We did not spend any time in Alesund. Our shore excursion was from 8am until 5pm. A full day of travel with the highlight being the Trolls’ Path pictured above.
Here is a video of our day touring Trollstigen, Valldal, Stigfossen Waterfall and Trollveggen, all in under three minutes.
This was our early morning introduction to the port of Alesund, Norway: decidedly moody.
Our bus made several stops. A quick five-minute dash to capture a few photos and then back on the road.
We had a bit of a longer stay at Stigfossen Waterfall. This was the closest encounter I had with a waterfall during my time in Norway. And I did not get wet.
A view of the valley of Valldal from Trollstigen, roughly 850 metres above sea level.
The skywalk afforded an opportunity for me to mess with your sense of perspective in this photo. Does that bus on the hairpin turn look like it is falling off the side of the mountain?
We had a break for lunch at an RV camp and tourist centre. The clouds and mist created an eerie scene.
From there we made our way to Trollveggen to see the Troll Wall. This was the only rain that we experienced in Norway and it made the photography challenging. Although the vertical space looks relatively short, the Troll Wall has the highest perpendicular rock face in Europe at over 1,000 metres.
This was our bus for the day. Made by Volvo, it might be a great candidate for a Class A motorhome.
This was our view of Alesund from the ship. We did not have any time to explore this port by foot.
On our way to our next port, Flam, Norway.
A few shots of the beautiful fjord as we left Alesund. Waters were very calm.
Norway is a country filled with stunning landscapes. I think that the Geirangerfjord was amongst the most scenic of the fjords we travelled during our cruise.
We had a pretty full day planned with our excursion. We were late leaving the ship as it took the port crew a bit longer than expected to roll out the floating dock. After a delay of an hour or so, we were able to leave the ship.
The first part of the excursion was Eagle Road. Here is a video overview.
And a few images that I shot from the overlook.
We made our way back down Eagle Road and started our journey over to Dalsniba Mountain. The bus made a stop partway which gave us this view of the Geirangerfjord. Our ship, the Norwegian Jade, is at port. Another cruise ship was making its way into Geiranger.
Dalsniba Mountain is an overlook that sits roughly 1,500 metres above sea level and offers dramatic views of the Geirangerfjord valley and the surrounding glaciers.
Here is a video overview of our time at Dalsniba Mountain.
Pictured here is one of the glaciers. The temperature at Geiranger was 28 degrees Celsius. At the mountain, closer to 12 degrees Celsius, perhaps a bit colder with the wind. I certainly felt like I was at the very top of the world.
Piles of stones are everywhere around the tourist stop. This one, in particular, was a good effort by someone.
Most of the tourists will hang around the skywalk but a 5-minute walk will take you to open areas to explore and enjoy the compelling landscape. To give you a sense of scale, you can see two people in red jackets at the very far right side of the picture just below the horizon. These mountains were massive.
1,500 metres above sea level offers dramatic views of the Geirangerfjord valley. You can see the road we followed to get to Dalsniba Mountain with a few of the many hairpin curves that cut alongside the mountain range.
Likely the classic valley shot of this region. The road extending out towards the Geirangerfjord in the distance. You can just make out the two cruise ships at the edge of the fjord.
After the excursion, it was time to leave port. If I ever come back to Norway, I would spend a lot more time here. So much to see.
As we left Geiranger, we passed another cruise ship still at port. Where we enjoyed the convenience of a floating dock, this cruise ship had to use tenders to get passengers back and forth to port.
A view of the Eagle Road hairpins that lead up to the overlook of the Geirangerfjord valley.
And a dramatic waterfall provided a farewell on our way out of Geiranger.
I had posted about our day in Olden here. I thought I would add a bit more context to that day along with a few more photos and video.
One of the issues that we had with our shore excursion when we were in Olden was the time we spent in a bus. I was unable to use my primary camera except for a couple of stops despite some stunning landscapes like the one pictured above.
All of the photos in this post as well as the video were shot with my iPhone. More often than not through the dirty window of a tour bus often while the bus was in motion on steep grades and twisted hairpins.
Getting to the top of the Stryn Mountain range was quite the climb. The roads were narrow and the turns very tight.
Along the route were numerous waterfalls like this one. The result of glacial ice melting from the mountains.
This shot gives a bit of perspective on the road we followed, almost lost in the expansive valley.
RVs were everywhere we went in Norway. RVs are extremely popular in this part of Europe. We spotted only one Class A rig throughout our stay. Lots of tour buses and lots of Class B and C rigs.
