Alesund: A Magical Coastal Tourist Magnet in Norway
After floods took out a section of railroad track that we were supposed to travel on along the coast of Norway, we took the alternate route and bussed our way from Oslo through Andalsnes down to the ocean here at the seaside town of Alesund.
The scenery along the road included sharp rock faces, dramatic sweeps of green bordered fields up against hills, and a blue fast-flowing river Rauma.
It’s full of salmon who make an annual migration from the ocean near Greenland, entering the fjord at Andalsnes then spawning upriver. Huge cruise ships were docked at Andalsnes (all day we tried and failed to pronounce it correctly), and along the road through the valley, a bike path was built. It was one of the nicest looking and most scenic bike trails I’ve ever seen!
All day we rode until we finally reached the town of Alesund, where 90 cruise ships visit each year, adding mightily to the 400,000 tourists who visit this town of 40,000 each year.
The pleasure boats come right up into the town center, and the multicolored old houses are hit with a brilliant beautiful light at just the right time of day.
It’s been called an Art Nouveau town and it’s full of yachtsmen and many young people who all crushed into the town square tonight for a big concert.
I have to love a town that puts on a two-day music festival that attracts up to 3000 people and allows the music to be so loud throughout the town that hundreds of yards away, it’s just like you’re still right there.
We got backstage passes to get right near the stage to hear one of my all-time favorites, Bryan Ferry, who was the man behind Roxy Music back in the ’80s.
His band included two sultry singers, a woman who could really blow the alto sax, and a booming satisfying deep bass, and of course his setlist didn’t leave out any of his old favorites, like Avalon, and Love is a Drug.
Walking back to the hotel, the music was still perfectly clear as they played the familiar final notes to Avalon. We have two days to explore this town and tomorrow we’ll meet a chef who specializes in bacalao, the salted cod that the Basques and others find so irresistible.
We will also go fishing, which I love because it gets us out on the water and always brings a little adventure to the trip.
We’ve joked about how visiting Norway is like living in Fenway Park. I bought a hot dog in a bus stop–$7.50. If we wanted a beer, fork out about $9. The lobster was priced by the hundred-gram, and the ones in the tank would have set us back $182 each.
It’s pretty startling, but not that things for the average Norwegian are that bad. It’s just that the scale of everything is based on incomes that are double or triple what we have in the US.
So when the average is $50-80,000 a year, the scale works. For visitors, it’s a little harder, so it makes one careful or at least a little selective about what you pick up to buy in a store.