Tak­ing the slow route to Nor­way

Em­barks on a re­lax­ing trip with Celebrity Cruises

Daily Express - - TRAVEL - Www.ex­press.co.uk/travel

GLID­ING silently through the icy, moss green wa­ters with tufts of wispy clouds float­ing be­low us, slowly past jagged moun­tains, there is barely a sound ex­cept for the roar of dis­tant water­falls.

It’s just gone 7am and we’re stand­ing on the he­li­pad of Celebrity Cruises’ Sil­hou­ette, cran­ing our necks to look up at the snow-cov­ered peaks lin­ing the mag­nif­i­cent Geiranger­fjord in Nor­way.

Ev­ery­thing is so per­fect: the crisp, cool air, the mir­ror-like sur­face of the wa­ter, the wel­com­ing golden glint of early morn­ing sun on the moun­tain tops. I have to pinch my­self that I’m not in a fairy tale.

Geiranger­fjord is un­doubt­edly Nor­way’s crown jewel and rightly so. It’s Un­esco-pro­tected and its wa­ters run deep, 260m to be pre­cise.

Be­fore us sits a tiny town, whose for­tu­nate in­hab­i­tants en­joy a hygge (the Scandi art of cosi­ness and well­be­ing) life­style, par­tic­u­larly in sum­mer, en­cir­cled by a 1,700m-tall moun­tain range.

Pretty A-frame houses with roofs of turf and wild­flow­ers are straight out of Tele­tub­by­land but ac­tu­ally pro­vide very ef­fi­cient, eco-friendly in­su­la­tion. Res­i­dents have to make the most of the long sum­mer days as, dur­ing De­cem­ber, day­light is ra­tioned to just four hours.

For us, on a seven-day cruise of Nor­way’s win­some cities and ma­jes­tic sights, it’s stu­pen­dously sunny.

As we head up into the moun­tains on one of the many well-marked hik­ing paths, be­hind the vil­lage of Geiranger, the views along the route are noth­ing short of stu­pen­dous. Our cam­era mem­ory cards rapidly fill as we pose, flanked by moun­tains dusted with snow, while our ship waits grace­fully way, way be­low in the fjord which we reached by an in­ge­nious float­ing jetty ex­tend­ing like a gi­ant ten­ta­cle from the shore.

The “wow” mo­ments are in­nu­mer­able in Nor­way – from the sparse vil­lages dot­ted with wooden houses painted in tra­di­tional colours of red, white and ochre yellow, to wan­der­ing the cob­ble­stone streets of Bryggen in Ber­gen, and her nar­row al­ley­ways lined in an­cient wooden, pre­car­i­ous­lylilt­ing Hanseatic build­ings.

We learn that the pris­tine white clap­board houses that line the har­bours were home to wealth­ier in­hab­i­tants, white be­ing the colour of the wealthy gleaned from other coun­tries.

How­ever yellow, made from iron ox­ide, in­di­cat­ing the mid­dle classes, was cre­ated from Nor­way’s ubiq­ui­tous birch trees which make up 30 per cent of

OFF THE RAILS: The Flåm rail­way

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