Published: August 15th 2010August 15th 2010
The cruiser prepares to turn and present more mind blowing scenery.
The western fjords of Norway on a still morning look like fragile glass, as if a single tap with an ice pick would shatter the tranquil waters into a thousand tiny pieces. Fjordland Norway is nature's royalty, and probably the most majestic place on earth. Ancient glaciers carved out the breathtaking scenery that makes this part of the world a must see travel destination, and I'm delighted to be here communing with nature. The scale of the fjords is staggering, and it must be noted the light on the fjords can make photography quite a tricky proposition, but the scenery will remain burned into my memory banks for life.
If I may recap briefly, constant reader
, we left off in Bergen and to take a bus north to Alesund is a nine hour proposition. I could zoom the same distance between Sydney and Canberra in around three hours, but travelling in Western Norway is an entirely different proposition. The road twists around the breathtaking fjords, and some of the tunnels carved into the majestic peaks surrounding the fjords are out of this world. Norway has the longest land tunnel in the world, and heaps of them stretch for several
A gorgeous city on the water.
kilometres. They even have their own radio channels inside the large tunnels to check on traffic conditions. Anyways, we arrived safely in Alesund around 4:00pm, and for once on this trip I was a bit of a shambles. The guide book map of the town was woefully inadequate, and only listed the names of a few streets right in the centre of town. I knew from the direction of the fjord which way to head, but had no idea how to find the hostel. A local lady in a pizzeria overwhelmed me with her help and suggestions. I suggested she should work in a tourist information office, and she said she used to! I was absolutely sorted for information after this lucky random encounter.
So I found the HI International hostel, a ripper by the way; checked in, did my thing, and headed down to the harbour next morning as suggested by my friend at the pizza place, for the best option to explore Geiranger fjord. For around 680 kroner we enjoyed an all day cruise on one of the legendary Hurtigruten cruise ships, proudly servicing the west coast of Norway all year round. This company is a Norwegian
Looking back often provides better lighting.
institution, and eleven steam ships constantly head up and down the west coast. It's 110 kilometres to the greatest fjord in the world, Geiranger. And what better way to get out to the fjord than from a dock right in the heart of Alesund .... perfect I reckon! The steamer took three hours to reach the fjord, but it was clear as we approached that we were heading for something special...
The mighty peaks that herald the commencement of Geiranger have to be seen to be believed. There are also two world famous waterfalls in the fjord, but an absence of recent rain reduced the flow substantially. At the mouth of the fjord is the little village of Geiranger, a picturesque place with just one winding road that heads in to the fjord. But there's no impediment to cruise ships, and we saw a few monsters indeed during our cruise. We steamed back to Alesund in a loop, with more breathtaking scenery and a spectacular afternoon sun breaking through. At one stage I counted ten soaring peaks down one side of a channel, and spending a day cruising the waters of Geiranger is a wonderful travel experience.
Hurtigruten cruiser docks in Alesund
The weather was superb at the end of our cruise. What a magic day!
bar lady was cool, playing cards with customers while serving drinks in the panorama bar upstairs. She was asked how the last game went, and said she won, again! "Multitasking" I suggested from my chair with beer in hand. She laughed, she liked that! The town of Alesund is often referred to as the most beautiful city in Norway, and the views from the hill overlooking the town are absolutely superb. It's built on a series of canals facing the harbour, and presents as a mini Venice. I recommend a journey north to visit Alesund, and of course the nearby UNESCO world heritage listed Geirangerfjord.
My visit to Norway concluded with a further eight hour bus road north to Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway. Trondheim is gorgeous and it was great fun staying in the Trondheim Inter-Rail Centre, which is open for the summer months. The service was appealingly chaotic, a la student style, but the young jazz band that came on stage around 10:00pm were brilliant musicians, so the party kicked on good style. Trondheim is home to the impressive Nidaros Cathedral, and the most famous in Norway. There's only one way to summarise my trip
to magnificent Fjordland Norway. By all the Viking Gods it's beautiful up here, basically all of you should be here now!
There go the people - I must follow them, for I am their leader." 19th century French democrat Alexandre August Ledru-Rollin
It's home time so until next time, I'm signing off for now
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