Breaking dad – 10 days road tripping Norway!
Why embark on a camping trip with a toddler you might wonder? Our original plan was to stay at a nice resort somewhere exotic, but we made a last-minute decision to spend our holiday traveling our own country for once, due to the unusual tropical weather we were experiencing in May. As we didn’t have much time to plan the trip, we thought it would be a good idea to be flexible, thus ended up with the decision on a Camper van. With a Van, you are free to go where the sun smiles, and stay for as short or long as you want, without having to pre-book anything. With beds, a kitchen, a shower and toilet, you also have everything you need with you at all times, including a lot of room for luggage, and even bicycles. Sounds kind of great and easy doesn´t it? At least daddy thought so, and after a little bit of convincing, mommy was unpacking her new Ibiza style dresses, and swopping them for comfy sweatpants and hiking clothes.
The preliminary route we mapped out, was the West Coast of Norway, as it is not too far away from Oslo and at the West Coast you´ll find some of the most stunning scenery and fjords of Norway. Beautiful nature experiences – here we come!
Night one: Aandalsnes. We started out from Oslo around 5 pm. After looking at the iPad for 2 hours, our son fell asleep and slept all the way up to Aandalnses, a 6 hour drive from Oslo. Thanks god for Peppa Pig and her friends! It was a long stretch, but then we didn’t have to drive so much the upcoming days.
In Aandalnes we found a really nice camping site by a river, surrounded by tall mountains, called “Aandalsnes Camping”. As it was May, it was not busy at all, and we found a nice spot by ourselves.
Day one. The following day, we went on a super cool hike which took us from 0 – 1640 feet above sea level in 1 ½ hours. It was actually the hardest hike we did on the trip and mommy almost died on the way up 😉
The hike was called « Rampestreken » and had a really nice view point at the top where you can see through the ground you are standing on. Guess who didn’t dear to go all the way out? Tough Daddy 😉
If you embark on this trip with small children you really need to bring some kind of carrier, as its quite a steep walk. We only brought our MiniMeis shoulder carrier on our trip, and this worked perfectly with a good break at the top for all three of us. After a rapid descent down to sea level, we went into the town of Aandalsnes, which is small but cute. You´ll find some playgrounds here, and there are some nice beaches around.
Day two. After a morning play at both playgrounds at the camping site, (they were actually really impressing!), we left the camping site around midday when Leon was going to have his nap. Our drive this day quickly took us to Trollstigen, “The Trolls road”, which is one of the most famous tourists roads in Norway. This road is a visual feast to drive on as it curves its way up the mountain like a snake. At the top, at 2815 feet above sea level, there are paths and steps leading to viewpoints and a cleverly designed platform where you can see all the way down the mountainside. Not today! The top was covered in white fog when we drove up there, so there was no view to be seen. At all. As Leon was still sleeping, we just kept on driving, both a bit bummed out. Trying to be uber positiv, it was still a cool experience with the fog, as it made the drive all the more mystical…
After driving over the mountains past people with skies on their feet, and jumping on a short, lovely ferry trip, we made it to the viewpoint of what is often referred to as the “Queen of the fjords”, Geiranger fjord. Here we were in luck with no fog and the view was absolutely breathtaking! The description of Geiranger can with good conscious be quoted from VisitNorway like this: “A fairytale landscape with majestic, snow-covered mountain tops, wild and beautiful waterfalls, lush green vegetation and a deep, blue fjord.
At the lookout, Eagle’s Bend, we took some pics with Leon in the MiniMeis, waving to all the smiling Japanese tourists. From there you can see the magnificent « Seven Sister´s » waterfall, and if you like, there is also a little waterfall by the road that you can cool down in. (If you ever need to cool down in Norway;)
Afterwards we set out to drive down the Eagle´s road. This is yet another road curved like a snake with 11 hairpin turns. At the bottom, you´ll find the charming tourist village of Geiranger, some camping sites, restaurants, hotels, and unfortunately some really big mega cruise ships, if you´re in bad luck, like we were. We managed to relax a bit by the fjord and did a nice walk up the waterfall there, but after that we got so fed up by looking at the mega cruise ships, that we fled Geiranger. (In the future, we really hope for much stronger regulations in the cruise industry for these fragile natural heritage sites.)
With the hurry to get out of Geiranger, we managed to forget to stop at one of the most photographed views in Norway = Flydalsjuvet. Here you can get an epic shot of yourself standing on top of a precarious-looking rock, hanging high over the fjord. Epic mistake on our part! And a good reason to go back sometime, when there is hopefully no mega ships in sight..
After feeling a bit bummed out about the current state of Geiranger, we were in luck, and ended up finding a remote spot to camp up in the mountains, in the direction towards Stryn. Here Leon had a luxury spa bath amongst white capped mountain tops. When he fell asleep for the night, it was warm enough for us so enjoy dinner and wine outside the van in totally stillness and serenity. Bliss! The photo below to the right is taken at around 11pm. A super nice thing about Norway in the summer is the almost ever present midnight sun!
Day three. We woke up and did a little walk in the area. There were some really cool middle aged looking cabins close to where we camped, so daddy did what daddies do = climbed on top of one, with Leon in the MiniMeis. Then mommy did what mommies do, took some pictures, and then commanded them down again. We were really curious about these cabins as there were no signs and no one staying or living there. But sometimes mysteries are best kept memories when remaining just that = a mystery.
After todays drive, we arrived at Loen skylift, at the inner part of Nordfjord, in the heart of Fjord Norway. We had been so much looking forward to this, as this is a gondola which takes you from sea to sky in just 5 min, sky being 3316 feet above sea level. It´s also possible to hike up, but we wanted to save our energy for hiking at the top;)
At the top, Leon was eager to run around and play in the snow and small rivers, so we swapped around with carrying him in the MiniMeis to actually get some ground covered, and then let him play a bit along the way. The easy MiniMeis lift up – lift down system came very in handy.
As the sun was very strong this day, it was super to go inside the mountain top restaurant after the hike, and enjoy the views and delicious food in the comfort of aircon and shade. Ha ha, when do we ever escape the sun in Norway!? It was so hot that mommy even got convinced by a young waiter to buy a 5 euro Olden water bottle, with the exact same water she had just filled her bottle with, outside in the small rivers. When in Rome?… Daddy was not happy! We got recommended by a lovely family to stay at “Pluscamp Sande Camping”, a 30 min drive away from the skylift, which we did.
This campsite was very popular and quite small, but we still found a place by the water for our van. We were almost dying of the heat at this point, so it was nice to chill on the little camping beach and cool down in the super refreshing fjord water. The campsite also had a nice playground for Leon. This was the first time on the trip that we felt like a proper camping family, and not being sure about how to feel about that;) When Leon fell asleep for the night, we could sit in our camping chairs and enjoy dinner and wine with the most spectacular view of the fjord, mountains, waterfalls, and a bright moon reflecting in the water = super enjoying to be campers… a lot of mixed feelings here!
Mommy was getting a bid fed up by sleeping in the van.
Read second part of the roadtrip here!
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