The Grand Princess arrived in Hellesyt early in the morning and passengers with excursions here left the ship by tender before 10am, they would rejoin the ship at our second port of the day – Geiranger, named as the best travel destination in Scandinavia by lonely planet and the location of our excursion for the day. Tender – for those (like me) who haven’t heard of it before, is a boat (in this case, one of the lifeboats) that takes passengers ashore when a ship has to drop anchor a distance from the shore/dock due to shallow waters (or other reasons the ship cannot dock at a port).
After a morning of eating and on-board souvenir shopping (mainly the other half looking at an expensive watch that had caught his eye several times already! lol) we boarded our tender to depart for our excursion a coach ride up Mt. Dalsnibba with a visit to the Geiranger Fjord Center. This turned out to be our favourite, and the most interesting, of our excursions for the week – I’m not at all surprised at Geiranger being the top destination in Scandinavia! It was beautiful, and fascinating
We boarded the coach and set off on a 10 mile drive up a winding alpine road, with beautiful scenery, stunning sheer drops and hairpin bends. Our destination was just 3.5 miles from our starting point but due to the immensely steep climb the road had been built to wind steadily up the mountainside. Before the road was opened the area was practically cut off from the rest of the country and a journey to Oslo (Norway’s capital) would have taken around 20 hours! The ‘new’ road cut this journey down to around 6-7 hours. However, the road had been closed until just 2.5 weeks before our visit, and it remains closed from around mid-September till mid-May each year due to heavy snowfall making it treacherous and impassable most of this time!
In addition to being a popular tourist spot, recommended by lonely planet, and a world UNESCO heritage site, Geiranger is also home to 1/3 of Norway’s retired population (over 67 years of age). As we drive up to ‘Djupvas Shytta’ (cafe and shop we would stop at) we pass more glorious waterfalls – a common feature of fjord scenery; goat farms where many city girls would be sent to work in the summer – that reminds me of watching Heidi when I was a kid (although it wasn’t set in Norway, it’s just the way the guide described these farms sounded just like what I used to watch! lol); and many buildings, old and new, with grass roofs – a traditional Viking way to insulate ones home, now rediscovered due to being a modern eco-friendly approach
As we approached Djupvas Shytta the lush greenery gave way to snow-covered land, demonstrating just how recently even the rest of this fjord land was still in the depths of winter. The snow was at least a metre deep in most parts here:
After Tea, fresh-baked croissants and shopping in Djupvas Shytta it was back aboard the coach to head down to the Geiranger Fjord Center. A few photo stops along the way including ‘The Knot’ – a 270 degree bend in the ‘old’ road (which is still in use), waterfalls and mountain views. Our guide told us how small piles of rocks were used as markers for finding ones way around the mountainside, but that in folklore these rock piles were said to be Trolls (Norway is famous for Trolls as well as Vikings) who stayed turned to stone when struck by daylight!
The Fjord center was a fascinating step back in time featuring exhibits to illustrate the history of farm and fishery life in Western Norway, again we spent far too long examining the exhibits – this time meaning everyone else had watched the slide show in the center’s theatre and were ready to get back on the coach, so we had to miss the slide show then it was back down to the port and back to the Grand Princess.
As the Princess set sail for the next day’s location we headed down to the evening’s photo shoot in our first of 3 outfits! hehe. You see they were using a white background and this just gives the ‘best’ results if you prefer a more modern shoot (as we do) so we decided to make the most of it in case we didn’t get another chance. After all for a professional photo shoot in the UK you can pay a fortune just for the shoot, or even if the shoot doesn’t cost loads the photos are ‘mega’ expensive, we had already determined that buying photos here worked out far better value for money – so, why not take advantage of it? Plus the photographer was very pleased to have someone to work with as there were only about 4 other people who had ‘any’ photos taken that night! The white backdrop was not popular with the ships main demographic – people aged over 55… As you can see the shoot was worth it!
By the time we had finished I was decidedly struggling, and super glad we had to pose bare foot (to save making nasty shoe marks on the white canvas!) the ship seemed to be lurching worse than ever – though again no-one else seemed remotely affected!? We decided that it must be motion sickness, even though I hadn’t been suffering any nausea (until now), the severe tiredness, inability to balance and ghostly whiteness had returned as I had been suffering anytime the ship was in motion. We popped down to the medical centre, which happened to be closed (just our luck!) but on the door was a note the travel pills were available in the store, so we hobbled me back up and bought some (I felt that bad I actually just flopped down onto the shop floor while my partner sorted it out with the store assistant!). Within 30 minutes of taking the pills I felt so much better! I couldn’t believe we hadn’t realised sooner that I was travel sick – but I guess the lack of ‘sickness’ didn’t help there!!!?
Finally able to grab some food (approaching 10pm, missed the sit-down meals again!), we threw on some warm clothes and headed up to Horizon Court and took our food out to watch ‘The Green Hornet’ under the stars – oh man, was that film wicked! I loved it, hilarious and crazy – gotta be a hit with any ‘comic-book’ geeks out there!? We were feeling kinda bad that we had been neglecting the live shows in the Princess Theatre, I’m sure they were great! but we were having fun and the ‘options’ are there for a reason – so you can do the things you enjoy! guess we just like our movies a bit… hehe
Well, off to Olden in the morning thank heaven for the travel pills else with the late night as well I would’ve really struggled to be up for 6am again!!
- My First Cruise – Day 4 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- My First Cruise – Day 3 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- My First Cruise – Day 6 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Hints and tips for your Grand Princess Norwegian Fjords cruise from Southampton (showard76.wordpress.com)