Norway Road Trip Dairies 1 of 3 | Hybrid Cars, Glaciers, Tunnels, and Cleaning Toilets
One of the best ways to get off the beaten track in any country is to drive. You tend to see new places, you can stop anywhere to appreciate the place, and you can be more flexible with the itineraries with a road trip. You also tend to have authentic local experiences and create poignant memories. Eventually, the local experiences define the destination more than what the brochures advertise. Isn’t that what travel should be all about?
My first Norweigan road trip was several years ago. It was a drive from Oslo to Bergen and back with overnighters in between to break the journey. I saw so many sights, so many new discoveries, and so many iconic brochure perfect spots that I tried capturing through my amateur photography skills. However, what really stood out for me, are some unique little things that have come to define the destination.
Here are four of them
The Hybrid Car Road Trip | Not feeling bad I drove
I was driving a Toyota Hybrid, and the first thing I noticed was that I did close to 30 km on a litre of petrol. That stood out so much for me, that I kept on looking at the meter when I was driving, and felt so good about it.
I love to be sustainable, and I also love the freedom a self-drive trip can give, yet balancing the two can be very difficult. But it’s possible in Norway. Welcome to not feeling too bad driving around. Next time, I will take it to the next level with an electric car for sure!
Massive Glaciers | Felt like I was looking at the Ice Age
It was not a particularly clear day as we reached the largest plateau in Europe, the Hardangervidda, and I was truly enjoying the rolling hills on top that led to nice curvy roads and a massive expanse. At some point, it cleared a bit on the northern side, and the view took my breath away.
I come from Nepal, the steepest country globally, and I’m not a stranger to seeing the glaciers, but to see the Hardangerjøkulen glacier that almost covers your entire vision was genuinely astounding. The impression that this is a country made from ice melt became embedded in my brain at that sight. I also almost crashed the car (TOP TIP: Allow plenty of time to stop and step outside to soak it in), as I was so stunned watching that glacier. It’s a sight to behold, and it took some minutes for me to peel my eyes off that, appreciate the road again, and quickly find a spot where I could stop and soak it in.
Also, this is from one of the National Scenic Routes – of which Norway has so many that the government has dedicated an entire website for it!
Tunnels | curvy, uphill and long
I have never been on the road, which has so many tunnels, and the Norwegians are certainly good at digging. I have seen crazier ones on my other road trips, of which I also write, but on this particular one, the most amazing one was coming up from Eidfjord through Måbødalen Valley to Hardangervidda plateau.
We scaled a shear wall completely inside the mountain, on a tunnel that went from a little above sea level right up to the plateau using an uphill and hairpin bends. When we went inside the tunnel, there was some rain, and when we exited out, it was a blizzard. Even the weather changed while we were making that road trip inside the tunnel.
I remember there was a small section when the tunnel exited somewhere in the middle of that sheer cliff to a view of the majestic Vøringfossen waterfall that fell straight down that steep face. I was absolutely flabbergasted.
More tunnel talk in other articles.
Cleaning Toilets at an AirBnB | Housekeeping by Guests
We arrived late into the Airbnb at Dagali and quickly made the sandwiches that we had brought ingredients for the last pit stop, and we were exhausted, so we went straight to bed, ready to wake up early and continue on our drive. So imagine my surprise when I woke in the morning to find a housekeeping trolley outside my door. Apparently, at this particular Airbnb (this can happen at others too) you have to do the housekeeping yourself or get charged for it.
So, I diligently took off the bedcover, the cover off the blankets, cleaned the kitchen, washes the dishes that I had used for dinner, and also cleaned the toilets, emptied the dustbins, and even cleaned the tiles – all before breakfast, which was not served!
What an experience and a completely different appreciation of the Norwegian way of doing things. Disclaimer & a TOP TIP: This obviously does not happen everywhere, and if you happen to be a bit lazy to do this where it’s required, one can always add in a little extra to get it done for you.
Insight: The locals never think about it. The locals told me it’s “just the way it is” for them with the Tourism Association Cabins & the cabin culture, where cleaning is just a way to leave the place the exact way one would find it in.
Super Long Downhills | careful of the brakes and the sun in your face
Driving east from the Hardangervidda towards Oslo in the morning is not a great idea. The sun is constantly in your face (TopTip: A great pair of sunglasses?), and being a northern country, the sun does not really go high up in the sky. No doubt the shades came really handy, and with the clear air, the sun can be incredibly bright.
The second thing about that drive was the extraordinarily long gentle downhill all the way from that top to Oslo, almost at least, literally 200km of downhill or mostly downhill from Dagali. It was a special experience to drive through that.
What’s stuck in my head as I drove? When the ice melted over Norway millions of years ago… some just snapped and fell all the way to the sea, creating those massive sheer cliff faces on the one side that end in the fjords, and the other side melted slowly and gently all the way to the sea, creating these super long gentle downhills.
Watch this space for more of these striking experiences road-tripping in Norway! Two more in this series!
To read my Norway Road Trip Diary 2: Click Here
To read my Norway Road Trip Diary 3: Click Here