OSLO TO PREIKESTOLEN
18.08.2012 - 21.08.2012 18 °C
With Oslo in our rear-view mirror, thankfully so was city life for the most part. Once you get out of the city areas Norway really opens up and starts to show off her beauty almost immediately, with amazing lakes and lush green forests. The roads, although narrow and slow going in most places, are fantastic, with minimal tolls – something the rest of Europe should figure out how to do! The drivers also seem to have less of a death wish than the rest of Europe, which has been a nice change for Paulie.
Heading west along the south coast toward Stavanger, we decided to break up the 6+ hour trip in two with a stop over around Kristiansand, which also gave us a chance to suss out ferry schedules and prices back to Denmark so we didn’t need to go the long way round through Sweden again (which was nice the first time, but no-one likes to back-track). One of the (many) fantastic things about Norway is the right-to-roam policy I mentioned before, which lets you camp anywhere on public land, meaning that the world was our camperstop, and for free! Sweetening the deal that much more is the roadside rest areas – they are better than most campsites we have been to, and are generally in the most beautiful locations you could picture.
Typical rest area
A free nights rest taking the sting out of the food, fuel and fun prices a little bit, we got to Stavanger in high spirits, but apparently the weather was not. Not long after pulling into Mosvangan Camping (a pay site, but we needed some internet to do important stuff like watch football etc.) our old friend ‘rain’ had made and appearance in a big way, and did not look like letting up anytime soon, so we went to bed and prayed for blue skies in the morning.
Morning came, but the blue skies didn’t show. We trudged off into Stavanger anyway, still thoroughly enjoying the fact that we were in Norway. The city itself is more of a really big town, or possibly even a miniature version of a city, with it’s small buildings, small population and even it’s little harbour, it takes on a very charming and cozy vibe, without being backwards or the land that time forgot. The harbour, as I mentioned is small, but not lacking in beauty or sea traffic. Surrounded by quaint little cafes and the compulsory souvenir shops, making it just touristy enough, without going overboard. Then there is the ‘Old Town’ area filled with cobble stone streets and glorious old timber houses painted in brilliant white and covered in extremely well manicured gardens. It is the sort of place you could really picture as being the most comfortable place in the world during the long cold Norway winters. In addition to its warm cozy side, we had also heard that being an oil city and a base for employees in the industry, the bars down on the waterfront around the town get lively on summer evenings, but sadly as our stay had coincided with weather more fitted to winter, we did not get to see the livelier side of the town.
That afternoon we left Stavanger and headed towards one of the most impressive fjords of Norway, Lysefjord (Light Fjord) home to some of the most breathtaking views on earth. One in particular had caught Paul’s eye while searching the web earlier in our trip, a place called Preikestolen, roughly translated ‘Pulpit Rock’. The rock itself is actually part of a 604m high cliff face, and it sticks out over the fjord like an altar in a church. Considering the elevation and surrounding terrain, for someone fit and in good health, it is an easy, rewarding and fun hike to the top that does include a lot of scrambling over rocks, taking 4 hours for the 8km round trip and climbing around 300 – 400 meters. The view from the top is well worth the effort. With no barriers between you and the edge, it truly feels like you are standing at the top of the world, and for the brave, you can even sit on the edge and eat your lunch while your feet dangle 600m (or around 1800ft) off the ground, which is an unbelievable feeling and beats lunch in Hyde Park any day!
Hiking Over Lysefjord
Yes I did eat lunch here
Kitty even had a stint at the edge
Happy as pigs in the proverbial...
After spending some time clicking away like mad photogs and climbing all over the nearby rock faces, we had a nice leisurely lunch (while dangling over the edge) then headed back down the trail. You would think the downhill part would have been the easy bit, but with the steep descent every step had our toes ramming into the fronts of our hiking boots, and each time we jumped down off a boulder our quads would get a blasting, so by the end of the 2 hours we were the most well spent we had been all trip, but happy as pigs in mud.
The hike back was less fun
You would have also thought that a big hike like that would have turned us off anymore big treks for awhile, but to the contrary, we got talking to a Norwegian/American couple who gave us the directions to another famous cliff. Kjerag (pronounced che-rag) is located at the opposite end of the 42km Lysefjord to Preikestolen, and is one of the reasons Paul had been looking forward to Norway. The 960m cliff-face is a dream spot for B.A.S.E. jumpers worldwide, and became very well known to Paul during his stint as a recreational skydiver. As it is around 400m higher than Preikestolen, it was recommended that we wait for better weather before attempting to make the hike (the rain had still not buggered off!) and as it looked like it would be at least a few more days before we would get good weather, we made the call to head north to what is commonly called ‘the most attractive city in Norway’, also known as Bergen, before we came back south to tackle the more challenging hike.