Wednesday, September 4 –
How many times in life do you wake up to the sights and sounds of enormous waterfalls tumbling off monumental fjord walls? That’s how I woke up this morning when I opened the door to my balcony on the Crown Princess and stared in awe from my ship. I could almost hear Edvard Grieg’s “I Dovregubbens Hall” playing in my head. A nice cool breeze blew against my face as I inhaled the heavenly pure Nordic air. It’s hard to imagine a more memorable wake up call anywhere on earth!
My brother and I continued staring at the endless wonders of Geirangerfjord during breakfast as we sailed towards the small Norwegian town of Hellesylt. Geirangerfjord is Norway’s most spectacular and best-known fjord, and is a branch of the larger Storfjorden. Surrounded by high waterfalls and lonely mountain farms, the fjord has been designated a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site and is considered the world’s most beautiful fjord. After we dropped off some passengers in Hellesylt (who would rejoin us later in the day), we cruised onward to the town of Geiranger.
Geiranger in Norwegian means “spear,” which is the shape of Geirangerfjord as it extends nine miles into Norway’s mountains. As we cruised up the narrow fjord, sheer cliffs rose more than 2,000 feet above us. Thanks to the geological effect of past glacial carving, the waters here are almost 900 feet deep. We sailed past several famous waterfalls including the Seven Sisters and Bridal Veil Falls.
Before arriving around noon in the small town of Geiranger at the end of the fjord, we grabbed some pizza for lunch at a top terrace café as we admired the views. Geiranger is an anchorage port, so we had to board tenders to arrive in town.
Geiranger is located in Møre og Romsdal county, and was named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet. Incredibly, this small town is the third-most visited cruise port in Norway as it receives 140 to 180 ships during the four-month tourist season! After the tourist season from May to early September, Geiranger’s pace slows again to that of small Norwegian town.
We had pre-booked a bus tour to Mt. Dalsnibba and the Gerainger Fjord Center. Around 12:30 p.m., our bus left Gerainger and traveled through the Flydal Valley then began a climb up the steep, winding toll road to the summit of Mt. Dalsnibba. The road seemed to be laid out like spaghetti up the mountain as rounded countless switchbacks above the mountains overlooking Geraingerfjord.
As we approached the summit at 4,757-feet above sea level, we reached a parking lot. I’ve seen some spectacular views in Patagonia, Alaska, the Rockies, and the Alps, but I think this one took the cake. We soaked in panoramic views below us of Geiranger, the fjord’s steep cliffs, waterfalls, glacial peaks and the Flydal River Valley. We didn’t have long, but it’s a view I will never forget.
On the descent, our Spanish guide told us about the Fjord to Summit run that takes place in Geiranger each June. The half-marathon run and bicycle race starts in town and climbs all the way to the summit of Mount Dalsnibba. Sometimes there is still a lot of snow left on the mountain, so the race is called “From Summer to Winter.”
Back on the bus to Geiranger, we stopped for refreshments at Djupvasshytta Lodge. We devoured some amazing Norwegian pastries and hot chocolate while overlooking magnificent Lake Djupvatnet outside the lodge’s windows.
Upon boarding the bus, we drove to the Geiranger Fjord Center. There we viewed exhibits on the ecology, history and culture of Norway’s western fjords. I really enjoyed the multimedia show “From Mountains to Fjord.” It featured breathtaking images of Geirangerfjord throughout all four seasons.
Around 16:30 p.m., we arrived back in town. We had a little free time to shop in town before we tendered back to the Crown Princess. After we departed at 18:00 p.m., I heard an interesting fact about Geiranger. All of its beauty also carries with it a future calamity. Mount Åkerneset is eroding, and one day a huge slab will plummet into the fjord. The resulting collapse will most likely create a tsunami that will destroy downtown Geiranger.
Later I went on the bow and took a number of photos as we passed by the Seven Sisters and Bridal Veil Falls. The power was immense and the roar of the water was tremendous. I enjoyed sunset on the bow with my Dad and brother as we exited Geraingerfjord. We then went to dinner before calling it a night.
Tonight it’s on to Olden, Norway!