Activity-filled Alesund

by Andrew Stein

After our bike trip, we take an early ferry back to Bergen, rent a car, and hit the road towards Alesund.  The journey is far, but the weather is perfect, and the fjords are shining.  We stop early and often for food, photographs and viewpoints. An amazing part of Norway’s highway infrastructure is its tunnels.  We go in tunnels that are 5 to 6 kilometers long, and apparently there is one that is more than 20.  Instead of going around every mountain, we go straight through some of them – I love the efficiency and the breathtaking landscape just waits for us on the other side of the tunnel. (We also learn that Norway is working on a tunnel for boats big enough to fit cruise ships.)

The next day, we explore Alesund.  Alesund’s history is bittersweet.  Because of a fire in 1904 that burned down the entire city, everything was rebuilt in the art nouveau style.  And today, the city just seems to fit together. After our typical breakfast of fresh bread, smoked salmon, yogurt and granola, we climb to the top of Sukkertoppen, overlooking the city.  This is actually the second time we get this type of vantage point as we climbed the 418 steps just next to the city for sunset (~11:15pm) last night.

For our next vantage point, we walk through the old city enjoying shops, food stands, and its many boats.  Later, to give our legs a little break, we rent kayaks and circle the city by paddle.  Turns out that when we get a little outside of the protected waters in the center, there are some decent waves that give us a salty splash now and again.

Finally, to round out the day, we drive out to Runde, an island known for its Puffins.  The bridges along the drive are stunning and slightly scary.  They are very steep, one-lane bridges.  As a result, we can’t always tell if another car is coming up the other direction, and if it were, we would have to negotiate how to best pass each other.

Runde ends up being a highlight of the whole trip.  The sky is big with layers of clouds but enough sun to give us lots of energy.  The landscape is as vast as we’ve seen it, and in every direction.  The lighting is warm, the trail we take keeps providing us with new surprising views, and the puffins (although from a distance) are as cute and playful as the stuffed animals of their likeness made us believe.  Runde was a bit of a drive outside of Alesund, but completely worth it.