Trollstigen and the drive to Åndalsnes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 3 days in Copenhagen’s city centre and its neighbourhoods
- Visiting LEGOLAND and LEGO House in Billund
- Stockholm: Fika, food, and metro station art
- Speedrun through Gothenburg
- Oslo and appreciating the work of Edvard Munch
- From Flåm to Bergen via the scenic route, and car rental chaos
- More to come (this post will be updated)