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Old 28th November 2013, 15:20   #136
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Default Day 4 #4 : The Stegastein

The Stegastein viewing platform is perhaps the best known landmark on this tourist route.
In India, such a place would be known as "Suicide point", with numerous urban legends of lovers chased by Mocambo and the likes jumping hand in hand, and then being reborn to take revenge.
Some would even becomes movies with 18 songs and 8 dialogues and 800 punches.

650 meters above the fjord, and extending 30 meters into the air, the view, as expected is quite quite awesome. Not for the faint hearted, or for anyone who has the slightest fear of heights
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003189xl.jpg

This is Norway, so you are not going to find any barbed wire, or mesh nets or whatever. I wonder why there is nobody here with a parachute, ready to jump. This seems like the ultimate base jumping destination
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003190xl.jpg

We hang around here for some time, and for quite a bit of that some time we are the only tourists here. The wind is high, but the skies are clear, and the low sun of Scandinavia manages to provide a semblance of warmth.

Below is the ocean, so calm, so serene. The high walls and shelter ensure almost no waves, and you have lake like reflections
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003191xl.jpg

The surface is disturbed just by the wake of a sight seeing ship, and thats about it. Its still!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01194xl.jpg

650 meters can be quickly dispatched when you are accelerating at 9.8m/s, but we have to take this windy road down
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003192xl.jpg

Another view of the platform, from the parking area
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003193xl.jpg

Far down below, calls the blue ocean. And to that, we must head!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01196xl.jpg
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Old 28th November 2013, 19:31   #137
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Tanveer,

Awesome, awesome, awesome intro. Probably one of the best of all your travelogues so far. The photography is brilliant. Are you a closet poet? 

I had the fortune to visit Norway with my family back in May 2006 for 5 days. However, we didn't rent a car and relied solely on the public transport system. Two nights in Bergen, 1 in Flam, 2 in Oslo.

Underestimating the Norwegian weather was a major mistake during the trip. My wife had packed all the warm clothes for the trip (she is always cautious when it comes to cold weather), but I didn't take along the winter clothes bag thinking it would be warm in the middle of May and we could manage with full-sleeve sweat shirts. We flew into Bergen from London Stansted around noon. Outside, it felt pleasant then, maybe slightly nippy with the sun out. By evening though, my little kids were shivering with 3 layers of sweat shirts. So, we quickly had to buy a new set of jackets, caps, gloves, scarfs etc. The sticker prices were shocking and burnt a big hole in my pocket. However, the proverbial S really hit the F when we were going from Bergen to Flam (for the Fjord cruises) by train. There is a station (Voss) where we had to change trains. It was right in the middle of the mountains all around with copious amounts of snow and ice on them. Blowing ice-cold winds didn't allow us to ponder on the platform for more than 10 seconds, and we sought refuge in the waiting room. Flam was going to be cold. On the train from Bergen, we encountered a group of IT guys from India on a day-trip, who were even more sartorially challenged. They were all wearing T-shirts :-) Wisely, they decided to head back to Bergen from Voss.

In Flam, we stayed at the Fretheim hotel right next to the train station and the dock. Paying the hotel charges felt like getting violated in the posterior. There was only 1 tourist shop, and we bought some more caps and scarves as souvenirs. The trip was turning out to be expensive. However, the beauty of the place and the cruise on the Fjords made it all worth it, I guess.

But as you rightly said, this is one of the most expensive countries I have visited. Wasn’t really used to buying water at $3 a bottle, and unlike you folks, we were not carrying any food either.

Oslo felt fantastic and lively. People there really enjoy the outdoors during the short summer, with impromptu football matches, skating, biking or simply relaxing with a beer near the waterfront on Oslo harbor. Did you see the Eternal flame near the harbor dedicated to Indian spiritual guru, Sri Chinmoy? Wonder if its still there.

Anyway, your travelogue evoked very nice memories of our trip to that beautiful country.

Write on.

-Abhijit
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Old 29th November 2013, 11:16   #138
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

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Originally Posted by mr.sinha View Post
Tanveer,

Awesome, awesome, awesome intro. Probably one of the best of all your travelogues so far. The photography is brilliant. Are you a closet poet? 

