Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Voyage of the Vikings Cruise - Cruise Day 16 - Eidfjord, Norway

Today we docked in Eidfjord, Norway, but to get there we had to sail through the Hardangerfjord which is 97 miles long and is the third longest fijord in the world.  A fjord is a long, narrow inlet from the sea with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion during the ice ages.  The most scenic part of our cruise through the fjord began at 8:30 so we got up early enough to get dressed and have something to eat before that time.  We decided to view our sailing on the Lido deck, but unlike our last scenic cruising through Prince Christian Sund, the weather was overcast and cold.  Our location guide, Barbara once again provided commentary, but we were spoiled by our trip though the Prince Christian Sund.  It was beautiful, but not nearly as spectacular, and of course the weather played a part in it too.

One of the most spectacular features is man-made, a 4600 foot Hardanger Suspension Bridge across the fijord that connects one of the main highways to Eidfjord and on to Oslo in the east.  When this bridge was built it meant that the largest cruise ships could no longer visit Eidfjord as it is too low.  Luckily for us our ship was able to pass underneath.

We approach the Hardager Bridge.

There were many small villages and farms along the banks and many seemed very isolated, but I’m sure they had access to the main road that ran to Eidfjord.  Around 9:30 we could see Eidfjord ahead and soon we were docked.  Eidfjord is much smaller than Alesund so today we were docked pretty much in the center of town.  The population is only 900, but they get about 500,000 tourists a year.

We arrive in Eidfjord

Today we booked a ship excursion called Waterfalls and Nature, which left at 10:00, so soon after we docked we headed to the showroom to check in.  The buses were quickly loaded and we were on our way heading east out of Eidfjord on what I believe is the road east that goes on to Oslo.  The drive through the countryside was very interesting with small towns, resorts, rivers and lakes all along the way.

The waterfalls we were visiting were called Voringfoss and they would be our first stop of the tour.  There were many tour buses and tourists in cars so it was quite crowded there, plus they were doing construction to add more viewpoints. That made the walkway quite narrow and in places creating a bottleneck.  Anyway, we got to see the falls, which were quite spectacular, but we were somewhat limited by the available viewpoints.  After a walk through the souvenir shop we were back on the bus and on the way to our next stop.

This is where we are headed to visit the Voringfoss.

Our next stop was a huge earthen dam that was created for a hydro plant that supplied power to the area.  The dam itself was interesting, but nothing special, but the scenery surrounding it was beautiful.  The parts of Norway that we have seen have been beautiful, with forests, mountains, rivers and lakes.  This was the furthest point on our tour so after getting back on the bus we started back toward Eidfjord and our last stop of the day.

The front of the dam ...
and the back.  As you can see nothing very exciting, but the surrounding countryside was beautiful.

Time to start back towards Eidfjord.
Our last stop was a place called the nature center and was a museum dedicated as you might guess, to the nature of the surrounding area.  The highlight of the stop was a movie taken mostly by helicopter through the area going up where we had just been and beyond.  It was a multiscreen IMAX type production and very, very good.  To be honest, that was the best part of the tour for me.  After the movie we looked around a bit and then headed to the nearby gift shop where I finally found my Norwegian t-shirt and Val got herself a pair of warm Norwegian slippers.  One interesting thing about many of the homes and buildings in Norway is that the roofs are covered with grass. This is the way the Vikings built their homes. I supposed in older times this provided insulation from the cold winters, but I don’t know whether they are still functional or just traditional.  The gift shop had quite a lush grass roof with the added feature of goats grazing on top.

After the Nature Center it was back to the ship.  It was only 2:00 when we reached the ship so we decided to go aboard, have a snack and then explore the town of Eidfjord since the all aboard wasn’t until 5:30 today.  We got our snack in the Neptune Lounge and then were off the ship by 2:30.  It is a very small town so it didn’t take long to explore the central part.  We walked around, explored the shops and enjoyed the warm afternoon sunshine that had appeared.  I got a couple of postcards to send and spent some time writing those and then we started wandering back to the ship.  We made one stop at the local co-op grocery store to pick up a jar of jam made from the cloudberry, which is made locally and recommended by our tour guide today.  We finally had enough of walking around and our feet were getting sore so we headed back to the ship and spent the rest of the time until sail away relaxing.

When we first saw this we thought they still used the old fashioned telephone booths, but when we looked inside we realized it was a small lending library.

Time to get back on the ship.
We were back out at the Lido deck at 6:00 for the sail away, but there had been a rain shower a little earlier and there were still some sprinkles.  The rain wasn’t hard enough to drive us inside so we stayed out on deck watching the ship depart from Eidfjord and sailing back out the Hardangerfjord. We passed under the suspension bridge again and then went back inside as it was time to get ready for dinner.

Some last pictures of Eidfjord as we sail away.

These are fish farms, we have seen quite a few of these.
It's under the bridge again, but this time we're sailing out to sea.
One last look at the bridge before dinner.
We got in late so we missed our pre-dinner activities and went straight to the dining room.  Ken and Mary Beth told us they had walked over eight miles today taking a trail out of town.  They are real walkers and have done many long walks so far on the cruise.  I wish I were as motivated to keep up on my exercising while cruising.  After dinner we spent a too short time in the casino and then it was back to the room.  Tomorrow we have a sea day before we arrive at the half way point of our cruise in Rotterdam, Holland.

As you can see, we couldn't have asked for a better table location.

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