This part of Norway is a dreamscape of mountains, fjords, wildlife and total silence. Which is about as good as it gets for me.
We meet Stan in Ålesund, a beautiful fishing village nestled on the west coast of Norway. Pastel-colour houses overlook lines of old sailing and fishing boats. Cobbled streets and quaint channels of water run through the village, all ending at the vast, wild Norwegian sea. After a feast of fresh-caught seafood and traditional dishes, including Cod tongue (“surprisingly lovely” was Stan’s assessment), I gently rolled into bed full to the gills.
Our noble steed
After a peaceful first night’s sleep listening to the ocean roll just outside my window, I find Stan - who’s not sure what to expect, but ready to experience all Norway has to offer - keen to embark on our first exploration. A stroll through the peaceful streets brings us to the harbour, where a stunning restored sailboat awaits us.
Originally designed in the late 1800s, it was a beautiful vessel. I’m a self confessed non-sailor, but this boat had me chomping at the bit to get going. Once we got into the fjords, the water was so still it was like a giant mirror. Flat, calm and the contrast of the massive mountains punching out of the 800m-wide fjord was one of the most dramatic I’ve ever seen. We didn’t talk for a while, all completely spellbound.
After a few hours of gliding through the water, it was time for an up-close encounter with Norway’s plentiful marine life. Intrepidly, we jumped into our sea kayak and paddled away from the boat. Orca, eagles and salmon were in abundance and, while we were in awe at their appearance, they seemed oblivious as we glided by. Words fail to explain the impact this has on your senses – I was numb in my own private dream of nature at her finest.
There’s something simple and majestic about drifting effortlessly through the fjords. I felt small against this incredible landscape. Didrick, our Momentum guide, explained that the joy of this trip was linked to the Norwegian tradition of ‘Hygge’, which means “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life, with good people”. It sums up that moment perfectly.
To the lighthouse
The second day’s adventure began in the air. Our journey took us soaring over archipelagos, remote villages and wild mountains by helicopter, towards a distant lighthouse in the Norwegian sea. This used to be fully-manned lighthouse from 1902 to 1988, when the lighthouse keepers resided here. It’s since been luxuriously renovated and now hosts the world’s most prestigious families - and, for a day, us.
Intrigued by the rocky outcrop we find ourselves on, we walk towards a small barn nestled in the rock. Here we find the lighthouse’s chef, fresh in from landing four huge fish and a selection of crabs and lobster - all caught six feet from where we’re standing. The fruits of his labours were enjoyed later, in a spectacular seafood barbecue, glass of wine in hand.
There were just so many wonderful elements to this trip, so many hidden gems we weren’t expecting. I love Norway simply for the fact it defies expectation and opens up a world I never knew existed. Safe, beautiful, calm. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this incredible region.