13th Dec 2011 - 14th Dec 2011 - Norway
The Hurtigruten Coastal Ferry is a Norwegian institution. The boat travels between Bergen and Kirkenes daily taking 7 days and stops at various small towns and villages along the way. Many of these villages rely on the boat for supplies and the tourists that the boat brings in. At each port you can stop, get off and explore the town. At the smaller ports there is just 30 minutes or so but at the larger ports you can be given 3 or more hours. There is a strict departure time though so make sure you are back in time!! Melissa and I had a two bed cabin with a window, which meant I had to pull my bed out of the wall and Melissa had to flip the sofa to get her bed. We had a small bathroom and a wardrobe for our clothes, which we didn’t use. Due to time constraints we weren’t taking the ferry all the way to Kirkenes but instead we were heading to Trondheim which was 2 nights, but 1 day journey away. After boarding and having a nose around at the two hot tubs, restaurant, cafe and multiple bars we decided it was time for food. The restaurant being expensive even for Norway we opted for the cafe and had beautiful fish and chips – the chips being seasoned with something delicious although I couldn’t tell you what!! We went and had a celebratory drink in one of the bars whilst listening to some interesting musical entertainment by a pair who kept missing the word “door” out of the classic “Knocking on Heavens Door”. At half 10 we sailed away from Bergen and headed North.
Despite stopping a couple of times during the night at various ports, we slept right through and woke up at 8 where we were out on open water and so it was a little bumpy. We had breakfast then headed back to our cabin where we fell asleep again, mainly because it was still dark! We forced ourselves out of bed around 11 by which time we had returned to the inland fjord waters which were much calmer. Around midday we arrived in the small town of Alesund, where we had 3 hours to amuse ourselves. The town is famous for its art deco architecture and we decided the best way to see it would be to climb to the top of Fjellstua mountain. The way up was rather icy given the weather conditions, but we slipped and slid up 418 steps until we reached the top. At the top we had views out over the town, the sea and the surrounding mountains. Upon returning to the bottom we spent some time walking round town, then stopped for a hot chocolate and cake before returning to the boat. We had a few more hours of sailing before arriving into the small town of Molde. There was very little to do in Molde and as we were only docked for an hour we took a walk down the main high street and back before re-boarding the boat. After dinner in the cafe again we had a chilled evening during which I dyed Melissa’s hair for her – not an easy job given the size of the bathroom!! We made one further stop that evening in Kristiansund, but it was late and so we decided to see the town from inside our cabin!!
The next morning we arrived in Trondheim early but we did not have to leave the boat until just before it left port at around midday. We did decide to start early as we had lots we wanted to do starting, of course, by filling up on our buffet breakfast. Upon leaving the boat we headed into the centre of Trondheim – a half hour walk if you go the correct route, longer if you go in circles! We left our bags at the train station and walked into town. It was quite a small town despite it being the third most populous in the country. We visited Stiftsgarden, home to the Royal Residence in Trondheim, the Nidaros Cathedral with the Archbishops Residence, the Bryggen warehouses and then up another steep, slippery hill to the Kristiansten Fort. Once again we had views out over the whole town and the surrounding hills. Back down in town we hit the shops, had a drink and visited a Christmas market. Then it was time to return to the train station, in order to catch a train to the airport. En route, we stopped in the small village of Hell and actually, Hell’s not that bad!! That evening, we flew from Trondheim up to Tromso for the final, and hopefully most exciting, part of our journey.