Trollstigen and the drive to Åndalsnes

A view down a country road in Norway, with a mountain in the distance. There is a lake to the right and short stone wall to the left
Norwegian roads

After the drama with our rental car, we were well on our way. It was going to take about eight hours to drive from Bergen to Åndalsnes, not including stops on the way. Although we didn’t plan a large amount of stops, one of the main things we wanted to see was Trollstigen, a famous mountain road with almost a dozen hairpin turns zigzagging down the mountain alongside the Stigfossen waterfall. It is normally very popular but we were hoping that it wouldn’t be too busy and the sky would be clear by the time we arrived.

An hour or so into the journey, which was met with a lot of heavy rain, we realised that our route to Åndalsnes would require two ferries. The first was the Lavik-Oppedal ferry, and the second was the Stranda-Liabygda ferry. We didn’t have to pre-book them, but they ran at scheduled times and it would be wise to show up a least a couple of minutes before departure to ensure we would be able to board. I was definitely quite excited at the notion of driving a car onto a ferry to go across water. It’s not common around Australia and I hadn’t experienced it before.

Unfortunately we realised we were cutting it fine when I checked the directions and it said it would take 32 minutes to reach the ferry port, but the next ferry was in 30 minutes. 😬 It also wasn’t helping that we were backed up a little bit behind some slow vehicles—some of which probably couldn’t help it because of their size. The speed limit in Norway is not very high, which makes sense because the roads are not very wide and not just in a straight line. It would be remiss of me to ignore the fact that Nick sped very quickly along some stretches of road when it was safe, just to ensure we made this ferry… 😰

Even though we were in a rush, we were also crossing our fingers that there would be a restroom on board the ferry. We didn’t have a clear way of knowing, and online sources didn’t specify. It was bit of a case of, “Well, you’d think there would be a restroom on board? Surely?” It was alright in the end, and we did end up making the ferry—which saved us having to kill more time, and also saved us from arriving in Åndalsnes even later than we were expecting.

A selfie of a man and woman on a ferry. The woman is wearing a blue beanie and a blue raincoat, the man is wearing a black rain jacket.
We made it 🤭
A view across a lake, with dark green hills in the background and some bright green pastures towards the bottom of the hills. A thin layer of mist clouds some of the hills.
My view out the window
An empty road with two lanes, in a mountainous region. Ahead, the road turns to the right. The grass is a light green colour on either side, and the sky is cloudy
Incredible mountains

We had a quick stop in the small town of Stryn, where I was desperate for a coffee and Nick found a nice photo spot on a bridge. I got my coffee and we got some photos before heading on our way. We had debated changing our plans last minute and staying in Stryn as it was getting quite late, but we decided to press on with our original plans and accept our late arrival into Åndalsnes. I had wanted to see the Loen Skylift in the area, but because we had to keep on going, we gave that a miss.

A wide river with blue-green water with houses on either side.
The town of Stryn
Me, Georgie, with on arm cocked and a knee bent, in a dance pose. I’m holding a cup of coffee and wearing a dark outfit with a bright blue raincoat and bright beanie, standing on a wooden bridge with cottage houses and pine trees in the background.
Cool girl with coffee

It all felt like a bit of a shame as we drove quickly past many beautiful sights we would have loved to take the time to enjoy, but our main next stop was making sure we got the next ferry so that we could see Trollstigen before it got dark. When we checked the timetables for the ferry, we regretted not leaving Stryn earlier, because again we were cutting it fine with the timing. There was a ferry soon, and then no ferry for another hour. Nick focused on the road and drove as fast as he was allowed (OK, maybe a bit faster sometimes…) to get to the ferry port ahead of time. We saw a local walking a horse by the side of the country road. We also saw goats on the road! They slowed us down, annoyingly, but we had to grin and bear it.

We made it into the queue of vehicles waiting to board the ferry, several minutes ahead of time. We breathed a sigh of relief, since we were no longer bound by a schedule. The ferry was another pretty quick trip.

A selfie of Nick and Georgie sitting in the driver and passenger seat of a car, smiling.
Made it!
A digital display showing two rows of text reading “Liabygda, 3min” and “Liabygda, 19:30”, above a small shelter and with a mountain in the background.
I know this image is poor quality, but it’s visual proof that we made it with three minutes to spare, and the next ferry scheduled for an hour later.
A view from the water of a large cliff face covered in vegetation. The sky is bright blue and has some clouds.
A nice semi-sunny view from the ferry

I found an interesting water feature marked on Google Maps, called Gudbrandsjuvet, which was a high ravine with clean, clear water rushing through it. It reminded me a little bit of the Tasman Arch in its formation.

A river with translucent turquoise green water, its current moving towards the camera. There are pine trees on the rocky banks, and a mountain in the background.
Beautifully coloured water
The top of ravine, its bottom out of frame. Water is rushing through the ravine quickly
Gushing water
A view down a ravine with the water going further down. Part of a stone bridge going across the ravine is the corner of frame.
The view opposite

It was getting darker by the minute as the sun began to disappear. There was a lot of mist that made it look like it was going to rain, and the sky was grey and we couldn’t see much of the road ahead of us. Nick was starting to get annoyed and a little disheartened at the possibility of not being able to see any of the incredible roads that made up Trollstigen. We parked and walked to one viewpoint, but couldn’t see beyond the mist. We hoped that it was just on top of the valley and that once we drove we would be able to see down past it all.

A road with some mountains in the background, some obscured by low-lying mist. There is a car dashboard at the bottom of the frame.
Will the blue sky stay?
A misty view from a rocky mountain area
We couldn’t see anything from the viewpoint.
A valley with winding roads going further down. A small river goes through the valley
Looking out the side into the valley

Although it was dark, and certainly not as pretty as the possibly edited photos of Trollstigen that you commonly see online, we were able to see it in a dark, mysterious glory. Nick is the only fan of Lord of the Rings here—but you know when people say that something “looks like something out of Lord of the Rings”? (I mean, Hobbiton actually is, but that doesn’t count.) Or at least, they should say it’s like something out of a fantasy film. Trollstigen was really quite a spectacle. I appreciate and love nature in general, and most things you can look at and think, “yeah, wow”, but Trollstigen was at a level that I really couldn’t believe or explain. Because I love nature so much, I feel like what I experience in nature has to be truly mind-blowing for me to have an emotional response, but I could feel myself tearing up at the mere sight of this gigantic waterfall and the twisting roads down the mountain. It was truly a moment I felt like I was in a magical land—and believe me, I don’t ever use the word “magic” lightly.

A mountain from inside a valley, with a waterfall running through it. A road ahead continues a hairpin turn further into the valley
Everywhere you turn, you see an incredible view
A very tall waterfall going down a mountain and into a rocky stream. The top of the waterfall is barely visible and covered in mist.
An incredible waterfall

We felt rather satisfied with our experience. Yes, it probably could have been a clearer, less dark view, but we were still able to see and appreciate the beauty of this location. We continued our drive to Åndalsnes, where we would soon see more beautiful mountainous views.

Other posts about this Scandinavian trip:

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Too bad about the grey weather around Trollstigen, but I’m glad you got to see most of it anyway. Norway is just breathtaking, isn’t it? Like it almost doesn’t look real.

I have a friend who does a road trip through Norway every other summer and he never fails to complain about the ferries and how you always either have to rush to make it in time or you arrive way too early and have to wait. Seems it’s a law of nature. 😅

(Gonna catch up and read your other posts about your Scandinavia trip too, it’s fun to see it from an outside perspective 😊)

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