Travels

Is my SatNav conspiring with Norway to kill me?

Thursday 4 October. Part 1. No post yesterday as all I did was drive to Voss to stop overnight. Sounds straightforward but SatNav rerouted me twice claiming that E (for European) roads were closed. These are the best roads in the country but at times they can get a bit hairy, becoming narrow or, at pinch points, wide enough for only one vehicle. More B road than A.

The alternative routes were horrible, 25 to 30 miles of mostly single width roads, with blind corners as they clung to the sides of fjords, sheer rock face to one side, sheer drop to the other, and not having seen fresh tarmac since Adam was a lad. This picture is of better bit from the morning diversion where I could stop.

Later on in this drive, and more so on the afternoon diversion, I’d have paid a toll to go on road this good. It took over 8 hours to do about 200 miles.

What was bugging me was that I appeared to be the only person taking these diversions, leading me to suspect SatNav was in cahoots with Norway to bump me off in a place without witnesses. So, this morning, when I set directions for Jørpeland, and SatNav said a road was closed and she was setting an alternative route, I ignored her.

Looking at google maps my route should have been E13 all the way and the E13 started just the other side of Voss. Simples. Until, after about 45 minutes, halfway through a tunnel, at the roundabout to E13 (roundabouts in tunnels are quite common in Norway but it’s the first I’ve encountered), there was a barrier and a sign suggesting the E13 was closed due to high winds. SatNav was right! Bugger.

I turned around. As soon as I left the tunnel I put SatNav back on and it picked up a new route along the 550. This, of course, almost immediately became a rain obscured, one track clingfest, not helped by a section of roadworks. I stopped to ask the guys working on the road for advice on whether there was a better route but they confirmed that SatNav had me on the best route, that the road would soon get better and that the ferry at the end would take me across the fjord to join the E13 again. I’ve written this while waiting for the ferry which has just pulled up. Let’s see how the rest of the journey goes.

Part 2. Off the ferry onto the 550 again and SatNav starts saying “550 closed, rerouting,” and trying to get me to turn around and go back to the ferry! I was following a lorry and there was traffic coming in the other direction so I was sure the road wasn’t closed. I turned SatNav off and tucked in behind the lorry. The driver probably knew the road and would take the pressure off me wondering what was around the corner. It worked well and soon we were on the E13. The road got gnarly but I was hiding behind my big brother and he kept oncoming traffic at bay!

Unfortunately, he turned right when I had to turn left so it was me and SatNav again. SatNav had decided to behave so it was only Norway I had to contend with, and she had some new challenges to toss into the mix.

The first was tunnels without any lights. Not, ‘I see the light at the end of the tunnel’ tunnel, but ‘let’s go uphill and round a bend or two in a narrow unlit tunnel without a centre line because that would suggest two vehicles could pass easily’ tunnel. There were quite a few of these.

The second curveball was low cloud. All very picturesque with wisps hanging over a lake,

but when you crest a hill on a single road and it descends into a fjord full of cloud…

And the best one was the combination; popping out of a long climb through an unlit tunnel to a sharp left hand bend and seeing nothing over the low barrier but cloud. The vertiginous sensation had me swearing profusely as I tried to figure out where the road was going.

I apologise to anyone still reading these posts that they’ve become about Norway’s roads, but all I’ve done is drive for the last few days, arriving at my destination too late to do very much. The scenery is still awesome. Today’s theme has been huge waterfalls and raging rivers.

This was not close to the biggest waterfall but it was the only one I could stop by. Norway does nothing small, except roads. Anyway, I’m not driving far tomorrow.

I’m overnighting in Jørpeland because there’s a good walk nearby which I hope to do tomorrow. It’ll make a change from gripping a steering wheel and trying to peer around bends.

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