Our next stop after Ålesund was Åndalsnes, some 110 km inland. It’s a small town and there’s not much there, but it’s a good starting point for the Trollstigen to Geiranger scenic route. The only thing worthy of note on the journey is that we were stung for €27 to cross a (not very grand) bridge, and a further €13 to drive through a tunnel. We parked for the night by the railway station, and as it was a nice day I took my bike out for a ride around the fjord.
Of all the official scenic routes, the Trollstigen to Geiranger route is the one that we’ve wanted to do the most. Trollstigen, or trolls’ ladder, is where the road climbs up the side of a mountain with a 10% gradient, comprising 11 hairpin bends. At the top there are viewing platforms overlooking the road and the Stigfossen waterfall. We couldn’t have picked a better day weather wise, it was t-shirt and shorts weather.
Our early start meant that we avoided having to squeeze past any coaches coming in the opposite direction, and the drive to the top was rather easy. We were one of the first vans to park up at the visitor centre, and we spent a good while enjoying the views from the top and taking photos. By the time we left there it had become rather busy, and the coaches had started to arrive.
We stopped off for coffee and lunch breaks, or just to admire the stunning scenery. At Linge we took the ferry across the fjord to Eidsdal and continued along the road to Ørnesvingen, where there’s a very steep descent in the form of another 11 hairpin bends to Gerainger. It’s much more difficult descending mountains in the van, as this entails engine braking as much as possible so as to avoid overheating the brakes. We’re spending the tonight on a campsite overlooking Gerainger Fjord, and it’s a good job that we arrived when we did as the place is now full.
Tomorrow we’ll be making another early start to catch a ferry from Geiranger to Hellesylt, and from there we’ll be driving to a campsite for a few days downtime. Over the past month we’ve driven some 2,500 miles (or 4,000 km) and so we need a bit of a rest!