Geirangerfjord - Norway's Most Scenic
By Larry Larsen
You must, simply must, be awake when your cruise ship enters the mouth of the Geiranger Fjord as the sun comes up. At 1,600 feet wide
and 1,200 feet deep, with snow-capped mountains as high as 6,000 feet lining the waterway, the fjord topography is truly an impressive sight. It's almost like entering
another world. It is a tranquil, serene environment that can be leisurely enjoyed from you cruise ship balcony with a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate and a camera at the ready.
The tiny settlement of Geiranger only has about
300 inhabitants year round and most work in tourism. Although a few cruise ships may anchor in the bay at one time, the beautiful bay and mountains surrounding it are so vast that they
can easily absorb the ships' intrusion on the tranquility and ambiance of this destination. Small tenders transport visitors back
and forth between the anchored cruise ships and the village's shoreside dock.
Rather than sign up for a shore excursion, we decided to take a
sightseeing tour in a smaller local boat, the M/S Geirangerfjord, to more-closely view the beautiful and abundant waterfalls lining the entry
to Geiranger village. Many of the tumbling waterfalls have romantic names, such as Bridal Veil, The Suitor and Seven Sisters. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and rain
accompanied us for most of our boat excursion and the rest of the day. That made photography difficult, but we were still able to enjoy the
scenery and the magnificent views of the cliffs and famous waterfalls. Kayakers and those riding RIB (Rubber Inflatable Boats) didn't seem to mind the weather as numerous small craft also
enjoyed the proximity to the cascading water along the shoreline.
We learned from our guide that
Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage site not only because of its amazing landscape, but also in part due to the various original farm houses that are maintained by
the local historical society. Many of those homesteads clinging to small green patches of mountainside date from the mid and late 1800's when fishing the deep blue waters and farming
were the main livelihood. As the homesteads were abandoned, the historical society took over their maintenance with volunteers, adding a cultural and human interest aspect to the area.
It is well known that the most famous and spectacular view of Geiranger and the bay is
about 6 miles up the valley on a zig-zagging road that eventually reaches the top of the majestic Dalsnibba Mountain. Many of
our fellow cruise passengers took a bus up the
mountain to the awesome overlook, but again, even the afternoon weather put a damper on their enjoyment of the normally-spectacular panoramic scenery.
The small village does have a
couple of stores where visitors can buy Norwegian souvenirs. If you live in a city where it snows, you will find some unique winter clothing. Since we live in Florida,
we didn't find anything we could not do without, but I enjoyed window shopping anyway. However, Norway is expensive compared to other European destinations that we have visited.