Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Viking Taxi

Aaron has spent a lot of time on Google Earth looking at mountains in Norway. One of the places he hoped we would go is the famous diving board rock lookout, but unfortunately it is inaccessible in the winter. We found that there is an alternative, man-made lookout above Aurland, close to our home-base in Flåm so we called a taxi to bring us up. Our taxi pulled up, predictably a Volvo, and I looked in to find a long-haired, beard-down-to-his-lap cab driver. Boy did he looked like a Viking! Shortly into the drive we discovered that he is in fact a Viking chieftain for the region. At the moment he is between Viking re-enactment jobs and is driving a taxi. Only in Norway do you get an out of work Viking driving you around in a taxi. As you might expect, it was awesome having a Viking taxi driver and also quite scary. I think that accurately describes Vikings in general, awesome and scary. He pointed out Viking burial mounds along the way. He showed us an amazing photo of himself in his Viking garb. He told us of his Viking plans to build a Viking village funded in part by Ted Turner whom he had spent a day rowing Viking ships. He gave us his Viking business card and then scared the pants off us driving at breakneck speeds up narrow, steep, icy winding roads. When we started up the mountain, the road narrowed to only one lane and the steep drop into the abyss was a little unnerving. Jason asked meekly, "um, where is the other lane for this road?" At which point we learned this was in fact both lanes and that Vikings don't need two full lanes up mountain roads. Though he did acknowledge that things got dicey in the summer with the tour busses. Further up the mountain, the road was blanketed with snow but the speed of the car remained unchanged. From the back seat I wondered if these were my last moments on earth, but then became distracted form my fear looking at the farms perched on these impossibly steep slopes. What in God's green earth are they farming up here? These people are ridiculously tough and their livestock must be in Olympic shape. In spite of my worries of sliding off the road our Viking driver never lost traction and delivered us safely to the overlook. The views were spectacular but with the icy wind and a cough-y kid, we didn't last long. On the way back to the village we had our Viking driver drop us off at a 16th century farm. He knew the owner and tried calling her to see if she was around to show us the place and make us waffles, but unfortunately she wasn't around. We explored on our own and then walked the mile and half along the fjord back to the village. After lunch we boarded the Sonjefjord Ferry at 3:00 for a trip through the narrowest fjord in the world to Gudvangen. We bundled in all of our clothes and watched gorgeous scenery pass by in the twilight. In Gudvangen we hopped on a bus and then a train which brought us to Bergen on the western shore of Norway.

Click here for photos.

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