Road Trip to Sweden


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As an EU citizen and accompanying family member, we can stay in the Schengen immigration area for an unlimited time period. But if we stay longer than 90 days in Norway (and most other Schengen countries), we must register as residents. We’ve decided not to do that, and instead exited the country briefly to Sweden.

From Bergen, we made a 400-mile (650km) road trip to Torsby, just across the Swedish border. Our route took us through many tunnels, including the Laerdalstunnelen, the longest road tunnel in the world at 15.23 miles (24.51 km). The tunnel has three equally-spaced blue-lit caves, designed to give drivers a visual break from the long unchanging tunnel and allow a rest stop.

We also passed close by Lillehammer, where the 1994 Winter Olympic ski jumping competition was held. Lillehammer has hosted numerous international competitions since the Olympics and the jumps are used year-round for training, including the day we were there. We stopped for lunch there and had a great time watching jumpers practice close-up.

Changing countries during a global pandemic can be challenging, and we really didn’t know what to expect for checks at the border. What we didn’t anticipate was basically no border checks at all, and we almost missed getting a picture as we crossed. The only indication that we were even at the border was a speed-limit reduction to 30 kph and a camera. There wasn’t even a “Leaving Norway” or “Welcome to Sweden” sign. We’ve seen more obvious border crossings between Canadian provinces.

In Torsby, we visited the 4,265-ft (1,300m) Fortrum Ski Tunnel, the longest ski tunnel in the world, and spent a restful night. We returned back to Norway along a different route that brought us through the spectacular Hallingskarvet range, covered with a fresh coating of snow. It’s been a while since we’ve seen substantial accumulations of snow and we really enjoyed the winter scenery.

Below are highlights from Octover 10th and 11th, 2020. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

