Transportation

The last time Mom & I were in Europe in 2011 we train-hopped and shoved our way onto busses, but did absolutely no driving (unless you count wrecking a motorcycle). Traveling around Iceland and Norway I saw many unfamiliar signs.  Hopefully, after taking the quiz below, you will be more prepared than I was.


#1
* Tunnel
* Ranger station
* Shelter 
* Train station









ANSWER:  Tunnel 
You have probably seen a magazine advertisement with a cute, Norwegian town on the side of a fjord.  If not, then you are probably aware that travelers flock to the country for its BASE-jumping.  This fantastic landscape also necessitated tunnelens a.k.a. tunnels.  A local told us there were 80-some tunnels in the two-hour stretch of road between Bergen & Eidfjord.  He was correct.  Some were short & I could see the sky on the other side before we entered the tunnelen.  Others interjected into the rock face, as in the photograph above.  All the tunnelens had some form of lighting & -- smartly – two lanes on the uphill legs so that you did not have to suffer behind a laden semi-truck.

#2
*  24 hour parking
*  Roundabout
*  Recycle bins
*  Detour






ANSWER:  Roundabout.
Remember those billions of tunnelens I mentioned?  Though most were tolerable, a few had our engine’s RPMs & Mom’s claustrophobia maxed.  It was quite unsettling to read the signs stating our depth under water  en route to Lysefjord (pronounced “lee-seh-fyord”).  My ears popped frequently as the pressure of the North Sea bore down on us.  As the hire car descended further, my mind went to dark places. I imagined one tiny crack in the cement bursting, to unleash the infinite tons of water therefore crushing us.
This particular tunnelen in Hardangerfjord  was so lengthy there was a roundabout in it!  Simultaneously, Norway & the world's longest tunnelen is called Lærdal.  Since it is 24.5 kilometers a.k.a. over 15 miles I was told by a local the lights inside it change color to prevent tunnelen vision.


#3
*  To pedestrian walkway
*  To WC a.k.a. bathroom
*  To jogging/cycling trail
*  To emergency exit

ANSWER:  To emergency exit.



#4
*  Resume legal speed
*  Police station
*  No entry a.k.a. one way
*  Customs








ANSWER:  No entry a.k.a. one way.



#5
*  No parking on this side of road
*  Free parking
*  Low clearance
*  No over-taking a.k.a. passing


ANSWER:  No parking.



#6
*  No bus/taxi aboard ferry
*  No passenger pick up
*  No bus/taxi parking
*  End bus/taxi lane

ANSWER: End bus/taxi lane.



#7
*  No parking
*  No entry a.k.a. one way
*  No stopping
*  No gates at railroad crossing








ANSWER:  No stopping.



#8
*  Priority road
*  Construction zone
*  Mountain ahead
*  Low clearance





ANSWER:  Priority road.



#9
*  Polar Bear region; a firearm is mandatory.
*  Passing prohibited.
*  No parking on side of road.
*  Passing permitted.








ANSWER: Passing permitted.



#10
*  Merge
*  Meeting point
*  Motorway a.k.a. highway
*  Metro station






ANSWER:  Meeting point. 
I wouldn't have guessed it either.  In fact, I only learned the meaning after I Google-d the sign post-vacation.  The only time I saw this throughout our Scandinavian stint was around Lysefjord.



#11
*  National road
*  Viking settlement
*  Intersection
*  Attraction






ANSWER: Attraction.


How well did you score?

Norway's ferry network was textbook.  Most island roads ended abruptly at the next port.  The time for the next departure was clearly indicated (although I could not comprehend the writing) & most routes recurrently ran.  The only tricky part of the entire process was determining which of the six lanes to enter, but it was an irrelevant conundrum.  Like clockwork, tour busses, cars and semi trucks filed onto the many levels of the ferries, promptly shut off their engines & let passengers off.  Most people stretched their legs or ascended to the cafeteria/sitting lounge.  Others -- like Mom & I -- donned our heavy jackets and braved the battery of the wind to marvel at the scenery.  Of the twelve legs I sailed throughout Norway, each departed diligently on time.  The entire architecture and process was so efficient it made navigating this country of a thousand fjords (literally!) hassle-free.

In summary, everything in mainland Norway was well marked.  Its extensive and well-maintained transportation system must be fueled by its numerous toll roads.  Mom & I figured that driving the circuit from Bergen to Eidfjord cost $100 USD.  However, we never knew we were cruising on a toll road.  So keep a watchful eye for the suspended cameras & the “Kr” sign translating to Krona a.k.a. money.

Iceland was easy to explore as well, especially considering it was an island with over 13,000 kilometers of road but no rail system & a ring road circumnavigated it.  A car was imperative for Mom & I since we were not the tour group types.  The highland roads (which begin with an "F") only passable with 4-wheel drive vehicles and/or in summer were identifiable.  My only complaint with the country's transportation system was the lack of warning.  Here, in the United States of America, there are plenty of signs that prepare the driver like “Road work ahead,” “Next rest stop: 54 miles,” or “Exit: 2 miles.”  In Iceland -- especially the greater Reykjavik area -- Mom & I often missed an exit or caused an accident by violently jerking the steering wheel because there was a sole sign that sprang up seconds before the off-ramp.

Of all the foreign and funky signs I saw in three different countries, this one was my favorite for a few reasons.  First, it affirmed Mom & I had arrived at the destination that spawned our entire 28 day trip.  Second, I always enjoy these signs with directional arrows & distances because it helps me put the world into perspective and fathom how far away from "home" I truly am.  Third, it was a new, personal milestone: farthest latitude north.  Last, the red & black icon meant Polar Bears roamed freely.

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