I spent several days in Oslo, where I met my fellow hikers and guides Anna and Anne. We did some sightseeing and walked to Vigeland Sculpture Park and to the Opera House, a simplistic yet grand building down by the harbor. The Opera House is unusual in that you can walk from the ground up its massive roof to the top of the building for views of the surrounding area of the city.
We flew from Oslo to Bergen, second largest city in Norway, and checked into the hotel Terminus. Centrally located near the Fish Market and historic Torgalmenningen Square, this old hotel sits on a 400 year old stone cellar. On my bed lay a book about Roald Amundson, a famous Norwegian explorer who made it to the South Pole. Later in his life he spent his last night here in this hotel on a fateful rescue mission to save a crew of Italian explorers in northern Norway above the Arctic Circle. His plane went down in foul weather.
I prepared for my hiking and exchanged currency for the Norwegian Krone for the days ahead. I was told that in Bergen it rains 275 days of the year, so I took advantage of the fine weather and walked about the small clean city until dinner.
My first hike began with a lift by a cable car to Mt Ulriken. From there our small group walked for 6 hours to Mt Floyen along a wide scenic plateau. The views were of snow-capped mountains, nearby fjords, islands and Bergen. It was another sunny day and warm for being so far north. The path was well worn; I soon learned that Norwegians are a country of hikers with good health habits.
As soon as we finished our hike we returned to pick up our bags at the hotel, and then we took a minibus to a waiting boat for our overnight journey, headed north. We were experiencing the longest days of summer: after a late dinner that evening, it was still daylight, and the sun was still high in the western sky.
All night we sailed along the coast, turning at Alesund and making our way into Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We sailed all morning between magnificent cliffs and waterfalls, working our way to the tiny village of Geiranger, which as far as boats can go before turning around and heading back to sea. Norway is a country with many fjords and many tunnels though the mountains and under the water between islands.
It was another great day in Norway, with scenic views and the sun shining. We had traveled a good deal already, but our day was not over. We checked our bags into our hotel, changed into hiking clothes, and headed for a 3-4 hour hike to one of the fjord’s most famous viewpoints, the Storsaeterfossen Waterfall.
The trail was well maintained, with a gradual incline up above the small valley of Geiranger. The hike was great, and the waterfall was massive. We learned that it was possible to precariously walk behind the waterfall, surrounded by the sound of the powerful water pouring out in front of you. It was intimidating to most in the group, but for sure I wanted to go down and feel the power of nature. It was an awesome experience.
Without question, going behind this massive waterfall made my day. The rest of the hike, I was still in a magical world of nature, thinking about that experience of a lifetime.
(posted September 14, 2016)