Norway (Day 7, Part 1)

June 24

Geiranger *

A place heretofore totally unknown to me.  And now it is totally incredible to me.

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[As you will note, the journey to get there is the adventure . . . ]

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[Arriving by the dawn’s early light . . . ]

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[You get the feel from here and the maps above, this is a long narrow fjord that over the centuries has been subject to tsunamis . . . ]

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[Tsunamis are created when rockslides from the fjord side cliffs fall into the water – the displaced water has no place to expand in the narrow water ways, so the subsequent tsunamis can reach 300-feet high.  A 2015 movie titled “The Wave” is about such a tsunami hitting Geiranger (I have yet to see it) . . . ]

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[Cliffsides are all about waterfalls . . . ]

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[The first major waterfall on the way in is Bridle Veil . . . ]

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[A ship’s advisory alerts all to grab your cameras and head deck side . . . ]

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[Now approaching the Seven Sisters waterfall . . . ]

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[But first, a look aft . . . ]

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[And a parting shot of Bridal Veil . . . ]

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[And the Seven Sisters, famed in song and story (or so I’m told) . . . ]

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[Can you count 7 falls?]

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[You just keep shooting in hopes of the magical one.  Got a rainbow here . . . ]

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[And here . . . ]

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[This was a spectacular entry into a tiny village . . . ]

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[And here we’re arriving at Geiranger . . . ]

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[From our bow vantage point in the Explorers’ Bar . . . ]

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[First sighting Geiranger at the end of the fjord . . . ]

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[Geiranger is a small tourist village in Sunnmore region of More og Romsdal county in the western part of Norway.  It lies in the municipality of Stranda at the head of the Geirangerfjorden, which is a branch of the large Storfjorden.  The nearest city is Alesund. Geiranger is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, and has been named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet.  Since 2005, the Geirangerfjord area has been listed as a UNESCO World Hertiage Site.  The Seven Sisters waterfall is located just west of Geiranger, directly across another waterfall called “The Suitor.”  Norwegian County Road 63 passes through the village.  Geiranger Church is the main church for the village and surrounding area.  Geiranger is under constant threat from landslides from the mountain Akerneset into the fjord.  A collapse could cause a tsunami that could destroy downtown Geiranger.  This third biggest cruise ship port in Norway receives 140 to 180 ships during the four-month tourist season.  In 2012 some 300,000 cruise passengers visited Geiranger during the summer season.  The Geiranger Port has a cruise terminal, a Seawalk, and 3–4 anchor positions depending on the size of the ships.  Constructed in 2013, the Seawalk is a three-segment articulated floating pier. It is 236 metres (774 ft) long and 4.5 metres (15 ft) wide on 10 pontoons, which moves (like a floatable jetwalk) to accommodate up to 4,000 passengers per hour disembarking from a single ship.  Several hundred thousand people pass through the village every summer, and tourism is the main business for the 250 people who live there permanently.  There are five hotels and over ten camping sites.  The tourist season stretches from May to early September (Wikipedia).]

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[So serene and isolated . . . ]

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[It is from the following two shots that I can almost understand the Super’s desire to live on a cruise ship . . . ]

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[As the ship readies to anchor . . . ]

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[We went back to room to round up whatever we needed for our shore excursion . . . ]

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[Then did an outside wander of the ship to see what we could see . . . ]

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[The first tenders began taking passengers to the village . . . ]

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[Another cruise ship was already here . . . ]

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[Our tender speeds toward land . . . ]

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[We had an afternoon tour, but you could go to shore whenever you wanted and could explore the local environs on your own – so we did . . . ]

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[It’s all about tourism here . . . ]

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[Bill, Anne, and the Super lead the way into “town.”  The Skywalk would be part of our afternoon tour . . . ]

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[How appropriate – we would stop back here for lunch . . . ]

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[Another cruise ship was making it a party of three.  Our young tour guide in the afternoon said Geiranger was expecting 1 million tourists this year!]

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[We’re walking behind the village toward the waterfalls . . . ]

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[There’s a campground here (as you can see), with the 3 cruise ships in the background.  Our ship is on the left . . . ]

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[Another native grass roof . . . ]

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[We’re starting up the stairway to heaven . . . ]

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[Better known as the Storseterfossen waterfall walk . . . ]

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[Looks like the same photo, but not quite . . . ]

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[I cannot identify the mountain peak in the distance; I can identify the Super in the foreground.  We’re on the steps going up along the waterfall . . . ]

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[The Super points out the warning lest I was thinking such . . . ]

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[A photo op on the way up – Bill in the foreground; our ship in the background . . . ]

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[Idyllic . . . ]

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[A tender alongside for a passenger pick up . . . ]

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[Continuing our climb.  At no point could you gauge how far it was to the top . . . ]

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[So we just kept climbing, stopping for rests and photo ops . . . ]

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[It looks like we’re getting close – my legs were feeling it . . . ]

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[After the jut out, we must be there, huh?]

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[And there’s our unidentified mountain peak in the background again . . . ]

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[The Super’s still looking chipper; not sure about me . . . ]

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[But, hey, the views are worth it . . . ]

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[Looks like there were a lot more people on the stairway than first thought . . . ]

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[OK, there’s still a few more steps to go (there always is) . . . ]

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[Everything you ever needed to know about the West Norwegian Fjords . . . ]

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[Like, wow!]

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[Looks like it’s all on the level from here . . . ]

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[We’re as far up as the stairway will take us.  It looks like our waterfall commences a way up the mountain yet.  This is from the grounds of the information shop/museum that greets you up here . . . ]

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[Hotel Union is a family-run hotel that is situated on a hill just above the centre of the tourist village of Geiranger, with a fantastic view of the fjords and mountains.  The current hosts are the 3rd and 4th generation of the Melva family – the hotel has been in the family since 1897.  Hotel Union has 197 rooms in several categories, from well-equipped standard rooms to luxury suites. T he hotel is ideal for courses and conferences and has a separate congress centre that was completed in the summer of 1997.  The congress centre is fully equipped with ultra-modern AV and technical equipment.   The garden that surrounds the hotel has a separate rooftop garden on top of the conference centre. The roof garden has its own dance area, barbecue area and outdoor swimming pool. Also nearby are minigolf and play areas for children.  The garden also contains Mollaløa, a ‘typical Sunnmøre’ reception/banqueting room.  In the rustic Mollaløa, we serve traditional food according to our own menu (www.visitnorway.com/listings/hotel-union-geiranger/187520/).]

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[When you get to the top, you need a bad & spa!  I asked our afternoon tour guide how many steps it was the top.  She said a little under 400.  If they had a sign indicating such at the bottom, I’m sure I wouldn’t have climbed.  Maybe that’s why they don’t?]

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[The hotel as we began our trek back down via a switchback road . . . ]

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[Pretty much a two-way single lane road – keep alert if you’re walking . . . ]

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[The Super stops at a little cemetery on the way down.  We will continue from here in Part 2 with lunch in the village and then a bus tour . . . ]

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A refugee is someone who survived and who can create the future.  ~  Amela Koluder

Up Next:  Part 2, or volleyball . . .

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