"" Writer's Wanderings: My Favorite Fjord, Geiranger

Friday, May 26, 2023

My Favorite Fjord, Geiranger

To understand why this is my favorite fjord in Norway, I have to take you back, way back, to when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. In our geography books (back then we actually studied geography) there was a picture of Geiranger. I didn't know its name at the time but it made me fall in love with the Norwegian fjords.

Fast forward to several years ago and our first cruise in the fjords. We came to Geiranger Fjord. It was a pretty day as I recall with some sunshine. As we cruised in, I suddenly had a flashback to that picture. This was the place! And it was just as beautiful for real as it was in the picture.

This day was our third visit and the earliest in the season we have ever been here. Just like home in NE Ohio, the weather was unpredictable and the best the captain could say was that even though it would snow in the upper regions, it would not snow near the water. 

No, it rained. 

The sea walk moves out to the ship.

Our view of the fjord was clouded and gray as we boarded the tender boat that would take us to shore where we would catch a ferry that tours the fjord to Hellesylt, a little town at the other end of the fjord from the town of Geiranger. We were originally scheduled to tender and then it changed to using a retractable sea walk, as they call it. Something new to us. When another ship that was larger than ours was scheduled for the port, they were given the priority for the sea walk. It was good though as later on when we returned we saw people standing and waiting for the sea walk that had been retracted to allow for a large boat or something to pass. We were tendered to our ship while those on the other ship still waited at the shore in the drizzling rain.
Mountainside farm

The ferry from Geiranger to Hellesylt takes an hour and five minutes. Roundtrip for the two of us was about $100 USD. An inexpensive excursion by any stretch of the imagination. For some reason, back in February, I had made the ticket reservation for 8 AM. What was I thinking? We got up very early and hustled to the Lido for early breakfast then down to the lounge where the tender tickets were being handed out. Knowing they would take early excursions first, I was relieved when we got a ticket and were loaded on a tender by 7:30.

The Seven Sisters

The walk to the ferry takes about five minutes from the tender dock and we showed our e-ticket and were aboard in plenty of time. The ferry has a low deck for cars and then a lounge area above as well as a few open deck areas. The lounge is very comfortable, some couches, nice chairs, and tables with chairs near the snack area. As we walked past the snack area, the girl was making pancakes on a griddle. They smelled really good but we resisted and just got two coffees.

There were very few people on the ferry this early. I thought there might be more with two ships in. We got front row seats on two comfortable chairs and watched as the front of the ferry which rises up to allow cars to drive on was lowered and we backed out and turned. Ahead of us was my beautiful fjord, still beautiful even with the drab day.

The rejected suitor.

We passed the famous Seven Sisters Falls. Last time here there were only five or six flowing. It is said that the falls were actually seven sisters that never married but across from them is a wider and a little shorter waterfall said to be the Wooer or suitor. In the center of that fall is the shape of a bottle if you use your imagination. They say he was rejected by the sisters so much that he finally took to the bottle to ease his pain.

There are also a lot of farms dotting the hillsides. One is very old and remote. The only way to it so long ago was to climb a ladder. It was a valuable position for the farmer as when the tax man came, he would retract the ladder and the tax man could not get there to collect taxes. 

Another farm story was that one of the farms had young children that needed to be tethered because there was not much room to roam and parents worried they would fall over the edge. 

There were a few breaks in the clouds here and there and some of the snow topped mountains shone brightly only to be covered again by a cloud and a shower of snow which turned to rain as it got close to the water.

We got off the ferry just long enough to snap a picture or two of the church and the falls that runs through the town. Our return trip was in 20 minutes. Again, I didn't think of that when I booked it but it was fine considering the weather. It was only about 39 F and drizzly so we wouldn't have enjoyed walking around too long. 

Back on the ferry the thought of those pancakes and our hasty breakfast won me over. I suggested we get some along with another cup of coffee for the trip back. The pancakes, called Sevele, came with either a butter cream filling or thinly sliced brown cheese. The Norwegian brown cheese is called Brunost and is made from whey. It has a sort of sweet taste but not a heavy cheese flavor. I got that one and Bob got the butter cream. Both were very good, especially with a little strawberry jam on top.

The clouds had lowered a bit more for our trip back to the town of Geiranger. I was glad I snapped more pictures on our trip out. There would be a second chance for good pictures if the weather broke a little for our sail out around dinner time.

At around 4:30 when everyone was to be on board, the captain made an announcement. There were 340 or so passengers missing from the ship. Not to worry if you looked out the front of the ship, you would see the traffic jam they were caught in. From what we could piece together from other passengers it sounds like one of the tour busses either got stuck on one of the hairpin turns on the roads leading up the mountain or it broke down. We heard both versions. Either one required a tow truck which had to be ferried in from Alesund. I think that would have been about a three hour trip. The busses all got backed up on the road along with a small semi-truck that we could see. There was no way around the bus.

Oh, the pancakes!!

We were a little over an hour late leaving Geiranger but all passengers were accounted for as they hoisted the tenders back up and left. The wind had died down some so the captain gave us a little treat in doing a 360 in front of the Seven Sisters Falls. Everyone got a great look at them.

Our dinner was special. Normally, or should I say in the past and on some other cruise lines, there is a lobster night. On Holland America there is no longer a special lobster dinner night. Instead you pay $15/each for two small broiled lobster tails. Bob decided we needed to try it. The lobster was good but we remembered the night we had lobster on a Celebrity ship not long ago and we got surf and turf with an extra lobster for no extra charge.

On to Bergen...

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