Balestrand

The small boy, the big stone and the longest open (ice-free) fjord in the world (Sognefjord)

The small boy, the big stone and the longest open (ice-free) fjord in the world (Sognefjord)

Dates visited: August 21, 2012 – August 23, 2012

Balestrand is another village in the Sogn og Fjordane county, 73 miles northwest of Aurlandsvangen . However, with the flexibility of having a car, I mapped a route through several picturesque spots and made it a 95 miles journey involving two car ferries. And at the end of it, I was only too sad to see it come to an end. Western Norway is a beautiful phenomenon and I enjoyed my five days of driving through the spectacular scenery—fjords, glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers. Car ferries ran like clockwork and I was amazed at the ease with which the operators would load and unload the cars. The ferry driver would precisely position the boat at the port and the assistant, in a matter of minutes, would have the ramp lowered for cars to depart and board. And minutes later, the ramp would be raised, and the ferry would be on its way.

Balestrand is a pretty village and was our base to visit Nigardsbreen glacier in Jostedalen valley. Nigardsbreen glacier is an arm of Jostedalsbreen glacier—the largest glacier in continental Europe. It was our first time hiking on a glacier and equipped with ice picks, ropes and crampons, we soon realized that you need to be in the best of shape to make it till the end. But it was a fascinating experience seeing, tasting and feeling the blue ice up-close. As I was chatting with a very jovial Sherpa who helped me with my crampons, I learned that he has his own company (in Nepal) for leading expeditions to Mt. Everest. But the astounding part was that he had scaled Mt. Everest six times! It is very nice of the Norwegian government to issue work visas to Sherpas to help out with glacier tours when expeditions to Mt. Everest are closed in July and August due to treacherous weather conditions.

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