13 May 2013

We have just returned from a cruise to the Fjords of Norway on the sumptuous P&O cruiseliner Oriana. 

The weather could have been better, perhaps on a trip later in the season there'd be more greenery, with more sunshine and warmer temperatures.

This was our very comfortable room.

Outside Stateroom

From: http://www.pocruises.com/cruise-ships/oriana/ship-overview/

After a day at sea, our first stop was Stavanger with its picturesque old town area.  

White, brick red, sandy yellow and light blue and mid green seem to be very popular colours for housing.  

They are very clean looking, which reflecting how clean Norway is, both as regards litter and also air quality.  

We did see some graffiti in a back street area but that was the exception rather than the norm.

Leaving Stavanger.
Even the manholes in Norway are interesting!

Then we sailed up to Gerainger, a small village at the end of one of the most stately and picturesque fjords, Nordfjord; a town so small that there isn't even a jetty, so we landed in batches by tender.  That was rather like going on the Cremyll Ferry.

Here's a photo of the traditional wooden buildings, many with roofs of grass and other living vegetation.  These roofs were looking rather bare, following the winter, but in summer they must look really good.

 Traditional building with very steep roof:

Above shows examples of the three types of roofing found in the Norwegian countryside. Corrugated iron, tiles (note ladder to climb up the middle of the roof) and on the right the traditional 'living' roof.

It's easy to see why Edvard Grieg wrote about trolls and 'mountain kings', looking at the mysterious, mountainous, high sides to the fjords, and at this troll house, complete with carved old couple.  Nearby was a stream coming straight out of the mountainside.

There was lots of lowering cloud the day we were in Geiranger, and, following last year's dismal weather, we felt very at home with all the rain.

Leaving Geiranger with its steep-sided mountainous walls:

Our third visit was to Oldem.  This is a village I visited back in the late 1960s, on a cruise with our youth club.  The village was much smaller then and one of my few memories was lounging in the on-board swimming pool, looking up at the snow-covered mountains.
Now the village has a jetty and is planning another one.  One of the local shopkeepers said that this would be likely to spoil the village as that would mean so many visitors that it would overwhelm the place.  Too many visitors for them to enjoy the peace and quiet and too many visitors for the shops and cafes to cope with.  So she hoped that the village would stay as it was.

... and finally on to former capital city of Bergen.  This street is part a UNESco World Heritage Site (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/59)

There were such lovely items for sale in the shops, but unfortunately not in our price bracket, such as a small child's jacket for £60.

Interesting to see that the Norwegians specialise in 'flytting' - sounds like when Scots move when they call it 'doing a flit'.

The park in middle of Bergen.  Surrounded by art galleries (Edvard Munch) and with much sculpture.

By Edvard Munch (he of 'The Scream' fame).

Leaving Bergen

We'd just gone under this bridge;  It looked far too low for our ship but but, by passing underneath in the middle of the span, we apparently cleared it by a mere two metres.

Onboard, the entertainments team were excellent, putting on a show most nights.  And there were bands and a small orchestra and even a relaxing pianist at other venues.

Watching films: Quartet and Les Mis (didn't have time to watch the others; too much to do!).

We enjoyed a talk on tidal energy, something which could be very useful for generating energy here in Britain.  Tidal energy generation is carried out on the bottom of the sea bed, so is unlikely to affect people, either aesthetically or actually.  And the rotors move slow enough not to endanger wildlife.  Sounds perfect.  What are the drawbacks?

I also had a go at playing with polymer clay.  Great fun, so on the way home we popped into a shop and bought some - and I've been pretty quiet ever since.  It doesn't go hard until it's cooked, so there are no worries about taking time to make something look good.

Ben Kearsley on the Classical Guitar was brilliant (see also: http://www.inveruriemusic.co.uk/season-2011-2012/ben-kearsley/).

What am I going to miss?

  • Looking at wonderful scenery, a different place every day.
  • Majestic mountainous fjords, ... old wooden buildings, beautiful (but too expensive) items in the shops, friendly people.
  • Smoothies for breakfast - along with croissants and hot chocolate. 
  • Luscious Lunches, amazing afternoon teas and delicious dinners served by helpful, smiling waiters.
  • Being entertained - morning; noon and night.
  • ... and being tidied up after in our cabin.
... When's the next cruise?!!

This map of western Norway shows our destinations: Stavanger, Geiranger and Bergen. (Oldem is just below Geiranger)

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