Taking the slow route to Norway
Embarks on a relaxing trip with Celebrity Cruises
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