A Travellerspoint blog

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Sitting in the sunshine....

....well who said weather has to stay the asme

sunny 8 °C

After yesterday's snow, I'm now sitting in the sunshine......with the obligatory coffee, at a renowned bakery in Lom. 

I've just been to the tourist office to confirm details of the guided hike up Galdhopiggen tomorrow, the highest mountain in Norway.  Seven hours and it's going to be as low as -7 and snowing up there, so I obviously needed some caffeine to get over the shock, well it's Lexi that needs it actually as again, she has no idea what's in store for her, but let's just say her harness will be put to good use for the second time in 10 days......as we're going up a glacier!  This hike has been one of my main To do's of this trip, so needless to say I came prepared and have my crampons, walking poles and full weather clothing etc. Lexi just has her fur....

Lom is beautiful and so very different to all the other places I've been to so far in Norway, dark wood cabins and chalets nestled into the mountainside and along the valley bottom, the most amazing waterfall right in the centre of the little town, mountains on all sides, cold enough to need lots of layers (currently wearing polo neck, fleece, down gillet and wind proof jacket) but the warmth of the sun on my face is just what the doctor ordered. Well, this whole trip is actually. Last night walking around exploring my new surroundings, I felt so happy to be here and so pleased that I had the guts to take this opportunity to travel. Every new stop is like another holiday and so far I'm on my 5th holiday in 3 weeks. Gosh I really can't believe it was only 3 weeks today when I was taking the last things from my desk in Nottinghill, this is certainly the cleansing and detox that was needed.

Right, more coffee I think.....

Posted by Val G 02:55 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Galdhopiggen

Norway's highest mountain

snow -7 °C

I had hoped that today would be an amazing day and it was, but not at all in rather way I imagined. 

Last night I checked my crampons, packed my waterproofs, compass, food, got Lexi's harness and rope and flask out ready for hot soup in the morning. This morning we were up and off en route to the meeting point. 

As I turned off the main road, onto the road with only 1 destination, another 5 cars materialised behind me...great (!) leading a convey up what I knew to be a very steep ascent, in my trusty Landrover. This drive was to be my first challenge of the day, with the road just disappearing into the air, hairpin bends that appeared from nowhere and a white out that left me stationary as I couldn't even see the end of my bonnet! This did not bode well for the hike, but I'd paid £10 just for the privilege of going up this perilous road so there was no way I was turning round.

As soon as I was parked alongside cars already covered with falling snow, Lexi's harness was the first thing on, if for no other reason than it made her more visible. Once my boots were on I went over to join the group that had gathered for the same walk. The wind was horizontal, bringing snow with it and the temperature was biting. Lexi's whiskers were already starting to freeze and the guide was speaking entirely in Norwegian, but I didn't need a translator to tell me that everyone was being given a safety harness to put on and their own ropes. I got the attention of a second guide and established that this group were already booked in and I needed to book in and then wait for the next departure, which was the 10am that I was expecting. She also said there was a high chance they wouldn't get to the top due to weather. I went inside to book and also took the opportunity to decide if this was the right thing to be doing. With the current weather (and this was at base camp) the wind was downright vicious and the snow already on the ground meant that Lexi would struggle to determine safe footing between the large stones, hard ground and drift and there was no way she would enjoy the walk.  I was feeling quite emotional to be honest, this was something that I really wanted to do and the weather conditions would certainly make it a challenge for me, albeit an exhilarating one, but I couldn't bring myself to put Lexi in danger or risk of any sort and so did the right thing, took my coat off and went to buy a coffee.

I waited for the walkers/mountaineers to leave and then I would maybe take Lexi for a walk in the immediate vicinity. Meanwhile I got talking to a small  Swedish group who were going to do a tour into the glacier, it sounded interesting and would have meant I hadn't wasted my trip up that blooming road.

The guide was great and everyone thankfully loved Lexi because you got it, it was more than just the glacier, we had to get there first! The terrain was tricky to say the least, so I wasn't the only one to grab her harness as her legs disappeared down 'holes' in the snow. The wind was blowing us around and was measuring 12metres per second, apparently 3 days ago it was hurricane winds up there, 32 metres per second, windows were smashed and the dog shelter blown down......12 metres a second was quite enough for me thank you. Add to that the snow in the wind which acted like grit and I could see why so many people up there were wearing snow/sunglasses or googles. Lexi's muzzles was completed frosted over, the fur around her eyes was frozen and most of the time she just kept going, trying to do an impression of a cuddly blonde mountain goat.  Rather than tread between the stones (which are harder for her to get a grip on) she soon learnt to avoid large patches of snow, jumping over them completely and I held my breath every time her leg disappeared down a deep hole, praying she could stop in time to pull it UP and out.......and to think I was considering the 6 hour walk........

We eventually got to a doorway in the snow face and it was quite surreal, walking into the ice. The carving out of the tunnels had been done by hand and our guide was one of those who had wielded an ice pick for 7 months!  There was even a small theatre area with benches carved out of the ice, a projector in it's own little nook and of course the screen, thankfully there were plenty of thermal pads to sit on.

We emerged an hour later into bright daylight, but still the snow and biting wind and when we got back to base camp it was hot soup and coffees all round before going up to one of the meeting rooms to sit down. Lexi wasn't allowed so she sat inside at the front of the building and one of the ladies working there had taken a shine to her and promised to keep an eye on her.  When I came back down she was in her element, surrounded by people sitting on the floor eating sandwiches. It turned out the walkers had had to turn back due to the weather and hadn't even got half way.

