Norway - The Curious Sea of Fjords, August 2019

A country I long wanted to visit, Norway was so much more impressive than I had imagined with its dramatic fjords and waterways.

Vestlandet, Norway’s southwestern coast was simply fascinating! At some point in time long ago the sea reached out with long curvy fingers to peek into people’s lives and thus the fjords were created. 

I find inspirations every time I travel. Please visit my web site to learn about my art.

We spent the first night in Ålesund, a little pleasant town with Art Nouveau style houses topped with grey fish scale roofs. 

While walking along the sea smelling streets, we stopped by a small market owned by a Syrian man to buy water. He didn’t take money from us when he heard that we were speaking in Turkish. He said we help them a lot already. That was an honoring experience for all of us. 

At the edge of the water were a few stunning bronze sculptures; one was of an old lady salting fish and another of a tall man with crude hands and rectangular shaped body. Both had qualities simplicity and an ambiguity, I would want to achieve in my own art especially in my sculptures.

Our next stop was Geirangerfjorden, where we stayed two nights. We drove through Åndalsnes circling around deep fjords. To the south from Åndalsnes is the troll’s path, Trollstigen. With peculiarly shaped cliffs, troll’s path creates an enchanting setting for trolls. We had the pleasure to learn about these cave dwelling creatures that evening from a book we found at the hotel. 

There were quite a lot of waterfalls and trails along the road. We hiked a short but steep trail by the Bispen mountain (1462 m). At the top was an ice-colored glacier lake. 

We then took a ferry from Linge-Valldal to Eidsdal and reached our hotel Grande Fjord surrounded by plum trees. Campers were having dinner and children were fishing while the sun setting in deepest hues of orange. We saw our first midnight sun.

In the morning, we did sea kayaking in Geirangerfjorden, one of the deepest and the most exquisite fjords in Norway. The black waves resembling sea creatures followed our kayaks as boats passed us once in a while. Waterfalls, fell off from somewhere above the black-spotted walls too high to imagine. 

In the afternoon, we hiked above the clouds along the edge of these sharps cliffs. At the beginning of the trail where red currants were abundant, an older couple warned us saying bad weather was coming. After a while, we didn’t have to worry about getting wet because we were completely wet. Even the European robin on the tree branch looked frustrated. 

After about two hours of steep climbing, we reached Homlongsætra, where two stæglas have been overlooking the sea below, for the last 300 years. We learned that these barns with grass covered roofs have been used by farmers who send their animals for grazing during spring and summer. 

Next morning we rented a boat to go fishing underneath the same rocks. Clouds were curving along the top edges of the fjord from where thin water streams were falling down singing their gentle tales. Kittiwakes were flying close to the black waters. 

It took the whole day to drive to Marifjøra through the Golden Route, which passes through lush hills backed by far mountains with glaciers. 

We stayed in the 17th century Tørvis Hotel with a hunter’s parlor and an elegant restaurant. Marifjøra is a good stopping point between Geiranger and Bergen and there is a little road by the hotel lined by raspberry bushes to take a stroll along the north arms of Lustrafjorden. 

Following day we drove to Bergen which took the whole day. We stopped by a little town called Solvorn on the Lustrafjorden fjord. A most atmospheric town with white homes decorated with colorful flowers and a foto galleri set in a boat-house on the water. We talked about staying here next time.

We then stopped at a little stave church called Kaupanger Stavkyrkje built during the 12th century made of only pine trees. Similar churches exist in other parts of Europe but only the Norwegian ones remain. They take their names from the upright columns, the staves that form the church’s framework. In front was a cemetery with fresh flowers for each person. 

After taking the Fodnes-Mannheller ferry in the Sognefjorden, we arrived at the Norsk Villakssenter Norwegian Wild Salmon Center. Unfortunately, an otter ate all the salmon, we were told. 

Borgund Stavkirke was another magnificent stave church. Because of the tar that was recently applied to its outer walls, it felt like walking in a dark forest while walking through its narrow sidewalks. Inside the church, it was dim with the only light coming in from tiny portholes close to the triangle roof.  The beams, diagonal cross braces and the cat carvings on the walls were barely visible. There were rubic texts outside of one of the two main doors with intricate carvings of animal heads and dragons: “No one will ever know what is written here” and on another wall: “I was here”. 

We had a short lunch break at the Aurland, a small town with a population of 1700. Bright green farms were climbing the hill behind in gentle steps, each adorned with a colorful house. We drove up these hills to see the Sognefjorden fjord from above which is wider and deeper than Geirangerfjorden

Just above the viewing area Stægestein is a trail that takes you all the way above clouds. Here, you can make faces out of the clouds approaching from below or lay down with spiders and look at the dramatic fjord below. 

We stayed the night in Bergen at the Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz. Bergen is lively Hanseatic town built by German merchants. Frequent ships come and go into the harbor around which the city is built. It reminded us of San Francisco with its hills and the surrounding sea. 

In the afternoon we flew to Oslo where we would stay during our last two nights. Oslo is another sea-bound city with many ships and seagulls. In the evening, we had a simple dinner by the boats where you can choose your fresh fish in a window. 

On our last day, we visited the Akershus fortress which was built to defend Oslo at the end of the 13th century. During the reign of the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV, the castle was built in Renaissance style. There were a few ghost stories to my delight. Growing up with stories told by my father and uncle they simply fascinate me:

During the 16th century, there was a fire at the castle. To do some major repairs, farmers from a little town Romerikssalen, north of Oslo, were called in as a way to have them pay their tax dues. There was an epidemic and they all died. It is thought that they never left and in dark autumn evenings you can hear their moaning about their tragic faith and see their shadows on walls. We might have seen one, the night before while having dinner by the boats :) 

During Queen Margaret’s time things weren’t so good. It is believed that one of queen’s maids even starved to death. Her ghost is said to be seen in the corner of a major halls in the castle. She has no face. Instead there are parchments instead. She disappears into thin air after a while. 

We took a public boat to see the Viking Museum where three large boats were on display. One was built for the last voyage of two politically or religiously important women. It is thought that one was sacrificed to accompany the other to the grave.

Carved animal heads were mounted for protection on ships. 

It was raining when we visited Vigelandsparken park with 212 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, who carved them in clay in full size, which were later completed by others. They depict human life from birth to death.

... and the last supper was... rainy


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