Saturday, February 14, 2009

crossing and cruising the fjords of West Norway

For a country as small as Norway- it is only slightly larger than Germany – it is a wonder that it owns one of the the longest coastlines in the world. Thanks to its prehistoric glaciers which carved its rugged topography, Norway has some 50,000 islands and countless fjords. These water inlets cut deep into land and are like valleys flooded by sea and walled narrowly and walled steeply at the side.

fjordscape in the West Norwegian coast
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/125s, f/8.0, 55mm, ISO 100
Canon PowerShot S40, 1/1000s, f/4.9, 21.3mm

I got to appreciate the natural glacial wonders of the fjord in the ferry trip from Bergen to Haugesund. The boat ride aboard Flaggruten Express was one of convenience. An alternative plane trip was more costly and would be less picturesque. We took the earliest of the 4 departure schedules, leaving at about 7AM. Starting point was the famous Fish Market of Bergen.


There were several ports of calls. Every layover was swift and efficient. Schedules were maintained to the dot. The first was 25 minutes into the 3 hour trip, at Flesland. Then the voyage continued to Hufthamar in Austevoll, a semi-circular archipelago of about 667 islands in the North Sea which is one of Norway’s largest fishing municipalities.

a typical lonely fjord settlement
a typical isolated fjord settlement
Canon PowerShot S40, 1/1000s, f/4.9, 21.3mm

There were layovers in Leirvik, one of Norway’s biggest yards of oil platforms and Mosterhamn, which was where Olav Tryggvason landed in 995 to become king and bring Christianity to Norway. Too bad, we did not have the time to get out and explore the famous Moster church, one of the country’s oldest churches.

Leaving Leirvik
Leirvik, Norway
Canon PowerShot S40, 1/1000s, f/4.5, 10.3mm

The trip was made in June, summer in Norway, but tropics-bred that I am, I found the weather muggy and cold, especially out on the deck. But whether one decided to enjoy the trip inside the comfort of the boat or outside, there is the inescapable realization that despite the extensive exploration for offshore oil – Norway has one of the most widely tapped oil deposits of Europe – the country remains pristine, even undisturbed. From the wide stretches of the sea to the narrow sounds of the fjords, Norway is a picture of development done good.

layers of steep mountains loomed over the fjord
Canon PowerShot S40, 1/1000s, f/4.9, 21.3mm

Canon PowerShot S40, 1/1000s, f/4.0, 7.1mm

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