Thursday, 10 January 2013

Geiranger-Norway | 700,000 Visitors a Year on a Fjord UNESCO Patrimony Site.

Geiranger is absolutely a great tourist myth and reality of Norway, the numbers regarding the outstanding incoming flows which highlight that stunning Scandinavian marvel speak for themselves with approximately 700,000 visitors a year reaching that place to admire a stunning Fjord which was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 next to another wonder called Naerøfjord situated in the municipality of Aurland.

With a population of just 250,0 inhabitants, that scenic small village is currently the third port for cruises of that beautiful Nordic country and all that generated by that unique masterpiece of nature considered one of the most beautiful attractions existing in the world, something which elevated that destination as a sort of dreamland.

Located in the fabulous southernmost traditional  district of Sunnmøre part of the western Norwegian county of Møre og Romsdal in the scenic region of Vestlandet, a land

representing an extraordinary mosaic of beautiful fjords, virgin forests and captivating mountains, all superb attractions along a magnificent coastline packed by extraordinary narrow and wide bodies of water.

That tiny agglomeration on the shore of the river Geirangelva boasting  in all its magic and unique splendour a spectacular frame encircling marvels as that  marine arm of the North Sea called Geirangerfjord or Geirangerfjorden from which took its name, one of the most striking natural attractions of the entire Scandinavian Peninsula lies in the municipality of Stranda, a town of approximately 2,600 inhabitants which also includes in its administration the fairytale villages of Liabygda and Hellesylt.

 Situated at 555, 0 kilometres north west of the capital Oslo and at 375 0 kilometres north of the fascinating Bergen, the second city of the country, that site is nowadays a more than famed destination which for its immense beauty since a long time ago was awarded and elevated as a Norwegian icon, a distinctive national emblem which offers apart the marvels present on that marine stretch an immediate interior which is a mine of precious treasures.(I wrote posts about those two splendid Norwegian cities in the case you are interested)

Geiranger  thanks to that stupendous highlight greatly elevated its popularity becoming a brilliant  unique spot for the Norwegian Tourism Board with an immense fame worldwide next to that fjord, living and eternal symbol of an entire Nation introduced as an absolute protagonist in many International fairs, TV tourism documentaries, spots, videos and posters.

Geirangerfjord is a branch of the Storfjorden, the Great Fjord, 110, 0 kilometres long situated in the same county stretching from Hareid, a small centre on the eastern coast of Hareidlandet Island to Tafjord, a village located in a picturesque valley and reaching the eastern boundaries of Geiranger.

 That natural wonder has a length of 15, 0 kilometres and a maximum width of 1, 5 kilometres showing along its entire ravishing course a series of fascinating bends, wild inlets changing in some points its shape from wide straights to narrower natural canals and all that form a scenery to keep always alive in the most pleasant and stupendous memories of every tourist  after that sublime view.

 A corner of paradise is the appropriate word and also that iconic Institution called UNESCO fell in love in front of the fascination of that stunning inlet awarding it with the most relevant title that every place desires one day to receive becoming a patrimony site of the globe.

The image and profile of that shining pearl was greatly and masterfully described by Magdalene Thoeresen mother-in-law of Henrik Ibsen, that iconic Norwegian poet, playwright and theatre director of the 19th century, simply sublime and unique in its kind deserving an infinite list of the most wonderful adjectives existing in a vocabulary to depict the immense beauty of that astonishing marvel which can inspire the most talented artists to create a special hymn to pay homage to something able to bewitch millions of visitors at first sight.

There are not words enough to describe such beauty, a miracle of nature and it is not a case that place receives an average media of 160 cruise ships every summer, an impressive number in terms of affluence visiting that magnificent hallway of Nordic waters flanked by superb wild peaks.

 That mentioned statistic detail is absolutely outstanding and a date corresponding to 2012 indicated a landing in summer of about 300,000 cruise passengers. If you think all that is generated only in high season from May to September as major peak when the navigation reaches its maximum index of flows regarding tourist operations carrying a multitude of tourists who do not want to miss the chance to admire that corner of paradise.

Naturally late autumn and winter are periods in which the shipping services due to the climatic situations in Norway along the fjords stop their incredible activity, a boom born many years ago to show the entire globe the fascination of a land which offers those natural monuments encircled by fabulous landscapes and we could imagine which kinds of incoming fluxes that site could receive if was possible sailing along its course during the cold Scandinavian winter.

Despite that also in that season several visitors landing in Norway in sort of tailor made tours with Fly & Drive itineraries which include the local area are so extremely attracted to reach that Eden simply to immortalise in  an unforgettable picture that masterpiece of nature.