Eventually it was time to leave and I said goodbye to the many people I had met up there. I was not looking forward to the journey down but it didn't look like any other cars were leaving at the same time, but I'd been told you've got a good car, just keep it very slow....well I didn't need telling that twice! 

The scenery going down was spell binding, but the road was just as lethal as it was on the way up, in fact more so as I was actually already going with gravity and there was  coating of snow. However I did manage to take quite a few photos through my windscreen, although quite what the quality will be like is anyones guess, as I added a new dimension to 'point & click'.  The engine was wanting to scream if I stayed in the low gear required, meanwhile the other option was burning brakes, so it was a fine act between the two. A car did appear behind me, the Mercedes Jeep driven by some of the people I'd met up there and they stayed far enough behind me that I knew he was trying to do the same juggling act. 

When we eventually got to the bottom there was a mass of waving  from the windows of the Mercedes as we both pulled back onto normal roads and went our seperate ways.

Please,  please, no more hairpin bends.......I'll happily leave them all to the guys on Top Gear......

Posted by Val G 08:33 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

There's a moose loose....

sunny 14 °C

After 3 weeks living in rural camp sites and quiet cabins walking distance (usually) from civilisation, I am now about to be in the middle of one of Norway's largest cities, Trondheim. Hopefully it should still be reasonably quiet, as I'm at a Pilgrims Centre which I'm assuming will be a place of tranquility and calm.  It's next to a river and the cathedral, but you know what is more important than any of that, hot running water, a bathroom that I don't need to put my coat on for, warm flooring under my feet in the mornings, oh yes, and a bed with sheets.....no sleeping bag, who says women are hard to please.....  :-)

My last night at Lom I went up to the reception/restaurant to get the Internet and while there thought I'd have a little beer, just a half of the beer on tap, £6.50 later.....for a half !!  I may never complain about English prices again!

I woke this morning feeling quite subdued, knowing I had another long drive, to a city that didn't really have anything that I was looking forward to, but is somewhere you have to pass if travelling north through Norway.  However, as usual the country continued to surprise me with about an hour of the drive across a type of plateau / come valley bottom, that resembled the heathland of the New Forest, except I was surrounded by mountains, ski resorts off to each side and the windsocks I passed were horizontal. Then when I stopped for petrol and to walk Lexi, I saw what I thought were 2 horses frolicking in their field, then I realised there was no fence between me and them and looked closer, it was 2 moose (is there a plural?) who continued to cavort around until one ran into the forest, closely followed by the other.

You know if you're really looking forward to something you can be disappointed, well the opposite is also very true, as Trondheim is one of the most likeable cities so far. Loads of wide, pedestrian cobbled streets, the most beautiful and photogenic houses along the river, weather so mild it's 6pm and I'm sitting out wearing just a thin top.....and, my lodgings include breakfast.....see, I really am easy to please :-)

Posted by Val G 12:09 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

I've got a date......

sunny 15 °C

Well Lexi has really, a play date with a black Lab called Simbar. His owner is a lovely Norwegian lady I met and the two dogs were going loopy together, not at all understanding why they couldn't play tag in the road. Hence the play date for today, as my theory is that if yesterday mornings playing was anything to go by, she'll be too exhausted to realise we're off again, OK, well maybe just too tired to care.

You may have wondered that I'm writing so many blogg entries and think I'm missing out on being 'out there' while I'm 'in here' writing. Well, as someone who has unfortunately spent most week-ends on her own for several years I'm therefore used to being on my own and you have to just get on with it, but even taking that into account, the first week or so of this trip I noticed that I always seemed to be doing a narrative in my head, it was as if I was 'talking' to someone about what I was up to all the time, which did mean that by the time I got back to my tent, I could sit down and just tap away, already knowing what I wanted to write. 

Also, social life in the evenings simply doesn't exist if you have a dog in Scandinavia.  Lexi is not allowed inside anywhere and the only people outside in restaurants or bars are those who've nipped out for a cigarette. Lom was the first place where Lexi was allowed into the restaurant, but only because it was out of season and so empty.....need I say more. So evenings are spent downloading photos, writing blog entries and reading, with a drink in my hand and usually chocolate close by and that's fine by me, I can think of worse ways to spend an evening.

So, today I set off for Bodo. I've allowed 5 nights and know vaguely the area I want to reach each day. I'm not planning on staying anywhere more than 1 night, as that way I can do shorter drives each day, but it will be a test for the resilience of my darling Lab, as although this is currently our 9th stop, it has been over three and a half weeks. It will be interesting to see how she copes with 5 different places in 5 nights.

This next leg is meant to be the most beautiful coastline route, but we'll see. I have no accommodation booked and so for the first time will be relying on roadside signs for 'hytter' or 'rom', which is the Norwegian equivalent of B&B, it may be a room in a house, a motel style room or a cabin. The latter are more likely to take dogs.

I've got 780km to cover by next Monday which should be fine as I've currently clocked up 3,250km.

Wish me luck.

Posted by Val G 23:07 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

I'm still alive.....just a little remote....

Since I left Trondheim on Wednesday accommodation and Internet access have been hard to come by and I'm currently sitting in a 100 year old cottage on a remote island in pretty much the middle of nowhere......

All being well you'll hear my scream of delight even from over there when I actually drive across into the Arctic Circle about noon on Monday, then all being well I'll be on-line again that evening and will update my blogg, until then feel free to e-mail me.... just so I know I haven't time warped back to 1912 :-)

Posted by Val G 12:21 Comments (0)

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