Friday, August 5, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Florø — Molde

(Thursday, June 26th 2014 2a.m. — 10p.m.)

No, we didn’t get off the boat at 2a.m., we stayed on it. But since my last post got somewhat longer than what I had expected, I thought to split it in two parts, and the best way of showing this already in the title was by using the closest stop to midnight of the Hurtigruten which we were on.

So today we had another day without any significant cycling. Instead we spend most of the time on the MS Polarlys, which we embarked on yesterday.
Another chance for us to enjoy a late breakfast without having to pack our bags just yet again. One could get used to it…but then where is the adventure in this holiday if we did it all by boat?

During the summer months the northbound Hurtigruten boats add a fjord sightseeing trip from Ålesund into the famous Geirangerfjord and back to Ålesund in the early evening. This is a 9 hour detour, during which we saw some of the beauty that Norway has to offer.
We could also have stayed the hours in Ålesund and visited the town instead, but I really didn’t think about it as I knew the beauty of the Geirangerfjord and the idea of having a place to sit down and relax — or take a nap during daytime if needed — was pretty convincing.

We finished our breakfast around the time when the boat arrived in Ålesund for the first time today. And after that just thought to relax and enjoy the trip into the Fjord, when an announcement was made over the speaker system that all passengers who wanted to disembark in Molde would have to leave their cabins at 11a.m. and not an hour or two before arrival in Molde 10 hours later. We just looked at each other and thought this had to be an error. What were we supposed to do with our bags for all the time?
Solo asked me to go to the reception and ask if we could keep our cabin for longer, since this really wasn’t how we had seen our day to be. Unfortunately I came back with bad news, the receptionist only told me that this was the way things were and we would have to leave the cabin so that it could get cleaned. Solo would not believe this, so I asked him in return to go there and see if he could come up with another solution. I don’t know if it was because when I asked I did so in Norwegian and when he did so he did in English, standing out as a tourist who would bring money into the country. But no matter what the reason was, he came back with good news, we were allowed to keep our cabin until about an hour before arriving in Molde.
About half an hour later another announcement was made over the speaker system telling everybody who wanted to disembark in Molde could keep their cabin for an additional fee of some 300 NOK until an hour before arrival. I looked at Solo and asked him if he had paid anything extra for it and he told me he had not.
Well, sometimes it is clearly a good thing to be the second person to ask and to stand out as a tourist, it seems.
Now we could enjoy our day on the boat without any more worries.



The Geirangerfjord is part of the UNESCO world heritage and as such pretty much every cruiseship that visits the Fjordland of Norway also visits the Geirangerfjord. The sights are remarkable of course, and the stories behind some of the buildings are stunning to say the least.
Some of the old farms are placed high up a steep mountain wall and in earlier times when the taxman had to come by boat for some strange reason the farmer would take the ladder, connecting the shore with his farm, up for repair. Of course it was just by pure chance that this would be at the very same day when the taxman was to arrive. ;-)

Even today Geiranger cannot be reached by road during the winter months, as both the Ørnesvingen as well as the road over Dalsnibba will be closed during the winter because of the snow. The Ørnesvingen is a rather narrow road with 11 hairpin curves toward Eidsdal, which you can see in the next photo.


The time spent in Geiranger is too short though to disembark and do some sightseeing, but of course you could buy additional trips to your boat tour and for example take a bus from Geiranger toward Molde where you would reembark onto the same boat again. The bus tour would take you up the Ørnesvingen or Eagles Road over the mountain and then down the even more famous Trollstigen. But of course this means you would have to spend some extra money. We didn’t consider this option though, it would probably not have worked out anyway as we had to disembark in Molde. Considering the trouble we had to get onto the boat with our bikes I really didn’t want to think about what trouble we would have had if we had decided to take this trip and have someone else take care of getting our bikes down from the boat. So we took the boat back from Geiranger to Ålesund, where we arrived in the early evening.
The Hurtigruten boats anchor pretty much in the town center of Ålesund, so we got a nice view of the town even though we did not have the time to visit it.



The white building in the upper right of the photo belongs to the viewpoint of this mountain, called Aksla. From here one has a nice view over the city and some of its surrounding nature, as I have seen on a previous visit to Ålesund in June 2005. But to get there one has to go up 418 steps or go there by car.
But you will not only see the nice view from up here. You will also find some reminders of WWII, as some part of the Atlantic Wall was built up here and those bunkers still exist.
We still had some time left before we had to leave our cabin for good. So we spent most of it on the outside deck after leaving Ålesund. We soon noticed that the wind was getting stronger and the waves a little higher. One could feel the moving boat now. Thankfully neither Solo nor I were affected by motion sickness, but we started wondering if the wind would pick up any more during the evening after the boat had left Molde…
It has happened before of course. And a couple of times the Hurtigruten boats had to return to their last harbor as the wind was too strong to safely make the whole day’s — or night’s — trip to the next harbor. One time it got so bad that the captain made an announcement that all passengers had to lie down in their cabins until calmer waters were reached, otherwise the chances for serious accidents where too high…

With some twenty minutes delay we made it into Molde, seeing the MS Richard With — a sister ship to the Polaris — leaving Molde before we had to get to our bikes.
Now it was time to figure out where exactly that campground was located. All I knew was that it was somewhere to the east along the European Road. But I also remembered that I had plotted the map and stored it in my GPS, so it was time to dig it out and let it be our guide.
It was getting somewhat cool in the evening even though we were riding our bikes, so we soon found ourselves stopping just one more time to put on some more clothes.
Eventually we made it to the campground, pitched Solo’s tent and got ready for the night, but not before taking some more nice photos of the area.



You can find more photos from Norway on my website.