Late Tuesday night (9.1.15) we went outside for a walk and saw that we had already docked in Alesund (pronounced Ahl-suhnd). Alesund stands for “eel sound,” according to our tour guide today. Our final excursion for the trip was this morning and consisted of a 3+-hour bus tour through the under-sea tunnels (yes, tunnels under the sea!) to the islands of Giske (pronounced with a hard “g,” giss-kay) and Godoy (pronounced Goad-oy).
Giske is the home of the original Viking king, Gangerolv, or Rollo, who conquered Normandy in AD 911, was the ancestor of William the Conqueror. It is presently home to about 400 people, most of whom farm tiny little pieces of land. Well, “farm” might need a bit of qualification. They keep cows and mostly just cut grass and bale hay for winter feed for the cows. Norway has quite a lot of laws, according to our tour guide, and one of them is that cows must be allowed to be outside for at least two months each year. So the cows we saw were “on holiday.” Too funny. And kind of sad, really.
The island of Godoy has a lighthouse and a bit larger population: about 1120. As we drove through the village, we saw several of the kindergarten children out for a walk with their teachers. They were very excited to see us in the bus, and stood by the road looking up at us, smiling and waving. Cute kids. The island is populated by quite wealthy people, and it was interesting to see the homes. We drove through a tunnel through the mountain and stopped for a quick photo opportunity before continuing back to Alesund.
Once in Alesund our tour continued by first taking us to the top of the mountain overlooking the city. There are old Nazi bunkers there and a restaurant/coffee shop/observation building and the view of Alesund, Giske, Godoy, and numerous other islands was almost 270 degrees! Tour guides from both yesterday and today remarked at how we had really great weather, which was unusual this season. It was partly cloudy and about 65 degrees both days…great weather for light layers. Of course, as we have learned, the Norwegians have a saying that I know my Minnesota friends and family will appreciate: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” Hmm. Whatever it takes to cope! 🙂
Alesund burned to the ground in 1904 and was rebuilt in three years’ time, completely in the style of Art Nouveau, which as en vogue in Europe at that time. There are many regulations now, ranging from the forced use of non-flammable building materials, slate roofs, etc. On our little tour we were able to see many of the decorative architectural details on the buildings, from Viking-esque dragons to Italianate grapes to flowers. The city was and is famous for its production of “stockfish,” which is salted and dried cod or mackerel that can be stored for years. Think of that! One could have “vintage” stockfish (don’t worry about the dust, baby, that’s how you know it’s good!). Hey, hey, that was a fine year for the mackerel. 🙂
There is also a lovely pedestrian-only shopping street and a lovely little area that has led previous visitors to call Alesund Norway’s little taste of Venice. We spent several hours working this evening before attending the late show and then the Indonesian crew show…good stuff!
Tomorrow we sail up the Hardanger fjord to Eidfjord. No excursions planned other than our own little walk about the village.