This journey was an outcome. From 2009 to 2014, when Norway was the only thing that people remembered out of our Scandinavia tour, there was already a route taking shape in my mind. A few names up here in Norway were been spoken. Places like Geiranger and Trondheim were known, but a few more started to make rounds of café conversations with the drivers I sat with.
It then took some online research and help from the local agency to come out with the Norway Fjords and Arctics itinerary. The Arctics I was aware would impress. The fjords were the big surprise of the tour.
There are only two countries on the planet with such a staggering coastline. Norway in the North and Chile in the Southern hemisphere. The midnight sun in Norway and the comparatively easy access gives an edge to the North, otherwise, there is very little to differentiate one from the other.
Some journeys take very little time but the number of experiences that one feels are so overwhelming that it feels a lot more time has passed. The travel from Alesund and Andalsnes in the Central West of Norway is one of those journeys. Alesund a Unesco World heritage city is I think what Bergen used to be before tourism showed its full and devastating effect. When I looked at the image of Alesund during my research for the trip, it looked so similar to what I had seen of Bergen on Google. The feel of Alesund is anything but a city and like most of the cities in Norway which are less of a city and more of a big village, Alesund too gives a similar feeling. After the fire of 1904, the whole city was reconstructed and walking through the cobblestone streets in its center, as we stand facing the harbor, it still feels like 1910 maybe.
Having walked the streets of Alesund every summer, I wanted to know how they look from the top of the Stoya Hill. I would see the hill and the lookout point every time and simply told myself, maybe I will make the hike next year. This time I went up. Alesund in perspective is beautiful. The peninsula protrudes towards you and after the initial, ‘let me take the pictures’ mind has settled, it is all about sitting 450 steps above the ‘big village’ of Alesund and just looking below till your gaze goes. Right from the heritage structures to the horizon over the Norwegian Sea.
Water plays such an important role in any road travel in Norway. You are never really far away from a water body, be it the open sea, a fjord or a river. Where there is water, there are bridges, tunnels, and ferries to take care of travel over it. Starting from Alesund driving parallel to the Fjord (don’t remember the name, there are so many), you would immediately find yourself crossing it either through an undersea tunnel or a ferry. We choose a combination of both to reach our first stop. There are many views that demand a stop but the narrow roads and limited parking possibilities for a big bus do not allow this. I often think of driving this route as I did in Ireland. So that I can stop where I want and simply try and soak in what lies in front. I say try because there is so much that happens in front and there is so much more there that not all can be soaked in. Being in Norway at times is like watching a drama, and in places like the Fjordland, you often would find yourself in the front seat of the action.
Driving In Norway
The roads are narrow and if you are not used to driving on the right-hand side of the road then it might be challenging. The lack of public transport makes this either rent a car or join an Anubhav Tour kind of an alternative.
The highlight of the first part of this journey has to be the Briksdalen Glacier. It is not big but just the approach to it makes it extra special. The journey to the approach is by regular transport, and then you can choose to hike up or take a buggy ride. We take the ride up and then walk the last 400 meters to reach the glacier lake. Again, all through this, the water is right there flowing next to you. There is the Perito Moreno Glacier, which far too big, but this one in Norway is calming. Even with the two busloads of people that are usually spending time around the lake, the place still feels to yourself.
When we walk back to the bus there is a sense of content in everyone. I look at the faces of my people and I know that the day has been good. The trip has only started I wish to tell them!