Monday July 2, 2012

The North Sea has a wild, stormy reputation – but we Kiwis struck it lucky once again as we sailed north-west yesterday from Holland. Our destination? One of the most environmentally untouched, scenically stunning regions on the planet – the famous Norwegian Fjords – promising serene waterways, plunging cliffs, cascading waterfalls, mist-shrouded peaks and colourful villages.

We woke up this morning, excited and ready to go, in stopover #1. Beautiful Bergen was founded in 1070 by a pleasant chap with a catchy name: Olav the Peace Loving – one-time King of the fearsome Vikings (or ‘Wickings’ according to the locals, who have trouble sounding their v’s). It’s a magnificent natural seaport, surrounded by steep, forested mountains – its shores lined with handsome medieval buildings, its hillsides dotted with brightly-painted gabled cottages, and smack in the middle: an impressive stave church.

We noisy Kiwis spent an enjoyable few hours in this UNESCO World Heritage Site: grabbing a funicular ride up Mount Florien for a magnificent overview of the town (where some of us introduced ourselves to a local troll) … watching a parade of marching boys hold up traffic … strolling around the bustling flower-&-fish market, where seafood straight-off-the-boats swim in brine-filled tanks … and savouring the atmosphere of ages past in the ancient Bryggen Quarter with its unique wooden warehouses and homes (established by Hanseatic traders during the Middle Ages).

If you’re a favoured friend or family member, your Mad Midlifer might even have bought you a reindeer pelt for your bedroom floor!

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We’re in Geirangerfjord, one of Norway’s most impressive sights, especially when seen from 1200 metres up a dizzy-making hairpin-bendy mountain-road! So, put on your snow-shoes, fasten your seatbelts, and stand by …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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