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Marilyn Monza, Arctic Midnight Sun 2024 | Day 11

Marilyn Monza, Arctic Midnight Sun 2024 | Day 11

Molde. Sunrise at 3.50

What a day! In just 360 km, even if they lasted almost 12 hours, from Molde to Sognadalsfjøra, we had everything: sun, rain, fog, snow, 2 ferries, 2 regularity, hairpins, climbs, descents,valleys, fjords, views, harbours, waterfalls, mountains, lakes. The motto of the day was ‘One hand on the steering wheel and one on the camera!’

An early living was necessary to chase our way across the fjords with a morning ferry at 8.25 from Solsneset to Åfarnes. While waiting to embark, the conciliatory ritual of the ‘Sun Salutation’, performed by the sprightly ladies of the group to the amazement of the other passengers, had the desired effect, and the speedy crossing began under the best of auspices. On deck, DJ Tisa provided the musical entertainment, much appreciated by the experienced dancers who crowded around car 8, now nicknamed 'Disco Saab', where it seems to be customary at the end of each regularity to turn up the volume of the loudspeaker, firmly anchored to the dashboard with equal dignity to the trip meter, and let loose in singing and 'seat dancing'.

As soon as we disembarked, the marshals of MTC 11.1. assigned the starting order according to the order of presentation at the control, as well as the new instructions for the morning reroute, due to the fact that, unfortunately, a few days ago a landslide had closed the Trollstigen (the Troll Path), one of the most beautiful mountain roads in Europe, for the whole of 2024.

Not that the alternative route, following the first regularity on a narrow road along the banks of Romsdalfjorden, did not offer the scenery of a typical postcard greeting from Norway: fjords in abundance, high mountains overhanging the water, fishermen's huts with wooden boats, but also the strange feeling that something 'dark' was watching us from the woods... Even though we could not drive on Trollstigen, it does not mean that we have not officially entered the land of the Trolls, who in Scandinavian mythology are monstrous, hairy, rough forest dwellers with a big nose, a tail and four fingers on each hand and foot, sometimes with three heads and one eye. Both appearance and characteristics can vary greatly, but are usually spiteful and stupid. Why do all these aspects remind me of some ex-boyfriends? They often live in inaccessible areas of untouched nature, such as caves in the mountains or forests or in the sea, and are frightened by sunlight (which ensures that I cannot really be a troll), which can turn them to stone (which is why you can see their faces and bodies carved into the walls of mountains).

They must have been disturbed by the roar of our engines and, out of spite, made the weather get worse as we made our way to the second ferry of the day, to cross the Norddalshfjord from Ling to Eisdal, heading towards the renowned Geiranger Fjord.

Here the road kept dropping down in several hairpins with a breathtaking view (no, not the one of the ten thousand campervans parked everywhere in such a haphazard manner that only we Italians would have done worse!) till an observation post where you can literally walk on air, only a platform with nothing underneath it, just the Fjord with his boats way below! I had the same feeling as when I first climbed a mast 50 metres high many years ago, on the Big Class gaff-rigged cutter Lulworth, a mix of fear and excitement that will be never forgotten, the same as today! We even saw a cruise liner at the head of the Fjord and the remarkable fact is that it was 100 kms from the ocean!

At our lunch venue for the day in Geiranger, a delicious HERO complimentary buffet warmed spirits and refreshed stomachs and for those not quite satisfied with the view of waterfall just outside the hotel, a small museum with a dozen very unique cars inside, all from the area, has aroused the interest of our car enthusiasts.

It seems that the day was the brainchild of a cardiologist who was keen to test the participants' heart capacity under stress because, leaving lunch, we visited a Passage Control on the Dalsnibba mountain. Located at a height of 1,500m, it’s reached by a toll road up and back, with more than 10 hairpins overlooking a mountain lake; the viewing area features the Skywalk, an iron grid floor above a 500m drop: another other-wordly stunning view, but many pace-makers had to be then checked! I imagined all the hidden trolls giggling as they watched me struggle against the rain, the wind, a fluttering poncho and a hat pulled down over half my face, making me look like a scarecrow in the snow (yes, you heard me, it was snowing on 10th July at 2pm!).

I couldn't have hated my husband more when he made a video call to me lying by the pool in the garden of our house in Sorrento, sunbathing in his swimsuit and longing for some ice cubes to cool down from the 32°C, while I was a frozen piece of ice block at 6°C!

A long scenic drive with lots of bends, meandering along lakes dotted with mirrored mountains and uphill stretched through even more notable landscapes (very similar to Scotland and Ireland, specially for the foggy and rainy weather) and took us to the afternoon TC in Innvik, on the shores of Innvikfjorden.

It was then time to immerse ourselves in a river valley that looked like something out of Asbjørnsen and Moe's fairy tales, crossing the Jostedalsbreen National Park, where the glacier is the highest ice cap in mainland Europe’s, surrounded by spectacular waterfalls and a jaw-drapping landscape, sometimes hidden by the countless looooooooong tunnels we have passed through.

One more regularity, through a gentle valley which slowly brought us back to a more populated environment, led us to the evening halt at Sogndalsfjøra (or Sog-something, as I called it all the day, too tired to properly untangling the tongue for correct pronunciation, on the shore of the mighty Sognefjord, the largest and deepest fjord in Norway.

I’m sure that most of the rally people, or at least those who managed to venture out of the car, despite the weather, to enjoy the overhanging views, although they would never say so openly, in the privacy of their hotel rooms, are experiencing shaking legs, what in Italy we call, in a funny way, “avere le ginocchia che fanno Giacomo Giacomo” (literally: having knees that do James James!)

From a competition point of view, yesterday's overtaking of the Engelens in Car 20 confirmed their place at the top of the standings (with a 9:10 Total penalty), with the Mortons in Car 18 demoted to second position (with a 9:14 Total penalty), followed by the Pusniks in Car 17 (with a 9:35 Total penalty). Please note that the top three navigators are women: go girls power!!


Sognadalsfjøra. Sunset at 22.59

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