I recently got back from an EPIC trip across Europe, hitting a total of three countries, five cities, going on two awesome hikes, visiting two friends living abroad, and meeting a lot of really cool people. I’m not going to call this a “solo” trip, since the majority of my time was spent with my friends living abroad, but I did spend some time alone in these foreign countries, where I proved to myself that I’m not a complete idiot. 😛
I’m going to start out with the beginning of my trip, which brought me to Norway. I flew overnight from Boston into Oslo, only getting two hours of sleep maximum. From Oslo, I took another quick flight to Bergen, Norway. It was here that I met my good college friend who I would adventure through Norway with. We picked up our rental car, stuffed our packs in the trunk, and drove for another three hours to our destination – Odda, Norway. I did all of the driving on this trip since I am old enough to not be charged extra money as a “young driver” and I know how to drive a manual, which is all that is available in Europe. Our three hour drive along part of the Hardanger National Tourist Route to our destination was incredible, and it didn’t take me long to want to move to Norway for good.
We stopped at a road side “Rasteplasse”, or picnic area, to oogle at a beautiful waterfall. It was the first waterfall we saw from the road so we decided to stop. Little did we know that there would basically be a waterfall every ten feet (I’m exaggerating slightly) for the rest of the drive.
Our next stop was for another waterfall, Steinsdalsfossen. This waterfall, which is 46 meters (151 feet) high, is one of the most visited tourist sites in Norway. There was almost no one there when we stopped by, one of the benefits of off-season travel. 🙂 You can actually walk behind this waterfall, which we didn’t do because we wanted save time and arrive at our destination at a reasonable time. We also didn’t want to get wet.
We continued along the route, completely in awe of the spectacular landscape, until we came to the Jondal-Tørvikbygd ferry. We got to the ferry dock and found it deserted. No boat in sight and no other cars waiting. We got out and attempted to find a ferry schedule, but had no luck. A little further up the road, we found a co-op and inquired with the shopkeeper about the ferry schedule. She hastily informed us that the next ferry was in 15 minutes and that she also needed to catch it as she continued closing up shop. We drove back down to the dock and waited for the ferry to arrive, which indeed it did!
After crossing the fjord by ferry, we continued driving to Odda, choosing to drive through the tunnel that goes all the way UNDER Folgefonna National Park via the Folgefonna Tunnel, which is slightly over 11 km (a bit under 7 miles). Ideally, we would have liked to drive around Folgefonna National Park in order to see a few more things, but it was getting late and we still needed to find dinner once we got to Odda. Driving around the park would have added on at least another hour to our drive!
We finally arrived in Odda around 7:30 PM. We checked into the hostel that we would stay at for the next two nights, Trolltunga Hotel, and dumped our bags in the room. We then took a nice 20 minute stroll into Odda in order to find food. Our options were limited to the two restaurants that were open, Asian Wok and Smeltehuset. We chose the more “authentic” sounding restaurant. It wasn’t as authentic as I was expecting and they seemed to put canned corn on nearly everything on the menu, including the pizza. Or maybe it was actually really authentic and Norwegians just really like corn. Who am I to judge??
The walk back to the hostel seemed to take twice as long. Maybe this was because it was getting dark, we were going uphill, and we were full from dinner. We got there just as full dark was falling and quickly went to bed. We needed to rest up for the big hike we had planned for the next day – one of the most iconic hikes in Norway! Stay tuned to hear all about it!