At about four o'clock this morning we were woken by the sound of heavy, sustained gunfire coming from our roof. This wasn't just rain, it was a barrage of water and it came with a violent wind that shook Thor about so much, we all had thoughts about whether we might actually be flipped over. It was the kind of rain we used to get in DC sometimes and it was fun to watch, knowing it would be over in ten minutes or so. Last night though the storm kept picking up in intensity then falling away a little before whipping up again. It did this for more than an hour and it felt like the end of the summer.
This morning, there were shaggy grey clouds over the mountaintops obscuring all but slivers of freshly washed blue sky. All the motorhomes in the campground were all sparkling clean from the rain, but the tent campers looked as if they had had better nights. The older couple on the beautiful yacht moored down from us, untied and slipped quietly down the fjord. We had noticed the American flag on the transom and sure enough it was registered in Cumberland, Maine. They've had quite a journey.
The sun was in and out, but mostly in and we set a course south to one of Norway's only baronial estates. It would be a last Thing To Do before finding a ferry to take us back towards Bergen.
It was, of course, a pretty drive winding along the fjord's edge with all the usual waterfalls boosted by the night's rain. At one point we actually crossed a bridge over the end of one enormous waterfall that was so close to the road it felt like it shouldn't actually be there - as if a dam had burst its banks. It all felt distinctly autumnal though, cool and cloudy with patches of sunshine that seemed to know they were fighting a losing battle. Even though its only the end of August, we've noticed people getting ready for winter with big sacks of logs being delivered to houses and all the plastic wrapped haybales being pulled in for storage.
The Rosendal manor house was built in the 1660s by a Danish Aristocrat with pretensions. He actually wanted to be a Baron and despite the fact that the King didn't think his estate was big enough, he managed to get a Baronetcy on the condition that it would only remain in the family's hands as long as there were male heirs. The house is actually quite modest, and unusually for the region, built of stone as that is what the Danish aristocracy did. All the wood inside is painted to look like marble, including a vast oak spiral staircase that was constructed from a single tree. No photos allowed unfortunately Madam. The most interesting room was the one that had changed the least since the 17th century; its walls covered with French tapestry in dark reds and greens. There was a small bed and we were told that in those days the gentry slept sitting up, scared that the vile humours in their body would seep into their brains if they lay flat at night.
The house had been changed a fair bit since then by subsequent owners who bought it when the original Baronetcy died with the last male heir. The old formal gardens had been opened up and are still very pretty with lots of roses. When the new owner's family finally died out in 1927, the whole lot was bequeathed to the University of Oslo, although our tour guide suggested that the man who had originally suggested the bequest had intended it to be for the University of Copenhagen, in the spirit of the original Baronetcy. Coming just after Norwegian independence (from Sweden) though, I imagine that idea wouldn't have had a great reception.
From Rosendal, our southernmost point in Norway, we retraced our steps back up the coast a few K to Årsnes and the ferry terminal, where we are now. We are at the front of the queue with the ferry steaming in at a fair old pace under stormy skies. It is the Vikingen, registered in Bergen.
We crossed the fjord with a wide view all around to areas under torrential rain, others under cloud and a few in sunshine, lit as if by searchlights. It was a hundred and twenty five kilometers to the campsite I'd found which is just twenty minutes or so from the airport.
The ride took us first along a patched and twisting little fjordside road, past tiny harbours and farming villages. P and I both felt the scenery looked a lot like Maine. The rain came and went and we were treated to some stunning rainbows. It felt very much like our last ride though.
After having headed north all the way from Rosendal, we finally turned west in Norheimsund and followed the signs for Bergen. Now it was a busy, fast road but still fairly rural and the campsite has views across to hills. We've been trying to finish our standby food, which meant a fairly eclectic supper of tomato pasta, potato salad, tinned fruit and yoghurt. Not perhaps a lifestyle diet, but it did the job. Tom has been breaking down his lego into ziplock bags, Philippa has been clearing up and I have been packing. Tomorrow we wake up in Thor for the last time.