Geiranger and the terrifying Trollstigen road.

After 3 nights in wonderful  Ålesund, and watching Norwegians celebrate their Constitution Day on 17th May, it was time to move on. Our next destination was Åndalsnes on Romsdals Fjord, followed by the famous Trollstigen road.

After driving through 3 long dark tunnels, including the 4.1 mile long Innfjord tunnel we found another fantastic free overnight parking area along the side of the fjord and with breathtaking views of the mountains. Coordinates N62°34’7″, E7°45’19”.

Free overnight parking near Andalsnes in Norway.

Åndalsnes, as well as having beautiful scenery, is the start of the famous Trollstigen mountain road. We are hoping to drive over the Trollstigen road tomorrow. The road is liable to being closed at any time due to bad weather and flooding from waterfalls.

The E63 is one of Norway’s best National Tourist Routes. It runs from Åndalsnes to Geiranger over the Trollstigen mountain road. The route includes 11 hairpin bends of Trollstigen, a tunnel through a mountain, a ferry across a fjord, and the perilous hairpin bends of the Eagle Road into Geiranger itself. This final stretch downhill gave me cause for concern with my brakes as I will tell you about later!

Trollstigen means Trolls Road. A stop at the visitor centre just at the start of the steep bit!

There is a visitor centre before Trollstigen itself starts so we stopped for a browse around the shop before plucking up the courage to drive to the top which is 700 metres up 11 hairpin bends. I wouldn’t normally flinch driving a car up a narrow mountain road but driving a big motorhome is a different beast and whilst it’s not my first mountain road in a motorhome this one looked like our biggest challenge yet. As it turned out the Trollstigen road was not as bad as I had imagined.

The road is spectacular. We passed huge waterfalls and crossed narrow bridges over deep ravines before reaching the visitor centre at the top. Negotiating 11 hairpin bends was not a problem apart from one incident when the car in front decided to stop without warning in the middle of the road to admire a waterfall on a very steep incline. After that there was a hot burning smell from hot brakes, which luckily subsided as we got going again.

The 11 hairpin bends of the Trollstigen Pass mountain road, viewed from the top.

The Trollstigen road reaches a height of 700 metres where there is a visitor centre, an impressive building with a cafe and a shop, but the best bit is the walkways and viewpoint that have been built that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, waterfall and valley below. It’s not the highest point we have been to but it is one of the most impressive.

Trollstigen bridge over a raging waterfall with a motorhome driving over it.

The E63 road continued for another 35km past snow drifts and incredible scenery. I would have loved to have been driving a Top Gear type car along these roads but I was driving a 3.5 tonne motorhome instead, which was still an exciting experience. The video below is dashcam footage of our journey up Trollstigen and set to music to block out the swearing!

Eventually, after several stops to admire the wonderful views, we arrived at the small ferry port at Valldalen and took the short ferry crossing to Eidsdal. (£25 for a 7 metre motorhome). Geiranger was our next destination a distance of 23km and little did I know that we were in for a very steep descent on what is called the Ornesvingen Eagle Road, and the very steep hairpin bends would put serious strain on our brakes!

From the top of the Eagle Road we could see a huge cruise ship in Geiranger Fjord and it was at that point I realised how steep this road was going to be. On the winding descent we met tour coaches and even a double decker bus. The road sign showed a 10% gradient so I engaged 2nd gear for most of the way yet I could still feel the heavy motorhome wanting to accelerate so I needed to use my brakes a lot, but it wasn’t until I reached the campsite in Geiranger itself that I could smell hot brakes. I parked up but didn’t apply the handbrake as I had read that applying the handbrake to hot brake discs can cause a problem. Eventually, the hot brakes smell disappeared but the experience has made me think twice about driving downhill on severe gradients.

A waterfront pitch on the campsite at Geiranger. A big cruise ships sails past.

It was a relief to park up on the campsite at Geiranger. We had a beautiful waterfront pitch and we later watched a cruise ship go past, looking so close that we felt like we could touch it. The depth of water in the Geiranger Fjord reaches depths of 260 metres and it’s 100 km to the open sea. Sheer rock reaches out from the water and it truly is an incredible sight, which is one of the reasons that Geiranger is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Geiranger is one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations. The population of 200 people is swamped during the summer with an extra one million people, many of who arrive on one of the 180 or so cruise ships that arrive at Geiranger between May and October every year.

Dramatic viewpoint at the Trollstigen visitor centre in Norway.
The campsite at Geiranger, with our motorhome parked by the water.

Molde to Ålesund – And a Norwegian celebration.

After a washing and motorhome cleaning day we left the wonderful campsite at Molde, with bathrooms like hotel rooms. Our motorhome pitch had fantastic views of 220 peaks  across the fjord (so it says in the tourist information booklet) and the view is known as the Molde Panorama.

Norway celebrates the 17th May. Photo taken today 17 May 2018 in Ålesund.

I was feeling the effects of cleaning our motorhome though as I had a sore back with other aches and pains. It was hard work cleaning the outside with a waterless cleaner. I was recommended waterless washing by some motorhome touring friends, Jo and Richard, who we met at Almerimar in Spain and whilst it’s hard work it is very effective. We now have a gleaming motorhome ready for our next drive to Ålesund.

Five minutes after leaving Molde camping we were in the queue for the ferry to Vestnes. Ferries operate every 15 minutes and the electronic departure board was showing that the next ferry was leaving in 10 minutes. I had a rough idea how much the cost would be but the prices don’t seem to be advertised except online. Payment is made on the ferry once you drive on. Payment can be made by card or cash.

The Molde to Vestnes ferry took 40 minutes and cost us 420 NOK (£38.50). Our motorhome is 7 metres long. Motorhomes under 6 metres would have paid half the price.

