ÅLESUND: WHERE NORWEGIAN FAIRY TALE BEGINS
Ålesund is a Norway town on the west coast spread out on seven islands in the delta of the famous Geiranger Fjord. This place has become famous because of the very tragic circumstances. The small settlement for a long time was making its living with fishing trade, it had a quiet life relying on seafood and a fair wind, but one ill-fated day disaster struck it: a devastating fire engulfed the village. Expanding with enormous power, flames destroyed all the buildings, so Ålesund burned almost to the ground, leaving about ten thousand inhabitants homeless. Whatever happens, life goes on, and it was necessary to rebuild houses as quickly as possible. It remains unknown who came up with the idea to resurrect the town in absolute Art Nouveau glory contrasting with wildlife backdrop. Dotted with colourful turrets, bright houses with spires and beautiful ornamentation, from an ordinary fishing village the place turned into a fairy-tale town.
We are discovering Ålesund starting with Queen Sonja Square. It is located between two streets Skansegata and Notenesgata. It is a starting point for city tram touring the most exciting places. The journey costs 150 Norwegian Krones, and for the youngest members of the family the fare is 70 Krones. Travelling along the route you will not only admire stunning peaked "puppet" houses, but also visit the Bjugnfjorden and the longest street of the city Borgundvegen. The final point in the list is the Aksla Hill with a viewpoint at a height of 130 meters, which offers a spectacular panoramic view over the entire archipelago and the Sunnmøre Alps. But before you see the whole panorama, be prepared to overcome more than 400 stairs. Those who dared for such a did, at the top will be awarded with marvellous view and a cosy old restaurant Fjellstua where one can relax and enjoy traditional fish dishes.
Those who are interested in the history of wonderful Ålesund, should definitely visit the City Museum. It is open to visitors on weekdays, the admission fee is 50 and 20 Krones for adults and children respectively. Here one can learn more about the history of the area, photos and pictures show how Ålesund streets looked before the fatal fire.
In addition to history, the institution suggests to learn local culture and traditions. Here you will be even taught the basics of the traditional Norwegian fishing, and then with you will feel confident enough to go fishing to the local ponds! Marine northern waters made Ålesund one of the important centres of production and processing of fishery resources. Not surprisingly, one of the local entertainments is a sea fishing excursion, during which the equipped yacht brings fans of a fishing rod into the open sea.
In addition to the interesting history, Ålesund attracts tourists by the famous fjords. The 20 kilometres long Geiranger Fjord, is included into the UNESCO World Heritage List. Best view, covering all the beauty of the bay, is available from the cliff Flydalsjuvet, its name means "at the threshold of heaven". Indeed, stone giant looks as if floating in the air, and next to it, heavy screens of waterfalls the Bridal Veil and the Seven Sisters are streaming from nowhere into a bowl of mirror water.
The Geiranger Fjord gives rise to a world-famous tourist route the Trolls' Path, once the only way to the Sunnmøre fjords. Old serpentine road runs along a steep rocky slope and making eleven sharp turns, brings the traveller to a height of 800 meters above sea level. There is also the famous Troll Wall - one of the most dangerous and difficult climbs in the world. Only 1000 meters high, this cliff, however, can freeze the heart of very confident daredevil. Every year from early summer to late autumn, countless travellers from all corners of the earth come here to challenge the route. Still, only a skilled driver would be able to pass the Trolls' Path.
There is a special place in Ålesund that makes the heart beat faster. Molja is an old lighthouse, built at the entrance to the harbour, and welcoming travellers to visit the town. Besides the main purpose - to point the way to the lost ships, it is also used as an exotic hotel. The tiny room three meters in diameter, though strange it may sound, has everything you need - bathroom on the first floor and a bedroom in white shades on the second floor. The lighthouse is not easy to book since it is not in the list of rooms on site, so you need to write a letter to the administration with a request to reserve a unique room. Despite the considerable cost, which is 4500 Krones per day, the room is very popular with honeymooners and sweethearts.