05 August 2013

This may be the single most iconic and often photographed scene of a Norwegian fjord –
and for good reason as even my little point-and-shoot camera can demonstrate.

The spectacular fjords along the west coast of Norway form a labyrinth of deep, glacier-carved, salt-water ocean tentacles that meander far into the interior with breathtaking mountains rising abruptly out of the water either as vertical granite cliffs or steep tree-covered inclines. Whew.

Oslo and Bergen are handsome cities but people go to Norway for the breathtaking scenery – and we got it, happily, with fairly good weather traveling in the area circled in red on the right.

Sognefjord is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway – 127 miles long and as deep as 0.8 of a mile – with mountains rising up over 3,000 feet above the water. I lost track of Sogn Fjord, Hardanger Fjord, Nord Fjord, Geiranger Fjord, etc. and just soaked in the views.

When a fjord ends the valley will continue for a few vital kilometers with relatively flat land.
This photo was taken on the train from Flåm to Myrdal. 

Mirror lake one morning in front of our hotel in Ulvik.

Restored old town area of Bergen that was once the Hanseatic Quarter 
Norwegians rarely bother driving over their towering mountains,
instead they built hundreds of tunnels including 15-mile Lærdal
, the longest highway tunnel in the world. 

Every time you turn a corner you see yet another dramatic waterfall.
While others were higher, this one (Langfossen?) was my favorite.  

We often crossed the fjords using ferries.
This one took us across the Sognefjord to Balestrand.

In Bergen, this fearless little girl loved the flock of
sea gulls while her mother and aunt stood by shocked.

The fjords are so incredibly deep that monster cruise ships
can easily navigate deep into the Norwegian interior.

The few remaining Norwegian wooden stave churches are around 400 years old.
The one on the left is a "modern" copy from the late 1800s in Balestrand.
Hiking in the mountains above Balestrand

The mountain vegetation varied every few hundred meters,
but I especially liked this composition of pine trees.

Hiking back down the mountain, I saw what looked like a Norse myth coming to life over the fjord – maybe Njord, the god of wind and water – with even a waterspout (slightly visible in this photo). I should have been running for shelter and seconds later I was drenched in a fierce rainstorm.
In Lillehammer, we got to see remnants of the 1994 winter Olympics,
including this ski jump where local athletes were practicing.
At the Briksdal Glacier with Jude from Australia and Ásta from Iceland.