Day Four – Fjaerland to Balestrand

We’re up as early as seems sensible – we have some cycling to do and, fortunately, the rain has decided to leave us in peace. It’s not too long a cycle – only 7 kilometers – but there’s an uphill slope most of the way, and for two people who haven’t cycled in much too long, it’s not an easy trek.

The sights and the clear mountain air are more than enough reward though. You begin to get a feeling for the people who have lived here for centuries, adapting themselves to the wildness of the seasons and the massive geography, which is so inspiring and sparing with the rich soil needed to survive. It’s easy to see how the Norse myths of gods, elves, and dwarfs were born. This is a land built for giants, to inspire those same myths I loved as a child and am reading through again as I travel here.

Our first sight of the Boyarbreen glacier is of it cresting the saddle between two peaks ahead of us. Just a fingertip of the mighty Jostedalsbreen glacier, itself the mightiest remnant of the last ice age, it’s impressive enough on its own, though one can’t help to think of climate change and glacial retreat when you see it suspended on the mountainside. The nearby cafe offers photos showing just how much that retreat has taken from it in the last century, and even in the last 15 years. We make our way down to the meltwater pool at the glacier’s base, which offers by far the best look at the massive bowl that the Boyarbreen carved out of the mountains at the height of its strength.

Time passes though, and we’re on a schedule today. We grab our bikes and enjoy a freewheeling journey down the valley, back to and through Borum, with its sheep, cows and tractors. Leaving off our bikes, we pack up, check out and head to the glacier museum. Once again, we’re on our own as we enter, and are treated to a massive panoramic movie that takes us flying all across the Jostedalsbreen. It’s a magical 18 minutes, despite the occasional intrusion of soft jazz into the soundtrack, as we’re shown the mighty glacier and its many branches, the tunnels under it and the valleys it carves through. If anything makes me want to come back here, it’s this.

The museum isn’t finished with us though. There are exhibits aplenty, mostly on glaciers, but also on Otzi the Iceman. We spend as much time as we can afford to poring though the information ahead of us, then it’s time to shoulder bags again and make the trek down to Fjaerland. There we have time for Norwegian waffles and hot chocolate (inspiring me to pick up a waffle iron for future breakfasts), before catching the ferry back to Balestrand (a trip during which, wonder of wonders, we have the company of several other tourists!).

It’s early, but not too early, and we’re at something of a loss. We take a look around the Kviknes Hotel and its impressive waterfront, but before long we’re settled back in Midtnes, enjoying a dinner of smoked pork and a few games of pool before heading bedwards.

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