After leaving Oslo we set off for Lillehammer in eastern Norway, the home of the 1994 Winter Olympics. We had an idea to catch some snow and test our vans in winter conditions, but other than that, we had no real plans or clues as to what Lillehammer would have in store. Lucky really….. Lillehammer on an Easter weekend, has nothing in store…… The road up is a pleasant drive through many small towns and villages, past crazy cyclists and runners (it was about -2 degrees). We also found our first snow!
We arrived and found some over priced camping, albeit a nice site with some good views of the slightly plain Fjord. Although it was Easter and the start of the holidays, most of the facilities were shut but the site still charged the holiday rate? Also, it mostly rained….
Looking at the coming weather patterns, we elected to partly retrace our steps and head towards the west coast over the mountains to Bergen, but due to the distance and the likely conditions expected on route, we reluctantly agreed on breaking the journey at Flåm. The route through the mountains was stunning, really stunning. There was a lot of snow, with the sky starting out quite grey and uninspiring. After a while the clouds broke and we were treated to beautiful snowscapes and brilliant sunshine. The roads were pretty icy and we had a near miss with one van dramatically getting its tail out on a slippy hill! No harm done though, just a few extra heartbeats….
We made it to Flåm after crossing through the longest road tunnel in the World, the Laerdal Tunnel: 24.5km long, split 12.5km steeply down and 12km steeply up…. not what Gloria the elderly 1.6TD van wanted to hear. High revs and second gear gets awfully loud and smoky when you’re under a mountain…..
Flåm itself is not an inspiring town, being created to service the cruise ships coming into the Aurlandsfjord, but the campsite is great and very friendly, just two minutes from town. And what a location! There are some must do activities, such as taking the Fjord cruise, or heading up the mountains on the impressive Flåmsbana railway (named the Lonely Planets most incredible train journey 2014!). There is also a small free railway museum, several walks, a small supermarket, a cracking bakery for fresh bread and delicious giant cookies, plus a Viking styled bar with a micro brewery on site – very nice, but wow, very expensive! We elected to take the cruise onboard a small electric cruise ship and we’re glad we did. Tickets for everything are available in a large ticket office in the town centre. Book early as they sell out and for the cruise it’s the bus service to the start point that sells out first. You can get a taxi there for about the same price and still make the cruise, something the office didn’t tell us about.
We loved the fresh air and breathtaking views, staying for a couple of days. Next stop, Bergen.