Chris' Previous Journal
September 4, 2010, Alesund, Norway
We had a very peaceful, restful day at sea yesterday. Everyone we spoke with was amazed at how calm the seas were all day - not even a ripple.
As we approached Alesund, the scenery was again, stunning. This time of year, the fjords are a lush green and on our way into the port of Alesund, we noticed little villages sitting by the sea at the base of the towering fjords.
We arrived in the port around 9am. I don't think we could have asked for a more beautiful day. The sun was shining, very little wind and everything just seemed to sparkle.
Alesund is a popular tourist destination, due to the beauty of the city and surrounding area and its close proximity to the major Norwegian fjords.
We walked along the waterfront after leaving the ship. The water in the harbor was very calm and the reflections in the water were mirror images of the buildings.
Alesund frequently tops the national polls as the most beautiful town in Norway, and after visiting, we can certainly understand why it ranks so high.
The downtown was very quiet, as the shops weren't open yet but that's the best time to catch a few pictures - before the traffic. Alesund's architecture is much newer than the other Norwegian cities we have visited.
On January 23, 1904, the town was destroyed by a fire. The residents had to flee with just minutes' notice. Only one person died, but 10,000 were left homeless. As with most Norwegian cities, the majority of structures had been built of wood, allowing the fire to spread quickly.
Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany assisted with the rebuilding of the city and one of the major streets is named after him. The town was rebuilt in stone, brick and mortar in Jugendstil (Art Nouveau). The architecture of the city is consistent - most of it being rebuilt between 1904 and 1907 and features gables, pointed turrets and ornate flourishes on the pastel-colored facades.
From one of the downtown streets, we saw a path leading into a park and decided to see what was there.
We noticed the sign pointing to Fjellstua which is a lodge stop Aksla, the "city mountain". The sign read: 418 with a diagram indicating stairs. Well, we decided since we'd seen pictures of the city from that location, we'd give it a try.
The climb wasn't bad at all - there are pathways, stairs and resting spots with benches along the way. Fjellstua is 426 feet above sea level. Upon reaching the top and seeing the view, the climb is definitely worth the effort. The views are some of the most amazing we've ever seen. Fjellstua is the fourth highest visited spot in Norway, with nearly 185,000 visitors annually.
We shot lots of photos, had a coffee and headed back down the mountain. It was much easier going down!!
We were disappointed that we had not arrived earlier in the morning, as we had hoped to see the fishing fleet, as it's one of the most modern in Europe. But, they were gone by the time we arrived.
Alesund also has a large furniture industry with many well-known products manufactured here. The main industry is the oil industry - and there are several local supply ship companies here.
Our "mountain climbing" gave us quite an appetite, but the problem we encountered was that most of the restaurants didn't open till 2pm or lager. We finally found one, Egon, which is a Norwegian chain of restaurants. They were open, so we decided to give it a try.
The menu was varied serving traditional Norwegian dishes and drinks. The atmosphere was warm and cozy and filled with antiques. When is the last time you saw a manual typewriter? Or a dial telephone?
The food was warm and delicious and we were happy we tried it out.
The Art Nouveau Centre is a very interesting place to visit - it is dedicated to the 1904 fire and resulting construction. It also explains the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) movement in Norway and Europe.
The Sunnmore Open-Air Museum offers more than 50 antiques houses that are new set up as a model of a Norwegian fishing village. The museum's harbor features some very impressive old boats.
For the non-squeamish, the most famous road in Norway, the Troll's Pathway (Trollstigen) offers 11 extreme "switchback" curves to Stigora. The view, is tremendous, just shut your eyes when going around the curves!
We reluctantly returned to the ship at the end of the day after a very enjoyable visit to Alesund and a location we both would definitely visit again - for a longer period for time.
One fun thing about sitting at a larger dinner table is to share everyone's experiences of the day since it is impossible to visit many places in such a short time.
Tomorrow is our last stop on this fabulous voyage - we will spend the day in Stavenger, the third largest city in Norway.
More info about Norway
Northern Europe Trip Page... (including photos)
Note that there are two trip maps, as this journey include two (back-to-back) 12 day cruises. The map of Norway is found below the UK map.