There’s drama in the Norwegian country. It is so replete with it that it seems to be made up of bangs sans the whimpers.
You might arrive at the conclusion that drama peaks at the heart of Eidfjord with the Kjeåsen Mountain Farm but wait awhile unless the lead photo has introduced you to the idea already.
Let me point out to you that we are in the traditional district of Hardanger. It happened to be a petty kingdom before it was, along with the other minor kingdoms in the country, united under the banners of Harald Fairhair, the first Norwegian king. The reason behind the unification is attributed to that reckless emotion of love. Our Harald wanted to marry the daughter of the king of Hordaland (one of the most important counties in western Norway), Gyda. The fair lady would have none of him till he ruled over all of Norway. Ambitious one, that.
Harald took a decade to achieve this aim but till then he did not cut or comb his hair. He acquired the unfavourable title of ‘Shockhead’/‘Tanglehair’ which he dropped in favour of ‘Fairhair’. After all we cannot see a strong woman like Gyda going for a king with malodorous locks, isn’t it?
Time to snap back from the world of strong queens and besotted kings to the present-day district of Hardanger which is home to two of the country’s important national tourist toutes – the Hardanger Route and the Hardangervidda Route.
The Hardanger route was framed by fruit orchards. Aplenty. The mist persisted in hugging the mountain tops as we took off from the village of Eidfjord. Driving down the Rv7 ( short for Norwegian National Road Riksvei 7) we found ourselves in the valley of Måbødalen. The mountains towered above the hairpin bends in the roads, brooding away in the doom and gloom of the day.
Two paths diverged at a stop which was for an ancient farm at Måbø. Ignoring the path leading down to the building which we had spotted from the road, we made a beeline for the woods instead and arrived upon Måbøvatnet, the lake that adjoins the area. Giant boulders stood in attendance upon the lake, with an accompanying army of smaller rocks, and it was slippery and mossy as the water gurgled by us into the bend around the corner.
The icy waters and slimy outgrowths on the boulders made me yearn for the cosiness of a coffee shop. I am strange, I know. I crave the lap of nature but then I often end up feeling intimidated. On a damp, dark day in the woods, it seems to me that the visible roots of gnarled old trees wait to entwine their solid strength around me. Wiping away all traces of my existence. But let it be sunny. Then the dappled sunlight, the soft harmony of light and shadow as it streams in through the canopy, uplifts the heart.
We got going after and the road kept climbing higher and higher till we reached a point when a wall of mist showed up, dense and impenetrable. We were at Vøringsfossen, one of Norway’s iconic waterfalls. A bouquet of waterfalls of varying degrees of girth, converged into a chasm with thunderous notes. A bus load of Oriental tourists chattered around us excitedly as they hurried to hold their selfie sticks into the air, the Vøringsfossen forming a suitably dramatic backdrop for their self-portraits.
It was our gateway to the flat country that marks Europe’s largest mountain plateau, Hardangervidda. The landscape started changing obviously. At one point in the afternoon, we stopped for a spot of lunch on a summit. The view was that of a broad expanse of marshy land interspersed by lakes and we munched on boiled eggs and sandwiches as the wind tore through our hair and thick jackets.
When I lay my eyes upon such vast tracts of solemn, barren beauty, a wave of loneliness descends upon me. Just like it did whenever I was in the heart of the English moors – the way I felt in Haworth in Brontë country on a grey, grey day. Dark thoughts come swooping in. It is no wonder you feel the presence of the moors seep into the pages of Wuthering Heights.
The spell was broken by a group of Norwegian boys and girls who happened upon this parallel world of ours. It did lead us however to my favourite memory of the day, Adi meeting his troll twin. Why no, I am not calling my husband a troll!
Outside a cluster of yellow and red buildings, which happen to be a mountain lodge on Rv 7, stands the Dyranut troll in a red jumpsuit. His sleeves are dark green, the face marked by large eyes and pendulous nose, his hair is white and he wears a toothless old man’s smile. He does look harmless and silly as he peers into the horizon scanning for I know not what. Maybe his troll wife who has been gone long to bring him soup after stirring it well with her bulbous nose? Now if you are offered soup by a troll woman, think twice. She is known to use her nose as a ladle.
Punctuated by the occasional presence of small black or yellow cottages – possibly outposts for fishing and camping – the desolation and primordial air of Hardangervidda clung to us for a couple of hours till we found ourselves quite ready for civilisation.