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Andalsnes,  Norway - flag Norway -  Møre og Romsdal
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davidx's travel reports

The Golden Route from Åndalsnes to Geiranger

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The route consists of the Trollstigge, a pass only reopened annually in June, a car ferry and the Eagles’ Highway from Eidsdal to Geiranger. This report also covers the railway to Åndalsnes and the ferry to Hellesylt from Geiranger.


Quay near station, Åndalsnes
Quay near station, Åndalsnes
I have read some severe comments on Åndalsnes, which I confess I don’t understand. ‘Nothing going for it except position’ – perhaps, but with a position like that, who needs more? The railway approaching Åndalsnes, from Dombås on the Trondheim to Oslo line, is generally reckoned to vie with the more famous Flåmsbahn for the title of Norway’s most scenic. It’s fabulous as it drops steeply through the mountains, turning 180 degrees in tunnels and coming out at different levels, and as it nears Åndalsnes, it passes the Trollsveggen, the highest vertical cliff in Europe. Åndalsnes is at the landward end of the wide Moldefjord and [facing the fjord] you don’t need to go far to the left before seeing some of the magnificent mountains, named for obvious visual reasons after some chess pieces, which lie on the route of the Trollstigge. In the other direction are a stave church and Molde. I went by bus to Geiranger for a day trip. The pass had only recently re-opened after the winter’s snows and there was still snow lying in the car park at the top of the pass, never mind the actual mountains. Norwegian buses are good at stopping for scenic and photographic breaks, during which the drivers often seem to meet their need for nicotine! Up and up it goes and at the bottom on the far side is a stupendous waterfall by what has to be a great campsite. After a short drive through exquisite valley scenery, the bus reaches Linge, where a car ferry is taken for Eidsdal. This is only a small ferry and the bus doesn’t go on it – by no means the normal practice in Norway. However the next bus is ready in Eidsdal to take you over the wondrous wooded and mountainous Eagles’ Highway to Geiranger. Those who avoid Norway because of supposed cold temperatures may find it odd that my first action here was to buy sun lotion; I needed it. There is time for a return trip on the car ferry to Hellesylt , which I have described below, before a return bus to Åndalsnes.

Favourite spots:
The Bishop, Trollstigge
The Bishop, Trollstigge
The grass is always greener. Even though I found this trip completely delightful, I couldn’t help looking at things that would be way beyond my capabilities, even if time had permitted, and dreaming. The Trollsveggen would never have been my scene; I was a mountain walker once but never a climber. Whether I could ever have managed the Bishop, my favourite ‘chess piece mountain’, I don’t know. My heart isn’t up to it now by a long way so I preferred not to know. Even so my favourite moments were spent gazing at these scenes and, during a bus break well up the Eagles’ Highway, at the Geirangerfjord.

What's really great:
The Suitor - see the bottle?
The Suitor - see the bottle?
The trip on the car ferry from Geiranger to Hellesylt and back was unlike anything I had done before and I revelled in it. There are tourist boats which trip about for a much higher cost but the ferry trip includes a fine viewing lounge with a café and a commentary in English – why pay more? The mountains rise with fierce steepness on both sides of the Geirangerfjord, with only the very occasional place at fjord level, where there had been a farm. Far more southerly sounding fruit such as apricots had actually been grown there, There are fine water falls including the Seven Sisters, the Suitor [who took to the bottle because they rejected him, and the Bridal Veil. Some of the buildings higher up are almost inaccessible from the fjord and, of course, there was a story of a helpful rope being hauled away when the taxman was coming! The Geirangerfjord is included in the Hurtigrute voyage, when a small boat enables people to get on or off.

Sights:
Eidval from car ferry
Eidval from car ferry
Given longer in Åndalsnes, it would have been good to try to get a ride along the Atlantic Highway between Molde and Kristiansund through a series of causeway-linked islands.


Accommodations:
From my bedroom, Åndalsnes
From my bedroom, Åndalsnes
Grand Hotel Bellevue, Andalsgt 5, Åndalsnes, 6301 Norway
Phone: 7122-7500

This hotel is only a short distance from the station/ bus stops/ quay, though it’s a steep pull up – worth knowing that buses coming in from Ålesund, Geiranger or Molde will take you up if you want!
It’s very comfortable and has an absolutely superb view over the Moldefjord. Food is a choice between an excellent buffet on the ground floor or an a la carte menu in the downstairs restaurant.
Yes, there has to be a snag and I admit I don’t know the cost – it was included in a package where I was on my own but all tickets and accommodation were provided.


Other recommendations:
en route for Linge
en route for Linge
There is a stave church nearby at Rødven. No doubt it’s easy enough to get there by public transport, although the timetable was very confusing – two buses there every day but only one back, the return one being before either of the outward ones!


Restaurants:
Trollsveggen, Åndalsnes
Trollsveggen, Åndalsnes
With my meals in the hotel being covered in the package, I didn’t try anywhere else.

What a hardship – may I face many like it!

They let me take some things from the breakfast spread early to eat on the bus to Geiranger.

There were two restaurants for evening meals, one serving a buffet and the other with interesting meals. I meant to try both as my voucher permitted either - but after sampling the buffet the first night, no way was I going anywhere else the second!

Published on Saturday January 1th, 2005


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