Poppiesandme go to Norway. Part two Ålesund

March 10th. 2014 | 2 Comments

After a massive meal for dinner and some wine we headed back to our new bigger room and prepared for our first night at sea. I slept like a baby! If any of you know me at all, you know that myself and sleeping are not the best of friends. However, that first night and the six that followed, the ship was my cradle and the Nordic sea was mother nature, gently rocking me to sleep. The next morning I woke with rather more excitement than Sean. I jumped out of bed and into the bathroom which was lets say “compact!” The sea now,  was a bit more on the boisterous side. Having never showered in such conditions I can now, proudly say that I have learnt to wash my hair with one hand! Such a skill to have! Whats that.. where was my other hand?! The other was firmly  gripped to the hand rail. I may have been attacked once or twice by the shower curtain, but lets not talk about that. Hair dryed, best clothes on and off for breakfast we went. All breakfast and lunches on the cruise were sumptuous buffets, I would say that they were more a feast than a buffet and so would my waist line. I tried and failed to be healthy. The options from, cheeses to meats, pancakes, every type of egg, breads, pastries, jams and waffles it was endless. Seriously, if you could think of a breakfast food group, it was there! We left with our books in hand, I had brought The Book Thief and Sean the latest in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. We found a window seat and sat down. This was to be the first and last time we sat down with our books on the cruise! No sooner had we sat down when the wonderful Harald announced that we would be shortly docking for 15 minuets in Torvik. Already our third stop of 35! {As I said, this is a working ship. While we were all snuggled up and fast asleep Ms Nordnordge had been busy!} Off we shot up to get our thermals on. Never in a million years did I think putting on clothes would be as hilarious or turn out to be such a work out!!! It was at this very point I realised that most of the nice clothes I had brought, were, totally and utterly useless. From here on in and mostly because I am lazy, I lived in my thermals, ski pants, t shirts and fleece. More layers were added as it needed, but this was mostly what I wore. Not the pretty honeymoon wardrobe that I had envisaged! A long time later, looking like giant marshmallow versions of ourselves we ran off the MS Nordnorge and on to the teeny tiny port of Torvik. I squealed with joy at the dustings of snow and then was pretty shocked to see that apart from this port and us, there was nothing around for MILES!!!! { or KILOMETRES!!!!} About 20 houses nestled in the hillside started to glisten in the rising sun. It was so pretty, so quiet, it was bliss. Then the ship called us back on board and it time to set sale for Ålesund.  We left the million billion layers on {again with the lazy} and sat out on deck and watched the sun come up.

“We navigate through the skerries and islands further north before reaching the town renowned for its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, Ålesund. We recommend the excursion to Mount Aksla for a perfect winter panoramic view.” Thats what our Hurtigruten booklet said. We thought why not, we saw Bergen from the sky might as well see Ålesund the same way. We made our way to deck four and found Harald. This man is a hive of information and humour. We asked when the ship docked, was the town far away? Was there a bus or a cab or something we could get from the port, could we even try and walk it? Harald looked at us both very seriously and said that the town was ” Like Ooooo, its maybe…. 20cm from the dock” After a chuckle, Harald also recommended that we use our legs and take a stroll around the town and to check out Mount Aksla. Off we went giggling into Ålesund. Such a pretty town, its the biggest between Bergen and Trodheim. It struck us straight away that there were very few wooden structures. That all the buildings looked new in comparison to what we had seen. We learnt later that, rather sadly, there was a huge fire back in 1904 that wiped the whole town centre. We read that it was a cow that kicked over a lantern and due to strong winds the fire raged through the town. I am not sure how true that is. The cow part, not the wind part! Bold Cow. Anyway, incredibly, tens of thousands of people were evacuated and saved in the wee hours of the night. Over 800 houses were burnt and only one person didn’t make it. It took over three years for the town to be rebuilt and this time in cement and stone. I guess this is the reason Ålesund is known as an Art Nouveau town. I am only sorry that we didn’t take more pictures of the ornate details on almost every single building we passed.

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about Mount Askla. Neither have my knees! Ålesund is a steep place. It reminded me a little of images of San Francisco. So after a while of waking around we looked up and saw the building on top of Aksla. But no matter how hard we squinted, we couldn’t see the cable cars or tram to get us up there? Out with the phones and a quick google revealed, that after a steep incline and some 418 steps { yes FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN STEPS} we would arrive at the building on top of Mount Aksla and could partake in a few light refreshments. Now, I am pretty certain, that on an average day that those 418 steps wouldn’t have caused a problem. 418 steps, when you are wearing the equivalent of a sheep for your base layer, never mind the other layers and lugging around backpacks. Now that right there, that is a whole other kettle of fish! To all those lovely fit beautiful people of Ålesund who jogged and ran past us, both on the way up and down. Sean and myself totally salute you! To all the little children who gave us worried looks and moved out of the way… we appreciated it! By the time we huffed our way to the top, the sun was already at the highest point it could reach in the sky. Ålesund was illuminated in a wonderful soft golden glow. It was a spectacular sight. I really could have stayed up there all day drinking hot chocolate.. Seriously! It had nothing to do with the fact that we had to walk back down those 418 steps. SWEAR!!!! Anyway we did. Much to our amusement we found a “Dirty Nellys” on the way back to the dock. There is always one isn’t there. It was only fitting that we popped in for a the one. And it really was the one! 400mls was working out at €10!

When we got back to the ship we stayed out on deck as we pulled away from Ålesund. This became a habit of ours. Saying goodbye to wonderful towns we had visited, watching out in anticipation of the next. In about the space of an hour the sun had fallen back behind the horizon once again created a series of fascinating scenes across the fjords.

 

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2 comments on Poppiesandme go to Norway. Part two Ålesund

  1. Christina Brosnan

    Looks like a deadly trip! And your photos are just beautiful! I want to go now :)

  2. Vebjorn

    Nice photos and interesting report from your journey on the Hurtigruten.
    Not many passengers on the ships this time of the year.
    Found you on Twitter :-) #bestnorwegian

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