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26 July 2013

Song of the Fjords

Seasgulls chasing the boat on a voyage down the Sognefjord in Norway. All content and photography are the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless specifically noted. This photo only: Jens Henrik Nybo and Visitnorway.com.
Seasgulls chasing the boat on a voyage down the Sognefjord in Norway. All content and photography are the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless specifically noted. This photo only: Jens Henrik Nybo and Visitnorway.com.

Suddenly, the music reached a crescendo as I became acutely aware of my surrounds—my spirit soared to the highest height and I how I wished at that moment that I could fly with the song of the fjords in my soul. Alas, after my euphoric ascent, I realized that I was grounded firmly to the deck but nonetheless still in awe of majestic mountains climbing 2,000 feet, cascading waterfalls plunging down craggy slopes, a cacophony of seagulls alongside our fjord-going vessel as they chased us through these glacial valleys, tales of legends and lore, and the waves gently lapping along the ship's hull—truly a symphony of sights and sounds—but you must listen carefully in this idyllic splendor for it endures in many forms—this song of the Norwegian fjords!

Follow along on our fantastic voyage and we'll ply the waters through the fjord of light, and then visit Her Majesty's fjord where we'll hang our heads down for the night. Later, we'll follow our song to the grandest fjord of all, the Sognefjord where enchanting villages and pastoral settings climb its shores and where spectacular glaciers glisten on the horizon!

Lysefjord


My gateway to my first voyage to the fjords! Welcome to the Lysefjord or the Light Fjord!
My gateway to my first voyage to the fjords! Welcome to the Lysefjord or the Light Fjord!

It all started … this tale of a three-hour tour [insert Gilligan's Island theme song here] from Stavanger aboard our Rødne Fjord cruise vessel. Soon, we plied the waters through port and made our way to my first fjord adventure—the Lysefjord—from the Norse word for light or lýsir and so named for its white granite rock that comprises this mountain-glacial valley. The Lysefjord is usually the first of the Norwegian fjords that tourists like me experience when visiting Norway!

Look carefully at the blue-green heart-shaped impression at the center of this image. According to legend, a troll's unrequited love for a maiden broke his heart so he cast it into this mountain.
Look carefully at the blue-green heart-shaped impression in the center of this image. According to legend, a troll's unrequited love for a maiden broke his heart so he cast it into this mountain.

We're on our way to Preikestolen or better known as Pulpit Rock, a precipitous granite outpost that looks like a giant cube suspended 1,982 feet above the Lysefjord. But before we reach our destination, we'll hear another song of the fjords, a spoken song of Norwegian legends and lore. As we pulled up alongside the heart-shaped impression of blue-green granite within the rocky slope, the captain of our fjord cruiser recounted a captivating tale—the legend of a troll's unrequited love for a local maiden and how it broke his heart so severely that he cast it into the side of this mountain.

Avast, me hearties!  Shiver me timbers...you've found us! Welcome to the hidden
Avast, me hearties!  Shiver me timbers...you've found us! Welcome to the hidden "Pirate's Cove" in the Lysefjord. 

Further down fjord, we rounded the craggy outcrops into a clandestine cove where pirates once hid after plundering and pillaging nearby villages. As we pulled out of the cove, our song of the fjords transformed into the echoes of classical composition that danced upon the wind.

Close-up view of Preikestolen or Pulpit's Rock taken from 2,000 feet below its summit.
Close-up view of Preikestolen or Pulpit's Rock taken from 2,000 feet below its summit.

There it is—Pulpit's Rock—2,000 feet into the Norwegian sky.
There it is—Pulpit's Rock—2,000 feet into the Norwegian sky.

And the view from the top! Photo: Pulpit L.C. Nøttaasen.
And the view from the top! Photo: Pulpit L.C. Nøttaasen.

Suddenly, the unmistakable outline of Pulpit Rock appeared at the top of the mountain ridge on the left and my heart began to pound as we approached the towering peaks that stretch to 2,000 feet above the fjord. Preikestolen or Pulpit's Rock is a true hiker's paradise as evidenced by the 120,000 who hike here each year to accomplish this somewhat challenging, but mostly accessible, trail to the top. At this point, I began to imagine the payoff for the hike to the summit and what it must have been like to see what I am sure was a jaw-dropping moment for all those who conquered the climb! Upon our arrival at the base of this vertical drop, we began to scan the upper edges in search of our fellow journalists who braved the early-morning departure and the 2-hour hike each way. Although you can see tiny little people moving about near the edge, we couldn't be sure if they were our friends so we shouted anyway and bellowed a few "Norway Screams" in their direction. We listened for echoes of response. None came. But, we had fun anyway.

Hardangerfjord


A view of the Hardangerfjord from the Hotel Ullensvang in Lofthus, Norway.
A view of the Hardangerfjord from the Hotel Ullensvang in Lofthus, Norway.

