Andalsnes and the Atlantic Ocean Road

Friday, October 14, 2022

Our first port day and immediately we’re grateful for the parkas and beanies we’ve packed – it’s cold out there.

Andalsnes (there’s a little ‘o’ above the capital A) is known as the alpine village by the fjord and is situated at the northern end of Fjord Norway. People come here for the mountaineering and mountain adventure sport – and it’s no wonder, the scenery is dramatic indeed.

Aside from mountain sports, the major highlights here are:

  • Trollveggen, also known as the Troll Wall, is Europe’s tallest vertical rock face boasting an impressive 1100m in height from the valley floor. Apparently the jagged peaks of the ridge evoke images of troll heads playfully looking over the valley below, although I imagine the terms trolls and playful are rarely used in the same sentence. We were to find lots of references to trolls – more on that in another post.
  • Trollstigen, or the Troll Road, is a serpentine road consisting of 11 hairpin turns that winds its way along a mountainside in Rauma municipality and is one of Norway’s most visited tourist highways.
  • Raumabanen, one of Norway’s most beautiful train lines, takes you across 32 bridges and through 6 tunnels as it runs through some of the most stunning scenery in Norway from deep-blue fjords to wild mountains, and rushing rivers.

Cunard offered shore excursions to each of these, we, however, weren’t quick enough off the mark as spots on these had sold out by mid-July. Instead we opted for a tour of the Atlantic Ocean Road (Atlanterhavsveien), which has been dubbed by The Guardian newspaper as “the world’s most scenic drive”.

While the road itself is just 8kms, it crosses eight bridges between islets and skerries where the ocean washes against the northwestern shores of Norway. Getting there involved a bus, a ferry, multiple bridges…and a tunnel or two.

Tunnels are, it seems, quite a Norwegian thing. The country is considered the world’s leader in tunnelling (now there’s an accolade) and has a whopping 900 tunnels, including the world’s longest road tunnel. With so many mountains and so much risky terrain and so many fjords, the government has chosen to go through the mountains (and under the fjords) rather than over or around them. The tunnels, in many areas, replace ferries where water-crossings are too long for bridges, and link residents of islands and remote peninsulas to regional centres.

Anyways, we hear all about the importance of tunnels, ferries, and bridges on the bus on our way to our first stop, the fishing village of Bud (pronounced booed).

It’s a lovely village with painted fishing cottages and a bunker dating back to WW2 on the hill. The anchor in the pics above is from the Viking Sky which almost ran aground near here in 2019. The engines stalled and the anchor snapped, with passengers needing to be airlifted off by helicopter. Not really what we wanted to hear. Anyways, the pic below was from a newspaper at the time.

From here it was a relatively short drive through lovely countryside to the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean Road.

From the bus window

Our tour guide tells us how the James Bond movie, No Time To Die, was filmed on the bridge below – which looks, from a distance, like a ski jump going nowhere.

It is, instead, the type of bridge that features in my nightmares and looks worse from the bus than it does from below.

I can’t imagine what it must be like when the winds are blowing and the seas are high.

We stopped at the visitor centre for a walk around and some better not-from-the-bus views.

Thankfully lunch isn’t far up the road – after an early start we’re hungry and have been promised a 3-course Norwegian lunch.

Instead of the fish soup, salmon and cake we’re promised, there’s just fish soup and cake – the former of which is a large pot put on the table to be shared between 12 people. By the time it makes its way down to us there’s not a lot left, but what there is is tasty.

I give my cake to Grant and go outside for a walk. It’s drizzling but the group of 6 at the other end of our table are truly doing my head in. They’ve been sitting behind us on the bus and…well… as I said, I just need them (and their constant moaning) out of my head for a bit.

A note on the grass roofs… A sod roof or turf roof was the most common roof on rural houses in Norway (and large parts of Scandinavia) until the late 19th century. As well as helping with insulation, they also absorb rainwater and provide somewhere for birds to nest. They look pretty cool too.

Back on the bus our guide apologises for lunch and tells us that the tour company and the ship have been advised and we will be recompensed. (Side note – we’re given a bottle of good red wine as a make-up…)

It’s drizzling most of the way back to Andalsnes and while we doze a bit, the scenery is stunning.

Back in port, back on board, and as the sun goes down we’re back at sea.

Next stop… Tromso.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

15 thoughts

  1. Hi Jo, I love the pristine environment and it does look cold. This is a cruise we have often talked about taking but haven’t as yet. It will definitely be moving up my list but I’m not sure I would have liked to have been on the Viking Sky in 2019. What a fabulous trip you had and thanks for sharing. x

  2. Wow! Those photos are amazing, but that bridge might have done my head in. My husband would have marveled at it and taken 600 pictures. The food and people part of the story – well, they exist everywhere, don’t they? Sadly. I hope you changed seats for the second part and didn’t have to put up with them. That last photo deserves a spot on a wall! Norway looks amazing.

  3. Jo, this place has been on my list for a long while and although the other excursion destinations sound great, I think this might have been my first choice. The bridge is a marvel to behold, as are the vistas – even out the bus window! I’ll bet the complainers behind you were American. Just sayin’ 🙂

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