theater had its first performance on September 1, 1899 but can trace its origins to Christiania Theatre, which was founded in 1829.

IMG_2019 (2)

IMG_7397 (2)

We passed the Parliament of Norway.

IMG_7416 (2)

IMG_3053 (2)

Onward to the waterfront.

IMG_3057 (2)

We arrived at the Akershus Fortress or Akershus Castle.  It is a medieval castle that was built to protect Oslo.  It has also been used as a palace, royal residence and as a prison. It is not known exactly when the construction of the castle started but it is believed that it took place around the late 1290s, by King Haakon V.

IMG_2031 (2)

IMG_2029 (2)

IMG_2032 (2)

Heading back, we passed Oslo City Hall.

IMG_3075 (2)

Our time was up.  We needed to head back to our apartment, pack up, and head to the airport.  We boarded our flight for Reykjavik, Iceland.  After a very short layover (in fact, we had to run to catch our flight to Denver!), we were on the final leg of our journey.  A few shots Lisa was able to capture from the plane as we were flying over Greenland.

IMG_3110 (2)

IMG_7419 (2)

IMG_7420 (2)

IMG_7421 (2)

We landed back in Denver, the end of a wonderful trip.  So many terrific memories of visiting two very beautiful countries!

 

Norway: Andelsnes to Oslo

Unfortunately we only had one night in Andelsnes.  Today we had to make the big journey back to Oslo as our trip was nearing its end.  We woke to perfect weather again and enjoyed the views from our cottage as we had breakfast.

IMG_7299 (2)

A couple of shots of our Airbnb and some beautiful flowers in the garden.

IMG_1980 (2)

IMG_7293 (2)

IMG_7294 (2)

IMG_7298 (2)

IMG_1982 (2)

Our route for the day taking route E136 to E6 all the way to Oslo.

Andelsnes to Olso

We headed around the Romsdalsfjorden and down along the Rauma River.  There were some beautiful morning reflections in the water.

IMG_7307 (2)

IMG_7306 (2)

IMG_1987 (2)

IMG_1983 (2)

IMG_2790 (2)

IMG_3020 (2)

We made our way to Trollveggen.  The Troll Wall (Trollveggen) is part of the mountain massif Trolltindene (Troll Peaks) in the Romsdalen valley.  Trollveggen is part of the Reinheimen National Park.  The Troll Wall is the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, about 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) from its base to the summit of its highest point. At its steepest, the summit ridge overhangs the base of the wall by nearly 50 meters (160 feet). The Troll Wall has been a prestigious goal for climbers and BASE jumpers alike. Carl Boenish, the “father” of BASE jumping, was killed on the Troll Wall in 1984 shortly after setting the world record for the highest BASE jump in history. BASE jumping from Troll Wall has been illegal since 1986.

IMG_7312 (2)

IMG_1990 (2)

IMG_2792 (2)

IMG_1991 (2)

We continued on our way from the Troll Wall, spending most of the day just driving the 450 kilometers to Oslo.  We made a short stop in Dombas for a snack at a bakery and some gas.  We snapped a couple of pictures of the Dombas Church.

IMG_1996 (2)

IMG_1997 (2)

Onward towards Oslo.  We made a stop in Lillehammer, host of the 1994 Winter Olympics. We drove up to the ski jump area and took a look around.

IMG_2001 (3)

IMG_7345 (2)

Lighting the Olympic torch!

IMG_7341 (2)

Trying out ski jumping – I think I need some work on my form!
IMG_7344 (2)

We headed on into Oslo and found our Airbnb. We settled in and took a walk in the neighborhood to get some dinner.  We found a nice outdoor restaurant and enjoyed a relaxing dinner after a longs day drive.

IMG_2794 (2)

Back to our Airbnb to reorganize our luggage and prepare for our trip back home tomorrow.

Norway: Linge to Andelsnes

It was time to leave the idyllic setting of Linge and head over the Trollstigen National Tourist Route to Andelsnes.

Looking out the window after getting up, we saw they were out early picking raspberries on the farm.

IMG_1881 (2)

IMG_1886 (2)

We packed up and said goodbye to our wonderful host Elida.  Of course, we couldn’t leave without getting some more fruit for the road.  They had picked their first pears of the season so we tried those along with some more plums and raspberries.

IMG_7183 (2)

The barn door showing what they have available.  The “Parer” sign was added this morning.

IMG_7186 (2)

Some beautiful flowers out front near the barn.

IMG_7182 (2)

Our route for the day.

Linge to Andelsnes

A short distance up the road we came to Gudbrandsjuvet.  Here the river Valldøla flows between gorges and cracks in the mountains and meets from fairly unexpected angles before it flows underneath the bridge and flows further down the valley. We walked around the viewing platforms to get views of the river and gorge.  It was difficult to get get good pictures of the gorge.

