In the previous installment of our honeymoon travelogue, Ryan gets cozy with a pregnant troll.
After spending our lavish night in Geiranger, we headed out toward our next stay, in Hafslo Norway.
We climbed back out of the valley and took a few minutes to see Knuten (“knot”). This gravel road was built in 1882 and is still standing as is — a perfect little 360 loop. It was originally built to gain height over a small area of difficult terrain. The new road skirts by it, but it was a fun little stop. We tried to get it all in one photo, but it was hard!
Not too far after Knuten is a lookout called Dalsnibba. It is, get ready for this, “The Highest View of a Fjord from a Road in Europe.” Specific. But we’d been told it was a must see, so we made our way up. No one could tell us if it was paved or not — that’s because they were paving that day! We had more road going down than we did coming up. The view was cloudy but worth it. When the clouds parted, we could see forever. That little white dot in the upper left distance? That’s a cruise ship.
We then headed toward Lom. We knew it was our best and probably only place to find new running shoes for me (I left mine in Kristiansund). On the way, we came as close as possible to running out of fuel (on the motorcycle, at least — we pushed it even further in the car). Thankfully we found a gas station — Lom wasn’t far after that. We loved the look of Lom, all dark wood buildings. We both quite liked it.
Our first stop was the Lom Stave Church. Norway has many stave churches that date back to the Middle Ages, and this is one of the best. We didn’t end up going inside (like everything in Norway, it was quite expensive), but just walking around it we were able to get a feel for it. Such interesting, ornate architecture like I’ve never seen before.
Then we were off to find shoes. Lom had four shops for us to check out, and it took all four. At the final shop I found a pair of Nikes that actually seemed to fit my poor feet (I will probably have bunion surgery in the next couple years — below the ankle, I’m 100 years old). I was so thankful to have shoes I could hike in!
To get to Hafslo, we had to go over another cold and treeless pass, and as we came around a bend in the road, we could see a glacier. No signs or anything. Just a glacier. Hanging about. Being glacier-y. We stopped for a couple chilly photos, and then moved along.
Then as we were coming down from the pass, we were treated to another incredible view. Pictures cannot do this justice — it was like Jurassic Park or Lord of the Rings or something — the light pouring between the lush green mountains. Nothing I can say or show you can describe the view. You’ll just have to go to Norway yourself.
That night we stayed at the Hafslo Hyttesenter, which was absolutely adorable. We had our own little cabin to ourselves — everything we needed in a tiny, tiny space. We also had a beautiful view out to the fjord. We knew we had to get up early the next morning for our long haul to Preikestolen the next morning, so we hit the hay before it was even dark outside.
The Road to Preikestolen
We woke up super early the next morning for our eight-hour day on the motorcycle. We knew this was going to be our longest day, so we wanted to get an early start.
We headed south, following our trusty GPS. We had wanted to see the Hopperstad Stave church along the way, but realized about an hour into our drive the GPS had routed us east, not west. We were sad we were going to miss the church, but kept on driving because we didn’t have time to turn around.
About an hour and a half into our drive, we came across a tunnel. This was nothing new — Norway is filled with tunnels. There are signs telling you how long the tunnel is, in kilometers. As I glanced at the sign, I did a double-take. Did that say “25 km”? FIFTEEN MILES? Afterward, we learned it’s the longest road tunnel in the world!
It was pretty much a nightmare. Florence and the Machine’s “No Light” kept running through my head. It’s freezing and you learn the original meaning of the phrase “tunnel vision.” I can’t imagine what it was like for Ryan trying to keep his line for that long without plowing us into the wall. Daylight has never been more welcome.
And perhaps we should have paid more attention to the Norwegian road signs with the big orange X’s on them. Then we would have realized this particular route had a detour because of a fire in another tunnel.
The detour re-routed us almost to our starting point.
Dear God. We had to back-track an hour and a half.
And go through the world’s longest tunnel again.
So three hours later (forty minutes of that being in that one tunnel alone), we were nearly back where we started. We headed down the western route we originally wanted to take. So we got to see the stave church we thought we would miss. Yay?
We kept driving. We missed ferries. We sat in Norwegian traffic (heh).
We drove and drove until our legs were numb. We knew we were getting close, so our GPS decided to take us up a gravel mountain road. Hey GPS — we’re on a motorcycle, you fool! We rerouted ourselves and around 10:30pm we rolled into the Preikestolen Hostel, exhausted. I got off the bike and promptly fainted — the blood rushed out of my head and into my legs. I was fine, but clearly fourteen hours on a motorcycle is too much. As we checked into the hostel, we found out we were so late they were about to give our room away — thankfully, we snagged it just in time. Then we crashed.
From what we could tell, Preikestolen is sort of Half Dome Lite when it comes to hikes — not nearly as long, but the views are just as epic. But would it meet our expectations? Was all that hustle to get to Preikstolen worth it? Oh. My. Gosh. Yes.
We woke up at 5am, just a few hours after we fell asleep.We wanted to beat the crowds, and we were so glad we did.
Even starting out in the morning dawn, the views were unreal.
We slowly worked our way up the 2.4 mile-hike, since our knees had taken a beating on the bike the day before. Most of it was up granite stair cases built into the mountain, but there were also flattish pretty bits — very reminiscent of Half Dome.
Then the sun came up. We didn’t even have words, so we just kissed a bit.
We went the wrong way for a bit, working our way up an unnecessarily difficult little rockbed, but we found our way soon enough. Minus one crazy guy who ran up the mountain and a few people who camped overnight, we were the first on the lookout that morning.
And because we beat most of the world up the mountain, Ryan could take this absolutely insane photo of me.
Ryan climbed down and joined me on the rock. The views were absolutely unreal looking down Lysbotn Fjord:
As much as I’d like to gloss over this fact, I don’t like heights. In all of our photos of us, you can see the fear right behind my eyes. But I held it together! And it was worth it for the incredible views we were treated with that morning.
We hiked back down the mountain, and dozens, if not hundreds of people were on their way up. Busloads of people. Despite being absolutely exhausted from our long day, we couldn’t be more happy that we’d chosen to do the hike so early. It felt like Preikestolen was ours alone.
In the next installment of our honeymoon travelogue, Cori and Ryan leave the world of rocks and trees and enter the Plastic Planet.