The camera of choice by passengers on our cruise?
I was shocked by the number of tourists carrying huge DSLRs on the cruise. And not the entry level Nikons and Canons. By and large, the top of the line camera bodies with large telephoto lenses.
Most everyone else used their smartphones and tablets.
You can tell a story with pretty much any camera these days. Even a smartphone.
I tried a few shots with my primary camera inside the tour bus and it did not turn out as well as these shots on my iPhone.
Trondheim. Third largest city in Norway with a population of roughly 170,00 people. A small town by North American standards.
Our shore excursion, Wonderful Trondelag and Lokken Verk, was a long day. A 3-hour bus ride to an historic mine followed by a 1-hour train ride through the area and another few hours back to Trondheim.
The weather was very warm. Temperatures were well above 30 degrees Celsius for the day.
Thank heavens I packed all of that thermal clothing.
Here is a shot of the mine that we visited in Lokken Verk.
And the entrance into the mine. Note the year. This mine was started in 1654 and mining operations continued until 1987.
Once inside the mine, we were led to a large area that is now used for weddings, concerts and other special events.
We were treated to a musical concert and here is a short clip of one of the songs.
After we left the mine, we went aboard our train on the Thamshavn line. This train was Norway’s first electric railway. It features a unique rail gauge of 1,000mm. The cars were restored from the early 1900s — I seem to recall the guide mentioning 1908.
The bus picked us up at the final station in Bardshaug. And from there, we made our way back to Trondheim.
We made two stops. The first was at this historic site to see an example of Norwegian construction.
And then our second stop at Nidaros Cathedral. We decided to leave the bus at this point.
We had a very expensive lunch in Trondheim and then walked through the old part of the city.
I even found a bike shop.
In the old part of Trondheim, the wooden houses are built side-by-side and, in most cases, connected to each other. This was quite the fire hazard — and likely still is a fire hazard — and we heard numerous reports from tour guides about Norwegian towns burning to the ground in the past because of this approach to building houses.
Not all of the houses are connected though. This one had a generous amount of land although we found no front yards in this part of town. All of the houses were built right on the edge of the road.
As we made our way back to the ship, the architecture changed dramatically. Somehow the glass and steel designs did not do it for me.
And finally, a video highlighting our day at Trondheim.
Our second day in Norway found us in Olden. Not that we were surprised. This was the scheduled port on our itinerary.
We slept in though and almost missed this dramatic view of the port.
We grabbed our house robes and slippers and rushed out to our front balcony to capture some images and video.
Here is a video of our day in Olden. Everything you might want to know in three minutes or so.
We were disappointed in the shore excursion. There were two stops, one for about 30 minutes at a tourist centre — souvenir shop and cafe — and one for about 45 minutes at a ski resort — coffee and waffles. We thought that we would have time to explore the Briksdalsbreen glacier on the excursion by foot. That rally didn’t happen.
I did get this shot of a Norwegian style building near the tourist centre. Before the days of insulation, Norwegians would build their homes with sod on the roof. This would help to retain the heat within the building during the cold, cold days of winter.
A few hundred metres from the travel centre was this old church.
I did not see any homes anywhere near this church. The graveyard was unusually well maintained. In front of almost every marker? Fresh flowers.
Our second stop on this glacier excursion was a ski resort. We passed some amazing landscapes on our way to the top of the glacier and then wound up here in an old, rundown ski resort.
The entire area was literally barren rock. Nothing in the way of vegetation. No trees. It had the look of an abandoned property.
45 minutes for the local restaurant to serve waffles and coffee. Perhaps that is the only way the resort can keep the place running.
We elected to leave the ski resort and take in the views of the glacier itself in the limited time we had available. So glad we did.
On our way back to port, the driver did relent and allow a 5-minute photo stop. I was able to catch some dramatic lighting of an incredible vista.
I think the trip was worth it for just that one shot.
Once we were back to port we had our lunch aboard the ship. We also had a chance to change into some summer clothing as the weather had turned very warm and humid.
We spent the afternoon walking around Olden. A shot of the ship from Olden.
And a shot of Olden. Olden is a village with a population of about 500 people.
The Old Olden Church was built in 1759 and seats about 250 people. There is another church in Olden that we did not visit. It is called, surprisingly, the New Olden Church, built in 1934.
And a parting shot of Nordfijorden.
Our first port, Bergen, Norway.
