Be prepared. This is literally a post about a walk.
I’m not gonna lie to you pals, the thing about being a singer and working in the evenings means that it’s highly unlikely that you will be an early riser, even if once upon a time many moons ago, you were. Sleep is VITAL (believe it or not if I’ve not had enough sleep my voice is massively affected), and so you have to be full on motivated in order to surface from your cabin in time to even eat breakfast, let alone leave the actual boat. It’s not so much laziness as making sure you’re capable of doing your job properly, unfortch. This is where the problem of exploring Åndalsnes came in. Åndalsnes is a port on the Romsdalsfjord in the West of Norway and for some reason we only docked there once every ten days, between the hours of approximately 8.30am and 12pm. So on our final docking, approximately three months after we began regularly stopping there, I finally dragged myself out of bed at the sort-of-crack-of-dawn, to make sure I didn’t miss out on whatever was there. What an absolute palaver.
I’m gonna crack right on with my first point, which is that my first impression when I first stepped off the ship was that it is rather a nondescript sort of place. Sorry Åndalsnes. But in terms of the town, it is. I began to mildly regret my choice to cut my valuable sleep-hours short, if I’m honest with you here. (Which I always am. Honest, I mean.) During World War II this place was bombed rather badly so as a result most of the houses are on the new side; and as a result means that they don’t really seem to fit with the beauty of their surroundings. Further out I found some more interesting and mildly spooky looking houses, but the atmosphere was so still that it was all a bit strange-feeling. Or maybe it was that I was still half-asleep, who knows.
But. And this is a big old but.
The surroundings are INSANELY MARVELLOUS.
Knowing that there were mountains all around the town (you can see them from all angles, plain as day), I decided that naturally the only thing for it would be to climb one. As you do. Also, due to the fact that I still had eyelash glue on my eyelids and solid sections of backcombed, hair sprayed hair from last night’s show, I thought it would be a better idea to climb it as quickly as possible in order to get away from the ship and anyone who might witness me in this state and mistake me for a local troll. Because trolls do actually exist in Norway, FYI.
So, upwards and onwards and upwards it was!
I crossed a bridge over the dead end of a railway line and continued through the silent streets until I came to an arrow pointing towards the beginnings of a track up the side of the closest mountain I could locate, which due to the time constraints of also having to be back on board an hour before the ship sails seemed like the perfect option.
Well who would’ve thought it would be so easy to find some peace and tranquility so close to the giant machine I’d been living on for the last few months? The pine trees made the air smell like the freshest air I’d ever inhaled, and every now and then I caught a twitter of a far away bird. Around each upwards bend I ran into something new; a tent pitched underneath the trees with a pot of water boiling outside it, an old couple sitting on a log with matching hiking boots and professional-looking walking poles, or a cairn (you know, the stacks of higgledy piggledy rocks) balanced precariously on a flat rock, looking across the water below. Giant boulders sprung up from the pine-needle carpeted ground at random points and made the whole process even more fun by giving me obstacles to launch myself onto or off of in my quest to make it to the top of the mountain.
If I’m honest with you I think the fresh air and lack of engine noise was something I found so exhilarating that I decided it would be an even better idea to change my casual walk into an actual run. I had no idea how high this mountain was or how long I’d been running for, but it was a right laugh I tell you. Such a laugh that after some time when I reached the moss-covered and slightly damp web of tangled tree roots which wove their way across the now incredibly steep path, I decided to just grab onto the lower branches around me and just pull myself up as best as I could. Well that was kind of a dumb idea to be honest, but I’m glad I gave it a go. After several slips, a mild twist of the ankle and the realisation that I only had an hour and a half before I had to be walking back up the gangway, I had to admit defeat.
I was now an eyelash-glued, hairspray-tangled, mud-encrusted troll, who had gotten as far up the mountain as I possibly could and was actually very happy about the whole situation. What a way to clear the cobwebs, you guys!
Getting back down the mountainside was far easier than the ascent, so I even had time to stop and take in the views of the town and fjord and all the other mountains gathered around the tiny town below. I felt like I was on Google Earth, you know!? Let’s face it, this was definitely not an actual mountaineering escapade, but after too long cooped up in my little metal cabin it was a much-needed escape that’s for sure.
By the time I reached the little town again, I didn’t even care about the troll status of my general self, and even stepped into the Norsk Tindesenter- the Norwegian Mountaineering Centre- to reward myself with a horrendously overpriced hot chocolate. Oh, happy day! I am no mountaineer pals, but it’s easy to see why Åndalsnes is considered the Mountaineering capital of Norway. Hiking paths crisscross the country all around these parts, so although the town itself seems so remarkable at first glance, it’s clearly the perfect place to experience the stunning beauty of the Romsdalen area.
As we sailed away back up through the fjord and past more mountains enshrouded in clouds, I was pretty proud of myself for having forced myself to visit this part of the world on land as well as from the water. I may have looked like a troll, I may have mildly injured myself, and I may have been absolutely exhausted before I even began my hike up the mountain, but it was worth it for sure.
- Åndalsnes is the last stop on the Rauma railway line, which is considered to be one of the most scenic railway journeys in the country…if not, the woooorrrld!!
- Distance by road from Oslo is around 6 hours, and there are buses available as well.
- The mountaineering centre is basically a visitor with added activities, and if you end up in the area and want to do a full on hike, they can advise you about trails, paths, and any equipment you might need. And they’ll even hire the equipment to you, if you ask nicely! There’s also an indoor climbing wall located within the centre if you fancy trying your hand at that first!