Friday, December 9, 2011

July 1

Bridges, Tunnels and Ferries
This bridge connects two Lofoten islands, Vågan and Gimsøya
Ferry en route from Eisdal to
Linge, enroute from
Gerainger to Alesund
You can't get there from here unless you take the ferry.

On our trip from Bergen to Trondheim via Loen, Ålesund, and Kristiansund we took no fewer than five ferries as part of our designated highway route. Some were as a short as 10 minutes, one was almost an hour.When you travel in fjord country it is difficult to avoid the ferries, despite the hundreds of billions of oil kroners invested in bridges and tunnels.

The ferries, particularly the ones that operate as the water link of major highways, offer frequent service, sometimes every 10 minutes. All offer seating in salons, and those that take 15 or 20 minutes to make their crossing have food service; on our ferry into Molde, even though it was only a 20 minute crossing, many passengers formed a long queue for food and beverages.

One of our ferry trips could have been avoided, but the 50-minute sailing up the Gerainger fjord to the town of the same name boasts dramatic scenery. As Jean Sue remarked, "Now THIS is a fjord!"

Although Norway has long been a bridge and tunnel building nation, it went on a spree with some of the proceeds from the oil boom. That investment turned the island of Radøy, from whence Jean Sue's family hails, into a long commute from Bergen rather than a six-hour bus-ferry-bus-ferry journey.

Before entering just about any tunnel there will be a sign announcing the mountain or waterway it burrows under, the width of the tube, the length of the tunnel, and the frequency to tune to for Norwegian state radio's primary program. Even the mile-long long Napp tunnel between two of the Lofoten islands featured radio and cellphone service. Tunnels of all but the shortest length include emergency turnouts (some are large enough for buses) and frequently spaced emergency phones and fire-fighting stations.

One of the engineering feats of which Norwegians are proudest is the Atlantic Road, a series of causeways and graceful bridges south of Kristiansund. We purposely routed on trip over this scenic route after learning of it. If you're in the neighborhood it is certainly worth a small detour, but we were not as impressed as we thought we would be. Must have been the anticipation.

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