IMG_1898 (2)

IMG_1906 (2)

IMG_7194 (2)

We managed to capture a rainbow!

IMG_2989 (2)

IMG_7201 (2)

We continued up route 63, making our way up towards the Trollstigen.

IMG_1910 (2)

IMG_1912 (2)

The lake Alnesvatnet.

IMG_1914 (2)

IMG_2780 (2)

IMG_1917 (2)

We reached Stigrøra (858 meters or 2,790 feet above sea level) and the viewing area of the Trollstigen “Troll Ladder” which twists down 11 hairpin curves towards the town of Andelsnes. Stigfossen falls 320 meters (1,050 feet) down the mountainside.

IMG_2785 (2)

 

IMG_7223 (2)

IMG_7224 (2)

IMG_2784 (2)

IMG_1922 (2)

IMG_1924 (2)

IMG_1926 (2)

We had to take pictures of the trolls!

IMG_7240 (2)

IMG_2994 (2)

IMG_2996 (2)

We started our way down the 11 hairpin curves, stopping at Stigfossen.

IMG_1931 (2)

We drove to Andelsnes to our Airbnb, checked in, and had a little rest.  We then decided to head back into town and look around.  The town is not that big so it didn’t take long to look around.  We decided to take a short hike up to Nebba (or possibly even up to Rampestreken) to get a view of the city.

IMG_1948 (2)

I was curious about the Stikk UT! sign above so I looked it up.  From what I can tell, it looks like some kind of company sponsored health and fitness program to encourage people to get out and exercise while at the same time providing funding to the Outdoor Council.  Stikk UT (Get Out!) provides good natural experiences, good health, more local knowledge – and it’s fun! In addition, it is free to participate.  It looks like the program was launched in 2016 and received very good reception.  It sounds like there was good company participation and over 38,000 hikes logged! The Outdoor Council receives feedback on reduced sickness issues, increase well-being and very good luck in lunch breaks. It sounds like a pretty good program!

We headed up the trail. In 0.5 kilometers we reached the Nebba viewpoint at 93 meters.

IMG_7248 (2)

IMG_3009 (2)

Lisa decided to stay here but I decided to keep hiking up a bit further.

IMG_1937 (2)

IMG_1938 (2)

IMG_2787 (2)

The trail continued to get steeper.

IMG_1939 (2)

I reached 200 meters and saw that I still had 300 meters to go to get to the Rampestreken lookout.

IMG_1940 (2)

I took in the views from here.

IMG_1942 (2)

IMG_1943 (2)

IMG_1944 (2)

Even though I would have liked to have seen the view from the top, I realized I still had 300 meters to go and I didn’t want to keep Lisa waiting too long down below so I decided to turn around and head back down.

We met back up and started down the trail.  A paraglider having some fun.

IMG_7262 (2)

We headed back into town get some dinner and then head back to our Airbnb.  A few shots from out apartment looking over the fjord and across to Andelsnes.

IMG_1951 (2)

We continued to watch as the sun went down and we saw the alpenglow.

IMG_1953 (2)

Another beautiful evening in Norway!

 

Norway: Geirangerfjord & Linge

Today we headed back down to Geiranger to take the ferry along the Geirangerfjord to Hellesylt. The iconic Geirangerfjord is considered one of the most beautiful fjords in the world, and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.  Below is our route for the day.

Linge-Hellesylt Map

There were multiple ferries that ran each day.  We were going to shoot for the 11am ferry.  It was a little over an hours drive from Linge to Geiranger so we were going to leave around 9:30am.  We left a little later than we had planned but we figured we would just take our time and, if we missed the ferry, we would look around the village of Geiranger and wait for the 2pm ferry.  We were in luck as we arrived at the ferry dock a couple of minutes after 11am and the ferry was still docked.  It was quite full but the ferry attendant thought we might be able to get on.  He motioned a few other cars ahead of us to drive onto the ferry along with a big bus.  He then motioned for us to drive on.  To us, it looked like there was no room but we proceeded onto the ferry.  He motioned for us to stop and they immediately started closing the gate behind us.  We were sure the gate would crunch into the back of our car!  However, there was a foot or two to spare.

IMG_2928

They don’t waste any space on these ferries!

IMG_2929

We headed out onto Geirangerfjord.  The fjord is 260 meters deep while the surrounding mountains are 1600-1700 meters high. The fjord is also known for its spectacular waterfalls and deserted fjord farms high up on the steep cliff sides. Geirangerfjord is a 15-kilometer (9.3 mi) long branch off the Sunnylvsfjorden, which is a branch off the Storfjorden (Great Fjord).

Looking over at the Eagles Road which we just drove on coming down from Linge.

IMG_7112 (2)

The first major waterfall we came to was Bringefossen (also called Gomsdalsfossen).