The drive from Vestnes to Ålesund along the E39 is very pleasant and we stopped at the Norwegian supermarket chain Bunnpris to pick up a few things including a very nice box of strawberries.

Arriving in Ålesund we found a fantastic parking area right by the sea front and as I write this blog I am about 6 feet from the sea, I can hear the waves on the rocks and there is a wonderful sunset. I can also see a bank of dense fog rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a mesmorising sight. The coordinates for our motorhome parking in Ålesund are N62°28’33”,   E6°9’26”.

A foggy sunset in Ålesund, Norway.

The cost to park at Ålesund is 250 NOK per 24 hours which is about £22.80 and there are facilities including showers.

Ålesund is a town on the west coast of Norway and at the head of the famous Geiranger Fjord. The whole town of 850 wooden houses burnt down in 1904 and was rebuilt in an Art Nouveau style. It’s a popular cruise ship destination and the P&O cruise ship Britannia was in port whilst we were in Ålesund. Over 3,000 passengers were in the town and I asked one of them if they were enjoying the cruise and he said there were too many people for his liking. He said they also owned a motorhome and next time would use that to come to Norway!

View over the town of Ålesund, Norway.

One of the most popular tourist things to do in Ålesund is to walk up the 418 steps to the viewpoint overlooking the town so we did that and were rewarded with awesome views of Ålesund and the giant cruise ship Britannia at the cruise port.

Fish and chip shop in Ålesund, Norway. 130 NOK !

I’m itching to try fish and chips here in Norway to see how they compare with the Yorkshire version. I saw a fish and chip take away on the harbour at Ålesund that was advertising “Probably the world’s best fish and chips” but when I saw the price of £12 my Yorkshireman instinct kicked in and I had to say no!

The 17th of May is Norway’s Constitution Day and a public holiday. It’s a day of national celebration of the Norwegian history and culture and we were in Ålesund to see the colourful event, and what a privilege it was to be there. Everyone was either wearing traditional Norwegian costumes or smartly dressed and it seemed like the whole of Ålesund was there to take part. Norwegians are proud of their flag and nearly everyone was waving one. It made me want to be Norwegian because we don’t have as much patriotism on display in the UK as I think we should have. Marching bands, children singing, adults waving flags and a procession that took at least an hour to pass, with everyone smiling and looking happy. I can see now why Norwegians have a reputation for being happy. Maybe it’s also because the children eat ice cream on the 17th May!

Norwegians celebrate the 17th May.
Alesund on 17th May.
Our motorhome in Alesund, Norway.
Kayakers in Alesund, Norway.
Alesund, Norway
A walk out in the evening sunshine at Alesund, Norway.
P&O Britannia at Alesund. The ship can take 3647 passengers.

Driving the Atlantic Road in Norway with a motorhome.

After a night in Trondheim, Norway, we set off heading south on the E39 highway. This coastal road is 830 miles long and actually ends in Denmark. There are a total of 7 ferry crossings included on the route, as well as the famous Atlantic Road, which is the subject of this blog.

The amazing Atlantic Road bridge in Norway.

Passing through several tunnels and winding its way through snow capped mountain passes and along spectacular fjords the road is every bit as to how you might imagine a road in Norway to look. We stopped several times to admire the view before stopping for the night at a free motorhome parking area at Halsa. (Coordinates N63°4’6″ E8°13’54”)

Halsa free overnight stop.

Ferries in Norway

Halsa is one of the many places where we needed to catch a ferry across Halsafjorden to reach Kanestraum. Ferries are an inevitable form of transport in Norway. They save drivers many miles circumnavigating the large fjords. The cost of ferries depends on the length of your vehicle. For example, on the Halsa ferry the cost for a vehicle up to 6 metres long with 2 passengers is £14 and between 6 and 7 metres length the cost is £28 so there is a considerable difference in the ferry price if your motorhome is over 6 metres, which ours is! Even the local bus , number 905 to Trondheim used the ferry as you can see below.

Halsa ferry.

The Halsa to Kanestraum ferry takes about 20 minutes and we then followed the E39 highway before turning off at the 70 towards Kristiansund. This road included two incredible 5.7km tunnels, one of which was so steep it was hard to keep the speed within the limit.

The Atlantic Road – The worlds best road trip

The Atlantic Road has been ranked the worlds best road trip by The Guardian and the Norwegian people voted the road ‘the construction of the century’. The road was opened in 1989 and a series of 8 bridges connects small islands on the edge of The Atlantic Ocean. The road runs between Kristiansund and Bud. There are many places to stop and we found another free overnight parking spot overlooking the sea. Coordinates N63° 1′ 16.9″ E7°22’56”

Our motorhome parked up on The Atlantic Road in Norway.

The iconic Storseisundet bridge on The Atlantic Road in Norway is the longest and most stunning of the 8 bridges that connect the islands. When we were there in May, the weather was clear and calm but during the many storms the area has the spray can often reach the bridge span itself. The drive on this road is an unforgettable experience. The scenery is stunning. The motorhome overnight stops are fantastic and there are plenty of free service points at supermarkets and petrol stations.

I made a short You Tube video of our drive on The Atlantic Road that you can see below.

Driving over the Atlantic Road bridge in a motorhome.
Pedestrian walkway on The Atlantic Road, Norway

We ended our 2 day journey at Molde and decided to spend 2 nights on a campsite so we could do our washing. The washing machine wasn’t great and struggled to cope with the contents of our washing bag but the view from our motorhome absolutely made up for it. I wonder whether I’ll get bored of these views? I’ll let you know in another 5 weeks when we leave Norway and head back to the UK.

Our motorhome on the Molde campsite in Norway.