And the song of the fjords still played upon our arrival in Hardanderfjord or the Queen's Fjord. First stop was Utne to have lunch in a historic inn, one of Norway's oldest, and listen to the spoken song of a friendly spirit who still resides at the Utne Hotel after departing our world. She is none other than Mother Utne who managed this hotel for 70 years during her life and continues to oversee operations today by spreading warmth while occasionally moving things back to their proper positions.

The ferry that brought us to Utne, Norway.
The ferry that brought us to Utne, Norway.

The view of Utne Harbor from the Hardanger Folk Museum.
The view of Utne Harbor from the Hardanger Folk Museum.

After lunch, we strolled up the hill to the Hardanger Folk Museum where we studied the history of Norwegian culture and its art. To our surprise and extreme delight, there was yet another song of the fjords to be heard—a Norwegian folk song sung so beautifully by our museum guide who first regaled our group with tales of growing up in Norway and then followed her short stories with a song. Her angelic voice resonated throughout the museum as we all watched and listened to her own song of the fjords! You could hear a pin drop.

Our Hardanger Folk Museum guide on her first day as tour guide, regaled us with tales of growing up in Norway and then sang for us a Norwegian folk song in a most angelic voice that resounded throughout the museum.
Our Hardanger Folk Museum guide on her first day as tour guide, regaled us with tales of growing up in Norway and then sang for us a Norwegian folk song in a most angelic voice that resounded throughout the museum.

Later that evening, after we checked into the Hotel Ullensvang in nearby Lofthus where yet another song of the fjords played—a song of laughter as two of our colleagues plunged into the frigid waters of the fjord after dinner! And later, it was the musical compositions of Edvard Grieg that filled our imaginations while we visited his cabin or hytte to find a writer's desk and a piano; although it's not proven that Grieg actually tickled the ivories.

The Hardangerfjord Plunge at the Hotel Ullensvang.
The Hardangerfjord Plunge at the Hotel Ullensvang.

Here's a short video of the dramatic scenery of the Hardangerfjord taken from the Hotel Ullensvang in Lofthus. The title of the piece? "Fjords" of course." I hope you enjoy it!



Sognefjord


The Sognefjord - the King of Fjords stretches for 127 miles and plunges 4,300 at the deepest point—unfathomable. Photo: Jens Henrik Nybo + VisitNorway.com.
The Sognefjord—the King of Fjords stretches for 127 miles and plunges 4,300 at the deepest point—unfathomable. Photo: Jens Henrik Nybo + VisitNorway.com.

Yet, the song of the fjords carried us even further, to the grandest fjord of all—the Sognefjord or King's Fjord. If Her Majesty's fjord impressed, the majesty of the king of fjords will blow you away! Not only is it the world's third longest at 127 miles, it holds the world's title as the second deepest fjord plunging to an icy depth of 4,300 feet at its deepest point. And the mountains around here can stretch to 3,281 feet high adding more grandeur to the dramatic surrounds. But little did we know that in addition to this visual splendor, the Sognefjord would reveal a few songs of its own.

Aerial view of the Kviknes Hotel surrounded by the Sognefjord in Balestrand, Norway.
Aerial view of the Kviknes Hotel surrounded by the Sognefjord in Balestrand, Norway. 

The charming port of Balestrand.
The charming port of Balestrand.

After a fantastic morning aboard the Flåm Railway from Myrdal, we departed the little village and embarked on a Sognefjord express ferry to our next stop along my journey in the fjords—the picturesque village of Balestrand. Here the song of the fjords echoed with the playful chatter of seagulls and the roar of the crowd for this TV neophyte who survived a LIVE interview with Someråpent on NRK TV.

One of the playful seagulls who glided along our Fjærlandfjord express!
One of the playful seagulls who glided along our Fjærlandfjord express!

From there, the melodies carried us along the Fjærlandfjord to the spectacular Bøyabreen Glacier, a small branch of Europe's largest glacier—the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. There it was, floating on the mountaintops and if you listened carefully, you could hear its own song—sounds of shifting ice summoning intrepid explorers to its icy slopes. Truly, the voyage through the Sognefjord was a symphony for all senses!

The Bøyabreen Glacier seen from the Fjærlandfjord.
The Bøyabreen Glacier floats upon the mountaintops rising from nearby Fjærland. 

The song of the fjords is a journey for your soul! Let it soar! Photo: Giåm.
The song of the fjords is a journey for your soul! Let it soar! Photo: Giåm.

As we discovered throughout our journey of the Norwegian fjords, the scenic wonder inspired many a song that manifested within the musical notes of composers, written or spoken words of writers and storytellers, rainbow-colored palettes of painters and photographers. The song of the fjords stirred their souls as it did mine and once you're here, you too will be inspired by the grandeur of Norway's fjords. And so, the legacy of the song of the fjords echoes through the centuries!