IMG_7122 (2)

We continued cruising along and came to the famous and characteristic waterfall “The Seven Sisters” which is situated halfway through the fjord. The waterfall consists of seven separate streams, and the tallest of the seven has a free fall that measures 250 meters (820 feet). Seen from a distance the waterfalls can resemble the hair of seven women, hence it has been called “The Seven Sisters”. On the opposite side of the fjord you can see ”The Suitor”, a waterfall shaped like a bottle. Legends tell us how “The Suitor” proposed to ”The Seven Sisters” several times and was continuously rebuffed, leaving the “The Seven Sisters” unmarried, whilst “The Suitor” turned to the bottle.

There were really only four recognizable streams.  I imagine earlier in the season with more snow melt, all seven streams are probably visible.

IMG_1787 (2)

IMG_7133 (2)

IMG_1789 (2)

The “Suitor” or Friarfossen on the opposite side of the fjord.

IMG_1788 (2)

IMG_7130 (2)

Further on down we passed the Ljosurfossen.

IMG_7139 (2)

We continued to take in the views of the steep walled mountains of the fjord.

IMG_7140 (2)

Some of the farms seen along the fjord.

IMG_7142 (2)

IMG_1793 (2)

IMG_1803 (2)

IMG_1806 (2)

Looking  back in the direction we had come from.

IMG_2766 (2)

The village of Hellesylt in view.

IMG_1809 (2)

We arrived in Hellesylt and walked around the village.  A view of Hellesyltfossen.

IMG_1811 (2)

IMG_2936 (2)

IMG_1815 (2)

IMG_1816 (2)

The Sunnylven Church in Hellesylt.  It is a log construction from 1859 with a total of 400 seats.

IMG_7149 (2)

Another shot of the village.

IMG_2945 (2)

It was time to head up route 60 towards Stranda.  As we climbed up, we stopped to look back at the Sunnylvsfjorden.

IMG_2774 (2)

IMG_7150 (2)

IMG_1821 (2)

When we reached Stranda, we decided to take a left and head up the road a ways to check out the views.

IMG_7156 (2)

IMG_1824 (2)

IMG_1830 (2)

IMG_1831 (2)

IMG_1834 (2)

We saw a sign that said it was only 60 kilometers to Alesund so we thought maybe we would continue on to check out the city which is on the coast.  However, we came to Orsnes and found we would need to take a ferry and then still drive a ways and realized it was too ambitious to try and go all the way to Alesund so we turned around to head back towards Linge.  We drove back to Stranda and took the ferry across the fjord.

IMG_1842 (2)

We arrived back at our apartment.  After a short break, I decided to take a little walk around the fruit farm community of Linge.  In talking with our Airbnb host, Elida Linge, I asked her if the community was founded after her family since she had the same last name as the community.  She told us that it was common for people who moved into a community to take the community name as their last name.  Basically, she was saying that everyone in the community has the same last name but they are not necessarily related.  I found that very interesting.  So much for following or tracing family lineage!  Seems like that would become difficult with unrelated people all having the same last name!

Here is a shot of the fruit barn where we are staying.  The apartment is on the second floor.

IMG_1847 (2)

Our balcony.

IMG_1849 (2)

The main house next door where Elida, our host, lives.

IMG_1851 (2)

Walking down the road, enjoying the views and different homes and buildings.

IMG_1855 (2)

IMG_1866 (2)

IMG_1863 (2)

IMG_1864 (2)

IMG_1874 (2)

IMG_2779 (2)

Some beautiful flowers along the road.  And yes, there are power lines in the photo!  As I was taking the picture, a lady was driving by and told me there were power lines in my picture.  I told her I realized that but I wanted a shot of the flowers with the mountains in the background and since I couldn’t move the flowers, mountains, or power lines, I would have to settle for this shot!

IMG_1868 (2)

I did take a closeup without the lines, but then I couldn’t get the mountains in the shot.

IMG_1869 (2)

Apple trees and raspberry bushes on my walk.

IMG_1865 (2)

IMG_7167 (2)

IMG_1852 (2)

IMG_1858 (2)

IMG_1850 (2)

What a peaceful little community.  I could live here!

 

Norway: Hafslo to Linge

Today we were heading north to Linge on the Storfjorden, taking the Sognefjellet National Tourist Route.  We woke up and looked out to see what the morning view was that greeted us today.  Every morning brought a different and photogenic view.

IMG_1671 (2)

IMG_1675 (2)

IMG_1677 (2)

After having breakfast, we packed up to head out.  A picture of our home for the past three nights.  If you are ever in this part of Norway, we highly recommend staying at the Hafslo Gjestehus.  Hosts Kiki and Remi were wonderful, provided much information about the area and were very friendly.

IMG_1679 (2)

Our route for the day to Linge.