10/10/2020
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Risnestunnelen
The 5,616-ft (1,712 m) Risnestunnelen, opposite the south end of the island of Osteroy, is the first of many long tunnels we’ll pass through today while driving from Bergen to Torsby, Sweden.
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Vangstunnelen
In the 8,100-ft (2,469 m) Vangstunnelen that diverts traffic around the Voss city center.
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Gudvangen
At 7:30am we’re starting to get enough light to see the mountains around Gudvangen at the head of Naeroyfjord in Sognefjord. The fjord was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005 for being among the most scenically outstanding in the world. We visited by tender from Flam on our 2018 trip.
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Gudvangatunnelen
Passing through Norway’s third-longest road tunnel, the 7.1-mile (11.4 km) Gudvangatunnelen.
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Flenjatunnelen
A short distance after exiting the Gudvangatunnelen, we entered the 3.14-mile (5.05km) Flenjatunnelen. This tunnel descends from 1,150-ft (350m) above sea level to 200-ft (60m) at a 6% grade. It exits at the village of Flam at the head Aurlandsfjrod, a branch off Sognefjord, where we stayed for a few nights in 2018.
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Aurlandsfjrod
Looking down beautiful Aurlandsfjrod in Sognefjord, just past Flam, at the entrance to the 4,472 ft (1,363-m) Fretheim Tunnel on our road trip from Bergen to Torsby, Sweden.
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Laerdalstunnelen
Entering the Laerdalstunnelen, the longest road tunnel in the world at 15.23 miles (24.51 km). The tunnel opened in 2000 after five years of construction, and completed a winter-safe connection between Oslo and Bergen. The tunnel is the first in the world to be equipped with an air treatment plant, that removes both dust and nitrogen dioxide from the tunnel air.
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Cave
The Laerdalstunnelen has three caves spaced at 3.7-mile (6 km) intervals. Unlike the white lights of the rest of the tunnel, the caves have blue lights with yellow at the edges to mimic a sunrise, and are designed to give drivers a visual break from the long unchanging tunnel. And for those interested in doing it, they allow a rest stop.
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Distance
At every kilometer along the Laerdalstunnelen are signs giving the distance traveled and remaining. The sign we’re coming up to reads 17km traveled so far with 8 remaining. (No, we don’t know why they don’t add up to 24 :) )
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Exiting
Exiting the 15.23 miles (24.51 km) Laerdalstunnelen 20 minutes after we entered.
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Fall Colours
Beautiful fall colors in the mountains around Laerdalen after exiting the Laerdalstunnelen.
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Strondafjorden
Reflections in the still waters of the lake Strondafjorden at 1,165ft (355m) above sea level.
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Rodolstunnelen
Passing through the new 1.3-mile (2.1 km) Rodolstunnelen near Eltun. The tunnel officially opened only three weeks ago.
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Storane Waterfall
Waterfall in the rain-swollen river Storane gushing over the rocks near the town of Ryfoss.
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McDonald’s Lillehammer
At the McDonald’s drive-thru in Lillehammer, Norway to grab a quick lunch. We’ve seen a lot of McDonald’s restaurants all over the world. They are basically the same everywhere, yet all differ slightly by country.
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Ski Jumping Arena
At the Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena in Lillehammer, Norway, where the 1994 Winter Olympic ski jumping competition was held. These were the Olympics where cohorts of US figure skater Tonya Harding clubbed fellow American competitor Nancy Kerrigan on the leg, and Ukranian Oksana Baiul took gold, despite training in an environment with such limited financial support that coaches and skaters had to resurface the ice by hand because no working ice surfacer was available.
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Olympic Flame
The opening and closing ceremonies for the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics were held at the Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena. The Olympic Flame was skied down the hill and then lit here at the base.
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Full Jump
Ski jumping hills are classified (from smallest to largest) as small, medium, normal, large and “ski flying.” Only five ski flying hills currently exist world-wide. The Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena in Lillehammer opened in 1993 for the Olympics and consists of a large hill and a small hill. The area can support 35,000 spectators and has hosted numerous international competitions since the Olympics.
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Jumping
The Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena is used year-round for training, with about 80,000 jumps in the winter and 20,000 in the summer. Here a skier is just leaving the jump.
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Flying
Another skier flying high above the jump area. The jumpers wear form-fitting suits that by Olympic tolerances must be within 2cm of their body to prevent excessive lift.
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Landing
A ski jumper landing.
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Stairs
We walked up the stairs next to the small hill at Lillehammer with jumpers soaring above us.
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Preparing to Jump
A ski jumper sliding across the bar at the top of the small ski hill at Lillehammer in preparations for a jump.
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Soaring
Jumper soaring above the jump. We loved watching the jumpers, but eventually had to tear ourselves away to reach Sweden before evening.
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Lillehammer
Lillehammer visible in the distance beyond the Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena as we return back down beside the large hill. We crossed the bridge at left en route into town.
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Mjosa
Crossing the lake Mjosa, the largest in Norway and one of the deepest in Europe. The lake extends (117km) from Lillehammer in the north to Minnesund in the south with a surface area of (365 km sq) and is 1,535 ft (468m) at its deepest. The lake surface is at 403ft (123m) above sea level, putting most of its estimated 13 cu mi (56 cu km) volume below sea level.
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Skarpsnotunnelen
Approaching the relatively short 1,231-ft (345m) Skarpsnotunnelen as we travel eastward away from the lake Mjosa towards the Swedish border.
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110 kph
So far 100 kph (62mph) has been the maximum speed limit today, but this stretch of road on E16 outside Brumunddal has the highest limit we’ve seen driving in Norway at 110 kph (68 mph).
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Glomma
Crossing the Glomma river in highway E16. The river is the longest in Norway, stretching 386 miles (621 km) roughly parallel to the Swedish border from above the Artic Circle south to the sea east of Oslo. The river’s drainage basin covers 13% of Norway’s surface area.
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Swedish Border
We’d of course brought our passports, plus all kinds of supporting documentation to show that we’d been resident in the EEA (European Economic Area) for the past six months as required to re-enter Norway under the COVID-19 restrictions. Sweden didn’t have any entry restrictions, but we really didn’t know what to expect for checks at the border.

What we didn’t anticipate was basically no border checks at all, and we almost missed getting a picture as we crossed. The only indication that we were even at the border was a speed-limit reduction to 30 kph and a camera. There wasn’t even a “Leaving Norway” or “Welcome to Sweden” sign. We’ve seen more obvious border crossings between Canadian provinces.

