Monday, August 26, 2019

Olden at the Nordfjord, Norway

During the early morning, while we were sleeping, the Queen Victoria made her way into the Nordfjord!  This region covers 4295 square kilometers (2668 square miles).  It is the sixth longest fjord in Norway.  We traveled to the port of Olden which is 60 nautical miles after passing many fjords. 

 We could hardly believe our eyes when we opened the drapes to this magnificent view!  Beautiful Olden is spread out before us.

The Norwegian fjords were made by massive movements of glaciers during the Ice Age.  Near the coastline the ice pack was fairly thin.  Inland it was much thicker with the weight being enormous.  So you can imagine the entrance to a fjord being more shallow and the further into one it can be quite deep.  The entrance may be as little as 100 feet and inland the depth may be 4,000 feet!

This area of the Nordfjord encompasses the villages of Stryn, Loen, and Olden.  The total population of 6,850 with only 1,000 in Olden.  Most of the land is farmland. Before our tour begins we decided after breakfast to leave the ship and explore the small little village of Olden before our afternoon tour.  I hope you will join us!  

The beauty that surrounds Olden reminds us of Switzerland.  Olden lies in a wide valley with mountains that tower over 6,200 feet.  

There were a few small shops that carried the beautiful Norwegian sweaters.  I'm sure these warm wool lovelies will come in handy this winter. 

Of course there were many trolls to be found, though our guide mentioned most were made in China!

We continued walking around this small village on a path that led us to lovely flowers around every turn.  

Darling little cottages dotted our path with charming scenery along our way. 

One of my most favorite scenes was this crock of simple wildflowers placed on a table outside of the home.

It was time for us to walk back to the ship and get ready for our afternoon tour.

This tour is by coach as well and we have a handsome Norwegian guide that will explain to us about the glaciers of this area.  They are all offshoots of the Jostedals Icefield that is more than 60 miles long and is the largest in mainland Europe.

As we begin our tour we are told about the tunnels that comprise the road system.  If you look closely in the center of the above photo, you can see one that we will be going through. Tunnels provide the way to reach the other side, though at a big expense.  Can you imagine in the years past having to climb over these mountains?

Riding along, I must admit the scenery took our breath away.  The icy blue glacial waters have a wonderful stillness that creates the most wonderful reflections.

Some of these photos were taken from the bus window.  I couldn't help but snap again and again.

We traveled all the way to a very special National Park.

Even though I don't speak Norwegian, you can tell this is a National Park of Jostedalsbreen.  Remember that's the large icefield that encompasses this area.  

Even though we are not in Austria, I could not convince myself that we were not in the land of the Sound of Music!  The National Park movie we viewed told us that almost half the park is covered by the Jostedalsbreen Glacier.  

If you look at the top of the mountain you can see parts of the glacier.  This valley is so lovely and reminds me of what heaven must look like! 

I must admit to feeling tears well up in this beautiful valley.

I zoomed in to see the glacier up close.  Our guide pointed out the hole between the two large rock formations that are continuing to open with the movement of the ice.  

Traveling along the lakeside and viewing the reflections in the calm deep waters was stunning!

The rushing river shows a frosty milky green, telling us it is feed from a glacier.

Our tour stopped at this wonderful spot with sweeping views of the valley we just experienced.  My heart is full of gratitude as I viewed this magnificent scene!

The scenery we experienced coming down the mountain seemed like it was from another place, another time.  A time when life had a slower pace.  

Back on board the Queen Victoria,  she dropped her lines once again and we made our journey out of the Nordfjord and into the evening to begin her transit to the Sognefjord.  I'll be sharing our visit there next.  I do hope you will join us!   

Monday, August 19, 2019

Haugesund, Norway

For those who have been following our travels to Norway, today I'd like to share our first stop in this magical kingdom.  We were so excited to view the first outcroppings from our stateroom balcony.  Tiny islands dotting the way to the entrance of our first stop. 

In the early hours of the morning the Queen Victoria made her entrance into the harbor of Haugesund.  Haugesund is known in part for its history in the Viking Age.  The first King of Norway, Harald Fairhair, once called it his home in 870.  The area of Haugesund is mentioned in Norse sagas.  These are stories about the Nordic history that was written in the Old Norse language.  We learned that some is fact and some is fiction and were composed in the 12th and 14th centuries.  In 1854 King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway declared Haugesund a town.  The population at the time was only one thousand.  

Haugesund developed more and more into a port that exported herring.  

Grayden and I decided to take a tour around Haugesund.  The first extraordinary sense we notice is the fresh air--so clean and noticeably so!  I do hope you come along with us as we enjoy our first day.  Make sure you take a jacket as there is quite a chill in the air.

As we board the bus, we are greeted by our friendly tour guide.  A lovely woman that filled our brains with many facts as we tootled along and across the bridge into the town of Haugesund.  

We stopped at the Town Hall and viewed the lovely pink building that was a gift from a local ship owner and his wife.  It was designed by Gudolf Blakstad and Herman Munthe-Kaas in the neo-classical style.

There is a lovely park surrounding the area with lovely flowers.  The busts of the benefactors Knutsen and his wife Elizabeth grace the grounds. 

 We now boarded the bus and continue exploring the lovely village along with our fellow passengers.  We couldn't help but notice the next extraordinary sense of cleanliness in Norway.  Not a speck of trash was anywhere!

A sense of beauty and freshness combined to create a wonderful ride up the ridge to view the harbor.

As you can see, the Queen Victoria is docked in the harbor below.

We are treated to wonderful views as we climb above the tree line.

It was such a lovely day to view the surroundings.  Rocks and trees and all sorts of wildflowers made my heart happy to see.

It was time to travel back down the mountain and continue along with the tour.

The National Monument of Unification is in the town of Haraldshaugen and commemorates the unification of Norway and is believed to be the site where King Harald Fairhair is buried.  

The very old stone cross dates from the year 1000.  It is believed that it stands on the site of where mass was held before a church was built. 

Again we saw many lovely flowers around the monument and up to the cross.

 The Rugosa Roses filled the air with a most heavenly scent.

Tiled rooftop homes line the hills surrounding the area.  All with pristine lawns and gleaming windows.

Traveling along the roads I love seeing the bright colored homes and businesses.  

Smedasundet Harbor has restaurants and shops if you wish to stop.  They hold an annual Havnedagene for five weeks in July to celebrate all the traditions relating to Haugesund's maritime culture.

Before boarding the ship, Grayden and I couldn't resist! 

When the Queen Victoria dropped her lines she turned to the North Sea to follow our course to our next stop.

The skill that takes us through the narrow passages impresses us.  The Queen Victoria is a very large vessel and Captain Hall commands it brilliantly. 

Thank you for coming along with us to Haugesund.  Our next stop will take us into the fjords where the scenery is breathtakingly gorgeous.