Helsinki day 1 | Helsinki day 2 | Helsinki day 3 | Stockholm | Stockholm to Kosta | Kosta to Kalmar
Kalmar to Copenhagen | Copenhagen | Copenhagen to the Ship | Aalborg, Denmark | Flam, Norway
Alesund, Norway | Molde, Norway | Geiranger, Norway | Olden, Norway | Bergen, Norway
Eidfjord, Norway | Stavanger, Norway
July 28, 2016
We've come to another scenic fjord city but this one has a name that doesn't look great in English. However, the Norwegians pronounce it Mol-dah, so everything's OK. It's another compact city. Almost all residences seem to have a fjord view since they sweep up a hillside that frames the harbor.
Today's tour focus was Atlantic Ocean Road, a highway bridging multiple small Norwegian Sea (a.k.a. Atlantic Ocean) islands. The highway is an example of Norway's policy of making sure that all of its people are served by at least some road. Thanks to huge reserves of petroleum and gas, Norway is a very wealthy country. Most of the reserves are the property of the State. This wealth plus a high tax structure allows for large infrastructure investment, in addition to free education and health care. Interestingly, Norway sells most of its oil and gas internationally and gets to take advantage of extensive hydropower resources and wind power to generate electricity for domestic use.
Today's tour was mostly scenery - no - all scenery. We had a guide who was extremely experienced but had been trained in the "old school" guide format. Old school guide training apparently concentrated on guides memorizing, down to the last centimeter, the length of every pipeline, roadway, and widget, not to mention all the names of generations upon generations of obscure (obscure to us) historical Norwegian figures. I'll bet licensed guides (not just in Norway, but all over) used to have to take something like an S.A.T. They only passed if they could remember the diameter of the fifth oil pipe installed in an even-numbered month. While that is undoubtedly important information to someone, somewhere, it's just not important to those of us on a 4-hour scenic tour. In addition, our guide had a thick accent (I know; she speaks English better than I speak Norwegian) but I had to translate almost every utterance. If the words were correct, the sentence structure was not. She was quite clear, however, that taxes were too high and immigrants got too much money from the state.
Our first stop was a high hill above the town of Molde that gave us a panoramic view of multiple mountain peaks on the other side of the fjord and, in the fjord, a collection of islands. Of all sizes. The problem with these vista spots is that through the eye of a camera, everything is tiny. But it gave us an extraordinary overview and the fact the sun was out was a most welcome gift.
The rest of the trip was one picture postcard view after another. Even in the country, everyone appears to have a water view.
When rural Norwegians don't fish for a living, they farm. Lots of farming. Lots of grazing too - mostly sheep and some cows. One of the outcomes of this farming is cheese making. We passed a large factory that made Jarlesberg, my favorite cheese.
The highpoint of the trip, in fact the reason for the tour, was to see a highway system linking a group of granite islands in the Atlantic Ocean to the mainland and in particular to see a large and gracefully arched bridge (photo at right). It took years to finish this Atlantic Ocean Road (its official name). Once the highway was finished it opened up a lot of territory and established homesteads/residences that were once accessible only by boat.
Just before we got to this bridge we drove by several rock piles, which our guide called Viking burial mounds - protected by the State. However, there was no signage, which was either the way the Norwegian Antiquities Dept. (or whatever their official name is) decided they could best protect this national heritage, or, one or more of these mounds was a practical joke by the guys constructing this highway who, after they blasted away parts of these granite islands to lay the roadbed, had to put the rubble somewhere.
After we returned and had lunch we went for a walk in town. Since the Germans had bombed the central city of Molde (as well as numerous other cities) with a 90% destruction rate, there isn't a whole lot that is anything but modern. Interestingly, every time we have heard this German bombing story, the church appears to come thru with little damage.
Legendary Cultures 2011 | Greece & Turkey 2012 | Circle The Arctic | France-Denmark 2016 | Helsinki-Norway 2016