Monday, 30 April 2012

Big Fish

No one steps into the same river twice. This old saying by Heraclitus holds especially true for waters that are as cold as in Hardangerfjord, which is so deep it never gets warmer. Actually, you don't even want to step in it only once. Keeping that in mind, the participants of the Eidfjord Kayaking Tour pay extra attention to the guide's explanations on how to get in the boat with dry feet, how NOT to fall into the Fjord, and how to turn in the desired direction without slamming into each other.
And then it's time to take to the Kayaks, solid but shaky constructions that can teach your hips how to samba, if you are not handling your paddle right. Fortunately, the conditions could not be better: A bright blue sky delivers the perfect backdrop for the snow-covered mountains, the dark rocky walls underneath deliver a dramatic contrast to both of them. A little insecure but full of motivation, everybody tries the first strokes, gasping (secretly, of course) when a sudden jerk of the boat challenges the balance.
However, after a couple of minutes of practice we are ready to attack the Fjord. Gliding and splashing at first, gliding and a little splashing only later. In loose formation we move along the breathtaking scenery, feeling very small, but good. Our guide tells us exciting things about whales that have been prowling the Fjord only two days ago. Now, that would be something! Paddling among the blows of those big fellas, watching them in the clear, dark green water, wow!
So all heads are swiveling round and round, but no whale today. Only the odd sturgeon here and there, ogling us incredulously. Pretty small they are; considering the theory that fish grows bigger when you offer him a bigger bowl, these ones have a long way ahead of them. Never mind, even without the cetacean sensation this is a beautiful, if slightly exhausting way of passing the morning in the deepest Fjord of all!
In the meantime, another excursion rolls across the countryside to explore the lofty heights of Norway's most famous skiing area - the Hardangervidda. Before the bus brings the participants up the winding road, we thoroughly enjoy a visit in the Hardanger Nature Center, displaying the whole variety of the interaction of scenery and wildlife in a splendid manner.
After that, the ride into the white. With an average altitude of about 1.100 meters only, the peneplain of Hardanger is not particularly high. But the location and the exposure to the elements provide snow all year round. So we get the opportunity to leave footprints, nice touch.
On the way back we stop at Norway's best known waterfall, the Vøringsfossen. The immense masses of roaring water cascade 182 meters down into the ravine, dropping freely for more than 140 meters. Quite a sight, everybody agrees, slightly shivering in the chill. So the return to the bus is not entirely unwelcome, and so is lunch back on board.
We have to weigh anchor in good time, since we have a long way to steam, out of the Hardangerfjord and further on to our next destination, Flåm. Under the cloudless skies (and under the largest Norwegian bridge-to-be, the Hardangerbrua, where construction workers are attached in great heights), we make good speed until the night wraps everything up again.