After we left Hamburg, we had a day at sea. The North Sea. A bit rough as we did not yet have our sea legs but nothing too dramatic. At least, not for me. Lorraine did struggle with a bit of mal de mer.
Bergen would be our first exposure to Norway and it certainly did not disappoint. A beautiful city to explore by foot.
Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway with a population of roughly 300,000 people. Not particularly large by North American standards.
I pulled together a short video that I like to call Bergen in 3 minutes.
This is where all of the tourists go to take a photo of Bergen atop Mount Floyen.
Bryggen holds a set of Hanseatic commercial buildings near the Vagen harbour.
The public areas of Bergen are large and well landscaped.
Lorraine and I took an excursion in the morning and spent the afternoon exploring Bergen on our own. The historic area of the city is an easy walk.
Although most of the construction dates back hundreds of years, the new seems to blend in quite well with the old.
St. John’s church, the largest church in Bergen, sits atop one of the highest points in Bergen.
Lorraine was our videographer for the trip and did a great job capturing memories.
I did all of the still photography and there was no shortage of great shots in the city.
As we came to the end of our day in Bergen, we took a final shot of Bryggen from the opposite side of the Vagen harbour.
And, just before boarding, the requisite selfie shot.
The above photo is of the Norwegian Jade, our ship for the next nine days. Norwegian Cruise Line provided me with this photo. A great shot of the ship and one that I could not capture as I was on board and not shooting from a chase ship or helicopter.
I have hundreds of shots of the ship in port, like this one.
And other shots of the ship in port in the fjords like this one.
Although I shot most of the images of our cruise with an Olympus EM1 Mk II, my iPhone X did come in handy.
I took this shot of the ship from inside a bus while climbing a steep, curving grade.
Smartphones can take some great photos!
Well, enough about taking photos of the ship. This was embarkation day at port in Hamburg.
We left our hotel at around 11:30am to get to the cruise centre for noon.
It seemed as though ALL of the passengers had decided to arrive at the same time.
There were two queues: the first involved dropping off luggage and the second involved checking in.
We were fortunate in that I was able to secure an upgrade for this cruise. Lorraine and I were Haven guests which meant that we had a special queue to bypass the crowds.
If not for the upgrade, I expect we would have been several hours attempting to clear the lines.
We were escorted to the ship along with two other families and seated at one of the speciality dining areas onboard the ship where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch.
At around 2pm, our room was ready.
I was expecting it to be a nice suite, and it certainly exceeded our expectations.
When we were doing our planning, I tried to find a video walkthrough of the Yellow Diamond Suite on the Norwegian Jade and I did not find one. So, here is my attempt at showing you our home on the ship for the next nine days.
We departed Hamburg around 6pm and Lorraine and I spent much of the evening enjoying the cruise along the Elbe river. Here are a few scenes from that evening.
Weather was perfect and the river calm.
The bike in our hotel room was tempting me to take a ride. The incredible heat and humidity convinced me that it would be foolhardy to brave the elements.
The air conditioning in the hotel couldn’t cope and our room was very similar to the outdoor weather: hot and humid.
Didn’t matter though. We had stayed up until 10pm local time before calling it a night. And we slept through until 7am. Not too bad.
Our second day in Hamburg was really just a morning. We planned to make our way to the ship by noon. Sailing was scheduled for 5pm.
This was our table for breakfast.
There is something just right about having a nice breakfast on an outdoor patio in the morning of a beautiful sunny day. Especially before the heat kicks in.
As we made our way from the hotel to explore Hamburg by foot, yet more bicycles stood in our way, tempting us to spin.
We found out that Hamburg is a very bike friendly city. Pedestrians and cyclists share the sidewalks for the most part. One part of the sidewalk is darker than the other part. Cyclists ride on the dark part.
Don’t ask me how I found out.
There are numerous canals in this part of the city. And most of the buildings favour a geometric design although every once in a while you find an outlier.
We stayed in a part of Hamburg called HafenCity, a major urban redevelopment in Europe.
Der Spiegel occupies this impressive structure designed by Denmark’s Henning Larsen Architects.
In the old town, the structures show their history. This building has been completely restored on the interior and reconditioned on the exterior although it almost looks like an abandoned warehouse from the street.
Most of the structures in HafenCity feature incredible designs like the Sumatrakontor complex pictured below. Such a dramatic contrast between the historic buildings and the new redevelopment in this port city.
The morning went by quickly and we returned to our hotel to collect our bags and make our way to the ship. More on that part of our journey tomorrow.