No matter what season of the year you are planning on going to Norway, the weather will remain mostly as unpredictable as Nature itself. Sharing the same latitude as Alaska, Greenland and Siberia, Norway may have the most pleasant climate compared to all of these destinations due to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the mild air currents, yet particularly the coastline can be overwhelmed on regular basis with sudden low pressure areas and intense rainfall. In other words: One second you have blue skies and the sun out, the next moment it´s pouring cats and dogs.
These sudden changes in climate can most likely happen to you in the months of April, May and June in particular. No reason to feel disappointed though. The best way to deal with this spontaneity of Nature are simply the right clothes. Even if you plan your visit around the summer months. Therefor it is highly recommendable to always pack at least one pair of rain- and waterproof shoes and clothes and always have a windbreaker and an umbrella with you.
I carried it all with me. Thank God though, I was to experience the full bandwidth during my time up North.
Norwegian Star had reached this morning the city of Ålesund which is world-renowned for its beauty and concentrated Art Nouveau architecture.
Being build over three islands and with the spectacular Sunnmore Alps in the background, Ålesund truly is a gemstone which can be best overseen from Mount Aksla. This panoramic viewing point lies right in the centre of the city and can be either climbed up by feet or driven to by car. The steep staircase lies only a few hundred metres away from the cruise terminal.
Armed with my camera, I took the chance and mounted the 418 steps up the mountain. Running every second day to the gym did not save me from being completely soaked when I reached the top, yet the view from up there absolutely made up for the strenuous incline.
While a lot of people from the ship took part in the shore excursion program, I decided to stay in town and explore the historic Art Nouveau centre. Ålesund was widely destroyed after a terrible fire in 1904. Over 10,000 people lost their homes during that night, yet only one person died, luckily. With the help of German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II, Ålesund, which had originally been built mostly out of wood, was re-erected in the style of architecture of that time. And that was called Jugendstil, Art Nouveau.
Construction of the newly planned houses was now mainly done in stone, brick and mortar. Today, Ålesund is one of the last three Art Nouveau cities in Europe and truly stands out.
The only letdown was that we had docked on a Sunday, leaving shops and cafés closed. And after the day had started bright and sunny, it was now time for on-and-off rain showers.
That did not prevent me from exploring though. I walked up and down the hills of the historic part of town, then crossed the bridge over to the island of Aspoya which hosts many more of the amazingly beautiful buildings, as well as the famous church Ålesund Kirke.
Very close by lies, by the way, another viewing point. If you continue up the hill past Ålesund Kirke, take a left into Markvegen. Before this small street makes a turn left, walk up the rock through the little iron gate to your right. This place is not as high as Mount Aksla, but it still offers you another fantastic perspective on how the city spreads over the different islands. You may also take a peek onto your ship from here.
It rained for the second time. I did not yet want to return to the ship though. As I wanted to have some pictures of Norwegian Star and the skyline of Ålesund, I took a 45 minutes walk all around the Bay to the other side. On the way back, as it changed from sun to rain in an almost 10 minutes pattern, I began to get a little tired of Nature´s moodiness.
So after coming back to the Art Nouveau neighbourhood and still finding everything closed, I spontaneously decided to go back onboard and grab a little to eat. It was late afternoon already and I became quite sleepy after all this walking today.
I nestled into my cabin after another heavy rain shower came down just on the last metres to the ship. Waiting for me on my bed, I found a selection of cannapés and a bottle of red wine with the compliments of Hotel Director Hugo Vanosmeal. Feeling right at home and happily surprised (How could he have known that I didn´t have something to eat for hours?) I laid down on the bed for a moment to take a little break and to grant my aching feet some relief. Boy, was that a tasteful treat after this exciting and wet day.
Later during the evening, I learned that most people who had taken the “Land of Trolls” excursion offered from the ship had the same climate experience as I did. Nevertheless, they said that visiting the famous Trollstigen, the Stigfossen Waterfall and the Troll Wall was well worth it. I was not sad to have missed out on this adventure though. You can never do everything at once, but halting some events for another time will definitely make you come back sometimes! And I will, that´s for sure.
The Star had already left Ålesund and we were at low-speed on our way through Storfjorden with Geiranger next on the agenda. It was astonishing to see, that no matter how hazy or misty the weather was outside, the intense green of the trees and meadows had such an immense glow and luminosity to it, that it was almost magical.
If that was the work of trolls? I quickly took a shower and found myself a little later holding a cocktail in my hands at the onboard Latitudes gathering. While listening to the stories of the others, I always kept one eye on the coastline. You never know what might suddenly pop up right in front of you here in Norway, right?
Stay tuned for the next part of my Norwegian adventure with the amazing Geirangerfjord coming up. I will take you on a walking tour up to Flydalsjuvet, we will walk behind a waterfall and I will have my first encounter with Trolls…
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