The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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2:37pm on Thursday, 13th July, 2017:
Today is a sea day, so is scheduled to be utterly eventless. All we have to do is pack our suitcases by 8:30, which we've managed to do with six hours to spare. I think my tuxedo is going to need an ironing whenwe get back, though. We've filled in our customer service form, deciding not to knife either our cabin steward or waiter on the grounds that they were actually pretty good. I did criticise the amount of fish on the menu, though.
Unlike on previous trips, the customer service form didn't include a part where we rate the ports we visited. Still, as I'm sure that the executives at P&O read every word I write on the Internet, I figure I can answer that here.
So, as a first-time cruiser of the fjords, which of the destinations did I like best?
Haugesund isn't really used to cruise ships yet and a bit run-down. The people we're on the dining table with (Judith and Brian) really liked it because of its museums, but they're seasoned fjorders who haven't been there before. From my perspective, Haugesund should have been Bergen. It was a decent town but I'm in no rush to return.
Olden itself was nothing special, but the trip to the glacier was one of my highlights. The glacier itself was a bit of a disappointment as it's retreated so much, but the journey to reach it was well worth the shoe leather.
Aalesund was an attractive town — probably the most attractive of the ones we saw, although modern developments have scarred it somewhat. The view from the top of the 418-step climb was astonishing, as were the prices of the ice creams there. There wasn't a lot else to do in the town, though, except visit museums on subjects that didn't particularly interest us.
Andalsnes was a bit different, being a small but thriving town that didn't have a lot but which gave the impression that the people who lived there liked living there. We originally booked the trip to the stave church and troll wall in order to see the troll wall, but actually it was the stave church that we liked the most, it was utterly charming.
Trondheim was marred by rain and steep prices. There were some very pleasing old buildings there, but I preferred Stavanger's overall. I'd like to go back to it sometime when the sun is out, as I don't feel I saw its best side.
Hellesylt was a one-trick pony: a large waterfall in the middle of a small village. The waterfall was good, even having had 1,000 yellow plastic ducks dumped into it for charity, but there was nothing else there for us. We saw better waterfalls on the trips from Olden and Flaam, too.
Geiranger is flat-out tourist central, but does manage to have some individuality to it nevertheless. The trip to the viewing point at Dalsnibba was my favourite experience of the whole cruise. I know that Geiranger is well aware of its assets and exploits them to the full, but that doesn't detract from the fact that it does have them. I have to rate it very highly.
Flaam was nothing much itself, being primarily a place where cruise ships meet the railway. Although the rail journey was indeed very scenic, I think it was oversold somewhat. Even possessed women dancing in front of a magnificent waterfall can't make up for the fact that half the journey you're looking at a mountain face rather than a view. When you got a view, it was good, though.
Stavanger was my favourite of all the larger towns we visited, even though there was rain in the morning. Its old town was pretty and its pedestrian centre was full of unusual shops (as well as several very usual ones — no Burger King needs to be that big). There were some museums I wanted to see (but didn't), so I'd definitely be up for visiting it again.
So, in order of what I liked the most (not necessarily in order of what I'd like to see again), we have:
We're at sea today, with no hope of any Internet connection, so this isn't going to be uploaded until tomorrow.
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