Part Nine: 7th Port of Call, Molde, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
For a reason, ill remembered, I took this picture around 5h in the morning as we were sailing up Moldefjorden.
Three hours later, we had docked in Molde.
As you can see, our “cruise theme” of daily showers persisted.
The rain was really a shame, because it obscured Molde’s signature feature, the Alps of Romsdal.
These Nordic Alps consist of a chain of >200 mountain peaks guarding Romsdalfjorden. There are permanent snowcaps, ice fields, and glaciers to be admired year round. Sadly, we only got brief glimpses now and then.
We took a short stroll in town, but it wasn’t a lot of fun owing to the rain. We saw many golden stars celebrating Jazz musicians fixed in the sidewalks. The week-long Molde Jazz Festival is the oldest annual jazz festival in Europe. It draws up to 100K visitors to the town every July.
We passed by a custom tailor shop for the Norwegian traditional dress called Bunad. They are an expression of Norwegian national pride and their design is based on rural folk costumes know since the 14th century. Bunadar (plural) came into use during the rise of the National Romanticism movement in the mid-19th century as a reaction to hundreds of years of Swedish and Danish dominance over Norway. Many women, and lately increasingly also men, wear their regional versions of Bunadar for special occasions, in particular for Constitution Day on May 17, but also for other big celebrations. For example, It has become fashionable for grandparents to have a Bunad made for their granddaughter’s Confirmation, as did the royal couple for their granddaughter Princess Ingrid a couple of years ago. The garments are custom made from the best wool cloth and are embroidered and appliqué by hand. Matching accessories are a must, like stockings, shoes, shawls, and headgear, which is different for married and unmarried women. There is also specific silver jewellery that is traditionally used with Bunadar. Silver has long been considered a charm against evil in Norway, for example babies had a silver brooch pined to their swaddling to prevent trolls from switching them with a baby troll. The most elaborately decorated bunadar can take a year to make and such an outfit is considered a once in a lifetime purchase, not least because of the cost!
In the afternoon, we joined a group of shipmates for an excursion titled “The Atlantic Ocean Road with Varden Viewpoint”. I had read a little about county road 64, called Atlanterhavsvegen in Norwegian. It is a 8.3 Km / 5.2 mi long section of a two-lane causeway connecting a series of small islands and skerries along the Hustadvika coast. The Atlantic Ocean Road is famous for its curved bridges. Hustadvika is considered to be the most dangerous stretch of coastline in Norway for two reasons. Firstly, there are no sheltering islands protecting the shore from rough weather, both high winds and high seas. Secondly, the immediate coastal sea is dangerously shallow with scattered skerries and reefs, making it necessary for shipping lanes from Molde to Kristiansund to run through open ocean, and the Norwegian Sea is not a benign water!
Definitely a promising outing … however, two factors conspired against us, too much rain and too little guidance. Our tour guide was either extremely soft spoken or she didn’t know how to operate the speaker system in the bus so that we literally couldn’t hear anything she said – and we were only sitting halfway down the bus. Every time someone shouted ‘we can’t hear you’ she would speak a little louder, only to drop off to a mumble again after a couple of sentences.
When the bus pulled into a rest stop, we were given ten minutes, I think, to look around. But it was raining hard and I never left the bus.
Finally, we reached another rest stop, this one with toilets and a, shall we say, mini-café about to close. The heavy rain had apparently flooded two of the four toilets and made them unusable. Hence the line was long and waiting my turn took up nearly the entire 20 minutes break time allotted. My loving husband had meanwhile secured a cappuccino to go for me, thanks! This stop on tiny Eldhusøya (island) had a secure, circular walkway around a large granite outcropping that crocodile stick and I could’ve handled, but the paucity of time made it impossible. There we were in a unique place we’re unlikely to ever visit again and the tour guide planed so poorly that we couldn’t actually see anything. Very frustrating indeed.
Before climbing back in the bus, I managed to take a couple of pictures of the longest and tallest of the bridges, well, a small section of it anyway.
We didn’t cross that bridge, though.
Instead, we made a tight left turn and drove back toward Molde with an inexplicable detour through a village called Bud, where we stopped for a while in a random parking lot. Bud is a pretty little fishing village with traditional, colourful wooden houses, or so I read. It’s claim to fame is an open air museum of the restored defence fortifications the Nazi Wehrmacht built there as part of their Atlantic Wall installations against an expected Allied invasion of Nazi occupied Europe. Not that we actually saw any of it, I just googled it later.
This wasn’t an especial rewarding excursion, what can I say 😢.
To make it up to you, here’s a website of the Atlanterhavsvegen with images I wish we had seen! Enjoy!!
By 17:30h we were back on the Silver Whisper in Molde, where the weather situation hadn’t changed.
At 19h, the captain started the engines and we began the 37-hour sail to the Lofoten Islands.
For dessert that evening, I decided on a pastry that I have enjoyed here in France many time, a “Paris-Brest”. The pastry was first created in 1910 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the annual bicycle road race Paris-Brest-Paris. It’s made of pâte à choux in the shape of a wheel, naturally, filled with yummy crème mousseline pralinée. In France all pastries have a standardised name that everyone knows, of course, having grown up with it. This can be a bit difficult for strangers, who have to read the name tags, if available, or just point like imbeciles.
It is entertaining to have dinner while sailing, there’s always something interesting to observe.
Later that evening we enjoyed more beautiful views from our balcony.
P.S. We never did go to the promised Varden Viewpoint, whatever it might be.