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Lake and Sea
While the fjords grab the tourist dollars, it's the tranquil lakes of Norway that attract the locals. A quick glimpse at any map of the fjords area reveals splashes of blue all over the landscape, lakes that fill the holes gouged by the ice with snow water/ Nestling amongst almost impossibly deserted landscapes, these lakes are like mirrors to the sky, reflecting everything and anything they possibly can, from clouds high above to the smallest fishing dingy chugging across its surface. Forests dip down to seemingly drink fro the lake edges, straight from years of ultra-slow growth in the harsh winter climate.
Some of the most stunning Norwegian lakes are just east of the fjord region such as Lake Tinnsjø east of the Hardangervidda National Park, and Lakes Gjenda and Bygdin, north of Lustrafjord, an offshoot of the mighty Sognefjord.
Equally, visitors should not turn their backs on the force that co-created them, the sea. The seas off Norway are both wild and benign, pictures and dangerous, seasonally inhospitable yet filled with bounty for those prepared to fish for it. The combination Bisected by the Artic Circle, the Norwegian Sea had its own warm-hearted secret, the Gulf Stream that keeps Norway's shores remarkably ice-free when other freeze over. It's the same stream of warmed water that brings whales to feed, seabirds to fish, and tourists to photograph them both.
For centuries, the best way to get from A to B in Norway was by boat, a tradition continued by the myriad of ferry services that set sail from ports all along the western coastline. It's a unique experience to step onto the boat in a bustling modern port and hop off in a fjord town nestling amongst mountains. As regular as buses, and a great deal more exciting, a ferry trip in Norway is not just a must-do, for many communities, it sued to be a lifeline, and for the many islanders, it still is.
For those who prefer to keep their feet on dry land, the coastline offers the chance to walk and explore a landscape shaped by the relentless power of Atlantic rollers and storms alike. Sheer cliffs drop from nothing into the foaming breakers below, seabirds wheeling overhead oblivious to the turmoil below. Others dive below waves with almost affected ease, bobbing back to the surface to deliver their flapping catch to hungry chicks high on the cliff edges above, or the in case of puffins, a long hike away down a burrow.
To walk along the cliffs, to see the sea stretch beyond the horizon and yet still be on grass beneath your feet is an experience that is both invigorating and humbling at the same time.
© 2009 Kirsty Young
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