It was a Thursday night, and I had just arrived into Oslo, Norway, by plane from Poland. I met my friend Bjørn in the city center and then we headed to his apartment to make plans- not just any plans, but a road trip. Robyn, another friend of mine who was studying in Oslo, came up with the idea, and Bjørn was able to take time off work last minute. All three of us were off to see Trolltunga, the rock formation made recently popular by Instagram photos and the like.
We departed the next day in the early afternoon in an old Saab Bjørn was able to borrow. The plan was to take a more southern route on the way to Trolltunga and a more northerly route back.
The first stop of interest was the Heddal Stave Church, a medieval wooden church which legend says was built by a troll. Coincidentally, we found out that it was the largest stave church in the world!
Unfortunately during the next part of the drive the weather made a turn for the worse. We stopped at a viewpoint that Bjørn suggested called Ravnejuv, but were only greeted by mist and clouds atop a cliff. We continued to drive, and passed over a high, treeless mountain plateau with countless sheep. We were in an area where there were quite a few Norwegian getaway cabins and lodges, and the interesting thing about them was that most of them had grassy roofs, unlike anything I had ever seen.
Eventually we reached our lodge for the night in Håra, the cheapest we could find in the area. Little did we know that it would have an amazing mountan view- a great value! We had a room to ourselves but met some Germans and Russians in the shared kitchen. Overall, it was a pretty low-key night.
The next morning we took off again- passing a waterfall on the side of the road called Låtefossen. The waterfall was, in fact, so close to the side of the road that everything was soaked with mist and puddles.
We continued onwards along a lake with a large glacier atop the mountains on the other side, passed many more waterfalls, and eventually reached the town of Odda, at the tip of a fjord. We had reached the western coast of Norway, in a way! It was only a few more miles of driving up to the trailhead, where we had booked an AirBnB with a parking spot near the trailhead.
We then began the grueling 28 kilometer/17.5 mile roundtrip hike up to Trolltunga. We were off to a late start- we had planned it that way because we wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible and we had a reserved parking spot so we could start as late as we wanted without worrying about the trailhead lot filling up.
The trail began on a switchbacking road, then climbed further through a valley full of more Norwegian vacation homes before reaching a high point and then winding along the side of a cliff overlooking a large lake far below. Beautiful views were numerous. In the evening we reached Trolltunga, and despite our efforts to avoid crowds there was still a line of folks who were waiting to walk out onto the iconic rock and take photos. After exploring the area and going out onto the “troll tongue” ourselves, Robyn, Bjørn, and I started a leisurely trek back, stopping in several spots to get a view of the magnificent valley below.
By the time we got back, it was almost 11 in the evening, and we were quite hungry. We drove into town and discovered that everything was closed, except for a cash only burger joint. In our starving and exasperated states, we trekked to an ATM and withdrew some cash before finally getting our mouths fed with tasty burgers. I would say the burger I had was one of the best I have ever eaten, it was quite unique since it had corn inside and some spices only found in Norway. It may have also been because I was so hungry, who knows.
After spending the night again in our room near the trailhead, we continued our drive the next day. We passed along many more fjords (one with an impressive bridge spanning it), through many more tunnels (one with a roundabout inside), and by many more grass-roofed building (one with goats on top).
Eventually we reached a very impressive waterfall called Vøringfossen, and Bjørn and I hiked a mile or so along a trail to its base, where we got soaked with mist.
Next, after driving through numerous more tunnels (did I mention that the infastructure in Norway is amazing?) and climbing many more meters, we found ourselves atop a high mountain plain with a huge glacier off in the distance.
We continued driving eastward towards Oslo, but made a pit-stop to visit Bjørn’s girlfriend Leva who was living with her father in a town about two hours north of Oslo in a nice farming area near a big lake. After a quick dinner and walk around the woods on their property as it was getting darker- it never gets completely dark in Norway in the summer- we began our final leg of the drive back to Oslo. Overall, it was a very successful trip and a great way to get a glimpse of what this beautiful country has to offer!