Friday, June 10, 2011

Wreaking Havoc

Miserable, oppressive, pouring rain all day has left both of us in foul moods -- we drove from Laerdal down to Flam, hoping things would clear enough to warrant taking the ferry into the fjords, but it was no use. The fog and clouds have melded into a gray mist that obscures everything, but we drove out on the Aurlandsveien road (high mountain pass between Laerdal and Aurland/Flam) anyway, hoping that the breath-taking views would be...well, visible.

Not really. We drove up into the snow fields and marveled at the snow-markers that are the size of telephone poles, but mostly we drove through the Generic Norwegian Scenic today: fog. The hairpin turns coming down into Aurland are quite fun, though. All of the guidebooks keep telling us that the Aurland pass, and the Troll's Staircase are "hair raising" and scary...nothing has been as hairy and twisty as the road up and down to Lysebotn on our first day in the fjords. Now that was hair-raising.

We passed through Flam -- it was raining hard enough that we could barely see the fjord, so we decided to pass on the ferry and the railway (which is part of the quintessential Norway-in-a-Nutshell tourist trip) and just drive long the fjord for a bit,then head towards Oslo. We did drive up the narrow road to Undredal to see the tiny stave church there (the smallest church in norway, they claim) and along the side of the Naeroyfjord for a bit before turning around. We headed south before the new Laerdal tunnel (25km through the mountain, replacing the Aurlands pass that we drove over this morning). A technological marvel, perhaps, but we drove south through the mountains instead.

At this point, we realized that the lovely scenic Oslo-Bergen route was not going to be very scenic. Why? Torrential downpours, floods, mudslides, and closed roads. Hah! Well, when we travel, we never do anything in half-measures -- rain? Sure! Bring on the worst rains in years! Rain a months' worth in two hours! Do it two days in a row! Yeeha! I'm seriously hoping that my weather-powers haven't short-circuited and caused massive chaos and havoc.

It's funny in a depressing sort of way. The mountain passes and views over the fjords would have been stunning, I'm sure, had we be able to see any of them. As it was, we had some great views of enormously swollen rivers roaring down into the farmland, and normally-sedate waterfalls shooting out from the mountainside to hit the rocks below. Most of the rivers -- usually blue or blue-green -- were brown with whipped up farm fields and full of broken trees and bits of other things picked up. We got stopped onthe road for about half an hour because a mudslide had blocked one of the lanes (there were TREES standing upright in the road, still embedded in the dirt) and the road was flooded in running water (usually only a few inches deep, if that) in a dozen places. Made for interesting driving, even if the grayness was wearying.

And it's supposed to continue raining tomorrow. They actually warned people who were planning on travelling out of Oslo to just stay put until the congestion eased up. And what are we doing? Driving across half the country. We did stop in Krodsherad, to look around the town where Mark's grandfather came from (neat railway museum, btw) before finally driving down into Oslo.

We finally arrived at the hotel in Oslo about 11pm. Mark is tired and crabby, I'm tired and crabby, and right now I have no idea what we're going to do tomorrow. It's going to rain, so nothing with a lot of outside wandering around, I think! We've had enough of walking around dampish.

1 comment:

laurafingerson said...

Wow, I checked out that news story. The weather gods have really turned against you after they were so good to you earlier in the trip! Ah well, luckily there are lots of indoor things to do in Oslo!