Days 5-7: Jostedalsbreen and Sognefjord
On our fifth day, we left Aurland by way of the world's longest tunnel, the Lærdal Tunnel, at 24.5 km (or 15.25 miles). To put that one in perspective, the second longest tunnel is in Switzerland and is under 17 km long. Norway is crazy with tunnels! It's amazing how much time you spend in one tunnel after another traveling around Norway by train or car — but I guess it helps a lot in the winter with all the snow. You frequently pop out of one multi-kilometer tunnel to glimpse a valley or fjord-side town only to pop back into another tunnel in a moment. It's definitely not something I'm used to where in the U.S. we tend more to build windy mountain roads and just close half of them in the winter (like in the Sierra Nevada of California).
Anyway, we spent the day working our way around the Sognefjord (mostly within tunnels but also one ferry crossing) on our way to Jostedal and the southern side of Jostedalsbreen National Park. Jostedalsbreen ("Jostedal glacier") is the largest glacier in continental Europe at 188 square miles and 2000 ft. thick at its deepest. It has many glacier arms (or tongues) where it spills over and down into the valleys surrounding it. We visited the two arms near Jostedal and took a guided ice crampon hike on the Nigardsbreen arm.
After two nights at the Jostedal Hotel, we had a full day's drive down and around the Jostedalsbreen to get around to the north and our next destination, Geirangerfjord. We saw more arms of the Jostedalsbreen glacier along the way, even some times just peek views between tunnels. ;-) But we also made a detour to go see the Urnes wooden stave church in Luster — standing since 1150!