A car ferry operated by Fjord 1 Nordvlestandske with a service running along Geiranger and the other village of Hellesylt permits during the navigation a sort of fantastic sightseeing trip admiring something very difficult to forget.

That small centre and its fjord are located just 108, 0 kilometres from the beautiful city of Alesund and that neighbourhood of Stranda is mainly focused on tourism, the most important resource due to the presence of that outstanding attraction.

You can find in its boundaries five Hotels, a small number of other kinds of classified accommodations and a dozen of camping which form all together a relevant incoming network devoted to hospitality and also that presence is excellent considering its size.

All those structures are obviously strategically established in great and superb positions pretty close to Geirangerfjord to permit the visitors during a stay to wake up with that spectacular view, continuing the day with the same stunning one at sunset with diverse reflections and tonalities of colours and ending at evening time with that enchanting image highlighted by different lights.

What  is certain is that you can stay there along the shore of that fascinating treasure of nature hours and hours in contemplation without hesitations because that scene is simply mesmerising.

Another great post card of that village is the scenic small harbour facing a picturesque bay formed at the end of that wonderful arm of the North Sea which has other highlights along its impressive course 15,000 metres and a bit more with the presence of  magnificent waterfalls of which the most important and known are the famous De Syv Søstrene or Deju Systrene  also known as Knivsflåfossen,  the Seven Sisters consisting in another superb and magnificent attraction with the longest drop measuring 250,0 metres.

Situated at 6,5 kilometres from Geiranger they are so called for the formation generated by seven streams forming seven superb drops and one of the most photographed is definitely that named Friaren which translated means Suitor.

That fantastic attraction is situated just in front of two other enchanting waterfalls in a very special position as admiring and flirting with those two other marvels wanting to win one of them or both. 

Another spectacular is certainly Brudeslrøet which name means Wedding Veil. That curious denomination because its special formation and the reflection of the sun light on the waters seen at distance appears as a veil which covers an imposing rocky wall falling on the course of the fjord depicting that sort of image which created that inspiring and poetic name.

On the shore of that extraordinary sea inlet there are other attractions and one of them is the presence of many old farms restored some years ago by the Association Storfjorden Venner, a notorious Institution focused to save, conserve and preserve that cultural and historical patrimony heritage of Norway greatly represented also by those emblematic buildings.

All those constructions are part of that splendid frame along surrounding Geirangerfjord and Norway is well known to be a great Nation very active and extremely sensitive to defend its natural and historic patrimony. 

One of them which worth a mention is Knivslå inhabited since the 17th century but abandoned in 1898 due to risks of landslides situated  approximately 250,0 metres above the fjord in the middle of a mountainous pasture reachable by a very scenic and spectacular path. 

Skageflå is a further one, active since the Middle Ages, in 1873 it was victim of an avalanche and from 1916 it is uninhabited. It was historically well known to be the most important goat farm along Geirangerfjorden and it situated on a hilly plateau at 250, 0 metres of altitude above it.

That farm acquired much more popularity for a special event which took place in 1993 when the King Harald and the Queen Sonja invited 30 members linked to the Norwegian Royal House to celebrate their Silver Wedding Anniversary and when the Monarch selected that unusual place obviously the resonance of that important occurrence gave that site an incredible fame.  

There are some local tourist services which organise excursions from Geiranger as M/S Geirangerfjord, a sightseeing taxi boat service and for those who love adventure, Kayak Odyssey is a specialised company which provides kayaking trips with the chance to visit and admire those sites. 

Everywhere you are in that Nordic country you will notice that all is well preserved and there is a high sense of responsibility of the locals to defend the land. That very positive attitude is related to a  a sort of national pride which permitted and permits to show the visitors all the integral beauty and also those farms despite their old foundation are nowadays greatly conserved thanks to a very hard work by the Institutions.  

Also due to that after several analyses the UNESCO decided to give that prestigious title for all what there is around that main attraction. The magnificent distinctive picture of that fjord is also highlighted by an extraordinary setting completed by all the enchanting smallest details encircling it, all them together playing an important scenic role. 

That striking frame was also an essential protagonist which bewitched that iconic Institution founded in 1945 with its headquarter in Paris.

That small tourist village also has historic monuments as its Church named Geiranger Kyrkje, a splendid white wooden construction developed on an octagonal plan erected in the 19th century, exactly in 1842.

That Protestant Religious temple designed by the architect Hans Klipe inserted in the Diocese of  Møre and Parish of the Austre Sunnmøre deanery   has a pretty interesting chronological history to narrate because it was built it the current place  previously occupied by other Churches elevated in different periods.

The first was originally built in medieval times,concretely in 1450 replaced by a new one established some centuries later, exactly in 1731. A further was erected one century later in 1841 sadly devastated by a fire and just one year later arose that one visible today.

