Sleepless in Sæbø – that’s how morning greeted me. I literally peeled myself out of bed, for whilst sleep was finally beckoning me into its dreamy embrace, I had a hotel room to check out of and a cabin by the Geirangerfjord awaiting my arrival. Ah, sleep can wait!
Fortunately I had planned a light driving day which would include the world famous cruise along the UNESCO World Heritage listed Geirangerfjord. But first, a shorter ferry ride across the Hjørundfjord to Leknes and a drive through the wild and rugged Norangsdalen.
If hidden gems are your bag then driving Norangsdalen should be placed high on your bucket list. Often referred to as the wildest valley in Norway, this beautiful road takes you past Slogen, the most famous and jagged of peaks in the Sunnmøre Alps. Plentiful picnic stops abound. My tip is to pull over when you disembark the ferry at Leknes and allow the rest of the vehicles to drive on ahead for a few minutes. Then you will truly have the open road ahead of you and filling your rearview mirror too.
The drive through Norangsdalen places you perfectly for access to Hellesylt and catching the car ferry for the one hour trip along the most famous fjord in the world. I was able to drive up without a ticket and pay as I drove on but I would suggest prebooking if you are travelling in high season. With the ferry two-thirds empty, I found a seat on deck easily, sat back and enjoyed the ride!
The best way to convey the beauty of Geirangerfjord is by describing the effect on my fellow passengers. A hush descended over the passengers as the boat took the first turn into the S-shaped fjord. This hush did not leave us until the ferry docked in Geiranger. The wide open mouths and excited shining eyes of everyone around me seemed to mirror my own internal thoughts and feelings. Norway just did it again! Passing the Hurtigruten served as a reminder of the importance of waterways to these remote fjordside communities throughout history. And when taking the final bend of the fjord two of the most famous waterfalls came in to view:
The story goes that the suitor (that’s him on the left) had his advances spurned by the seven sisters (centre) and eventually turned to the bottle for solace. Hence the suitor’s bottle shape. The waterfalls here were abundant with snow melt water and a tremendous roar served as a reminder of their terrible beauty.
I chose Geiranger as a base for two nights and timed my trip so that the one full day spent there didn’t coincide with any cruise ship calls**. This made a huge difference. On arriving in Geiranger, three large ships were in and the village was absolutely crowded. I was glad to head straight for my accommodation a couple of miles along the fjord outside the village where it was much more peaceful. After a walk along the fjord and making a shopping trip for supplies to put together an evening meal a lazy evening was spent chilling out on the deck in front of the cabin and thanking the universe for providing such beautiful weather!
** Cruise ship calls can be checked here: http://www.stranda-hamnevesen.no/cruise-calls