We had decided after a very pleasant stop at the Sveggvika Guesthouse on Averoy Island that this idea of a four day drive from Trondheim to Bergen was a great idea. Our destination for our second day was Geiranger where we had stopped briefly for one of our afternoons on our cruise up the Norwegian coast with Hurtigruten. One of the tours that the boat offered for the rest of that day was a bus tour from Geiranger Fjord to Molde over on the Atlantic coast. The passengers who chose that tour would be collected by our ship at 10.30pm that night at Molde.The tour sounded like a rushed event so we didn’t join it but our return trip on the second day with the hired car would repeat the route of that bus tour. Our stop for morning coffee would be in Molde.
The first part of our drive from Sveggen took us through country that was very rocky. We had been told by our host that there was a possible early stop if we wanted to look at rock engravings by early humanity at a site along the way but we failed to discover it. One of the most interesting sections of our drive to Molde was the Atlantic Ocean Road that was begun in 1983 to connect Averoy with the mainland on the way to Molde. This road is right on the edge of the Atlantic ocean and survived 12 European wind storms during its construction. It is 8.3 Kms long and it is built between islands and skerries and includes 8 bridges, including Storseisundet Bridge, that can be seen in image below. This section of road has been awarded the “Norwegian Construction of the Century”.
We arrived in the interesting town of Molde and found a park not far from the main square where necessities such as coffee were immediately available. This city is nicknamed the ‘City of Roses’ and the reason for the name became obvious once we started to look around the town. One of the impressive statues in the square was of a flower seller and her basket of roses. When we went to look at the Molde Cathedral, the image below of Molde square and busy river beyond being seen across a garden of red roses was one of the great views of the trip.
I found it interesting that this coastline was a holiday destination of European royalty in the late 19th/early 20th century. The German Emperor spent time here at Molde and at Alesund further down the coast as well as English royals. Molde had a bad World War 2 involving repeated attacks by the German Luftwaffe which burnt down large sections of the city, including the Molde cathedral of the time.
Leaving Molde we were leaving the Norwegian coastline and heading into mountains and Fjord country. The first section of our journey was following one side of the Romsdalsfjord. It is 94 Kms long leading to the picturesque town of Andalsnes, which calls itself the ‘Mountaineering Capital of Norway.
If that section of the trip wasn’t picturesque enough for us, the next section of our trip was one of continuing astonishment at the natural beauty of this amazing area. After leaving Andalsnes, we found ourselves on Route 63, a 30 km stretch that would take us towards Geiranger up an unforgettable road called the Trollstigen. I assumed there must be plenty of trolls about and I was proved right when we arrived at the camping grounds 10km out of Andalsnes. The photo on the left further below illustrates how I was becoming the main man if somebody was needed to stand with a troll in a photo. This road is quite-rightly been declared as one of Norway’s 18 National Tourist Routes.
Whilst the camping ground were very interesting with lots of troll statues and plenty of information about the area, the most important sights were ahead of us as we followed the river up the valley and eventually came to the zig-zag climb up the mountain.
The road up the mountain has an incline of 10% and eleven hairpin bends for both good and bad drivers to negotiate, with small cars or large motorhomes. Only the daring get behind the wheel to compete with the other 2,500 vehicles that make the climb every day. This is a good number of tourists on the way to spend their money at Geiranger, particularly when you consider that road is closed during Autumn and Winter.
At the top of Trollstigen there is a visitor centre that I have to say was a very impressive site given the care they have taken to provide every possible footpath and view with solid railings to ensure the safety of the timid folk as well as the dare-devils. There is a river running quickly out of the mountain-lakes that flows past the visitor’s centre and down the sheer falls of the mountain side. This is a very spectacular setting.
After finishing gazing in awe at the landscape at the top of Trollstigen, we continued along Route 63 to our next amazing site, a deep ravine with the Valldola River rushing through deep potholes and endless intricate turns through the stony landscape. This was Gudbrandsjuvet, where again the viewing platforms were almost as attractive as the gorge they ran beside. There is a café here open during the season.
Time was running out for us as we made our way to day’s destination, Geiranger Fjord so we had to jump back in our car and continue this stunning journey along Route 63, at one time called the Golden Road. The photo below captures well how Geiranger looks from the fjord. Our first site of this famous Fjord town was coming down the road on the left side of the fjord with views not only of the town but of the fjord itself. As we were late, there were now large cruise liners jockeying for position in the fjord.
Our last task for the day was to find our way up the hill to our accommodation, Hotel Union. We found this hotel very comfortable, the food was great, the views excellent and it was just over the road from the Norwegian Fjord Centre and at the start of the most amazing waterfall walk that we had ever experienced. We were ready for an exciting day on the morrow.