-Abhijit
Thanks Abhijit!
Norway sure is expensive. fortunately, we did not have to spend at all on fruits and water, and also got some other stuff for quite cheap. Thanks to off season accommodation was actually cheaper than what we have paid in other destinations in the past!
But yes, fuel was expensive, and ditto for the cars and air tickets
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Old 2nd December 2013, 10:54   #139
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Again beautiful pics there Tanveer. You have some sense of humor man, literally laughed reading your "I can run rings around that elephant"
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Old 2nd December 2013, 23:10   #140
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Default Day 4 #5 : The Sivlefossen and the Nærøyfjorden

Today's trip is for a UNESCO world heritage site, the uber narrow, Nærøyfjorden. However, before we head to the narrow blue waters, we have to make a diversion.
A few kms ahead on E16 lies the waterfall of Sivlefossen, so we decide head futher.

From the twin towns of Flam and Aurland its a quick drive through the Gudvangatunnelen, and we are soon parked on the side of the road. In season, when the main alternate road is open, you are at a higher perch from where to view the falls.

However, with road closed for the season, its time to walk a bit, to the base of the falls.
These are quite high, but narrow. Water is blue as always
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003195xl.jpg

With the valley in almost perpetual shadow, there is some frost on the grass, and hardly any trees grow here
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003200xl.jpg

I decide to use the railing as a tripod
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01207xl.jpg

However, I have forgotten something. You know what? Can you guess? Yup, the ND filter!
So with stopping down, this is the lowest I can go folks!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01211xl.jpg

We do not spend too much time there. This area is pretty far from our cottage, so we want to make the most of the little daylight we have left. Time to head back to the mini
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003203xl.jpg

AS we turn back, its time to fill her up again. Fuel is about 1NOK/liter cheaper here, this being the freeway and all. This time the mileage has not been as good. The mountains have taken their toll, I guess we would have to settle for 22.5

So what next? Well we gun it towards the Narrow Fjord, or the Nærøyfjorden as locals call it. The narrower the fjord, the stiller the waters, and even in the afternoon, guess what, its calm
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003204xl.jpg

There is a very "Nærøy" road leading along the Fjord, and we first decide to enjoy the curvy track, and head seawards.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003205xl.jpg

People do live here, at the end of this fjord, and their houses have grass roofs
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d700032072xl.jpg



All during this trip, I had come across grass roofed cottages, but we were always at places where I could not stop. But, here, I could!

The Narrow road along the Fjord
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003209xl.jpg

Another grass roofed hut
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003210xl.jpg

This one was actually a restaurant, closed for the season. There is a ferry terminal here, and you can ride a ferry along the coastline in season. But as of 30th september the terminal was closed, and the only thing open was an extremely expensive souvenir shop.

Its now 4PM in the evening, and we have some daylight left
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003213xl.jpg

Time to aimlessly drive around some narrow roads along some other fjords eh?
The Cat seems to agree.
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And puts on a show
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01221xl.jpg
bh
And finally saying "Stop it paparazzi"
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01223xl.jpg

With that its time to head back. Today, I feel we will reach our cottage in luster pretty early, however... then we reach flam, and I see that train......
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Old 3rd December 2013, 13:00   #141
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Default Re: Day 4 #5 : The Sivlefossen and the Nærøyfjorden

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
People do live here, at the end of this fjord, and their houses have grass roofs

All during this trip, I had come across grass roofed cottages, but we were always at places where I could not stop. But, here, I could!

Another grass roofed hut
So what is the story with grass roofs, Tanveer? Any idea?
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Old 3rd December 2013, 13:11   #142
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Default Re: Day 4 #5 : The Sivlefossen and the Nærøyfjorden

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Originally Posted by shipnil View Post
So what is the story with grass roofs, Tanveer? Any idea?
Here you go!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_roof
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Old 10th December 2013, 12:35   #143
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Default Day 4 #6: The way of the Railway

The Flam sight seeing train to Myrdal is a 30km journey up the mountain. Like many scenic trains of Europe, this is very popular. At the end(not accessible by road), you can walk a bit to one of the largest waterfalls of Europe.
However, there is a catch.
Isn't there always a catch?

