Saturday July 7, 2007

On every tour there are days when you’re tempted to think, “That was sooooo good – there’s no way we’ll top it!” And so far on our Baltic Cruise we’ve had two or three days like that.

But today has easily topped them ALL!

It began in a tiny village called Hellesylt, at the tip of Norway’s beautiful Sunnylvenfjord. Steep, waterfally cliffs tower dramatically above the town, and we were oohing and aahing before we even got on the coach.

13-Hellesylt 2Our route took us past small hilly farms and cute rural dwellings with grass growing thickly on the roofs (insulation, apparently) to the Hornindalsvatn Lake (at 514 chilly metres, the deepest lake in Europe). Then through increaingly alpine-type landscapes, past more gushing streams and waterfall, to the town of Stryn (pronounced ‘Streen’). Then, finally, up the beautiful Stryn valley, along an ever-winding, ever-climbing road – until, at 1000 metres above sea-level, we found ourselves, suddenly, in the middle of a summer ski field, with blinding white snow covering nearly everything everywhere we looked.

It was off the coach for more oohing and aahing and throwing of snowballs. Then another 15 minute drive to the Grotli Hotel for a three-course lunch – featuring locally-caught salmon and locally-picked cloud-berries. (There goes the waistline – again!)


Olav the Feeble Minded

Lunch over, I bought myself a Viking helmet (after all, we’ve been learning lots about these fearsome Norsemen from an age long gone). Then we drove along the shores of a gorgeous glacial lake (Djupvatn) and up this steep, zig-zagging, heart-stopping road to the summit of Mt Dalsnibba, now 1500 metres above sea level.

Oh, boy!

There’s no way words (or photos) can describe the feast-for-sore-eyes that awaited us up there on top of the world. We were quite simply gob-smacked by a 360-degree panorama of endless snowy peaks dropping down to miniature lakes, farms, roads and rivers far, far below us.

13-Hellesylt 3The Marco Polo was anchored in the spectacular Geirangerfjord (the ship had moved during the day) – and from another stunning lookout, the Flydalsjuvet, we all oohed and aahed yet again and took another zillion photos of our floating hotel.

As if that wasn’t more than enough for one day, after up-anchoring and cruising for less than 30 minutes, we were treated to yet anoither highlight: a glorious up-close view of the world-famous Seven Sisters waterfall.

Take your breath away? You’d better believe it! And you can count on it: this is one day 40 mad midlifers will never forget.

TOMORROW: A ancient Viking port, fish markets and a peaceful lake. So stay tuned …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. Want to leave a message for anyone in our group? Just click on ‘COMMENTS’ under the title for today’s blog – and type away!