Fjordland Norway – I did this holiday last July 2009 and below are my abiding memories:
Going to bed while the sun is still shining took me straight back to my childhood being ordered to bed at a ridiculously early time when I could hear other children playing in the street outside.
That dratted seagull perched on the lamp post outside my room! QUIET! ! STOP YOUR NOISE!! (I advise taking a gun on holiday with you)
The bathrooms have under-floor heating which is very handy for drying your boots and things. Look for the control outside the bathroom that looks like it may be for air-conditioning. Electricity must be cheap in Norway as the hotels have electric convector heaters rather than conventional central heating (Not that we needed heating).
Electricity is the only thing that is cheap in Norway – £1 for a postcard plus another £1 for the stamp. £5 for a small glass of beer or glass of wine. I lost 5lb over the two weeks – I had no idea that beer was such a significant part of my calorie intake. Having said Norway is expensive, there is no real need to spend much money as most things are inclusive to the holiday. I only spent £56, but then I am rather tight fisted.The hotels provided ample supplies of free coffee in the afternoon and after dinner so most of us sat around after dinner chatting and drinking coffee rather than alcohol. At most hotels, breakfast and dinner were buffets. They provided a vast selection of food. You can even have raw fish, if that is to your taste; which it was for the many Asian visitors the hotels attracted. Not sure of the nationalities but one group were Japanese and another Korean. They seemed to be “Doing Europe” by coach. They would arrive one day and be off the next.
If you have my sort of mind, three other things may strike you: just about every house has a ladder up the roof to the chimney. Nothing to do with Santa Klaus as I first thought, but the strange custom in Norway of the firemen cleaning your chimney every year from the top down. The second thing is Katabatic winds, especially in Laerdal. One blew our leaders notes away during lunch. Turf covered roofs were also an unusual feature of many small buildings, including a bus shelter.
Norway has a rather wet climate with lots of snow over winter which was still evident even in July. As a consequence of this there are lots of rivers, rivulets and waterfalls. There are so many spectacular waterfalls that for the first few days you will be constantly pointing them out and saying “Gosh, look at that”! But later you will be saying “Yeah yeah, another waterfall”.The walking was D+/C so not too strenuous but as the hotels were at sea level, some steep walks start off climbing up through woods which can be a bit wet and slippery under foot. On the tops you can see at first hand what tundra is.
There is no real need to go on about the fjords. Everyone has seen pictures of them and they are every bit as beautiful in real life. My room in Dragsvic was at the front of the hotel and I counted myself lucky to have such a beautiful fjord view; that is until I went down to dinner and saw the view from the dining room to the rear of the hotel – words fail me!!There are four transfers between hotels using public transport but strange as it may seem, these were among the more memorable parts of the holiday. The Flam railway stops halfway so you can get off onto a viewing platform to photograph a waterfall (Stupid me had packed my camera in my suitcase). Because of the terrain, the buses wound round fjords, through tunnels and onto ferries (We got an extra ferry ride because a tunnel was blocked). Perhaps I have reached the age at which I should swap mountain walking for coach holidays!In conclusion – a very memorable holiday.