These last few weeks I haven't been posting too much...because we were in Norway! After our incredible trip to Tanzania and Zambia last year, we were in the mood for something easier and more relaxed this year. (Just this year!) I had been wanting to see the Norwegian Fjords for some time, and John has been begging to do a large ship cruise, so a cruise to Norway seemed like a good fit.
We flew into London and spent a day exploring as much as we could of the city before catching a train to Southampton the following day. Our cruise took us through the English Channel to Norway, where we toured Stavanger, Geiranger, Flam, Ålesund and Bergen. Stavanger seemed the quintessential Scandinavian town, whereas Geiranger and Flam, despite being tiny towns of just a few hundred people, hosted breathtaking mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and gorges. Ålesund was our favorite city of the trip: the entire city was rebuilt in the early 20th century after a fire, and virtually all of the architecture is in the art nouveau style. There is also a 418 step stairway to catch an incredible vista of the city and surrounding fjords. The weather was pretty wretched in Bergen (think Cleveland in November) and my lens fogged up with all the rain, so unfortunately I didn't get too many pictures there. On the way back to Southampton, our cruise made a stop in the Shetland Islands of Scotland, where we met Shetland Ponies and explored the charming town of Lerwick.
I have been to Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland, so I am a bit familiar with Scandinavian culture, however Norway stands out as being unique. Its scenery is spectacular and it features more miles of coastline than the United States. It's one of the richest countries in the world, largely due to petroleum, yet paradoxically it's also one of the greenest. It has the highest per capita amount of electric cars in the world: 5% of the population owns one. It's also one of the least densely populated countries in Europe, and camping is incredibly popular. One of our guides told us that legally you can camp anywhere in Norway, even on private property, as long as you maintain a minimum distance from any dwellings. School children in Norway typically take at least one outdoor excursion per week, regardless of weather, which we saw first hand both in sunny Ålesund and in the torrential downpour that was Bergen. Overall, we loved the little bit we saw of Norway as well as the nation's model policies for protecting the environment, its people, and its heritage.
Below are a few favorite images from our trip, including a few professional 'selfies' we took using a timer. (Hey, why not dyi?) It's harder to do than it looks!