Today, May 17, is Norway’s National Day, which commemorates the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814. Interestingly while most countries celebrate their national days with military parades, Norway’s parades celebrate children. Many people wear their traditional national outfits, wave flags and banners and celebrate enthusiastically. Eidfjord, where we spent today, is a small town of around 1000 people, and I think everyone turned out for the parade!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our day started very early as we (and many others) headed on deck at 5:30 to watch the ship sailing up the Fjord to Eidfjord. Just stunningly beautiful! Well worth the sleep deficit!
The Hardanger Bridge
After breakfast we piled onto a bus for the first of two excursions for the day. This is such a picturesque part of the world. We just kept coming across one picture postcard scene after another. It feels like bragging if I tell you we had another day of perfect weather, but the photos will tell the story.
The Vøringfossen waterfall is one of the most famous in Norway. Even though Wikipedia says it is only the 83rd highest it was certainly striking and dramatic. It was really more a collection of falls, strengthened by the spring snow melt. A walkway takes you right over the top of the falls, and it was just breath-taking. The photos don’t come close to doing it justice.
Sysendammen is a man-made lake supplying the nearby hydro-electric power plant. From the dam wall we could only stare open mouthed at the classic scene of snow-covered mountains and clear blue sky reflecting in the blue waters of the lake. 2 weeks ago the lake was frozen, we were told, but today it was sparkling and the bluest of blue with only a small amount of floating ice.
The visit to the Hardangervidda Nature Centre was a little underwhelming. We were ushered into a theatre for and “inspiring super-video” which was impressive but far too long. On 5 huge screens a single image was projected as if flying over the region’s natural beauty. The little attached museum deserved more time. If you’re going there with limited time I recommend skipping the video. There were some cute goats on the turf roof though!
Tradional-style building with a turf roof
The main museum building
Early reindeer hunter
Goats grazing on the roof
We got back to the ship in time for the National Day Parade in Eidfjord. It was fun to watch and we were lucky to be in Norway on their special day.
After lunch on board, we visited an apple cider farm (Hardanger Saft -og Siderfabrikk). We enjoyed meeting some locals and learning a bit more about life in this remote region. Fruit-growing was introduced into Norway by English monks in the 10th century. Apparently apples grow very well here in the long summer days, and we did get to taste apple juice, cider & liqueur, and a very nice apple brandy. To everyone’s disappointment, they are not allowed to sell on Sundays and public holidays, so we had to be content with generous tastings. The drive there and back was incredibly scenic (I feel like I’m repeating myself, but it’s true).
The farms here are on such steep slopes .
We were there at the right time to see the apple blossoms
Apple blossoms. And the sky really was that blue!
Apple brandy for tasting. A small sample but at 38% alcohol, that was plenty.
The gorgeous setting
Apple brandy aging in oak barrels
We had a tour of the processing facilities
Oh, and the Eidfordians are into yarn-bombing too!