You may have read my other recent post, “A Day From Hell,” so I wanted to let you know the vacation wasn’t entirely a bust. We cruised from Amsterdam up the coast of Norway, stopping at Flam, Stavanger, Kristiansand, and Oslo. Unfortunately, I was so concerned about international roaming charges I left my phone in the room safe and have no photos of this part of the trip.
Flam, pronounced Flome, is a town of 300 or so people in a stunning setting. We rode a bus up to the top of a nearby mountain for a view of the area. The road was basically one lane, so drastic measures were needed when we met opposing traffic. Our driver was good.
Stavanger is the 3rd largest city in Norway, with some 130,000 people. Sharon loved it, but I’ve seen plenty of cities. I’m more impressed by small towns and rural settings. We did take a bus tour around the city.
We planned just to walk around Kristiansand a bit on our own, but it was cold and rainy, so we just stayed on the ship. We didn’t really get much impression of the place.
In Oslo, we were met by friends we’d met a few years ago on a Caribbean cruise. They showed us around the city and took us to their apartment for lunch. We enjoyed their company very much, but my main impression of the city was that there were roundabouts on every corner. Not quite, but there were plenty of them.
For some reason, Holland America runs this cruise out of Amsterdam, and instead of a 2-week cruise, it’s two 1-week cruises back to back. This meant we wasted 4 days of our cruising time going back and forth to Amsterdam instead of seeing the beautiful scenery of the Norwegian coast.
Sharon wanted to take a canal tour, so we set out on a 45-minute walk to try to find where to get on a canal boat. Apparently its location is a state secret, because there were no signs anywhere to direct us, and we had trouble finding people who could tell us where to find it. By the time we got back to the ship, I was even less impressed with Amsterdam than I had been, and that was difficult to do.
Our next port, after wasting Monday at sea, was Eidfjord, pronounced Ide-fyord. It’s a lovely little town at the end of a beautiful fjord, surrounded by majestic mountains. The photo on the left is a fjord scene. The one on the right looks down a canyon toward the town from the top of a mountain.
In Alesund, pronounced Ole-uh-sund, we didn’t have an excursion scheduled, so we just got off the ship on our own. We found a cute little trolley, designed to look like a short train but with regular tires to go on streets. It took us to the top of mountain where I got this picture of our ship and the fjord looking over Sharon’s shoulder.
Looking the other direction from the observation point, I got this photo of the other side of the fjord behind the town.
Although the little trolley looked cute, the streets it operated on didn’t. They were filled with potholes and dips that made the ride up the mountainside very uncomfortable. We decided we preferred the smooth highways we’d found in other places and the buses with their comfortable shock absorbers. Oh, well. You live and learn.
Our favorite place—or at least mine—on the whole trip was Geiranger, pronounced Guy- ran-gur. You can barely see the town in the upper left corner. Since there was another ship tied up in the single dock space, we had to use tenders to get from our ship to town.
We took a bus up to the top of a 5000-foot mountain, where we got this photo of the road going up. Although not quite as narrow as the one at Flam, it seems all these mountain roads are about 1½ lanes wide, which is interesting with the hairpin curves you can see in the picture.
This picture of Sharon atop the mountain shows the town, the fjord, and both ships. It also gives you a little idea of the majesty of the mountains surrounding the fjord.
Sorry I’m not a better photographer. I don’t feel like I’m giving you a very good picture of the grandeur of the mountains and fjords. Maybe you should go see them for yourselves. On the other hand, if you read my previous blog post, you may prefer to stay home.
Our last stop was Bergen, the 2nd largest city in Norway at around 260,000. As I mentioned above, I’m not that thrilled with cities, so it wasn’t among my favorite places. I didn’t even take any pictures there.
I’d love to have gotten up to Trondheim or to the beautiful town of Gudvangen. If Holland American sailed out of Oslo instead of Amsterdam, or if they’d made this one cruise instead of two, we would have had time. I really don’t know why they do it that way.
Despite the horrible trip home from Amsterdam and some mild disappointment with the ship itself, we really did enjoy seeing coastal Norway. I might even go again, when they build a road so I can drive over instead of dealing with airports and security crap.
Writers may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
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