The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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7:24pm on Monday, 10th July, 2017:
Today was spent in Geiranger (or "gay ranger" as I heard it called).
Geiranger is the most iconic of all Norwegian fjord villages, positioned in impossibly beautiful scenery with towering mountains, a torrent of a waterfall-laden river and a placid fjord that curves away so it looks as if it could be a lake.
A shame that it's all going to be wiped out when the nearby Aaknesfjaellet mountain slides 150 million tons of rock into the next fjord along and sends an 80-metre tsunami Geiranger's way. The mountain's 700-metre long, 30-metre wide crack that's growing 15cm wider every year is very closely monitored, though, so there'll be a 72-hour warning before that happens — plenty of time for the locals to ascend 81 metres up the valley.
We had a coach tour this morning. The previous evening, I'd set my alarm for 7am, it told me it was going to go off in 7 hours and 48 minutes (which was correct), and so I went to bed assuming that it would do as it promised. Somewhat annoyingly, overnight my phone decided to switch to UK time, which is an hour behind Norwegian time. The alarm didn't go off at 7am because my phone thought it was 6am. Fortunately, my wife went off at 7:25am, so we got dressed, bolted down some breakfast and appeared at the appointed rendezvous point for our tour at 7:55am, a whole five minutes early.
We then waited half an hour before they finally let us off the ship and onto our coach.
This was our first coach trip. The first one, we had to sit at the back and saw next to nothing. The second one, to the troll wall, we had a choice of three double seats and went for the one that it turned out had a baby seatbelt instead of an adult one, so we had to split up because we couldn't use it (the fine for not buckling up on a coach in Norway is £150). Today, we were among the first on the coach so chose a pair of seats three back from the front. No, we didn't know that the window seat of this pair was beneath a crack in the coach roof that let in water. Luckily, my wife was sitting there, or I might have got wet.
The coach took us up a narrow, winding road replete with hairpin bends to the top of the mountain-but-one behind Geiranger, which goes by the name Dalsnibba. I think "dal" might mean "valley", but am not driven enough by curiosity actually to check. Gawd knows what "snibba" means. The road up there was hewn from the rock just so that tourists could go up and have a spectacular view.
The view is, indeed, spectacular.
Being a native of East Yorkshire, I wasn't even all that cold, despite the fact it's about a mile above sea level. You can see our ship docked in the far distance (Geiranger has a portable pier on pontoons, a bit like those walkways to planes at airports) (unless you fly Ryanair, which only seems to use them if forced — they must cost money to operate or something). There's another ship behind, the Costa Favolosa, but they had to use tenders to get people ashore as we got to the pier first.
The afternoon was spent wandering around Geiranger, admiring the many souvenir shops that sell the exact same things as each other and every other souvenir shop we've been in, and wondering how many Norwegians routinely spend £16 on a jar of jam.
In the middle of the Atlantic ocean is a ridge about a mile and a half high and forty miles long. It's teetering and could topple over any time in the next half a million years. When I heard that, back in my teens, I thought that if anyone ever asked me the question "if you had one nuclear bomb, where would you drop it to cause the most destruction?" I'd say right next to that undersea wall. Years later, someone did ask me the question and I was able to give my prepared reply. I was as astonished to do so as you are disbelieving that it happened.
We've sailed far enough from Geiranger now that if Aaknesfjaellet does begin to slide we should be able to sail to safety with time to spare.
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