Our journey aboard the Queen Mary 2 took us further north. The next stop was Åndalsnes. Åndalsnes is situated in one arm of the Romsdalsfjord and is a small town with about 2,500 people. Åndalsnes is particularly well-known for the Rauma railway, the Trollstigen and the Troll Wall.
In this port the Queen Mary 2 could dock in the port. It dropped anchor in the fjord with a view of the small town and the misty mountains, which reminded us of the Alps. We had to use the tender boats to get ashore. There were seats inside the boat and on top. On top was particularly nice, because you could enjoy the view of the surroundings and the cruise ship. The crossing to the pier took only a few minutes. We could already imagine that on this excursion we would again be able to see wonderful mountains. We saw the snow-capped peaks everywhere around us.
When we got out of the tender boats, we were greeted friendly by the port staff. Only a few meters away were several buses ready to take us on an excursion. We were assigned to a specific bus, because for this day we booked a Cunard excursion. We were very excited to go on the “Trollstigheimen Scenic Drive”. For 82 US dollars per person we would discover the mountains and a waterfall within 3.5 hours. The excursion included a break with coffee and cake.
Trollstigheimen Scenic Drive
Shortly afterwards we got into the bus and our trip began. The bus drove out of Åndalsnes, along the river Rauma. A few hundred yards below us were the railroad tracks and the river. On the trip we learned a lot about the history of the small town. Åndalsnes was founded in 1924 because it was the final stop of the Rauma train. Only a few years later, in 1940, Åndalsnes was unfortunately completely destroyed as a result of the war. Therefore, this small town has a very modern charm. We listened to the stories of the tour guide, while our bus passed the mountains.
The bus ride took us past the Trolltindene summit chain to the famous Troll Wall. Our tour guide told us that in 1980 a Finn jumped with the parachute from the Troll Wall. After this jump, another 150 jumps were made from the wall, until jumping was prohibited in 1986. Until then the expensive rescue operations were carried out at the expense of the town. Nowadays, the rescue operations must be paid by the victim in case of an accident. We would be scared to jump from this steep rock wall. At the Troll Wall we made a short stop, but unfortunately the wall was hidden in the mist that day. We nevertheless had the opportunity to visit a souvenir shop and to look at the misty environment. Then we continued our trip to Trollstigheimen.
Only a few minutes later we were at our next stop. Many trolls greeted us at a big hostel with a souvenir shop. Here we enjoyed our coffee break. In a large, rustic room we sat at long tables and enjoyed coffee, tea and cake. At first the place seemed somewhat plain and unfriendly. But the cake was just heavenly and the atmosphere turned out to be very nice. Everyone had a piece of juicy chocolate cake and a piece of strawberry cake. They had no regional specialties, but the cake was simply delicious. Afterwards, we could walk around outside for about 20 minutes and read the signboards explaining the history of the landscape. Outside, the mountain peaks hung in the thick mist and the trolls looked down from the rocks. An idyllic setting for a stroll.
The overwhelming Stigfoss Waterfall
Then the bus drove us even deeper into the country. The route led us past a river, which flowed over huge rocks that towered high in the air. The river was surrounded by a forest, behind which the mountains climbed up the air. A breathtaking sight. We enjoyed a short stop at the beginning of the river to take pictures of the waterfall. This stop was the Stigfoss waterfall and we could already see where the journey would lead us next. From now on our trip would go uphill. The waterfall fell 180 meters down the valley along the Trollstig road. From here you could already see the 11 curves of the road along the mountain. The end was not in sight, because the mist lay over the road. An exciting ride led us uphill and we were full of anticipation.
Trollstigheimen and a wonderful Panoramic View
The Trollstigen was opened in 1936, after the road was built for eight years. Nowadays the Trollstigen road is a famous mountain pass in Norway, which leads up to Geiranger. Previously, it was one of the most dangerous roads in Norway because it leads up steeply with narrow curves. However, it was repaired several times, expanded and protected against rockfall and avalanches. More than half a million tourists travel on this beautiful route each year.
At the top the bus stopped for 45 minutes at the Trollstigheimen mountain hut. From here we could discover the famous viewpoint. It was very quiet up here. The river, previously so vast, was suddenly almost motionless and the water so clear that we were able to see every stone on the ground.
A straight path led to the first small viewing platform at the end of the river just before the waterfall falls down into the valley. Everywhere around us there were small towers of stones. A few steps further there was the next platform, which was a bit uneven, but there were 2 beautiful seats to enjoy the view. We felt free and peaceful up here.
The absolute highlight, however, could only be discovered, if walked down some steps to the last viewpoint. Here was a large platform, which surpassed the mountain wall. So you could look down on the entire Trollstigen and the waterfall. A fantastic moment. We were lucky, because for a few minutes the mist was gone and we almost had a clear view of the valley. We then returned to the bus and a wonderful excursion ended. On the way back we could enjoy the view of the valley and the river once more.
Our conclusion: A nice excursion, which was definitely worthwhile despite the high price. The Trollstigen is a must and our tour guide was very nice and offered many interesting stories. Whether a coffee break during this short excursion is really necessary remains questionable, but the cake was definitely delicious.