Day 3: Ålesund to Molde

via the Geirangerfjord

We slept well in our 'cosy little cabin' although we were aware that the sea had been quite rough during the night voyage. Fran obviously wanted a bit of a lie in, so Stephen felt that it wasn't politic to suggest we got up to see the ship dock at Torvik at 07:15!  So it was in bed until 8, followed by buffet breakfast in the restaurant. 

This is Ålesund at 08:45 and we can see that we now have a deck cargo of two power boats. The 'Lofoten' has a large hold with hatches, for cargo that needs keeping dry.

The day's schedule is below:

To give a better understanding of the sea journeys I've included the time when I took the photographs.

09:30: Pulling away from the terminal on the summer only cruise up the Geirangerfjord we pass the 'seawalk' quay that is used by cruise ships. A party of Germans from a coach tour joined us for the voyage up to Geiranger but, even so, the ship didn't feel full. 

09:45: To get to the Geirangerfjord the ship has to sail back out to sea and then head south to reach the Storfjorden

10:11: The ship is now sailing into the Storfjorden which is 86km long and the ninth longest fjord in Norway.

10:15: We pass one of the many car ferries that cross the fjord.

10:17: Looking back towards Ålesund where the weather looks a lot brighter.

10:27: On the starboard (right hand side) are the peaks of the Sunnmøre alps which rise to between 920m and 1419m above sea level.

10:38: On the starboard side the entrance to the 35km long Hjørundsfjorden is passed.

11:00: The car ferry between Magerholm (seen in the background) and Ørsneset crosses the fjord.

11:01: A close up of a ferry going in the opposite direction. Apparently this is the busiest ferry route in this part of Norway, so there are two ferries in action at the same time. 

11:21: A view back down the fjord .

11:53: looking backwards it's getting brighter.

12:15: The village of Stranda has numerous furniture making factories as well as being Norway's biggest producer of frozen pizzas!

12:20: Looking back down the fjord with Stranda on the left.

12:21: A small Norwegian lighthouse, of which were to see many over the next few weeks.

12:22: The ship passes the entrance to the Norddalsfjord. In 1934 an enormous rockfall into this fjord created an enormous wave which killed 40 people and was one of Norway's worst disasters of the 20th century.

12:26: At Røbbervika there is a mine for olivine which is used in steel making and as ballast in oil production platforms because of it weight and hardness.

12:33: In several places abandoned farms lie above the fjord.

13:04: The ship is now in the Sunnylfjorden with its steep mountainsides.

13:09: Entering the Geirangerfjord.

13:16 One of the car ferries from Geiranger heads down the fjord to Hellesylt.

13:18: Looking back down the Geirangerfjord.

13:21: Four of the dramtic waterfalls that cascade down the fjord sides.

13:24; Heading up the fjord....

13:26: .....where we pass some canoeists.

13:27: Heading up the fjord round one of the numerous bends.

13:31: We've been chasing this car ferry up the fjord and are now nearly at Geiranger.

13:38: The small car ferry Veøy had preceded us up the fjord from Hellesylt.

13:38: Geiranger village with its large hotel and seawalk for cruise ships has rather spoilt the appearance of the head of the fjord. The Hurtigruten ships don't berth here but passengers are taken off by...

....a tender...

...with passengers transferring across a gangplank.

We were actually delayed here because three passengers missed the tender and were brought out by speed boat and had to climb up a rope ladder onto the ship!!! A good job they were young and fit..

14:18: The ship is running late from Geiranger but we arrived back in Ålesund on time just after 18:00.

17:59: On the return to Ålesund the ship passed this curious tower on the outskirts of the town. It was made out of wood and was to be burnt to celebrate the midsummer festival of Sankthans bål on the 23rd June. This is a Christian festival which commemorates John the Baptist and is celebrate all over the Nordic countries.

18:00: Arriving back in Ålesund it was clear that the cruise ship 'curse' was affecting the town.

The 'Discovery' was at the cruise ship terminal although there was no sign of passengers so they must have been out on trips.

18:15: Safely tied up at the pier our little ship was due to remain in Ålesund for three quarters of an hour, so most of the passengers headed off for a whistle stop around the town centre.

It's an attractive town rebuilt in Art Noveau (Jugendstil) style after a disastrous fire in January 1904 when most of the wooden buildings were destroyed

Back at the quayside cargo loading is underway..

....and as can be seen there is no restriction on where passengers can walk.

Map of the Hurtigruten route from Ålesund to Trondheim

The next stage of the voyage was from Ålesund to Trondheim. En route the ship called at Molde before sailing overnight to Kristiansund and Trondheim.

20:48: This was probably the only disappointing section of our Norwegian journey, as the weather became quite poor with drizzle for several hours. Fortunately, about two hours of this were spent having dinner in the company of a Tasmanian former ship's pilot and his wife.

As can be seen from the map the ship sailed up the passage between islands on the port side and the mainland on the starboard side. 

21:04: Passing Midøya with the larger island of Oyrøya heyond...

21:05: The mainland to the east.

21:52: One of the more 'exciting' aspects of the Hurtigruten ships is when the northbound and southbound ships pass. This is always done port to port side and the tradition is that the northbound ship issues a greeting with its siren and the southbound responds. Here we see the southbound 'Nordlys' which has just left Molde...

...and heads away into the evening gloom. It's our first sight of one of the ten large ships of the Hurtigruten fleet and we'll see all but one of them over the next two weeks.

21:58: Although we're still well south of the Artic Circle (62°N) Molde is further north than the Shetland Isles so, even though its a bit dull, there's plenty of light even at ten o'clock as we approach the quayside.

22:03: Docking the 'Lofoten', which has only a single propeller and rudder, requires skill and the Tasmanian seaman talks enthusiastically about how well the ship is handled. Waiting on the quayside is a group from our ship who left at Geiranger and have come across the mountains by coach  - they apparently experienced snowfall on some of the passes.

22:30: The ship pulls away from Molde a few minutes late and out into the Atlantic as it heads for Kristiansund and Trondheim. As the weather isn't improving I decide it's time for bed.

One thing that surprised me when researching for this webpage was how close we were at Molde to another of destinations, Åndalsnes, which we would visit at the end of our holiday. The convoluted nature of the Norwegian coastline, fjords  and mountains is difficult to appreciate at times.

 Click here to go the next page - Trondheim