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Sweden
We still couldn’t believe we’d actually crossed the border, but a Swedish road sign confirmed it.
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Hotel Ornen
We overnighted in Torsby, Sweden at the historic Hotel Ornen. We’d booked their ground-floor apartment, which has its own entrance, and this worked out super-well.
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Fortrum Ski Tunnel
Torsby’s claim to fame is the longest ski tunnel in the world, and Sweden’s first, the 4,265-ft (1,300m) Fortrum Ski Tunnel. Here we are checking out the skiers at the tunnel entrance and exit.
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Ski Tunnel Map
Map showing the Fortrum Ski Tunnel, allowing for year-round skiing at a constant temperature of 26.6°F (-3°C). The tunnel follows the natural topography, with both hills and slopes along the way.
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Refueling
Filling up the rental car in Torsby, Sweden, as we wouldn’t be able to make it all the way back to Bergen without filling.
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LaStrada Pizzeria
Capping of our day with a delicious take-out pizza from LaStrada Pizzeria, next door to the Hotel Ornen in Torsby, Sweden.
10/11/2020
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Return to Norway
Recrossing the border to Norway at 5:30am on our return trip to Bergen. The crossing was as uneventful as when we passed through yesterday.
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Fall Colours
Fabulous fall colours outside Brekkebygda in Norway. We’re taking a slightly shorter, more southern route on the return trip, following highway 7. The route we took to Sweden along E16 is the main route in the winter, and also gave us a chance to visit Lillehammer on the way there. This route is more direct, but higher and more likely to see road closures due to snow.
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Cliff
Dramatic cliff along highway 7 at Stavn.
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Footbridge
Footbridge across the river Hallingdalselva alongside highway 7.
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Hol Kirke
Wooden church in Hol, completed in 1924.
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Folarskardnuten
Fresh snow on the 6,342 ft (1,933 m) mountain Folarskardnuten in the Hallingskarvet range. We really enjoyed the drive through the mountain pass with all the winter scenery. It’s been a while since we’ve seen substantial accumulations of snow.
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Snow
We couldn’t resist getting out to stand in our first Norwegian snow of the season in the Hallingskarvet range en route from Torsby, Sweden back to Bergen.
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Sysen Dam
The Sysen Dam, completed in 1980, is 3,796 ft (1,157 m) long, 266 ft (81 m) high, and 846 ft (258 m) wide at its base. The dam regulates the source of the waterfall Voringsfossen, that we visited from Odda a few weeks back, and a minimum amount of water must be released in the summer to keep the fall active for tourism.
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Hardanger Bridge
Exiting the tunnel onto the Hardanger Bridge. We’re in familiar territory now—this is at least the fourth time we’ve crossed this bridge.
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Evangervatnet
Reflections in the lake Evangervatnet that drains into the Bolstadfjorden. We explored Bolstadfjorden by tender a few weeks back from Stamnshella, opposite the east shore of the island of Osteroy.
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Lille Lungegardsvannet
Fountain in the lake Lille Lungegardsvannet in central Bergen, viewed as we return to Dirona from dropping off our rental car. The lake used to be much larger, and connected to the sea, but over time fill has been added to reclaim land, and the sea connection closed off.
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Dirona
Back at Dirona moored at Vagen Harbour in Bergen after a successful trip to Sweden that earns us another 90 days in Norway.
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Classic Cars
Beautiful maintained classic American cars parked on the wharf beside us at Bergen.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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6 comments on “Road Trip to Sweden
  1. Steve McInnis says:

    So James now that the exit agreement is done, and Jan 1 has passed, are you now subject to the 90-day limit? I have not found any way around this for Americans anyway, and I suppose you are now in the same “boat”..if you find any way around it (short of some residency play) I’d love to hear it. USA does have a pre-existing agreement with Denmark I guess that gives an extra time, but you have to enter and leave through Denmark, so it’s not that helpful.

    Steve

    • It sucks but, yes, we’re in roughly the same state now. The Denmark/USA agreement allows you more time in Denmark but I believe even it doesn’t increase your Schengen time outside of Denmark.

      We’re thinking through options but our current plan is to leave Norway in less than 90 days.

  2. jan-kees says:

    Brexit is still a mess. There is a lot of discussions going on about how to deal with it on the DBA ( Dutch barge association, having many UK members who travel Europe by boat.). https://barges.org/discussion-forum/brexit
    A few Americans are solving it with a long term visa to France.

  3. Steve McInnis says:

    James I am wondering what the impact will be of Brexit? Looks like at present UK citizens will be treated like non-EU citizens such as us Americans where you will have the 90-day Schengen limit…What is your thinking on that? Apologize in advance if you’ve mentioned that somewhere…..

    Steve

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