21 July 2011

From Bergen to Trondheim

After less than a day in Bergen it was time to move on to Trondheim. While the aim of the trip from Oslo to Bergen was travel first and sightseeing second this journey was all about sightseeing with a little bit of travel thrown in for good measure.

That's why we took the rather indirect route of Bergen, north to Alesund, south-east to Geiranger, north by bus along Trollsteigen to Molde then back on the cruise ship for the final leg, mostly east, to Trondheim.

Our vehicle for most of the journey was the cruiser Midnatsol (Midnight Sun).

This was a lot smaller than some of the cruisers that we saw but was still comfortably the biggest boat that I had been on.

Working down from the top, levels 9 and 8 were public areas with lots of seating and a few bars, levels 7 and 6 were cabins, level 5 was the main restaurant where we all fought for a breakfast table, and level 4 was more cabins.

Below that were the crew's quarters, service facilities, some engines and a few sea monsters (probably).

There were several places that you could go outside but level 6 was the best as you could walk all round the boat and because there was nothing there to sit on it was nicely quiet. There were generally around half a dozen hardy souls at the front braving the wind.

The boat set sail at 8pm at night and the rest of the evening was spent leisurely exploring the boat, watching the land slip slowly by and waiting for the sun to realise that it was time for bed, which it did around 11:30pm.

I was woken the next day by the tannoy announcement that we had arrived at Alesund, one of our scheduled stops, and would be there for 45 minutes. I knew that Alesund was pretty because I have a jigsaw of it (somewhere) so I took the opportunity to go ashore and have a look around. Good plan.

From there we went down the pretty Geiranger fjord. Those of us taking the overland excursion had to decamp on to a smaller boat to get ashore where our coach was waiting for us.

All too quickly we were hurtling up the mountain and town below looked small, even if the cruise ships didn't.

We headed north along Trollsteigen (Troll's Ladder) getting higher all the time. Our helpful and knowledgeable guide told us that the road was cleared of snow unusually earlier this year, the middle of May.

We also heard lots of stories of avalanches and hardship. Yet people live there. Not many though.

We had a break at the highest point to take in the sights, the fresh air and the snow.

This was too much temptation for some people and the expected snowball fight broke out on one of the larger patches of snow.

But seriously, a snowball fight in July?!

Moving on we took in some more of the sights, crossing awkward stretches of water by ferry to do so.

One of the more spectacular was a thundering gorge that you could get up close and personal to thanks to a metal walkway that snakes above it. Some of the recent repairs to it suggested that it was perhaps not always as sturdy as it should be, but I was brave.

As we descended the final mountain we had the highest waterfall to entertain us.

We also had eleven tight, terrifying hair-pin bend to negotiate.

The blue speck towards the centre of the picture is a coach gingerly making its way down in front of us. It also give a scale to the picture to show just how far and fast the road descends.

Passing the vehicles made enough to go the other way is difficult but the regular drivers know where the passing points are and how to look ahead to spot the traffic coming towards them.

Coaches are the main problem and while it was a good idea to let our driver know that there was one coming towards him I was less impressed that this was via a mobile phone call that he answered while negotiating one of the bends.

The bus journey ended at Molde.

This town is known for its roses but from the little I saw of it has nothing else going for it. This was the only low point of the holiday.

The tour ended with an evening meal in one of the hotels. The meat eaters got a slap of fish, mashed potato from a tin and frozen veg. They were lucky. After some panic at the mention of "vegetarian" I got just the mash and veg. Ugh.

The Midnatsol picked us up at Molde and took us on to Trondheim.

That mean another night on boat waiting for the sun to set. Eventually it obliged and sipped a little below the horizon for a couple of hours but before it did so it painted a streak of red across the water for us to remember it by.

Another good night's sleep on the peaceful boat then there was just enough time for breakfast before we arrived in Trondheim and the next stage of the holiday.

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