The shuttle bus from the airport to Stavanger is running slightly late. It’s a mild hiccup at 01.00 after a late Friday night flight from Gatwick. Norway redeems itself as the bus driver takes a detour just so he can politely drop me off outside my hotel!
I wake a few hours later and Tonny, a mate from Copenhagen, meets me for breakfast. There’s no time to waste so we jump straight into the rental car and work our way east towards Lysefjorden. It’s a hilly, green landscape with water everywhere and actually reminds me of Wales. However, we approach a ferry crossing and suddenly the mountains grow and the fjords are everything I hoped for.
We reach the parking area at the base of Preikestolen and already the views are impressive as dark rocks rise vertically from the valley floor around us. The weather is completely random. It literally changes every few minutes, from torrential rain to blue skies, and everything in between. I’ve never seen so many rainbows and with the dark clouds, it creates some stunning scenery.
The trek to Preikestolen is not particularly long, but it’s reasonably steep in places. Furthermore, with the constantly changing weather, it’s very wet and many of the rocky paths are flooded with small streams. It’s the best of both worlds; the landscape is vibrant and green, yet since it’s near the end of summer, it’s not packed with tourists.
The higher we climb, the better the views of the fjords, especially along the ‘cliff route’ near the peak. However, nothing could have prepared me for the Preikestolen: It’s an absolutely perfect example of nature at its best. The views into and along the fjord are impressive enough, but the sheer vertical drop from where I’m standing is incredible. It’s like a giant has taken an axe to the cliff edges and sliced away huge, clean chunks off the mountain. Better still, is the weather. One minute the sun is shining brightly and the rocks appear to illuminate, causing a breathtaking view high above the water below. A few minutes later and it’s absolutely chucking it down, with clouds smothering the entire area. It’s such a strange feeling as my photos make it look like I’ve visited several times, in completely different seasons.
Of course, with such a surreal cliff edge, spirits are high amongst the (few) tourists that area there. Near the edge, a couple play tennis, a lady does yoga, and everyone else lowers themselves so they’re dangling over the nerve-racking drop. I obviously do a project jump, and that sets off another tourist from Australia, who hands me her camera and says ‘I want one like that!’
We stay for ages and take a ridiculous number of photos of this natural wonder. I really can’t begin to describe the feeling of sticking my head over the edge and staring down into the 604m abyss!
It’s a slightly different and equally impressive walk down the ‘hill route’ and as the weather continues to play games, it’s actually laughable how many rainbows I see.
Back at the car, we’re approached by the two tennis players who are tourists from Oslo and have missed the last bus to Stavanger. We give them a ride and as they slug back a bottle of Bacardi, they are grateful for the lift back to the city.
After a quick shower, we go to a highly recommended Indian restaurant and stuff ourselves silly. Whilst I’d love to go out Norwegian style, it has been a long day and tomorrow is an early start.