Oriana 11

Last night, even though our route took us down the adjacent fjord to the one we had entered the previous evening, for some reason we had to sail 16 miles out into the North Sea before turning around and steaming into the the arm of the fjord that led to Geiranger. As we were tenering into the port we wee again woken up by the calamatous din of the anchor chain sliding out of its housing. However, this time (as seasoned sailors) we knew what it was and pulled the pillows over our heads until it stopped. This method of awakening does have one advantage over the ones we regularly employ, it doesn’t just brush away the cobewbs of sleep, it pulverises them.
After breakfast we went on deck to be greeted by the tightest fjord yet, the mountain walls seemed to surround the ship. It is a UNESCO heritage site so I guess it had to be different to the other ones we had seen, because they weren’t. It looked like a nice day, but because of the height and closeness of the mountains you couldn’t see much of the sky and the weather coming along behind them.

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We had no firm plans for the day so decided to shuttle off the ship and see what was what. Finding the tourist office on the quay straight away I read the information boards outside while Sue visited a shop.  Spotting that there was a bus going to the top of the highest mnountain in the region seemed to appeal so when Sue vacated the shop I put it to her that today we ride up a mountain rather than climb up it. She agreed, so I bought the tickets and less than 5 minutes later we were being whisked away at our leisure along  with half a bus full of passenger upwards.

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Negotiating many hairpins we seemed to be climbing much higher than the mountains surrounding our fjord. And we were. The largest pointy one that I had suspected we would be going up next to the  town of Geiranger was soon passed and looked down upon. Stopping briefly to take photos the town houses and ship were just tiny toys far, far below. We drove ever higher until we reached the snow. Still not stopping the driver informed us that we were in for an extra treat as we were going to meet the Oslo bus. Driving along a floded cwm containing a clear crystal blue lake that apparently is 90m deep, we eventually stopped at a T-junction and waited. Some ten minutes later, out of a dark tunnel on the side of a huge cliff of bare rock appeared the bus. Heaven knows how long the tunnel must be as the surrounding mountain tops just went on and and on. The bus didn’t stop, no passengers from Oslo today then.

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Back up the lake to a point where a toll road (yes, a toll road with barriers) in the middle of the foothils of heaven (St. Peter was on is lunch break), met the pass we had driven through 20 minutes previously. Countless hairpains later, yes ………… I said hairpains! Hair pin doesn’t adequately describe the sharpness of turns bordered on one side with a vertical drop that would make your hair curl. Not surprisingly this road led to the top and nowhere else. I will leave the photos for further description.
Nearly half an hour later and feeling rather chilled, despite the bright sunlight, we boarded the bus for the journey back. Withe no further stops to pick up non-existent passengers we arrived safely back in Geiranger. We got off at the hotel above the town and walked over a very pretty bridge and walkway to the museum. Many photographs later we set off down a metal walkway next to and often over, a gushing, foaming stream that you could trace emerging over the edge of the mountain high above to crash ever downwards, eventually meeting the calm waters of the fjord. We met Rob and Jan on their way up the path, though only chatted briefly as the spray from the accompanying stream was slowly soaking us.

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Reaching the port we set off upwards along the road to see the small church that is part of the UNESCO site. There were plenty of touirists already there, but most preferred top stay outside and take photos. We went in to be greeted with the sound of piano music. There was to be a piano recital at 2pm that afternoon and the pianoist was practising. We sat and listen to a couple of tunes before he closed the piano and disappeared through a door at the rear. We also left.
Arriving back at the quayside we wandered in and out of the few shops dotted about before sitting in the sun and waited for the tender to arrive and ferry us back to the Oriana. Back on board it was straight to the Conservatory via our cabin to replenish spent calories.

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Later Sue went to the stern to listen to the sail-away music and then stayed to watch the scenery. The captain announcd us over the intercom that as we passed a set of waterfalls called the Seven Sisters we would be stopping, then rotating 360 degrees in the fjord so that we would have the best opportunity to photograph them and the larger water fall directly on the opposite shore. The ship would also be releasing one of its  rescue craft to film the ship while it did this manouvre.  It is the first time that the ship has done this. I  went on deck to watch. True to his word the we stopped in the middle of the narrow gap between the the two sets of waterfalls, then the ship did indeed slowly spin round, taking about 15 minutes to do so. Absolutely amazing!!!!! A ferry even managed to squeeze passed while we obligingly stopped the rotation for a couple of minutes!  The Captain told us that there was 110m of water underneath and 250m of water on either side of the stern and bow when we were perpendicular to the waterfalls, it certainly looked closer. What an unexpected treat

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Sue and I then found our way to Al Fresco, famished by the exertion of watching the pirouette. As we drank and nibbled we watched through the windows as waterfall after waterfall slide by and wondered at the little houses clinging to the waters edge of suspended on vertical cliffs, how did you get to them and why would you want to or even manage to survive living there?It was a smart casual evening, so we changed in the cabin and then made our way to the theatre for our pre-dinner entertainment, listening to movie music by the ship’s orchestra. All our fellow diners were present for the evening meal and as usual we discussed what each had done during the day before chatting about  what TV series people were hooked on.
The late evening show in the theatre was song and dances from well known musicals and surprise, surprise the show we missed last week due to a stage malfunction will be attempted in two days time. Well done P and O.

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