Tag Archives: Scandinavia

Lights and tunnels of Norway

11 May

Were we really still in Oslo just yesterday morning?  We’ve had two sensational days of driving, along fjords and farmlands, up into snowy mountains, around dizzying switchbacks, on ferries, and through tunnels.

Ah, the tunnels. We always seem to associate trolls and gnomes with Scandinavia, but I swear there must be dwarves somewhere in its history, too. Dwarves, after all, are the ones who tunnel, and never before have I seen a land with such an abundance of tunnels.

But let me start with the light, to make a feeble attempt to describe it. The sunlight yesterday morning was spectacular. The sky was clear and blue, and sunshine poured over the horizon from a low angle, lighting up one side of the houses spilling down the hill.

As we drove into downtown Oslo, we could see a solid wall of cloud had built up over the fjord, with sunlight leaking out overtop. Utterly dramatic.

Then in the evening, too, we watched golden sunlight dissolve first into coral hues, tingeing the snow-capped mountains and few wispy clouds a rosy pink, then into violet, and finally into bluish grays.

It’s just after midnight now, and it still isn’t completely dark.

By the way, there are lights in the tunnels, too. It seems that you never know what you’re going to experience when you go into a tunnel in Norway. It might be wide, or it might be narrow. It may be well-lit, or you may find yourself wide-eyed and staring into dusty darkness, especially if your eyes were dazzled by sunlit snow moments before.  Some tunnels are smooth-walled, and others seem to have been newly chewed through, with wet patches where spring melt is seeping through the rock. The rare tunnel is tiled in glazed panels that reflect the lights of oncoming vehicles. Sometimes the tunnel lights are white, and sometimes they’re orange. Once, while driving under a fjord, the lights at the shaft’s nadir were blue.

In this land of tunnels, you might be anywhere when you emerge. The country is built on bedrock, so many of the tunnels must be built by dynamite, eating through solid granite.

You never know where you’re going to be when you get out. You may go into one teetering along the edge of a precipice, and then emerge to find yourself in a green valley.

We remarked today that we should have kept track of how many tunnels we’ve traversed, and the distance we travelled through each one.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find we’ve driven through 20 or 30 kilometres of tunnels on our trip so far.

It can be harrowing, and it can be exciting, but it’s certainly never boring.

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