The Geirangerfjord reaches more than 100 kilometres inland from Ålesund on the Atlantic coast to the fjord-head at Geiranger. The first stretch contains many lively small towns and villages, such as Sula on the fjord’s north bank, and the settlements that once were centres for Arctic seal hunting.
The go-getter attitude in the local culture is best exemplified by the “furniture adventure” in Sykkylven and Ekornes. Many of the 7000 residents of these communities are involved in a thriving local furniture production sector that serves domestic and export markets. A bit further into the fjord, the 4 600 inhabitants of Stranda have made an adventure for themselves, supplying all of Norway with frozen pizza. Mountains dominate the mid section of the fjord, where human activity is restricted to small farms clinging on to the mountainside.
Farms accessible only by ladder
The trail uphill is so steep that ladders were installed several places. As the story goes, the ladders were occasionally removed for “repairs” when it was known that the tax collector was making his rounds here. However, the ladders were all in place when Queen Sonja and King Harald celebrated their silver wedding at one of the farms. The Queen took the original route, while many of the guests chose to fly in by helicopter.
The Bride’s Veil
As long as there has been enough rainfall, the Hurtigruten deck offers a front row seat to the view of the waterfalls “Brudesløret og de syv søstre” (the Bride’s Veil and the Seven Sisters) who dance playfully down the mountain in youthful joy, while the manly “Friaren” (Courtier) flirts with them from the far side of the fjord.
At the far end of the fjord is the village of Geiranger, an agricultural community that also hosts the Norsk Fjordsenter, a Norwegian fjord history, culture and experience centre.