By Lee Boughan
Norway, nicknamed “Land of the Midnight Sun,” offers its travelers a unique majesty. Its snow-crested peaks and glacier-born fjords symbolize the wilderness culture. Norway is a balanced mix of traditional and modern cultural elements. Its rustic, stave churches and folk dances are not forgotten in this technologically advanced and wealthy country. Norway is a country to explore and get lost in its awesome and stunning outdoors.
On my recent cruise to Norway, after sailing all day up the longest fjord in the world, the Sognefjord, we stopped in a tiny village called Skjolden, soak up the expansive landscapes, blend of greenery, glaciers and waterfalls surrounding this picturesque village are sure to invigorate. We choose to take an excursion to the oldest stave church in Norway, the roads are narrow and outdoor scenery is breath taking. Other thing to do in Skjolden, hike through paths where you’ll find mountains, glaciers and miles of green fields or maybe follow the romantic road to reach the grand 720-foot waterfall on the Lusterfjord.
Next stop was Flåm, a tiny village tucked inside Norway's longest fjord, Flåm is known for its storybook setting and the thrilling railroad journey that showcases the surrounding splendors of mountains, waterfalls, calm lakes and bucoclic green valleys. Pass through nearly 20 tunnels for some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, there was still snow on the ground, which made for a rushing, fast moving waterfall. The train stopped for photo ops at the waterfall. Once back in Flam we went to the small brewery, where we had the most expensive beer I have ever had, with the exchange rate it worked out to almost $15. The afternoon was spent sailing up the fjord and it was warm enough in May for us Florida crackers to have swim suites on, enjoying the hot tub.
The sleepy little village of Olden is your key to some of Norway’s most stunning natural wonders — a glittering fjord and a vast sea, towering mountains, and blue glaciers sandwiched between green valleys. And is the gateway to the Jostedal Glacier, the largest glacier on the European mainland. A tour to Briksdal, its most well-known glacier arm, is highly recommended. We hiked up to Briksdal, up switch backs and rocky terrain, to the very end. After returning to the starting point, I was happy to have some hot coffee and pastry to warm back up.
Even if you've never heard of Art Nouveau, the signature architectural style is only part of the appeal of this village of small islands and canals. A charming harbor, towering fjords and mountains complete the picturesque setting. You can explore the history of Alesund and its people from the Stone Age to the 1900s.
Stavanger delights with its mix of old-world charm and modern bustle. The center of Norway’s North Sea oil production, the port sits on a scenic archipelago nestled between imposing mountains and sandy beaches. This is where the country was first united by the Viking King Harald Harfagre. We took a relaxing stroll along Stavangers narrow, cobblestone streets reveal brightly painted houses and colorful flowers.
A visit to the breathtaking "Pulpit Rock" will get your heart pumping, and is not to be missed.
We had one final sea day on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, this was an 8 night cruise, that left from London (Southampton). One of my all time favorites!