Friday, July 16, 2010

Geiranger/Hellesylt, Norway

Map picture
Map picture

Geiranger, Norway: Nothing Stays the Same

Yesterday, July 15th, our ship cruised deep withinDSC_1415 a Norwegian fjord making a short stop at the small village of Hellesylt. DSC_1419 There Lisa got off the ship with a large group who then traveled across the countryside to rejoin the ship and the nearby village of Geiranger. Once the passengers had been let off, our ship then moved deeper into the fjord until it ended at Geiranger.

This was a magnificent setting. The surrounding hillsides towered way above the ship – I would estimate around 5,000 ft. or more, and the fjord itself was narrow – so much so that our ship could barely turn itself around. DSC_1464 Waterfalls were abundant and snow capped the mountain peaks. Once in Geiranger, the ship offered some tours as well as a shuttle to take you into shore where you could walk around.

What was really amazing to me is how much this small out of the way hamlet had changed since I first saw it about 4 years ago. Then our ship was alone in the fjord like some majestic apparition sitting quietly among the towering snow capped mountains. Outside of the people from our ship, the town was quiet with just a few locals around. We were taken ashore on the ship’s shuttles, and we pulled up at a small pier that jutted out from the parking lot.

Yesterday was an entirely different environment. First, there were the ferry boats going back and forth up the fjord about every 15 minutes. They had a brand new ferry dock and the entire shoreline had been built up with souvenir shops. The harbor was full of small boats that had made the journey up the fjord, and tourists were being given rides on large tour boats and giant pontoons fitted with huge engines roaring across the small harbor. Overhead the helicopters were in constant flight giving rides over the mountains, and just to complete the bedlam, there were four ships anchored in the harbor. I really don’t see how we all squeezed into such a small space, but we did. I was feeling a little better, and so I thought I would take the shuttle to shore to see what there was to see. Oh my! Take a very small town and dump say 5,000 people into it and you have bedlam. The charm of the place was completely lost in the melee.

Lisa tells me that it was the same on her day long trip. Previously we were the only tour bus in sight. Lisa tells me that the busses were travelling in lines and that at every stop there were 8 to 12 busses of people.

Cruising is becoming very, very popular all over the world; the downside of this popularity, however, is that in many cases it is changing the very places that it visits. I guess the old saying is true, “nothing ever stays the same.”


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