The architectural canons of the Church are extremely loyal to the traditional Norwegian Stavkirken in style and use of materials especially highlighted by the use of a very resistant timber due to the climatic conditions of the country.

The structure presents around its perimeter some rectangular windows and a highlight is the project and execution of the scenic sloping roof which with its octagonal shape covers the entire main body and including its dark gray colour is in perfect harmony with the light tonality used for the walls of that Sacred construction.

The image was well studied to be perfectly integrated in the local environment characterised by picturesque mountains and a stunning natural verdant plateau and  you will notice in addition that all the architectural details are very well combined and they perfectly match with the natural surroundings.

All that was planned and focused to tie art and nature which had to be together great protagonists, the execution was totally loyal to those rooted artistic concepts closely linked to that desire and research to magnify the aesthetic appearance but without pompous or glitzy decorations which could be absolutely negative for a successful final result. 

O the top of the roof was placed a polygonal element surmounted by a long pinnacle with as terminal a cross which seen at distance appears as a sort of turret with a spire. The Church can host 114 people and adjacent to it in a green space was established the local cemetery.

The interior is pretty austere but at the same time charming with wooden walls and crystal chandeliers emitting a right and perfect luminosity to the spaces also in correspondence of the apse, a highlight is a large framed painting depicting Jesus Christ, a fine work flanked by two windows which transmit exterior light to the presbytery and the entire nave.

A large part of the county of the Møre og Romsdal which is one of the most picturesque and charming territories of the Nation is a geographical area crossed by several fjords of different size and Stranda with Geiranger were developed in a land close to beautiful mountains undoubtedly  further notable attractions.

Regarding those peaks one of the most famous linked to Geirangerfjord is the Akerneset mountainous group which could erase and after that movement it can fall on that sea arm generating a sort of tsunami which could destroys the town and the entire area in its proximity in just some minutes. 

The local mountains are certainly a fantastic highlight, often covered by snow, they are also part of that great and special frame attracting several photographers who desire to immortalise their silhouettes from different perspectives obviously also with views overlooking the fjord.

Apart their stunning beauty they are also protagonists of sporting events and every year in the village in June are celebrated famous competitions such as the Fra Fjord Til Fjellmmeaning from Fjord to Summit and Dalsnibba Cycle Race.

The latter is a challenging cycling competition starting from the village on the shore of Geirangerfjorden and ending on the top of the Mount Dalsnibba at an altitude of 1500, 0 metres. It is a very attractive sporting event with an impressive change of scenery moving from a verdant plateau next to that water marvel and ending on a rugged and wild peak.

It is a 21, 0 kilometres race with a relevant participation consisting in 16,0 kilometres on a asphalted road running along the beautiful Fylsvei 63, the iconic National Road 63 while the last 5,000 metres are the protagonists of a spectacular ascent leading to the summit of that mount on which is situated the arrival highlighted by a final dirt steep section highlighted by very challenging slopes. 

Another relevant appointment is Dalsnibba Run, a half marathon finishing as the previous on the top of that height with many athletes coming from all around Norway but also with runners from abroad who want to enjoy that prestigious event.

The mentioned Fyklsvei Road is a must and mandatory for all the tourists who decide to visit that Norwegian area. It is a masterpiece by Norwegian engineers developed on the trace of an old route established in 1669 with a length of over 103, 0 kilometres awarded in Paris in 1900 with the Gold Medal in occasion of the World´s Fair.

Located at just 12,0 kilometres from Geiranger, it was established to link that previously cited height to the inhabited areas and it is also a place where you can admire along it a beautiful lake called Djupvatnet, a small picturesque waters basin only 2,5 kilometres  long and 1,1 kilometre wide which flanks in its northern side that spectacular and panoramic hallway.

Its surface area is of approximately 2, 0 square kilometres with a maximum depth of about 200, 0 metres, a special feature of that magnificent and picturesque site is that it is situated at an altitude of 1016, 0 metres making it also a spectacular place offering unforgettable views admiring all around it incomparable, stunning landscapes formed by forests and waterways authentic, true symbols of the most fascinating Norway.

A further attraction is the presence of imposing and majestic rocky walls and shaped cliffs encircling it. One side is very scenic with a gentle slope descending on its shore forming a sort of stunning sculpted spur very picturesque, a great image to immortalise in many pictures from different perspectives so if you are fond of photography that place is simply perfect.

The local territory permits a wide range of outdoor activities such as cycling and mountain bike which thanks to those prestigious events celebrated every year are sports absolutely great to practise there with a multitude of magnificent routes to enjoy day by day during your stay.

