Our ride from Bergen to Alesund was beautiful but lengthy. But hey, that's why we went by bus to Alesund instead of boarding the Hurtigruten cruise/ferry boat in Bergen. We wanted to see the intervening land and fjords in daylight instead of sleeping through it like we would on the boat.
Alesund was a fun little town. They had a nice vantage point on a mountain above the town that could only be reached by hiking up a trail with 418 stairs set into the side of the mountain. The view at the top was worth it, and overall we had a fun stay in the town. At this point, though, we are definitely reaching "cute little coastal Norwegian town" fatigue. Of course, we had no idea the sheer number of cute little coastal Norwegian towns we had yet to see... ;)
I'll admit, we did not have high hopes for our "cruise" up the Norwegian coast prior to boarding. And when they tried to give us a room on the lowest deck with a partial view and surrounded by crew cabins (not fellow passenger cabins) our expectations proved not low enough. But fortunately Jie rectified the situation and we got a nice full view cabin. Overall we had a really good time on the cruise: Jie did not get seasick, the food was more than decent, and we made a few friends along the way. Walter was an enormous hit in the kids playroom, as he was probably the oldest kid in there most of the time and so he generated a lot of followers.
And then there is the scenery. If I'm allowed to be arrogant for a second...I don't think it's my lack of photography skills that led to my photos being such poor representations of the scenery. I think I'm a decent photographer. Not great, I admit. But I think capturing the true otherworldliness and impressiveness of the scenery is too much to ask of any camera, regardless of the photographer. Still, I did the best I could, and I hope the following photos give a taste for the utterly unbelievable beauty we saw.
Along the way we made numerous stops. Many were only 30 minutes long, to load/unload cargo and passengers at some small village along the coast; others were 3-4 hours as we stopped at places like Trondheim and Bodo (and eventually Tromso, our last stop). Most were unremarkable, but Trondheim definitely stands out. In Trondheim they have a Catholic Cathedral (is there any other kind of cathedral?) that, in my humble opinion, rivals Notre Dame in Paris. Judge for yourself from the photo, but this is one seriously impressive church. Trondheim in general was a great stop and seems like a genuinely tolerable place to live, which is saying a lot for such a remote city.
The stops also had their fun/gimmicky attractions. Our favorite was the "Magic Ice" attraction in the thriving metropolis of Svolvaer (population 9200). Here we went into a harbor warehouse that was cooled to about 25 degrees and filled with incredible ice sculptures. We drank ice wine from ice glasses (Walter got apple juice) and wandered about for 10 minutes before high-tailing it back to the ship to board before we departed again.
Tomorrow morning we depart Norway and fly down to Billund, Denmark. We're going there for Walter's birthday on Friday and the main attraction is still a surprise for him. Norway has definitely been an experience and I feel like we have quite thoroughly checked it off the bucket list. Having said that, I think I could be convinced to one day return in the winter for some skiing and Northern Lights.
As always, full photos (there are about 80 more!) are available on Smugmug: https://markandjie.smugmug.com/Gap-Year/Skei-to-Alesund-to-Tromso/