It seems as if Norwegians all just take a pride in being Norwegian. How civilised these Vikings have become!
If the people are the icing on the cake, the land – big, giant slabs of pristine wilderness – is simply phenomenal.
Every one of us can imagine what a fjord might be like. But, take yourself right inside one of these truly awesome chasms and the sheer scale and grandeur of the surroundings really does take your breath away.
You are not dwarfed by these things. Ant-like, that’s how you feel as you admire them, open-mouthed.
The second leg of the drive north to Alesund, was even more adventurous, leaving behind tarmac roads whenever possible to clamber up and down over narrow passes made from compacted crushed rock with passing places every few hundred metres.
There was a little fishing village at the end of a fjord called Mo with brightly-painted wooden clapboard houses lining the quayside and youngsters pulling big fat mackerel in straight from the edge. And, of course, pressing on through pine woods and gorges peppered with giant boulders smothered with lichen, there was a spontaneous chorus of “One man went to Mo…”
At Alesund, which had a disastrous fire in 1904, leaving ten thousand townsfolk homeless, guided tours reveal art noveau properties which sprung up when the town was rebuilt, several designed by young architects who studied under Charles Rennie Macintosh.
This fascinating outpost has another strong link with Scotland (well, Shetland, actually), as it was the main nerve centre of the Resistance Movement, little craft sailing between Lerwick and here braving the North Sea at the height of the German occupation in World War II.
At the great folk museum with beautifully-preserved old wooden buildings, and a fine collection of Norse sailing vessels on display, don’t miss the restaurant for a taste of the rich, creamy soup which has cauliflower and cheese, and a hint of nutmeg as its base.
Another treat lies in store when fishermen return to the harbour with catches such as crayfish, shrimp, prawns and crab, prepared and cooked aboard to sell direct to the public once safely back in port.
Seafood never tasted as fresh as this.
* It would be easy to spend an hour or two browsing the www.visitnorway.com website to take in all of the mouth-watering suggestions, each deliciously illustrated to tempt us all to get booked up straight away. Brochures featuring accommodation options, including everything from fabulous fishermen’s cabins, inexpensive b&b establishments and the full range of budget to 5-star hotel options, available from Alesund Tourism at the www.visitalesund.com website.