Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The ancient heart of Norwegian tourism

Sorry for the break, guys, but our satellite for transmission hovers around the equator. That means, every time we enter a deep fjord the high walls block it out and we have to wait for the next broadcast opportunity. Like now...Carrying on:
...Ok, ok, we were lucky so far, really lucky, so no one complains about the overcast day as we pull into Ă…lesund. This widespread city is scrambled around the entrance of the Geiranger-Fjord and  has a most extraordinary old town which is due to the fact that after a devastating fire in 1904 the whole place was restored in one go, the new buildings being built in Art Nouveau style. So they are shiny and cosy and playful, which makes the guided walk an architectural little highlight.
In spite of the fading daylight we steam deeper and deeper into the fjord, and just before nightfall we arrive in the probably most popular place in the whole of coastal Norway - Geiranger. The steep walls of the Geirangerfjord looming over the ship, waterfalls gurgling and rushing down the mountain flancs whereever you look. As we land the first Polar Cirkel Boat the situation is a bit unreal: Not a living soul in sight, no car, no light, nothing. The place is asleep, and for a good reason: We are the very first cruise ship of the season that brings people to Geiranger. This will change dramatically in the next months: Believe it or not, this 450 soul-village welcomes about 600.000 tourists per season, in a few months, that is. Imagination creates pictures of overcroweded streets, of fights over souvenirs in the shops, and the never-ending sound of cars and noisy crowds. Un-be-lievable! Very happy to be here right now, we enjoy a slow and quiet walk uphill to the Geiranger Fjordcenter (that opens just for us!), where they have a very well-done exhibition about life in the Fjord and the times when tourism discovered Geiranger in the beginning of the 20th century. Under the stars and to the sound of the waterfall only, we stroll back to the jetty where FRAM is fully lit in the night - a very unusual sight, since she usually goes to places that never get dark. Good night Geiranger, good luck with the tourist invasion - we are outta here!