Well the catch is the 380NOK, or 4000INR/per person ticket for the round trip. This means we will be giving it a skip.

However, a part of the track is accompanied by something resembling a road. You cannot technically call it a proper road.

Warning signs tell you again and again, its narrow, and not fit for Caravans.
The surface... well its bumpy gravel, the kind seen on Scandinavian Rally tracks.

And we do not have a caravan.

We have the mini.
And there is a narrow winding gravel track calling. How can you refuse.Its time to have some fun.

There is something inherently satisfying about the road when you don't know where you are going, and how far you will go.

All we know is this. We will drive till it gets dark, and turn back!

So off we go along the track
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003216xl.jpg

Normally, I would stop and take a lot of pics, but trust me, here I am not really interested in clicking much.
The gravel road is too inviting. Every sweeping curve, every bump leading to loss of traction, and that ESP light flickering... its too addicting.

If you want to see the drive, you have to look at the Norway in a nutshell video You will see the Flam Rail track in the subtitles
check out : time 6:05s


After driving about 20kms, we reach the point of return. A wide open valley
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003217xl.jpg

So how do we decide this is where we will return from? Well its quite simple. there is a big waterfall sitting here. Just waiting to be clicked. Thankfully, light is low now, and no need of ND filters!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003219xl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003220xl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003221xl.jpg

We walk on the slippery rock, to the very edge
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01224xl.jpg

There is color, and there is fury
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003225xl.jpg

How much time can you spend here. An eternity I think. However, we are time bound. Remember, we came by ferry in the morning, saving 100kms of driving. This means we have to get back by 8.
This means, we need to scoot

One final goodbye
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003230xl.jpg

And our steed is ready for the downhill run
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003232xl.jpg

Downhill is even more fun, but guess what, we should have spent more time in this lovely valley. But then the Ferry won't wait for us, will she?

And with the final parting shot
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01236xl.jpg

We continue our run to the bottom....

If you had asked me before, do you every picture yourself driving a sports car on a gravel track in Scandinavia, I would have laughed at this unattainable dream, but, guess what, Norway has a way of fulfilling your dreams

Last edited by tsk1979 : 10th December 2013 at 12:37.
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Old 20th December 2013, 12:20   #144
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Default Day 4 #7: Under the mountain and over the Sea

Daylight is fading. The day is gone. And now its time for our long drive back.
The long route over the tunnel is awesome, however, with the last ferry leaving around 8pm, we have to make haste, and for that we will now take one of the wonders of the modern world. The Lærdal Tunnel

At 24.5kms, its the longest in the world. The high snow road is snow bound over 6 months of the year. So what do the Norwegians do? Close the route. Stop going from Lærdal to Aurland? Do a long roundabout Ferry trip? Nope, they decide to dig.

And so, you have this tunnel. The traffic volume in this tunnel is a mere 1000 vehicles a day, but then its Norway, the land of few people, and even fewer vehicles.

With a long ride ahead, its time to put the cam on the dash and take some long exposures.

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003236xl.jpg

Every now and then, the blue lights break the monotony
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003237xl.jpg

However, for the most part its the white lighting
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003238xl.jpg

At regular intervals there are rest areas, lest you feel tired or claustrophobic.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003248xl.jpg

The orange lights create the effect of fire, and break the monotony. In such a long tunnel, its easy to get hypnotized. This really helps, creating an illusion of space and openness
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003254xl.jpg

Barely 20 minutes later, you are at the other end. A setting sun welcomes us as we wait for the Ferry
Its 7pm now. We are well in time
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003257xl.jpg

Unlike peak seasons, there is little company
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003260xl.jpg

As it darkens, we cross the Fjord, and within 11 minutes reach "our side".

The drive in uneventful, and we decide to make a pit stop at Gaupne. Today is a week day, and the supermarket is still open.
But what do we shop today?
Well first its eggs. Our supply is running low.

As I browse the humongous market, I am hit by the shoppers trap. Ice cream. Now we have to get ice cream. Its frightfully expensive. 45NOK (500rs) for a 1 liter tub.

But there is another tub. Its 3 liters. And its 23 NOK (250 INR)
Its vanilla, but then vanilla tastes best on crepes.