More Tales from Norway:

Special thanks to Innovation Norway and Fjord Norway without whom this trip would not be possible! As always, my opinions and thoughts are mine and mine alone.

24 comments:

  1. Great photos! I never thought about visiting Norway but these pics change my mind. It looks almost tropical-- like the karst scenery in Laos or Thailand. Beautiful!

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    1. Hi there Leslie and thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! You should absolutely make it a point to see Norway one day ... especially for such an adventurer like yourself!! Thanks again!

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  2. Love your photos! We visited Oslo on a Baltic cruise a couple of years ago and have wanted to return to Norway ever since. A fjord cruise is a bucket list item for us and we are hoping to do it in the next couple of years!

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa for stopping by and for your kind words. I had such a great time in Norway and now want to go back and see the rest of the country!! Truly spectacular in every way!!

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  3. I can't believe that people get so close to the edge of Pulpit Rock! I am so longing to see sights that you saw on your trip. Beautiful Norway! I love the anecdote about your tour guide talking about her childhood and singing! What a cool experience.

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    1. Hi there Cathy and thank you for all of your kind words! I know, I would NEVER go to the edge, and if I were to venture out that far, it would be on my stomach. LOL! The entire voyage was incredible and I promise lots more Norway to come!!

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  4. You just reminded me that it has been far too long since the last time I visited Norway. Thanks:)

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    1. Hi there Mette and thank you so much for your comment!! I hope you return to Norway soon my friend!!

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  5. Pulpit rock looks like the place some slackliners and base jumpers filmed. Just Google:
    I Believe I can Fly ( flight of the frenchies)
    Were there any base jumpers there when you visited?

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    1. Hi there John and thank you so much for stopping by! We didn't see any slackliners on the day we visited, sadly. I would have loved to watch that from the fjord.

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    2. Hi Jeff, surely they would look tiny from the fjord? The full length film of 'I Believe I can Fly' starts with a guy doing cartwheels on top of Pulpit Rock until he disappears over the edge. The filming is top flight, (Pun intended!).

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    3. Hi there. Naturally, they would have had to land near us at the bottom. Your film looks AMAZING!!! Top flight indeed my friend!! Thx!

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  6. Wow the fjords are amazing as I've imagined! Alas, Norway and her fjords are still on my bucket list. Loved your photos especially the seagull.

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    1. Hi there Debbie and thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts! You MUST see Norway soon!! It's even more spectacular than these photos and videos! Thanks for the compliment too!!

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  7. A cruise sounds exactly like the way I'd like to explore the fjords. I have no desire to climb to the top of things, and definitely no urge to see how close I can get to the edge of Pulpit Rock (those people are nuts), but a nice leisurely cruise that I can see everything from sounds perfect to me. I'll have to keep an eye out for those seagulls though. Yours looks like it's on fire.

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    1. Hi there Steve and thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I opted for the cruise that day for all the reasons you stated above...didn't want to miss any of the surrounding landscapes and the interesting stories we heard along the way. The seagulls were so much fun ... we kept throwing bread which they caught and ate in mid-flight. Incredible!

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  8. I'd love to do that hike to Pulpit Rock! The views from the top look incredible and would be such a reward for the climb.

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    1. Hi there Jennifer and thanks so much for stopping by. Part of me wanted to hike but the other didn't want to miss out on the other activities of the day but the view must have been spectacular.

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  9. Glad you liked it here, Jeff :)
    Heading west tomorrow, long weekend in Bergen to meet friends and at the end of the summer holidays. Will drive along Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. Love your photos; I've never actually seen Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) from below.

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    1. HI there Sophie and thank you for stopping by and for your kind compliments. So I assume you are an intrepid explorer who hiked to the top of Pulpit Rock for those spectacular views? I wish they had a cable car going to the top ; ) . Thank you again for your comments and have fun on your holiday!

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  10. Gorgeous photos! I loved following your adventure here. The Norwegian fjords have long been on my travel list too. I can just imagine how majestic Pulpit's Rock is and its surroundings. What a beautiful way to see the fjords and such a great experience for you.

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    1. Hi there Mary and thank you SO much for your kind words. Lots more adventures to come my friend so stay tuned!

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  11. I am utterly amazed, as I sit here in my Oslo apartment, getting ready to take my tour of #Norway! Just loved this post Jeff, the photography was incredible and I enjoyed the stories you told! Pinch me!

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    1. You are now my Norwegian BFF my friend! I am so happy you finally made it to Norway! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your KIND words, they mean a lot to me! Wishing you the time of your life in NORWAY. Revel in every moment of your journey my friend! You're going to love it!

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!