One of them I suggest you consists to reach Sykkylven situated north west of Stranda and once there on the extreme point of an ample peninsula you will have a superb view of some wonderful islands and islets in proximity of the beautiful Alesund. 

The presence of other striking fjords all around that scenic promontory is a further marvellous attraction which enchant the visitor in a while offering several options with a multitude of magnificent itineraries.

Trekking is another superb outdoor activity across that outstanding Norwegian territory with the chance to reach panoramic hilly plateaus continuing towards mountainous wild areas with unforgettable views.

All the lands around  Tafjorden-Reindalen and Trollheimen are more than appropriate and suggested for those who love all that and including in those places it is possible to visit magnificent protected nature reserves showing the best Scandinavian immaculate nature in all its magic appeal.

One of them I recommend to visit is the wonderful Reinheimen National Park, a Norwegian paradise in which you can admire several beautiful heights such as Puttegga, Tordsnose and Karitinden, all mountains over the 1900, 0 metres of altitude situated in a huge natural protected environment with a surface of 1969, 0 square kilometres.

Once there you will be delighted by the presence of the picturesque course of some beautiful uncontaminated rivers such as Lora,  Rauma and Istra, marvellous forests and a special fauna with the chance to see several reindeer , golden eagles, falcons and wolverines among others.

Also salmon fishing along the fjords is a beloved outdoor activity practised by locals but also by some tourists who are attracted to try once in a lifetime an experience in a stupendous wild scenery.

For all those who are searching relaxation and serenity the nearest virgin woodland is undoubtedly a great and inviting incentive with lovely paths immersed in an enchanting natural scenery highlighted by an intact vegetation and fairytale corners simply unforgettable and for that I recommend you the village of Liabygda, situated on the northern shore of another spectacular fjord called Norddallsfjorden with a very charming wooden Church flanked by beautiful hills and forests.

The local gastronomy strongly reflects the traditional Norwegian cuisine and the iconic salmon is obviously one of the great, emblematic and delicious specialities you can taste all around that land. 

Very popular is the Gravlaks consisting in an exquisite salted and cured salmon and furthermore you can try the Fiskesuppe,  a delicious fish soup which combines in its preparation different kinds of sea products cooked with vegetables.

The Torsk, tastefully cod is another delight extremely appreciated and very famous is also the Lutefisk prepared using that kind of fish but smoked. 

A further plate very popular is the Stekt Fisk consisting in a braised fish fillet cooked with pepper, salt and flour. Do not miss a unique  pride of the Norwegian cuisine the iconic herring prepared in different styles such as marinated, boiled, pickled or in sauce. 

The local culinary art is also well known for a large variety of excellent meat stews, one extremely renowned is that of reindeer, a kind of venison  highly appreciated for its special taste but also those made with lamb, pork and beef meats are superb. 

The Kjotboller is a further famed speciality consisting in meatballs served with a gravy sauce and mashed potatoes while the Lapskaus is another dish pretty loved by many locals, a sort of casserole which includes minced pork and sausages. 

Regarding the latter you can find many kinds and one notorious gastronomic icon which includes them is the renowned Stekte Polser in which the sausages are grilled served with a creamy sauce accompanied by carrots and potatoes. 

The excellent local and exquisite   lingo berries, bilberries and berries are considered among the best in the world and they are frequently used as special ingredients for several cakes, desserts, bakery products or to make genuine and sweet jams.

Alesund Lufthavn International Airport is situated 123, 0 kilometres away and in approximately two hours and half driving via Orskog including the section by ferry in Eidsal linking to Linge crossing the local fjord you will be at destination. 

If you are thinking on Norway as your next destination, particularly attracted by that concrete area with the option to admire the iconic Geirangerfjord, below you will find some links which will support the development of your plans of itineraries and I also included some suggested accommodations.

Geiranger is something unique in its kind and not just for that amazing UNESCO patrimony site and those 700,000 visitors a year which certainly means a lot but it is a must also for all what you can admire all around it.

Visiting Scandinavia and the stunning land of the fjords will be certainly one of your great and inspiring vacations all time, a dream holiday to plan and  select without hesitations returning home with in your mind images you will keep alive in your best memories forever.

The district of  Sunnmøre is simply wonderful, an eternal marvellous destination packed by magnificent landscapes and an endless list of wonderful things you will admire and remember for a long time because everything  there it is like a big chain of shining diamonds on the neck of a beautiful country called Norway.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Accommodations in Geiranger

Union Hotel Geiranger
Grande Fjord Hotel

Recommended Restaurants in Geiranger

Restaurant Brasserie Posten
Restaurant Nausrskroa
Restaurant Olebuda

Useful links‎