Balestrand had been mostly closed down on the Sunday evening when we’d arrived, but Monday morning was more promising. Trimming down our baggage for the trip to Fjaerland, we grab a quick breakfast from the Midtnes’ impressive buffet, watching as the sun breaks through the heavy cloud, sending lances of sunlight down upon the fjord to the east.
We have enough time to take a quick look around before we grab the noon ferry, so we head down the road a little, to the bronze statue of King Bele, one of the main figures in a local saga – the more notable figure, Frijtoft(?), has a much larger statue across the water in Varanges. Eventually, having stocked up on provisions at the local store, we catch the ferry. Here we enjoy another benefit of our off-season travel – we’re the only ones taking the trip this morning.
The rain and the design of the ferry keep us downstairs, and it’s hard to make out too much through the small windows, but it’s clear that as we head north through the Fjaerlandsfjord, we’re getting into even wilder terrain. The peaks are even more clearly snow-capped, and their slopes dive straight down into the water, and signs of habitation are few and far between, clinging to the interface wherever they can.
Even in the rain though, Fjaerland is a lovely little town. With a population of 280 year-round, it has a fame far outstripping its size due to its status as Norway’s first book town. Shelves crammed with second-hand books, 250,000 or so, adorn buildings from one end of Fjaerland to the other, and we spend a few hours perusing the offerings before undertaking a 2.5 kilometer trek up the narrow room to Borum, a small farming village with a campsite that is to be the last stepping stone on our way to glacier land.
We arrive a little too late to visit the local glacier museum, but early enough not to want to settle in the house we’re (once again) not sharing with anyone. Grass-roofed, these houses are rustic but comfortable, and we manage to cook a warming dinner without too much trouble. It’s much needed too – a brief attempt to cycle to the Supphellebreen glacier was beaten back by some nasty wind, rain, and, eventually, hail. Night brings its rewards though, with the moon hanging over the fjord to the south, and I enjoy the sight and the stillness before sleep claims us.