Now if only we had some apples(which are frightfully expensive too!) we could have made the perfect crepes, but then, some dreams are... well dreams.

We reach home, make some crepes, and add an item to our mission. Eat 3 liter ice cream in the 3 remaining days.
Meanwhile Norway has also assigned herself a mission. Get us some apples. But we did not know at that time. How could we?

As we pack it up, its clear that today is the last sunny day we will have. After that its that famous Norway wet weather.
So what to do? Well make the most of the clear skies. and head out with camera and tripod. Tonight, Norway will also spring another wild surprise at us...

PS: There is some dashcam footage of the Ferry if you are interested, in the Nutshell video
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Old 20th December 2013, 12:22   #145
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Default Day 4 #8 : Stars and Stripes

Its cold. Very very Cold. But then its always cold here in October. The wind is still, so there is no additional windchill... but still its cold.
But as any night addict will tell you, clear cold nights are the best to catch the heavens in all their glory.

So on the pier I stand looking at the skies. I see a lot of stars. The Camera will see a lot more.
Unknown to me, and invisible... there is something else happening too. The Sun has launched an attack, a full fledged flare, with its fury on the Earth, and as usual, its the turn of the magnetic field.
When a geomagnetic storm happens, often you can see faint aurora as far as 60 North. Of course, this was not really a very big storm, so all my eye sees is the dark sky with the 7 sisters and the milky way.

But the D7000 sees a lot more.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003261xl.jpg

Every now and then faint glow comes through
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003262xl.jpg

Sometimes, its brighter
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003263xl.jpg

And ...
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003270xl.jpg

And sometimes there is nothing there
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003272xl.jpg

All still and starry
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003274xl.jpg

For the first time every, we have seen the Aurora, and we do not even know it. Infact, even after the clicks, I never realized it. Only after processing the RAWs, it became apparent.

What would we have done, if had known what was happening. Well, we would have taken our cooper, rushed up the Sognefjellet route to the top of the mountain 50kms away and spent the night looking northwards.

But then, we did not know. So I did the next best thing. I made a time lapse.
13 seconds only, but then I feel, good things come in small packages.. don't they?
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Old 20th December 2013, 12:29   #146
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Default Day 5 : The Fall

Luster is listed as one of the most beautiful places in Norway. We have been staying at a virtual paradise for more than two days, and guess what, we have seen a lot but not whats around us.
With the last "sun" day its time to dedicate this day to Luster and Around.

We finish up our Breakfast stuff, and then head out. So what do we see first? Lemme see. Feigumfossen waterfall? Yes. That tall huge waterfall visible from across Viki Camping.
Its one of the most popular waterfalls of norway, and definitely among the most scenic.
And its quite near. 2kms of Kayaking would take us across our Fjord to the other end.

Well who am I kidding. 2kms of Kayaking. If we were Olympic Kayakers, we would have done so, but then we are not.
So what next. Well drive of course.

This means 35kms of easy driving. Around the Fjord. Now you realize why so many people take ferries. 35kms vs 2kms.

There is no ferry to be taken here, so its the Road. The narrow winding road.

The sun has come up nice and bright, though some fog still sits on our Fjord.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003278xl.jpg

In the sky, cirrus sits like the harbinger of rain and grey, so we better hurry!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003279xl.jpg

The road is narrow, but lonely, and it has the same wonderful 80kmph limit most of the time.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003280xl.jpg

We reach the "Parking" spot, and from here, we must trek.
The fall is less than a km away, and the mist has made everything wet. But its a climb. A steep wet moss lined climb, where one fall can break your crown
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01240xl.jpg

So with extreme caution, we proceed upwards. The camera has to be tucked securely, and clicks are few.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01241xl.jpg

We walk along the river, going up, sometimes on 2 limbs and sometimes on 4
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003281xl.jpg

The forest is so dense that its actually dark in here
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003282xl.jpg

It takes us over 20 minutes. Falling, slipping, and hanging on to our dear life.
And finally we are at the Fall viewpoint
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003284xl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01242xl.jpg

We look everywhere, but there is no path leading right to the bottom. But even at this distance, the mist hits.
We decide to spend little time here. There is lots to cover, and downhill is often more treacherous!
Fog has now covered the Fjord. Weather changes in Norway every minute
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003286xl.jpg

