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Tue Jul 21 2015: The Belly of the Mountain is on Fire!

Just a quick update with some thoughts from the road: We're still on our march northwards through the fjordlands of the west coast of Norway. And it's still raining. We've only had one day of sun in the last week. The "Come Visit Norway" green fjords/blue sky travel brochure is falling apart like wet tissue paper at the bottom of my tankbag.

The scenery is gorgeous. If only it wasn't so wet!

Even though the pictures don't show it, there is quite a lot of traffic on the roads in Norway, even though we've made a decision to stay off the main interior highway. Most of the license plates we see are Norwegian. We've not seen a lot of Norwegian travelers on our journeys, but now we know that they do travel, but they just like to spend all of their high-value Krones inside their own country. I guess everywhere else outside of Norway is just too cheap for them! :)

There's only a short window of summer that Norwegians are able to enjoy warm weather and despite the rain, there are a lot of motorcyclists on the road braving the inclement weather. My waterproof gloves are starting to lose their waterproofing, but I'm glad I have large handguard spoilers so my gloves don't get too wet when they're hiding behind them. However, when another motorcyclist rides past us and waves, I experience a brief anti-social twinge because lifting my left hand from behind the handguard means exposing it to the rain and getting it wet...

But I'm Canadian and it's only cold water, so I wave politely and get my left hand all soggy. Dammit.

Oh, and I think my right boot is also starting to leak. :(

The Hardanger Bridge is kind of unique because it's the only tunnel-to-tunnel bridge
in the world, both ends of the bridge lead to a tunnel!

The geography afjords us plenty of opportunity to cross small bodies of water. The last few days have taken their toll (literally and figuratively) on us via ferries, bridges and tunnels. Some of these tunnels are quite long, ranging from 3kms to over 10kms! At every tunnel entrance, there is a sign that tells you how long the tunnel is that you're entering. Whenever I see a sign that reads, "6,184 meters", I smile because it gives us a bit of respite from the falling rain, and most times the air in the tunnel is nice and warm. On the longer tunnels, I stick my left glove out in the airflow to try to dry it out.

Oncoming cars that pass us must wonder what I'm doing. But I don't care. My glove is wet, deal with it.

What the heck is this?

At one end of the Hardanger Bridge is the Valavik Tunnel which is 7.5 kms long. It's so long that there is actually a funky traffic roundabout with disco-blue lighting in the middle with exits that will take you to different parts of the country. Imagine taking the wrong exit? It'll be like digging a hole to China and then breaking above ground to find yourself in Mexico! Damn!:)

Another roundabout

But 7.5 kms is nothing for a tunnel in Norway. Just a bit further north, we enter the Lærdal Tunnel and before we enter, I read the sign, "24.5 km" Sweet!? That's a lot of glove-drying time. When tunnels are really long, you also wonder what kind of weather you're going to get on the other side because often the mountains that they're tunneling under stop the clouds and precipitation from getting to the other side, or vice versa.

Caves inside the Lærdal Tunnel

As we get deeper into the Lærdal Tunnel, we approach these huge caverns, also lit up like a discotheque. It turns out that the tunnel is so long that every 6 kms there is a large space to give travelers a visual break from tunnel vision (literally!) And also, if you realize you're tunneling to Mexico instead of China, there's space to turn a vehicle around and go back.

All that's needed now are huge speakers to pump techno music into these caves. And seedy teenagers in the corners peddling E.

My glove is almost dry as we exit the Lærdal Tunnel and... the weather is dry on the other side of the tunnel! Of course it is, after riding for so long underground we're probably in a different time zone as well!

China? Mexico? Nope, still Norway, however still doesn't look anything like in the travel brochures... :(

"It's Norway or the highway!" Glad we are staying off the main interior highway.

When the road climbs higher, it's so cold that ice forms on the lakes up here!

So pretty! We must stop to check it out.

Reminds me so much of Iceland

More Icelandic scenery up here

I should really be saying that Iceland looks like Norway, not the other way around!

Norwegian/Icelandic Turf houses

Turf houses provide good insulation and you can grow potatoes, turnips and carrots in the attic

Okay bye, Iceland, we have to continue on.

Back to the lush greenlands at sea level

In North America, kids open up lemonade stands and sell lemonade for 5 cents.
In Norway, kids open up fruit stands and sell cherries for... €7 ($11 CDN). Yikes.

We're traveling through a region that produces most of Norway's fruit in the summertime. It's akin to the Niagara Region in Canada. This particular area yields 80% of the cherries for the country and everything we've read about them say that these particular Morello dark-red cherries are supposed to be most awesome, and we're here at the peak time in the season as well. Neda loves cherries and fruits and this was on her bucket list for Norway. But looking at the price tag, we had to walk back over to the bikes and have a huddle to decide if we wanted to spend $11 on a carton of cherries...

So... we're not actually buying these cherries to eat. We're going to put them in a glass case
and showcase them in the living room of wherever we decide to move to.

Who are we kidding, those cherries disappeared before our butts got back on the bike. They were good. Not sure if they were $11 good, but they were good.

...and then more money paid to the ferrymen to take us to the other side

Riding into Sogndal

And another ferry. And it's raining again... Starting to get a bit repetitive now.

Hey, I found the Norwegian Lake Louise!

And Neda says "hi" from the road

Getting close to our destination for the evening

Updating the blog in our "campsite" in Moskog, our tent just outside and the cottages in the background

There is nobody tenting in the rain when we arrive in Moskog. Everyone has rented little warm and dry cottages in the campsite, but they are four times more expensive than a tent site (which is expensive to begin with!) So when we head into the washroom/kitchen building that the tenters can use, we realize that absolutely nobody comes in here because they all have their own private washrooms and kitchens in their cottages.

So we totally set up inside the communal kitchen just like it was our own living room. We now have our own dry and warm private cottage for a quarter of the cost!

LOL! We are such hobos...

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