It is a privilege to see Norway by sea. I am so lucky and appreciative of the sights I am privy to experience not once, but twice thanks to my unconventional job cruising the world. I must say, having seen many places that on a sunny day not much beat the Norwegian fjords with its countless waterfalls, tree-filled mountainsides, and snow-capped peaks. Thanks to being so far north during this time of year these beautiful natural phenomena are visible late into the night.
Our first port of Ålesund sits among other small Norwegian islands and is full of quaint buildings and shops all settled near the sea and connected by various intersecting waterways. Upon viewing the town from the vessel, it’s immediately obvious that something special lies in Ålesund. A short, 418-step high mountain sits in the center of the town, above everything else, inviting guests to a dazzling view from the top. On a sunny day, visitors can see the shy mountain peaks peering beyond the sparking water of the fjords and jagged sharp-angled rooftops of the colorful buildings below. Between the small-town charm and the natural beauty of the brightly colored grasses and trees, Ålesund is worth the trip north. By night, we sailed through the snowy mountainous islands against the backdrop of a setting sun that did not descend onto the horizon until the wee hours of the morning. It is definitely an experience indescribable with words.
To be honest, I am not quite sure what Geiranger was advertised as offering besides stunning views of rivers, valleys, mountains, and sheep. But that’s all it took for me to fall in love with the incredibly small town. A short hike up the road provided us with some well-deserved fresh air and beautiful sights reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. The constant rush of water through the river; bright hues of the infinite trees; and the laid-back vibe of the quiet town gave me a slight feeling of homesickness. Only here, everything was compacted and close together whereas in Washington State, many of the natural beauties we have to offer are spread out. Nonetheless, Geiranger made my day.
Our third Norwegian port, Flam proved way more fulfilling than what one may assume from merely glancing out the window. Rob and I went exploring beyond the small port and tourist area, along the river and road that leads to the next sleepy town. Again, Norway boasts some of the greenest plant life I’ve even seen, and thank goodness otherwise it will have spent so much time under dreary clouds for nothing! I spent a lot of time getting creative and shooting photos that capture the uniqueness of Flam’s character and the scenery it offers – bright red barns set in fields of green; snow shimmering from the top of lofty mountain peaks; vivid purple flowers lost in a sea of emerald. I only hope that my photos do it justice. Crossing over the river, Rob and I decided to test the freshness of the glacial runoff. Extremely cold and crisp, it tasted incredible, and I’m proud to report that neither of us is sick. To complete our natural experience, I even laid on stinging nettle to get the perfect picture. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before nor do I want to do it again! Luckily the nearby “doctor” plant was rubbed over my burns quick enough to dull the pain before it got too bad.
One very noticeable aspect of Flam is a beautiful waterfall set up high on the hills among the trees. We didn’t plan on hiking to see the base, but sometimes things don’t go according to plan… We decided to ascend the twenty-minute or so hike, ill-equipped with shoes not designed for the strenuous terrain. A gorgeous hike with a gorgeous rewarding view, we both highly appreciated the experience. On the way down I fell just once, but only because I was protecting my Ray-Bans and couldn’t use my hands. On the way back we ran into a few cast members and joined them for a leisurely stroll back to the port, however became sidetracked chatting with a local about his lifestyle and pets while playing with his puppy and purchasing home-made apple juice. A lovely way to end a fantastic day in port! So I returned to the ship full of fresh juice, cheery, and refreshed despite the nettle stings and scratched up legs.
The last Norwegian port I explored was none other than the capitol itself. Unfortunately we visited Oslo on a dreary morning and set sail at 2 in the afternoon so there wasn’t much time to adventure and the weather was anything but inviting. With the lack of excitement I encountered that day, I can’t quite distinguish its uniqueness from many of the other cities I’ve visited. Apparently it does have some great stuff to offer but our time was short and our energy was low so we headed back without having gained too much from Oslo. Regardless of the absence of thrill from our day in the capital, the previous three Norwegian ports totally made up for it.