Day 30: Reinheinman National Park, Norway.
Last nights campsite was beautiful. Even in thick cloud and some light rain, the mountains looked so enchanting and mysterious. Sometimes they’d appear from the thick, low cloud and no sooner as you looked back, they were gone.
It gave us a good chance to wash some clothes, wash our hair and make sure Doris’ batteries were topped up nicely. We’ve not (touch wood) had any issues with batteries and keeping a laptop, camera, 2 iPhones, an iPad and 2 toothbrushes charged. So far, so good.
We’d purposely chosen last nights camp spot because it was 30 minutes away from the famous Trollstigen. A twisty and windy road that climbs up the side of a mountain and to nearly the height of snowdon, before passing over the top and down the other side.
Ideally, I wanted to do this in either the morning or late evening due to the narrow roads and potential traffic. Hence us parking up for the night and setting our alarms early.
7AM comes round, we’re up and at em. Coffee is in, showers are on and we’re ready to tackle our hardest journey yet.
Will Doris survive the up hill battle?
Will she lay victorious or will she be slain by Norways most famous troll?
For some context. Trollstigen is 7KM long with 12 hair pin bends and a total climb of 850M (nearly the height of snowdon). It winds its way up and alongside the mountain, which means big scary drops and tight, narrow roads. Not to mention the 3 waterfalls that come cascading down the side of the mountain at a similar force to a skin ripping, power shower.
We were on the road by 8AM and not another car in sight. This meant two things.
1) We could take our time, I saw we. Doris could take her time and stay in second gear for as long as she wanted.
2) We could take corners wide, we could stop and take photos, we basically had the road to ourselves.
This is it, Doris’ big moment, she leaves the campsite ready. I can hear it in her roar, she’s telling us whatever lies ahead better be scared!
Then the first hill…
…she struggled. Down from 4th into 3rd.
Still…she struggled. Down from 3rd into 2nd.
Then it dawned on us…
We were still 28 minutes away from Trollstigen!
I’m not exaggerating now, this road is bloody awesome. Not so much when you’re chugging along in a 27 year old, 3500KG motorhome but when you get to the top and see the tiny cars making their way up. It’s seriously impressive.
Doris had smashed it, she might have spent the best part of the 7KM in second gear, but you know what? For an old girl she ain’t half got some go in her.
Geirangerfjord, Norways most famous Fjord
The road from trollstigen leads through the mountains, down some passes and back up, but then all of a sudden a huge car park filled with cars comes onto our horizon. What was all the fuss about?
Not to worry Doris or anything but we were about to hit one of the steepest roads in Norway AND this time we were going down it.
It started off fairly well with minimal traffic, incredible, incredible views over the fjord below but then things started to get a bit spicy. When I say spicy I mean of course, smelly. Doris’ clutch had taken a little beating and was letting us know. We pulled in about 60% of the way down and let it rest, it did the job.
The worst was about to come though. As I pulled out to tackle another hairpin bend, a HUGE coach comes up the other way. Insisting I reverse back. He was nice and polite, so I obliged. Luckily there was nothing behind me and I managed to run Doris back up the steep hill and let the coach pass. Phew, I thought. Got away with that one, didn’t it!
Nope. The EXACT same happened again in about 8 seconds. These coaches are HUGE and I’ve so much respect for the drivers around here because they must be an anxious vehicle to drive! But hats off to them for navigating these roads with some terrible tourist drivers on them too.
Geirangerfjord is absolutely breathtaking. It’s hard to believe this isn’t a mythic place and you’re dreaming. With huge tall mountains rising straight out of the narrow fjord below with snow capped peaks dominating the skyline. Kayaks mingle with the huge cruise liners on the fjord itself and when the sun is shining the water in the fjord glistens and moves beneath you.
More hairpins and altitude.
Coming out of Geiranger the roads got narrower, the coaches got more frequent and Doris got hotter. She’s already had a tough morning and we now had another huge climb back out of the fjord and to the top. Slowly but surely we made it though and as of now, her clutch is still intact, ha!
Once we’d climbed more hairpins, more altitude, more scary drops and another sketchy reverse on a hairpin bend we made it over the pass and towards where we’d rest Doris for the night. This is where we were faced with a choice…
Do you drive up to highest drivable fjord in the world?
Or do we respect Doris and let her get some rest for the day?
Dalsnibba is the heights drivable fjord view in the world. Towering another 500m higher than we’d already climbed and offers incredible views down towards Geirangerfjord at a staggering 1500m. If you want to know more about Dalsnibba ask my mate Mick. That loony took Dorothy (she met Doris a few weeks ago) all the way to the top! Poor Dorothy!
Remember in Europe 1.0 when we kept accidentally camping underneath trees? And every morning I’d write about why we should never camp underneath trees? Well something similar is happening in 2.0 and it’s bloody waterfalls. We’ve chosen a bigger and more ferocious waterfall this time. Quite clearly not learning out lesson from last time.
But can you blame us? This place is absolutely insane. It’s water is the clearest water I think I’ve ever seen. It goes past the descriptive generals such as glass, blue, green. This water doesn’t even look real. Oh Norway PLEASE stop being so beautiful. I’m going to have to get out the thesaurus soon.
We’ve got a busy couple of days ahead and we’ve got some long drives, so lets pray and cross our fingers for Doris. She can get us home in 10 days!