Tunnelling on

“Scientific discovery, or the formulation of scientific theory, starts with the unvarnished and unembroidered evidence of the senses. It starts with simple observation—simple, unbiased, unprejudiced, naive, or innocent observation”

– Sir Peter Brian Medawar

I’ve said, “I’m sorry, I do not speak Swedish,” three times this week. In itself this should not be a problem, were it not that we have been in Norway for two weeks now.
Norway is our dream. Our desire to see Norway has been the strongest of all 43 countries we are going to visit, and we have planned the longest time here. Basically, our entire trip is unplanned except for spending as long as possible in Norway. This is the first time here for both of us, but before we left, we were sure that Norway would be the most amazing country we would never want to leave. Two weeks is of course far too short to confirm these feelings, but so far so good. Putting aside that my brain is still basking in the glorious sun in Sweden and Stockholm, Norway is offering vast quantities of views (and rain). Even when you are in between the mountains, you can sense the vastness of the country—the impressiveness and grandeur of nature. It is different than anything I have ever experienced. I have often been to Switzerland, and I happily assumed it would be similar—jaw-dropping awe for the beauty of nature—but it isn’t. It’s sensing the size and power of nature more than anything that is new to me.

I haven’t been driving much because the Tardis is not made for people who suffer from short limbs—as you may have read in Jasper’s previous post. I do plan to once we have solved the main issue of how to attach a block under my foot so I can properly reach the gas pedal, but maybe not in Norway. I am pretty sure I will kill us if I drive in Norway. I almost killed us once in the Netherlands when I accidentally drove onto the hard shoulder of the motorway because I saw a cute house. Despite that incident, I would class myself as an above average female driver, but that was back home, on flat roads with no views, or at least no breath-taking views of anything but some lucky-to-be-outside cows, fields and occasionally a cute house (I am a sucker for pretty buildings). Here it is different. I think I would require the ability to respawn before every corner to be able to safely drive through this country.

Take for example the tunnels. Again, something I know from Switzerland, but I had simply never put any thought into how and where roads are built in other mountainous countries. I suppose that comes from growing up in the Netherlands, where they tend to only tunnel under waterways, if necessary and a bridge is not an option. Norway has over a thousand tunnels and is ranked third in the world for the number of tunnels, only surpassed by China and Japan. Here, you can drive into a tunnel with the sun shining on you and exit 3 km (seems to be the average length) later onto a bridge spanning a deep gorge with a view fit for the most epic movie scene only to drive straight back into a tunnel with a 12% gradient, climb back up again and out on the other side to rain and yet another epic view. It is insane, completely insane and beautiful.

Before you enter the tunnels there are multiple road signs: there is a sign for radio, which we think means the tunnel has a radio signal and they want you to have the radio on, we are not sure, so we just continue singing along to our own playlist; there is a sign with the name of the tunnel and the length of the tunnel, always good to know; when applicable, there is a sign that you have to stay in low gear because it is a steep ascent or descent or if (un)lucky, both. Lastly and only once we saw a sign with windshield wipers on it stating “kondens”. We discussed this sign and concluded that Norwegian is a very doable language for us, then didn’t give it a second thought.

Yesterday we were driving through the rain. (We have had a week of rain and thunderstorms and even though it doesn’t dampen the spirits, we would appreciate a bit of sun again.) We were driving through the rain and like the day before we were driving in and out of short tunnels. Then we got to a 5.4 km tunnel. Still no biggie, but past the halfway mark the windscreen started misting up. We didn’t panic but did open our windows and put the fan on full blast. We could already see the light at the end of the tunnel, so we could make it if it didn’t get any worse. I grabbed the squeegee-sponge-thingy-that-promises-not-to-leave-stripes-but-always-does and started wiping the window so Jasper wouldn’t stray into oncoming traffic. We were almost at the end of the tunnel and there was no stress. We just got on with it without even communicating about it. We exited the tunnel back into the rain. Jasper put the windshield wipers on and still without communicating we both burst out laughing. All the condensation was of course on the outside of the window, not the inside. We would definitely have required a respawn if I had been driving! 

