Tonje's Travelogue 5: High flying fun in Voss
After our wonderfully cultured cider tasting experience in Hardangerfjord, it was time to hit the road and have some fun in Voss. Voss is known as an "extreme sports village", where you can try almost everything in the extreme sports category.
Every year in the last week of June, Voss hosts Ekstremsportveko, the largest extreme sport festival in the world. With competitions in kayaking, rafting, mtb-bmx, skateboarding, skydiving, paragliding, hang-gliding, freeride, big air, climbing, speed riding, cliff diving, biketrial, BASE and longboarding it has something for everyone.
The three day event attracts people from around the globe both as competitors and spectators. Top name artists from the world of pop, reggae and metal help turn the event into a real showcase.
Although we were not here to do anything as extreme as jump out of a plane, we were excited to try the wind tunell at Voss Vind.
Arriving in Voss, located in the heart of Fjord Norway - just over an hour from Bergen, we headed straight to the brand new Voss Gondol, located right next to the train station. Voss Gondol is the largest and most modern mountain gondola in Northern-Europe and from Voss Station, it takes you to Hangurstoppen (820 MASL).
The Gondola has 9 cabins, running continuously, with room for 34 people in each. This gives the gondola a capacity of 1069 passengers per hour. Voss Gondol replaced the old Hangursbanen cable car (Dinglo and Danglo), which has been out of service since 2015.
At the top station Hangurstoppen (820 MASL), you will find access to hiking and biking trails in Summer and ski slopes in winter. There is also a large restaurant at the top where Tonje had a tasty looking mountain burger and I stuffed myself with a rack of ribs.
From Hangurstoppen, we had a great panorama view of the mountains surrounding Voss. After dinner, we still had some time to wander around the top, capturing beautiful landscape shots with and without the local sheep who picked and chose when they were going to pose and when they were going to trot off.
We will definitely come back to see the place in the Winter and try out the SkiTicket to Voss.
The next morning it was an early rise to make our 9 a.m booking at Voss Vind. Luckily the area around the center is pretty quiet and we were able to camp close by for the night.
Voss Vind was Norway’s first recirculating air wind tunnel and produces some of the highest quality air flows in the world. Skydivers and teams from around the world come to compete and train in this training environment for free-falling. It is not only for the pro’s and this is where we come in.
Although I had experience in jumping out of planes in the military on static line jumps, neither Tonje nor I had any experience in free-falling. We met our instructor who explained the basics and went over a few ground rules. His main focus was on safety, relaxing, and enjoying. I definitely felt safe and enjoyed the time in the tunnel, but I definitely struggled with the staying relaxed part.
We each had three 90 second falls in the tunnel. You entered by raising your hands and falling forward. Under the expert direction of the instructor, you would then alter your body position based on what you wanted to achieve. Sucking in your belly for example had the effect of creating a pocket of air that would shoot you upwards. Being the noobs we were, it was easy to get spooked by this and lose our position. Luckily the instructor was always there to catch us and bring us back under control.
It was amazing how the slightest of changes to hand or leg positions could affect the direction you were spinning or whether you moved forwards or backward. It is not allowed to take any cameras inside the tunnel, but the center provides the option to buy video footage and photos of your time flying in the tunnel.
It felt like we improved a little each time we entered the tunnel, but it was definitely way harder than I expected. I felt so tense like I was fighting against the wind which by the way is the exact opposite of what our instructor told us to do. Relax, breathe, and enjoy. In any case, it was a really fun way to wake up for the day.
Voss, you ain't seen the last of us!
Douglas & Tonje
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