Monday, 19 August 2013

Essence of Norway - Hellesylt to Stryn

Wednesday 7 August 2013. We walk off the Thomson Spirit at Hellesylt and walk up towards the wide waterfall where our coach for the Essence of Norway full day excursion waits. There's time to walk onto the bridge over the waterfall and look back towards the fjord.

As we board our coach, the ship turns to head towards Geiranger, where we will meet it later in the afternoon. Between Hellesylt and Geiranger lie countless waterfalls, mountains, the deepest lake in Europe, hairpin bends on steep roads, a glacier, a crashed German bomber from World War II and a lunch at a National Park Center. Some of these we will see in this entry and others in following articles.

The first photo stop is at Honndøla Bridge. Not particularly old as bridges go, it was built in 1810. The mountain in the distance with the very pointy top is Hornindalsrokken which reaches 5016 feet. There is a tourist information hut nearby which is roofed with turf, as are many of the buildings around here. Incredibly the grass is kept short by lifting goats onto the roof to eat it...

Standing at one end of the bridge is this holed stone. The story goes that wedding parties used to cross the bridge and the bride had to pass through the hole to prove she wasn't pregnant. Quite a few pregnant ladies on our coach apparently...

We carried on to the Best Western Raftevolds Hotel. We stopped for a coffee break here in the garden on the bank of Lake Hornindalsvatnet with a couple of trolls for company!

This is the deepest lake in Europe. It has a legend of a monster like our own Nessie in Scotland and a couple claimed to have seen and photographed it in 2012 - the photos resemble a pair of bicycle inner tubes sticking out of the water. I like to have an open mind but... onward...

The coach takes us to Stryn, where the fashion chain Moods of Norway started in this very hut. Pink is their colour... Each of their garments apparently has "234,243" embroidered in it somewhere - apparently the number of tractors in Norway... Yes indeed... Boys done good though, the chain is now going around the world. There's a branch in Newcastle.

We found a souvenir shop. Reindeer skins, trolls and - oh lucky us - fridge magnets...

Stryn was a very nice town to visit, the glacial river runs through it and several of the party went down to see it. We opted to go the other way into the town. We tried to go down to the river to walk back to the coach but couldn't see a way to get to it without walking through peoples' gardens which we thought might be frowned on. We headed back along the road and came to the coach park that way. We were with a couple who lived just a few miles from us. We met them four years ago in the middle of a similar all-day excursion in Turkey... "Hi" to John and Sue!

Large versions of the photos: all the photos from the holiday can be found in this set at Flickr. These are still being uploaded at time of writing.

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