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Going ashore in Alesund, Norway
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Going ashore in Ålesund, Norway
In 1904, a huge fire destroyed much of the town of Ålesund, Norway leaving more than 10,000 people homeless. The town was rebuilt in the then-popular Art Nouveau style and to this day boasts one of the finest collection of Art Nouveau buildings. Situated on the island Aspøya somewhere between the entrance to the Geiranger Fjord and the open ocean, Ålesund has developed into quite a robust little town with some 50,000 inhabitants. In the summer of 2010 I visited Ålesund on board Holland America Line's Westerdam during a 7-night cruise from Rotterdam. Sunny skies greeted us that day, but as we found out most of the town is completely shut on Sundays. So what to do?
Alesund, Norway
A streak of luck made us visit the local Avis office which thankfully was open for business. They had one rental car left. Off we went! Our first stop brought us uphill to the observation platform on Mount Askla. From here, the beauty of Ålesund unfolds. Clear blue seas, craggy mountains, mysterious islands, a picture-perfect town and our home away from home, the Westerdam - all caught in one shot.
Westerdam in Alesund, Norway Trolls for sale! Trollstigen pass Viewing platforms Trollstigen - what a view!
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Waterfalls galore Easy driving conditions Trollstigen Spectacular force of nature Trollstigen
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Deep below... 84 km back to Alesund Beautiful scenery Alesund on a Sunday evening Alesund is pretty much deserted
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Over superbly maintained roads we drove east for about 90 km (60 miles) along fjords, through tunnels and sleepy towns until we reached the famous Trollstigen mountain road. Eleven hairpin bends and 700 metres (2,300 ft) later we found ourselves enjoying the most dazzling of sceneries, including the 300 metre (1,000 ft) high waterfall Stigfossen waterfall that comes cascading down the green slopes. And what made it all the more special is that despite Trollstigen being a major tourist attraction, nature still rules supremely.
Westerdam in Alesund
All too soon it was time to head back to Ålesund and return our rental car. We found the town as we left it: deserted. The streets were eerily quiet when we decided to substitute dinner on board with some superb fresh local seafood served in an excellent waterfront restaurant. When walking back to our ship after dinner, the dusk set Ålesund in soothing blue-ish hues. We watched our departure at midnight from the comfort of the Crow's Nest and I remember us toasting to a glorious day in equally glorious surroundings!
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Where in the world is Ålesund?
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