I’ve said, “I’m sorry, I do not speak Swedish,” three times this week. In itself this should not be a problem, were it not that we have been in Norway for two weeks now. Norway is our dream. Our desire to see Norway has been the strongest of all 43 countries we are going to visit, and we have planned the longest time here. Basically, our entire trip is unplanned except for spending as long as possible in Norway. This is the first time here for both of us, but before we left, we were sure that Norway would be the most amazing country we would never want to leave. Two weeks is of course far too short to confirm these feelings, but so far so good. Putting aside that my brain is still basking in the glorious sun in Sweden and Stockholm, Norway is offering vast quantities of views (and rain). Even when you are in between the mountains, you can sense the vastness of the country—the impressiveness and grandeur of nature. It is different than anything I have ever experienced. I have often been to Switzerland, and I happily assumed it would be similar—jaw-dropping awe for the beauty of nature—but it isn’t. It’s sensing the size and power of nature more than anything that is new to me.

I haven’t been driving much because the Tardis is not made for people who suffer from short limbs—as you may have read in Jasper’s previous post. I do plan to once we have solved the main issue of how to attach a block under my foot so I can properly reach the gas pedal, but maybe not in Norway. I am pretty sure I will kill us if I drive in Norway. I almost killed us once in the Netherlands when I accidentally drove onto the hard shoulder of the motorway because I saw a cute house. Despite that incident, I would class myself as an above average female driver, but that was back home, on flat roads with no views, or at least no breath-taking views of anything but some lucky-to-be-outside cows, fields and occasionally a cute house (I am a sucker for pretty buildings). Here it is different. I think I would require the ability to respawn before every corner to be able to safely drive through this country.

Take for example the tunnels. Again, something I know from Switzerland, but I had simply never put any thought into how and where roads are built in other mountainous countries. I suppose that comes from growing up in the Netherlands, where they tend to only tunnel under waterways, if necessary and a bridge is not an option. Norway has over a thousand tunnels and is ranked third in the world for the number of tunnels, only surpassed by China and Japan. Here, you can drive into a tunnel with the sun shining on you and exit 3 km (seems to be the average length) later onto a bridge spanning a deep gorge with a view fit for the most epic movie scene only to drive straight back into a tunnel with a 12% gradient, climb back up again and out on the other side to rain and yet another epic view. It is insane, completely insane and beautiful.

Before you enter the tunnels there are multiple road signs: there is a sign for radio, which we think means the tunnel has a radio signal and they want you to have the radio on, we are not sure, so we just continue singing along to our playlist; there is a sign with the name of the tunnel and the length of the tunnel, always good to know; when applicable, there is a sign that you have to stay in low gear because it is a steep ascent or descent or if (un)lucky, both. Lastly and only once we saw a sign with windshield wipers on it stating “kondens”. We discussed this sign and concluded that Norwegian is a very doable language for us, then didn’t give it a second thought.

Yesterday. we were driving through the rain. (We have had a week of rain and thunderstorms and even though it doesn’t dampen the spirits, we would appreciate a bit of sun again.) We were driving through the rain and like the day before we were driving in and out of short tunnels. Then we got to a 5.4 km tunnel. Still no biggie, but past the halfway mark the windscreen started misting up. We didn’t panic but did open our windows and put the fan on full blast. We could already see the light at the end of the tunnel, so we could make it if it didn’t get any worse. I grabbed the squeegee-sponge-thingy-that-promises-not-to-leave-stripes-but-always-does and started wiping the window so Jasper wouldn’t stray into oncoming traffic. We were almost at the end of the tunnel and there was no stress. We just got on with it without even communicating about it. We exited the tunnel back into the rain. Jasper put the windshield wipers on and still without communicating we both burst out laughing. All the condensation was of course on the outside of the window, not the inside. We would definitely have required a respawn if I had been driving! 

4 Comments

  1. Anita

    O those tunnels! We one entered one with a normal bright day and exited into snow! Weird and great at the same time 😄

    Reply
    • Anne

      We entered an 8 km one last week and at the 7 km mark, we had to quickly decide which exit to take on the underground roundabout!!!

      Reply
  2. Tony

    Are all these tunnels free?

    Reply
    • Anne

      For now, they are. There are toll roads, but it is all automated and the invoices get sent by post, so we might be in for a shock soon. The roads and tunnels are in extremely good condition, even the ones that run along the mountain tops, so we think it is only fair that they charge for them.

      Reply

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