TRAVEL BLOG: Norway Part Four: The Olden Days (08/05/23)

Finally getting into the Fjords proper.

We have got into a routine of sleeping with the curtains open so we can be woken up by the sun. It’s not as if there are neighbours to be ogling us. When I wake this morning, at 4am, the dimmer switch on the sky is already slowly rotating towards the on position. I step out onto the balcony (if you do this trip, I highly recommend booking a cabin with a balcony) and look towards the bow of the ship. We are heading east and I can see the sun starting to rise above the distant mountains.

The sailing in and out of Stavanger had been impressive, but this is a whole other ball game. We are now well and truly in fjord country. I dress and go for a wander around the deck, soaking in the vista and taking a ridiculous number of photographs. I feel at peace with the world and frankly, get a little emotional.

Olden, with a population of four hundred and ninety-eight, is not Stavanger. It is a village with a few scattered houses, a couple of churches and a cruise ship dock. Whist the ship was visible from most places in Stavanger, it completely dominates in this sleepy hollow. Or it would, if it were not dwarfed by the incredible mountains that sharply rise up on either side of the water.


Trips organised by the cruise company today include visiting glaciers and waterfalls. Again, the lack of information on sailing times made it difficult to organise anything ourselves, but this place is an Instagramer’s dream. As we step off ship there is a gift shop and a shop selling the latest Norwegian outdoor gear. Being Norway, the gear is the business, but surprisingly cheap. I find a jacket and fall in love with it, amazingly they have my size, but not my colour, I decide to hold off to the next port to see if I can get exactly what I want.

We wander up the valley to see what the village has to offer and soon find ourselves in café paying a king’s ransom for a coffee and a Vegeta burger (that one was easy to translate). They don’t have wifi but amazingly they have a signal so I throw caution to the wind and send WhatsApp photos back home.

I wander a little deeper into the valley and find a church that is a replica of the one in Cardiff Bay. Bloody copycats. Or is it the other way around? It is a picturesque scene and I take photos from many angles, trying to juxtapose it with the mountains in the background. However, I’m reminded that as beautiful as this place is, there are some nutters in Norway.

In 1992, members of the Norwegian black metal scene began a wave of arson attacks on Christian churches. By 1996, there had been at least 50 attacks in Norway. In every case that was solved, those responsible were black metal fans.

I suppose brutal surroundings can breed brutal people. As beautiful as the area is, it is remote, it is cold and dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. You have to be made of strong stuff to live in a place like this. And watching Vikings on TV has reminded us of how Britain was shaped by Norwegians sailing in basic wooden ships across the North Sea to raid the west coast of England. Looking out across the water it is easy to imagine Ragnar Lothbrok and his warriors sailing back with a ship full of English booty.

When we get back to the ship we find that the King has kindly left us gin, tonic and strawberries and cream flavoured popcorn in our room. Very kind of him. He’s not a bad old stick really.

After dinner we pop up to the Live Lounge to catch a comedian from Port Talbot, who is mildly amusing. His spontaneous banter with the audience is quite sharp and clever – although his actual jokes were slightly less so. The club then morphs into a disco, Jager Bombs flow and the night once again ends quite messily.