Geiranger – The Iconic Fjord of Norway

Geiranger

We left the Trollstigen road with all the stone and hidden trolls behind us and continued along the road Rv 63. It seemed we had won the trolls‘ favour, such a blue sky we hadn’t seen in days.

Pictures of charming nature were running along the road, we would have liked to make a stop at almost every bend to capture this beauty with our cameras. Now and then, we could see typical wooden houses, their roofs overgrown with grass. Even trees were growing on some of them.

We made a stop at a place where a wild river fell down through a natural toboggan, it raved and stroke the rocks and fell down into the hollowed deep with an unbelievable power. The water foamed and created a foggy veil in which a rainbow appeared.

Then we took a ferry at the town of Linge. Everything went very smoothly. We paid for our car and every passenger and were given control cards with emergency instructions.

Sitting in our cars, we crossed the fjord. They collected the cards back, the front part of the ferry opened like jaws and set some twenty cars ashore. Again, we could see wild nature and a few small houses from time to time. Population density in Norway is 14 people per sq. km only (in Germany – 237)!

Slowly, we were approaching our destination – the Geirangerfjord. I am sure you know that feeling, that tension when you are to visit a place you saw a hundred times in books or postcards and now you are afraid if the place will really look like that… At last, we arrived at the first viewpoint. However, we could see only a small part of the fjord surrounded by lush green cliffs. There was also one of those huge cruise ships but from top of the mountain, it looked like a toy.

We continued along Ørnesvingen, the so-called Eagle’s Road. There is a new modern view platform built at one of its bends.

From the Korsmyra saddle, the road meandered in 11 hairpin bends. The view platform is situated at the highest one.

The unique landscape around the Geirangerfjord is considered to be among the most outstanding areas of our planet. That’s also why it was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005. Click on the panorama picture below and this fantastic work of art of nature will open for you in all its beauty. For 100,000 years, the glacier had been retreating and formed this U-shaped valley which was then flooded by sea water. Someone said that the fjord is not just a place, it is a feeling. Yes, it is a moment when you feel the power of nature and realize how small we are. This fjord looks exactly like on the pictures I had seen before – high, deep, wild, amazing. A perfect symbiosis of blue water and grey and black majestic, almost vertical cliff-sides covered with fresh green which proudly rise up to the height of 1,700 m.

There was a live bustle in the port of the small village of Geiranger. The ship transfer boats took the passengers from the cruise ship ashore. 150 people in one transfer! We were thankful that there was only one of those huge ships in the village port. It is unbelievable that a village with just 250 residents serves about 6,000 visitors every day during the 4-month-season! This is the price for the fact that they live in one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway. Even the name of the village has surrendered to tourism. Normally, it is called Maråk but everybody just says Geiranger.

To enjoy the magic of the fjord in its entirety, rock on its surface, breathe the fresh air and see the amazing waterfalls, you should experience a view from another perspective – from the water. The tourist information center offers several trips by different boats. We were lucky that there were still some tickets available for a ship departing in 5 minutes. We left the huge cruise ship far off. Again, it became much smaller.

Approximately in the middle of the Geirangerfjord, we could see a waterfall on the right side. It fell down along the cliff from the height of 250 m in several narrow columns reminding of fine girl’s hair spread out in strands. There should be seven of them and that’s how the waterfall got its name – The Seven Sisters.

On the opposite side of the fjord, there is another impressive waterfall. You don’t need to look at it very carefully to see how the gushing water flows around a “dry” place in the middle which looks like a bottle. According to an old legend, a young man, who used to live here, proposed to all seven sisters but was consistently rebuffed. The sisters remained unmarried, it is said you can hear their singing mixing with the sound of the falling water. However, nobody knows if they sing in joy or sorrow. The poor man remained lonely and turned to the bottle which can be seen on the rock now. The waterfall was named The Suitor. By the way, the waterfall was used in an advertisment spot for Absolut Vodka. No wonder, the place in the middle of the waterfall looks exactly like that Absolute bottle!

Geiranger is a part of the branched Storfjord (The Great Fjord), is 16 km long and 260 m deep. On the hillsides which are warmed by the first sun rays in spring, local people built their farms. The largest ones possessed about 400 heads of livestock. Some farms were accessible only by climbing up a ladder. Sometimes, it was necessary to bind fast the animals, even men tied themselves while mowing. Every single straw was precious so they had to mow dangerous terrains too. If parents had to go down to the town, they even tied fast their children. Today, the farms are abandoned. Avalanches and rock slides were a bigger danger. In 1934, a rock slide caused a 64-m high tsunami and killed 40 people. Along the mountain Åkerneset, there is a 30 m wide crack growing every year. In 2015, Bølgen (The Wave), a Norwegian disaster movie was released which is based on the premise of a rock slide from this mountain. Nevertheless, the village residents are not afraid, the mountain is the most monitored mountain in the world, with the world’s longest seismic sensor.

Life in the village safely pulsates onward. Local people like to spend their leisure time in the great outdoors – hiking, cycling or kayaking (if you have time you can also choose one of these activities). In winter, they go cross-country skiing and ice skating on the frozen part of the fjord. There are even a football club and 3 choirs in the village. People joke that they are allowed to become sick on Wednesdays only because a treating doctor comes to the village only once a week. Anyway, if it is necessary, a helicopter can land here to help. Life became easier and money is produced in a much easier way – from tourism. You can hear languages from all over the world in the restaurants and cafes here. Local craftsmen sell their products made of natural materials – wool, wood and stones from the fjord. Walking through the port, you can also find some old boathouses.

We visited the village church as well. It stands on the hillside next to the local cemetery. The simple gravestones and bunches of flowers in front of them remind of those who dream their eternal dream in the beautiful place with a view of the fjord which used to be an inseparable part of their earthly lives. The octagonal church built in 1842 of timber seems to be small but there are 114 seats inside. The wooden decoration was done by local artists. There is a model of a ship hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the church as a symbol of both the fjord and Jesus who calmed the sea.

The sky turned grey and it started drizzling. This was not good for us because we planned to continue to Europe’s highest fjord-view from a road. In all guidebooks, it is said that it is not worth it if the mountain disappears in clouds. However, we took a chance. We hadn’t even started the ascent yet, when two buses blocked the road and it took a good while until they found a way to pass each other. Those who borrowed a four-wheeler in the port could manoeuvre much easier on the narrow road. The landscape was still pretty green, again we saw inhabited and also abandoned small houses…

The road meandered and soon, we had the first fantastic view, although without the fjord yet.

With growing height, there was also more and more snow…

…gradually, everything around turned white, black and many shades of grey.

After 17 km, we reached the top of the Dalsnibba Mountain1,476 m above sea level. Somebody had built a small snowman instead of a stony troll here… It started snowing, the wind was icy, I wished I had gloves! In one day, we actually experienced all types of weather!

Although almost frozen solid, we were standing on the plateau amazed by the gorgeous scenery in front of us. In the distance, we could recognize the Geirangerfjord which looked like an emerald embedded in the majestic snow-covered mountains. Although the visibility wasn’t perfect like on the advertising pictures, nevertheless, it was a beautiful farewell to the outstanding fjord and its unique surroundings.

Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri

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Trollstigen Road

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