The Rocky Path
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003287xl.jpg

And the river Gushing by
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003290xl.jpg

As we approach the bottom, we again pass the sheep. However, this time they decide to sing a song for us. A full chorus of exited bleeting
Welcome to our land, they seem to say
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01247xl.jpg

Now, can you give us some treats?
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01249xl.jpg

For us too!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01251xl.jpg

Or maybe not?
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01252xl.jpg

We decide not to share our sandwitches... And they don't look too happy
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01253xl.jpg

Luckily, there is a fence between us and them, so we won't be thrown into the rapids
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003292xl.jpg

And after our brief bleaty encounter with sweater and coat, we make our way back to the road. Its time for our next Adventure
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003294xl.jpg
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Old 6th January 2014, 13:56   #147
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

More than 15 days and not a single update yet.
Sir, do you want us to grovel and plead now
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Old 6th January 2014, 14:00   #148
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

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More than 15 days and not a single update yet.
Sir, do you want us to grovel and plead now
Sorry!
Was traveling. Will start posting from today evening again
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Old 14th January 2014, 10:06   #149
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Sir Still waiting for you to continue. Please let us know if you are back.
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Old 14th January 2014, 11:00   #150
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Default Day 5 #2 : The Urnes Stave Churches

History is often told through words. Words on parchments, words on walls. Words preserved. Some remain, some are forgotten.
And sometimes, history leaves behind its artifacts. Here and there, stand buildings, built by our ancestors. Still standing.
India is no stranger to History. 1000 year old stone forts and castles still stand, still defiant.
However, Norway has something special. Millennium old buildings. So how do these differ from ours. They are not made of stone. These are made of wood.
These are the Stave Churches.
A millennia ago, many such were built all over Europe, and today, just the Norwegian churches Survive. Right near the waterfall is the Urnes Stave church. The oldest of them all.

The last man standing.
It was build 3 times, with the last build in early 12th century. Its still standing. In all its glory.

And to this Church we must drive.
So we make our way along the Fjord, through apple orchards. All ripe for picking. Mouth waters you know, and I make a silent wish. Wish we had kilograms and kilograms of these.

But enough of apples, its time to view the Church. To go inside, there is a ticket. However, outside... there is none. Guess what we choose to do!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003295xl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003296xl.jpg

Next to the Church is its very own Graveyard. And buried here are probably even those who built it
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003297xl.jpg

This is as far as we go.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003298xl.jpg

The Church may be dwarfed by many ancient wonders of the world, but to see something made of timber, stand the test of time and the fury of nature, is amazing. Today we feel proud if our 20 year old apartment building made with the finest technology of the modern world does not crumble at the slightest shake of the Earth. And here is something, our ancestors built, without technology, without science. Just a will to build

With these thoughts, we had back to our mini, parked at the village
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003300xl.jpg

We drive down, and the apples call again. I cannot resist. And we stop. But its rude to pluck.
Thankfully, we find the owners, right there, harvesting some. A few words are exchanged, and we don't really speak each others language, but its not hard to explain what you want, and soon, we have 2 apples each.

The joy of being a frugal traveler is that even the small things give you immense happiness. And these apples are by no means small. Just like the Pears of Oslo, these are sweet like honey. I never thought anything could beat the flavor and freshness of the red Kashmiri, but these ones... are on a different celestial plane.

Our hunger is not not satisfied, its grown manifold. No matter what the cost, we have to rush to the market to get some of these gems.

But Norway as other plans.
And on the long lonely road, I slam the brakes.

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003302xl.jpg

You may thing its because of the Microsoft wallpaper like Scenery, but its not. Its for the Apple tree.
Going all alone. On the "Public side" of the road.
Hundreds of apples weigh down the branches, and hundreds more have fallen down under their weight.

Norway has decided to gift us a treat, and soon, we have a sack full of apples in our boot.

Today's day is going well. Very well
So off we go. With P4 norge playing some rock, red huts lining the landscape
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003303xl.jpg

Cirrus painting the sky
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003305xl.jpg

And apples in our boot.
Its not even 2 in the afternoon, and we are back at our Chalet. Apple Crepes.. anyone?
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