Guest Post: A Snapshot of Norway by Lorelai MacLeod

Fellow travel enthusiasts may remember the piece that Lorelai wrote on her native Northern Cornwell for Caffeine’s not a crime back in May last year (if you missed it, you can read it here). Recently she has holidayed in Norway and after a discussion on Twitter, I’m thrilled to say she agreed to come back and share her experience with us. Over to you, Lorelai:

Thank you Jane for inviting me back to your fantastic blog.

Norway is one of those places I have always wanted to visit and this September I was lucky enough to spend a few days along the west coast.  My husband and I travelled with his parents via a small cruise ship, which stopped at Kristiansand, Eidfjord, Bergen and Stavanger.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we have always found cruises to be a great way to see a little of a country or area before deciding upon a longer visit.

My favourite pic, Eidfjord: Norway really looks like those photos in the travel agent’s windows.

After a day of sailing, our first stop was Kristiansand.  Situated on the south coast, the area has a mild climate and is often chosen by holidaying Norwegians, as well as foreign tourists such as ourselves.  The weather in September can be variable and we came prepared with layers and waterproof clothing, but with the exception of a couple of showers that first morning, we had no rain and the temperature was pleasantly mild.  In fact, after walking along the waterside, through the old town, visiting the cathedral and ending up with the town centre, we were feeling decidedly overdressed.

Our second day was spent in Eidfjord, one of those places that embodies the picture-postcard image of the Norwegian Fjords; wide blue skies, punctured with forested mountains, all reflected in the deep, clear water below.  It does, however, sometimes take a few hours for the air to clear and this morning it looked like this:

A very cloudy, rather distant, but I assure you it’s there, glacier.

We spent half a day visiting the Hardanger plateau, the largest in Europe, where wild reindeer still roam, although we were not lucky enough to spot any.  The photo above was taken from the hydroelectric dam which sits outside Eidfjord and makes its nine hundred inhabitants some of the wealthiest in Norway.  The exquisitely clean air was that special kind of bracing that one often finds in high places or by the sea, the kind that makes you laugh despite being windswept and want to walk two kilometres of dam for no other reason than because it’s there.  I do realise, however, it does not make for a particularly stunning photograph.  A few miles down the road and less than an hour later was a different story:

A rainbow filled canyon and Vøringfossen waterfall.

The viewing platform is situated beside the Fossli Hotel, where we had a cup of tea, which distracted us sufficiently to forget to take a photo of the exterior.  Built in 1891 for the first tourists to the area, many of whom came from Britain for the fishing and hunting, the hotel was constructed before the road and all materials were therefore carried up the mountain by hand or horse.

On the way to Bergen, our third stop, we passed a number of lovely wooden buildings, clustered sporadically amidst the landscape.  Upon arriving home, I was horrified to discover I had also neglected to document any of these iconic views.  Fortunately travelling with family has its benefits and luckily my mother-in-law had not been so remiss:

Traditional style wooden buildings.

Both Eidfjord and Bergen are level with the Shetland Islands and anyone familiar with the more rugged areas of Britain will see similarities in the countryside, even Cornwall, if one ignores the mountains.

The heavy artistic influence makes Bergen a captivating place to visit and perfect for picking up high quality souvenirs such as silver jewellery or pottery.  Clearly divided areas make navigation simple and travelling by boat places one on the doorstep of the artistic quarter and famous fish market.  Despite not having time to take a trip on the funicular railway, one for next time, Bergen was a favourite of all in our party and although we do have some great pics, I won’t inflict you with images of us stuffing our faces with skillingsbølle, the cinnamon filled, sugar topped, regional bakery delight.

Our last stop was the city of Stavanger, the most urbanised area we visited:

The port of Stavanger from the steps of the cathedral.

The traditional white walled, red roofed cottages of Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) can be seen in the distance behind the modern orange building on the waterfront.  Like in many other towns in Norway, these charming houses are still inhabited and I imagine it must be somewhat trying to live with the constant flow of tourists, especially in the summer months.

Our taste of Norway was a wonderful introduction and we are already planning to return; my husband has his eye on Oslo.  Hopefully my holiday snaps (and my mother-in-law’s) have done it justice and if not terribly informative, I have encouraged those of you who have yet to visit Norway to discover the beautiful scenery, fascinating history and welcoming people for yourself.

Thank you so much to Lorelai for sharing her wonderful trip. I can’t wait to visit! You can follow Lorelai on Twitter at @LorelaiMacleod .

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