First let me explain the title of todays post. Between the towns of Laerdal and Aurland there is a famous tunnel. It is the longest road tunnel in the world at 15.23 miles (24.51km) in length. The tunnel opened in 2000 and made obsolete the original road between these two town that traveled over the mountains reaching over 4000'. That original road still exists and is called locally the snow road (I don't under stand why it is called that as when it is snowing is the very last time one would want to use that road). But never the less it has become a tourist attraction in its own right. We read some weeks back in our LonelyPlanet guide book the following statement about driving the snow road "the drive was worth the messy pants" Giving us the hint that the road would be steep, narrow and probably a little scary. Well this morning we got to the town of Laerdal and it was time for us to try the Snow road.
It lived up to our expectations of narrowness. Climbing from the Laerdal side the road was, on average, only just over the width of our vehicle but with frequent but irregular wider patches for passing. Mercifully however the road also passed through low forest so the steepness was not really apparent. On top of the mountain the scene was bleak, tree less, raining and with some residual winter snow. But the descent into Aurland is the real icing on the cake. the last section of the descent is marked by a small parking area with a look out from which it is possible to look directly down onto the town. A protruding platform has been built here to ensure that tourists like us get the most dramatic view. From this lookout the road descends in a series of tight switch backs into the town. Except for an occasional passing spot the road is very narrow, in places not wide enough for pedestrians and a single vehicle. On one side a steep rock face and on the other side a steep fall-off down to the town and generally without guard rail or any form of fencing. Quite exhilarating. But we are pleased to report no messy pants. Though I admitted to Nina after the drive that I had not seen much of the scenery.
Did I mention that we started the day by visiting a local medieval church, called a stave church to denote the particular style of wooden construction. The one we saw at Borgund this morning was from the 12th century.
From Aurland we drove along the coast the short distance to the town of Flam. We were surprised and relieved by the size of the campground as there was plenty of room for our truck amongst the hundreds of people staying there. After a little walk around town it became apparent that the campground is the biggest establishment in the town.
Good facilities, nice hot showers, washing machines, kitchen and full dump facilities. But like other things in Norway pretty expensive at 265 NOK (US$40) a night + electricity.