Hafslo to Linge Map

Some beautiful shots taken just northeast of Skjolden on Eidsvatnet Lake.

IMG_1682 (2)

IMG_1681 (2)

IMG_1685 (2)

We continued up route 55, stopping a little further up the road to photograph a waterfall and some Highland cattle along the side of the road.

IMG_1690 (2)

IMG_6980 (2)

IMG_1686 (2)

We continued up the road, heading into the Jotunheimen Mountains. Jotunheimen (which translates as “The Home of the Giants”), is a 3500-square kilometer region that contains all of the 29 highest mountains in Norway.   We arrived at Nedre Oscarshaug.  This viewing area provides one of the best vantage points along the road across the Jotunheimen mountains and provides an overview of the surrounding Hurrungane massif.  The Hurrungane range has 23 peaks that reach over 2000 meters (6,600 feet).

IMG_1695 (2)

IMG_1692 (2)

IMG_2744 (2)

IMG_6985 (2)

IMG_1696 (2)

We continued up the road, making more stops to take in the spectacular scenery.

IMG_7008 (2)

IMG_7005 (2)

IMG_7015 (2)

IMG_7023 (2)

IMG_7021 (2)

IMG_1708 (2)

IMG_7022 (2)

IMG_2746 (2)

IMG_2749 (2)

IMG_1700 (2)

Around every corner was more beautiful scenery.  At the Storevasskrysset crossroads in the center of the mountain plateau we stopped at the Mefjellet rest area where we enjoyed views of the Fanaråken glacier and its surrounding peaks.

Fannaråki mountain is 2,068-meters (6,785 feet) high. The Fanaråken glacier covers an area of about 6.2-square-kilometers (2.4 square miles).

IMG_1706 (2)

IMG_1707 (2)

IMG_7032 (2)

We also enjoyed the stone sculpture by Knut Wold at this rest area.

IMG_7028 (2)

IMG_1711 (2)

These 6 memorial stones were erected in memory of the most tragic accident that ever happened in Sognefjell in March 1813 to 6 men from the Boverdverdalen Valley with horses who froze to death while crossing these mountains over to Sogn in search of grain.

IMG_1717 (2)

IMG_7027 (2)

The summit of the pass sits at 1,434 meters, making the road northern Europe’s highest mountain pass.

IMG_7025 (2)

We began to head down from the pass, taking in more panoramic views.

IMG_2750 (2)

IMG_1718 (2)

IMG_1719 (2)

From route 55 we turned onto route 15, enjoying the scenery of the valley along the Otta river.

IMG_1723 (2)

We made a stop at the Nordberg Church which was built in 1864 and is octagonal in shape.

IMG_7052 (2)

We turned off of route 15 onto route 63, making our way towards Geiranger.  This is part of the Geiranger – Trollstigen National Tourist Route.  The scenery continued to be spectacular!

IMG_1724 (2)

IMG_1725 (2)

We passed along the Djupvatnet, a lake that lies at 1,016 meters (3,333 feet) above sea level.

IMG_1726 (2)

We would see houses perched up on the sides of mountains.  What a spectacular view they have every day!

IMG_1728 (2)

We continued to wind our way through the mountain valley, heading down closer to Geiranger.

IMG_1731 (2)

Kvanndalsfossen

IMG_7067 (2)

IMG_7069 (2)

IMG_1734 (2)

IMG_1735 (2)

IMG_1737 (2)

 

IMG_7065 (2)

We arrived at the  Flydalsjuvet viewpoint where we had our first great view of Geirangerfjord. Eidshornet Peak is the peak to the right with the snow.  It is 1,629 meters high.

IMG_1745 (2)

We continued on down to the village of Geiranger and then headed up the Ornesvingen eagle road.  The road ascends eleven hairpin bends that ascend the steep hillside from Geiranger towards Eidsdal. At the top lies the Ørnesvingen viewing point.  From here we had views towards Geiranger, across the Geirangerfjord with its near-perpendicular mountainsides, and the “Seven Sisters” waterfalls.

IMG_7110 (2)

IMG_1752 (2)

IMG_2756 (2)

The Seven Sisters waterfall is in the distance on the right.

IMG_1751 (2)

We headed on towards Eidsdal and took the ferry across to Linge, our home for the next two nights.  Linge is a small fruit farm community that lies right along the Norddalsfjord.

We met our host Elida in her fruit barn.  Our apartment was on the second floor of Elida’s fruit barn.  We immediately purchased some fresh fruit from her and then she took us upstairs to show us the apartment.

 

IMG_1757 (2)

The views looking across the fjord were stunning.

IMG_2760 (2)

IMG_1762 (2)

IMG_1763 (2)

We settled in and then headed over to Valldal to the grocery store to get some food for the next couple of days.

Enjoying the sunset from the apartment and the “purple mountain majesty”.

IMG_1773 (2)