Thursday, 14 December 2017

The World's Most Beautiful Voyage, the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Voyage

For many years I had wanted to go on this trip and when I saw it at a bargain price I jumped at the chance to go on what is advertised as the world's most beautiful voyage - and I wasn't disappointed.

Day 1.

We flew to Bergen and from there were transported to the Hurtigruten Terminal where we did a smooth and well organised check-in. Afterwards we were free to go on board the ship, we couldn't yet go to our cabins so we explored. Hurtigruten ships are not cruise ships, they are a vital part of daily routine up and down the coast of Norway. They deliver and take on supplies, post and local passengers during the 34 stops going north and 33 south, they are working ships. But having said that the seven decks were beautifully fitted out with a lovely restaurant, two small cafes and a bar in the panorama deck which has the most comfortable seats in the world! There was also a shop, reception, expedition desk where trips are booked and information given. There is also a small gym, sauna and a jacuzzi on deck.

At 6pm we were able to go into the cabin which was small with a square porthole, very clean and had all we needed.  We then went to the Torget restaurant for the evening buffet which had everything under the sun and was absolutely amazing!

Later there was a meeting with the friendly expedition team, Bjorn, David and Natasa who gave us all the basic information for our trip and what to expect on the voyage. They also told us that if you walk round deck five four times you have walked a kilometre, so I decided I would do that at least once a day as I knew I would have to walk off some of the wonderful food we would be having!

Day 2

I had a lie-in and skipped breakfast as I didn't sleep well due to the motion and engine hum of the ship. Today the major stop was at Ålesund. Marian decided to go on a hike up 400 steps to Mount Aksla which overlooks the city. I went out to explore the city by myself rather than go on the organised tour as the ship was docked right near the centre and it was not a large area to explore. Plus the tours are quite expensive!
Art Nouveau Building in Ålesund

The city had been almost totally destroyed by a fire in 1904 (the fate of many Norwegian towns/cities due to them being mainly built of wood in the past.) When it was rebuilt much of the architecture was in the Art Nouveau style which is one of the things the city is renowned for nowadays. It was a mild and sunny day as I explored the cobbled streets of Ålesund which indeed had some beautiful buildings often painted in bright colours in typical Scandinavian style. 

The city is built on islands and there are lots of bridges and waterways, it is very picturesque, laid back and I really liked the place and it would be a place I would love to return to and explore some more one day.

I returned to the ship and Marian returned not long afterwards having enjoyed her hike with its amazing views over Ålesund.

Leaving Ålesund
We later went to the Norwegian Way of Life talk by Bjorn and David which was very informative and entertaining covering such subjects as elk, language,music and art of Norway.

During dinner it came over the ship's intercom that the northern lights were visible. There was a mass exodus from the restaurant as people headed out to see the.  The lights were light green and formed a semi-circle in the sky  at the front of the ship. They were gorgeous and magical and it was also surprisingly mild out on deck five. What a brilliant start to the trip!
Northern lights from the ship's deck