Norway Stories and Tips

Hurtigruten makes 34 stops. Here's what to see.

The Hurtigruten stops at 34 ports in 12 days. Some stops are 15 minutes or less, not enough time to get of the boat and explore, so I shall only comment on the major stops, stops lasting as much a six hours where one can do some local sight seeing.

A GENERAL OBSERVATION ON THE TOWNS OF NORWAY'S WEST COAST: WWII started in September, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. In January 1940 Germany invaded Norway with the fist paratroop invasion in history. Being neutral, Norway had virtually no Army-- the entire Norwegian Army was evacuated to England on one ship-- and the Nazis quickly conquered Norway.
After shooting or starving much of Norway's population, the Germans were eventually forced to pull out of Norway, but in full Christian spirit, the God fearing faithful Nazis burned almost every town in Norway to the ground as they retreated. Consequently, many Norwegian towns were rebuilt in late 1940s-early 1950s in cheap, dreary modern architecture, which is to say, they have little appeal to the sight seeing tourist.

BERGEN, where we started and ended our the Hurtigruten cruise, has a separate review.

ASELUND (pronounced Orslund or Awslund): Among the 34 towns the Hurtigruten stopped at, Aselund was the architectural star. This town of 41,000 is built on three islands in fjord A big fire in 1904 all but destroyed the center city, and it was impressively rebuilt in Art Nouveau style. The Hurtigruten docks very near the heart of the Art Nouveau city.

To see the major areas of Art Nouveau buildings, leave the Hurtigruten and walk straight ahead for a block or two to Kirkagata Street. Turn right. Walk to the end of Apotekageorgata, turn around, come back to the intersection where the bridge goes off to your left to cross the fjord inlet. After crossing the bridge, turn right on Kaiser Whilhelmgata and follow it to its obvious end. Turn around Go back toward the bridge and turn right to Lovenoldgata. Follow Lovenoldgata to the place where it is obvious that the Art Nouveau buildings end. That's the end of the tour. There is just barely time enough for this tour and for and a little souvenir shopping during the northbound the Hurtigruten stop at this port.

MOLDE: Molde's spectacular setting is belied by the town's dreary post war buildings There was a nice little park about three minutes walk from the ship ablaze in spring flowers and Japanese cherry tree blossoms. The stunning post war church was not open for a visit, but its exterior is impressive. The only promising option for Molde sight seeing is to take a taxi up to the high mountain overlook above Molde from which you can see more than 200 mountain peaks, which we did not do because the weather was bad, but, with the caveat of having not done it, but while having explored Molde town, I have no hesitancy in recommending the mountain ascent and skipping the town, weather permitting
As for Molde's setting, the Molde Alps are second only to the Lofoten Islands and the Vesteralen Islands for spectacular scenery

TRONDHEIM: After Aleslund, Trondheim is the most interesting city to see on the Hurtigruten trip. Trondheim is a very old city. Construction of the Cathedral started in 1070 A.D. It is a 20 minutes walk from the Hurtigruten dock to the center of Trondheim, and well worth it (there are signs to the 'Cenrtum' showing the way.
The Hurtigruten's full 12 day cruise stops twice in Trondheim, once going north from Bergen and again returning southbound to Bergen. The stopover is longer on the Northbound trip. When traveling northbound, we followed the signs to the Center (Centrum) from the Hurtigruten dock and, after crossing the bridge, proceeded straight ahead to the Cathedral, which is one of Norway's architectural masterpieces. The facade of the Cathedral is especially impressive. Facing the Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th Century, the building to the right is the even older Bishop's Palace.

We then proceeded to Prinsensgata, the major street facing the cathedral facade, turned right and headed for the center city. At Kongensgata, the major east west route thru downtown, we turned left and walked down to the church on the left where we turned right and then took the next right on Dronningensgata which is pleasant street of old wooden houses. Dronningengata dead ends at the street we took to the Cathedral, so we deviated onto some side streets on our way back to the ship when we reached the center of town.

Traveling south bound (a shorter stop than on the north bound trip) , I went into the city center-- not as far from the port as is the Cathedral-- and wandered around the center city. On this visit, I confined my explorations to the quadrant of the center city bounded by Prinsensgata, Kongensgata, the river Nidelva, and the and the arm of the Trondheim Fjord closet to the center city, which is what you cross by bridge when going into down town from Hurtigruten port.

Although there are lots of post WWII buildings, the center city also has a fair number of pre-war buildings, the most notable of which is the Royal Summer Palace, one of the largest old wood structures still standing in Norway.

Walking the streets in the old center city quarters as defined above, I found a mix of modern buildings, old wooden buildings, and massive stone structures. The modern buildings are uniformly nondescript The wood buildings are quaint, and the stone buildings impressive.

The most impressive area was around the torget (city square). Just east of the torget-- look for the tourist information office-- was the most attractive part of the old town. Check out the side streets and the Royal Palace, especially its back yard gardens. There is also a really old church nearby which was, naturally, closed up tight.

Kjopmannsgata, the street you end up on when you cross the bridge on your way to the center city (and to the cathedral) from the Hurtigruten's port, runs along the reconstructed old wooden warehouse district on the banks of the river.

BODO: The best that can be said for Bodo is that, among the many nondescript post war towns along the Hurtigruten route, Bodo is among the less nondescript. Like Molde and so many others, Bodo's best feature is the chance to get off the boat and walk for awhile.
Bodo is the departure port for the Lofoten Islands, one of highlights of Norway's west coast. Between Bodo and the next stop, the Hurtigruten crosses the Arctic Circle as we sailed across the vast Vestfjord (West Fjord).

SVOLAR, in spectacular setting, is the capital of the Lofoten Islands, for what that's worth. There are spectacular views of fishing boats, reflections of houses and mountains in the water, and of drying fish on a clam sunny day. A short walk along the harbor is rewarding, but heading inland quickly brought us back to the dreary post war era. All in all, the stop was too long.
We had two stops at Svolar, one northbound and one southbound. Both came late in the day, but they were very different. Northbound, Hurtigruten travelers first experience the Lofoten Wall, a 60 miles long chain of islands so tightly packed together that it looks like a continuous solid wall of mountain peaks rising from the sea. The crew said that in good weather, we could see the Lofoten Wall approaching at about 5:00pm. We had pretty bad weather and the Lofoten Wall did not appear until we were almost in Svolar, at 7:20pm.
Sights were much better on the southbound stop, one of clearest days of our tip. While there were some pleasant views in Svolar on the first visit, the sights were much better on the southbound stop. The most notable sights were the reflections of the waterfront buildings in the calm sea.
There is what seems to be an attractive recreated village of 18th and 19th Century wooden buildings-- from before the Nazis burned them down-- along the waterfront. Leave Hurtigruten, turn right, follow the sea front where the fishing fleet is at anchor, and cross the bridge to the right. As noted, if it is sunny and the sea is calm, there are some great views along here.
Our northbound stop came very near dark, and at the end of our first walk in Svolar-- turning right as we left the ship and then returning along the harbor front, I went straight out from the ship instead of turning right and thru the port terminal to the street on the other side. To the left, was building in the dark night with striking lights on its exterior.

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