Friday, September 5, 2014

The Trollstigen

The good stuff just keeps coming in Norway! Just the last couple of days we looked at a massive glacier, rode the amazing 258 road, went into the most beautiful fjord in the world; the Geiranger and now we had the Trollstigen to look forward to. Distances between all these beauties aren't very big either. We left early in the morning and arrived at the Trollstigen before lunch. Oh, and did I mention there is a great ferry ride through a fjord in between? Well, there is!

We were lucky too. The ferry was about to leave when we arrived, a stressed out person in a BMW car passed us on the ferry terminal, trying to get the last spot. The guys loading the ferry were having non of it though and signalled us to come on board. The car owner had to wait a long time for the next ferry too :-) Being last on the ferry means a whole pack of motorhomes in front of you. As we weren't in a hurry we stopped just after the ferry for a couple of photos and let the wheelie bins rattle away :-)

The Trollstigen was the main attraction but the road towards the Trollstigen is beautiful as well! Just before the Trollstigen is a plateau surrounded by rugged mountains and wild flowing rivers. It seems that it doesn't really matter where in Norway you are or which road you take, as there is amazing scenery everywhere.

Just before the Trollstigen used to be a simple parking area and a walking track which overlooked the valley and the Trollstigen below. That has been replaced in recent years by a full visitor centre and a series of viewing platforms. Very well done too. The views are now even better as the platforms hang 'over' the rocks, which means you can look straight down into the valley below.

There were a lot of motorcycles going up and down the Trollstigen when we were there. Sportsbikes, Adventure bikes, tourers and even two sidecars. The first sidecar I have ever seen that was based on a BMW800GS. A properly done off-road sidecar combination with lots of 'smart' details. The rider, a woman of a certain age, knew how to handle it too. Great stuff! 

The Trollstigen road was opened in 1936 and took 8 years to built. That it took 8 years to built is hardly surprising as it's a narrow road with an elevation of 850 metres in pretty harsh terrain. The road is closed from October to May, or longer depending on weather. It has several viewing areas that overlook the valley and the Stigfossen waterfall, which at 320 metres high is pretty impressive by itself.

Before riding the Trollstigen, it's best to have a look at the traffic on the road. It's not highway one of course but buses can easily get stuck when they meet at hairpins. Going down it's not such a problem but going up can be! Buses crawl up at lower speed than most motorcycles can maintain. When coming from the north, there is a parking area just before the climb that gives a good view at the Trollstigen. Great place for a photo too. Have a look for buses and if there is one crawling up, just wait a while and enjoy the view before going up yourself.

The vague plan had been to camp somewhere around Andalsnes. The first campground we found wasn't much, the second stated on their sign that they had tent spots but we have no idea where and the reception was closed, the third was stupidly overpriced… by then I began to wonder if this was one of those days that finding a campground was going to take a while… Just a bit further on we found one though and it had a couple of strange surprises for us in stock as well! More on which in the next post.