On our day off from cycling, we visit Folgefonna, a nearby glacier.  Not knowing what to expect because we booked the trip through the ferry website, we first ferry, then bus, then arrive at a ski resort 1000s of meters above the fjord. Although a small ski resort, the athletes here are legit – we learn that many Olympians and x-gamers come here to train and we could quickly tell by watching them.  The weather is brisk, the sun is peaking behind the clouds, and the landscape is stark – adventure must be near.

We gear up with a harness, crampons, an ice pick, waterproofs, and the stiffest hiking books we’ve ever worn.  The first half-mile is all steeply up hill in the snow.  Every two steps forward is accompanied by one step sliding backwards.  Although chilly out, we reach the top of the hill in a full sweat.  From here, we traverse for about an hour and then scramble down some rocks until we reach the blue ice of the glacier.

After a couple energy bars, we tie our crampons to the bottom of our boots and ready our ice picks for the next adventure.  All connected by a blue rope with about 5 feet of slack between each of us, we set off into the white abyss (the cloud cover has really come in).  Careful not to fall in any crevices or to sink too far into snow above the ice, we carefully make our way around the glacier stopping now and then for a picture.  The clouds come in and out exposing and then hiding our surroundings keeping us always alert.

The terrain is so desolate and different and seemingly dangerous, that we can only embrace the adrenaline rush that comes with it.

Hardangerfjord fruit stands

There is little more quaint than an unassuming fruit stand along a rarely travelled, one-lane road. Our ride through Ulvik was dotted with them. Farm after farm had set out their early harvest of cherries and strawberries, accompanied by an unlocked box for payment. We stopped for cherries just after a long downhill. As we stood by our bicycles plucking the cherries from their stems, the farmer from across the street asked in the little English he knew, “Very good?” And that summed up the whole moment.

A 1722 historic hotel in Utne

As we bike from small town to small town along the Hardangerfjord, our expectations for our accommodations and meals are modest.  Most towns have one large hotel with a lot of character, and the meals typically consist of salmon prepared in 3 to 7 different ways.  When we arrive in Utne, our expectations are blown away.  The Utne hotel we stay in was first established back in 1722, no two rooms are the same, the hotel managers are most hospitable, and the food is a real treat.

We arrive, quickly shower and change, and head downstairs for a local cider tasting.  Apparently, cider in the Hardangerfjord is a thing.  Apples are grown throughout and cider production has been happening dating back to the 11th century.  The hotel owner leads the tasting and walks us through 5 different ciders.  Some were dry, some sweet, some very sweet.  Each was made with a different combination of apples – all grown in Hardangerfjord – and each came with a story of who the producer was and their philosophy of cider production.  The hotel owner went to school with a couple of the producers, and we learned that one now has a doctorate in chemistry and makes very consistent cider, while another like to use more love than science when preparing his ciders. We enjoyed ciders from Alde, Hakastad, and Edel among others.

We love the whole experience complete with lit candelabra, a different wine glass charmingly of random sizes for each taste, and of course the local cider itself.