Thursday, July 5, 2007

Fjords in a rubber speedboat

Geiranger (pronounced Gerrinjer, not Gay-ranger as I’d been calling it for most of the day, oh yes it was embarrassing) is almost too pretty to describe. Think chocolate-box houses, Norwegian dolls, hot chocolate, blonde people, mountains with cascading misty waterfalls between the peaks, occasional dustings of snow here and there and you’re about where it’s at. Oh, and a population of around 300, plus 200 in the neighbouring village of Hellesylt (Helleh-sill, not Hell-silt, another big no-no from yours truly).

I set out with Juan, Wolfie, Rachel and Carla to go on what we thought would be a bus tour going up and around the mountains, to see the fjords. Alas, there are only two roads in this part of Norway, linking the two villages together (and apparently two years ago they were blocked with snow for two whole weeks leaving people stranded, yikes!) so we were tactfully told a boat tour was the way to go.
We were pushed for time and thought most of the cruises seemed to be too long for us, but then a man approached offering us a one and a half hour tour to the main sights, and promised to get much closer to the waterfalls. How come it took so much less time? It was a much faster, smaller boat, he said, and a much better tour. We paid our $60 each and went with the man, having no idea what we’d just gotten ourselves into.

It was when we were told to put on these fluorescent, bulky jumpsuits, and told to ‘hang on once on the boat’ that the situation intensified slightly. Check out the nervous smiles.
The boat was like an 8-man speedboat made from a rubber-dinghy. The nose (where I stupidly chose to sit, that's me on the front-left courtesy of Wolfie's genius) rose up significantly when the thing picked up speed, and we bounced. A lot. My disposition improved somewhat when I discovered how to pull my hood up and tie the string tight around my face, so that the wind didn’t howl through my ears. It resulted in a seriously bad hair day, but what’re you gonna do?

During the day, my camera ran out of juice, so many of these shots are the result of a generous donation from Carla and Wolfie.

This is the Seven Sisters falls, although right now there are eight sisters because of the increased amount of water for the time of year. Apparently last year there were only four sisters, so we were lucky. Across from the Seven Sisters is the Bachelor, so called because apparently this waterfall asked each one of the sisters to marry him in turn, and each sister declined. Yes, we’re still talking about water here and yes, by this point I was scared of our guide (and the fact he was let loose driving the ungodly contraption we were in).

This is the Wedding Veil, although for a good five minutes I thought our guide was talking about a Wedding 'Whale' due to his accent. I was theorising that the whale must be a good luck and prosperity symbol and such, but actually, this waterfall is so-named because the misty sheet it produces looks very much like a white veil.
These farm houses were abandoned in 1960. The places are so isolated, I’m surprised anybody was able to run a farm there at all. Any time you need to go out, you must take a boat, whatever the weather. We were lucky, it was calm, but in the bitter cold, wind or rain I think it must have been a hard and treacherous life.
The story goes that one farmer had 10 children whom he had to tie ropes around the waists of, to stop them falling from the cliff edges.
The fjords are deep, at one point the fjord we were sailing (or skidding and bouncing) in was 800 metres deep, and too cold for any big marine life, so I’m told. No Nessies here then!
There is, however a sunken boat and a cross to mark it, where a man was sailing after his wedding, but found out his new wife was already engaged to another. He immediately sunk the boat and himself in it. Intense people, the Norwegians.

After an hour and a half, and minus a couple of lower vertebrae I’m sure, we arrived back at Geiranger port, satisfied that we’d seen (and most definitely felt) the fjords.


Ex-Shammickite said...

What beautiful waterfalls! I admire waterfalls.... when you think about it, they aren't just waterfalls while you are looking at them, they are waterfalls the whole time you are NOT looking at htem... they just keep on going and going, don't they ever run out of water? Just amazing!
And you all look very fetching in lime green.

Hyde DP said...

We were there 2 years ago. I went on the coach tour over the mountains to Hellsylt and the ferry back. So you were in one of those smaller boats that went close into the waterfalls. I can imagine you needed those oilskins! Nice to see it again from another persepective.

My account is at

a_mac_routliffe said...

Dude, nice pics.' ,but I have to say (as a Volvo Enthusiest), that blue car is DEFINATLY N-O-T any kind of Volvo from any era!
That my friend was a Marcadies Bens. Probably from the era you mentioned, BUT still far from meeting the quality and standards Volvo lives/produces by.
Not to exube any feeling of hostility over the matter, I'm just an avid fan of them beasts, who felt the need to educate thoes who aren't exposed.Check this out.

Peace, man.

a_mac_routliffe said...

Dude, looks like an amazing trip`n`stuff, but I must say as an enthusiest of the Volvo ... that blue car is NOT any model from any era of Volvo! Nope, that piece of machinery was in fact a
Marcedies Bens, of the era wich you predicted, but it lacks the precision and visual finess.
Not to sound crass or condesending, I just like to educate thoes who aren't exposed.

Here man check this out ... I think you'll see the differance.
Peace, man.

a_mac_routliffe said...

Sorry if I sent that more than once ... kindda new at this, public oppinion stuff.

Take it easy