Geirangerfjord - Norway's Most Scenic
By Lilliam & 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. I eventually purchased a set of plastic placemats which cost $30 – too much!