Monday, August 8, 2016

Olden, Norway--gateway to the glaciers

Mountains and lakes highlight the storybook setting of Olden, Norway.
Located at the north end of the Nordfjord, Olden is a popular touring base from which to explore glaciers. Resting at the base of three converging valleys, Olden was a strategically important sport on the fjord for many centuries. The quiet town, where most people make a living from agriculture and fishing, is a gateway to staggeringly beautiful vistas with epic waterfalls descending from numerous glaciers into the Oldedalen Valley.
Snow-capped peaks remind visitors that winter is never far behind.
The largest glacier on mainland Europe, Jostedal Glacier, surrounds Olden on three sides. It is spread over 300 of the 510 square miles of Jostedalsbreen National Park.

Mighty glaciers cover the mountain sides in pure snow and ice.
Formed by millions of years of rain and snow freezing and piling up, Jostedal, Kjenndalen, and Briksdalsreen glaciers are dramatic sights that attract visitors to this part of Norway. You won’t be allowed to go Ice climbing—it has been banned because ice could easily break away from the main field, but you can buy a bottle of pure Olden Water taken directly from the glaciers.
Never forget: Norway can be cold,
even in summer!
Today Olden is a popular seaport where almost 100 ships a year arrive during the short tourist season. No wonder--the landscape around this little hamlet is dotted with forest preserves, rugged mountains and coastlines that attract nature lovers to countless hiking trails, horseback riding, rafting, fishing, skiing, and even surfing. The town of 500 people is trying to keep up with the influx of visitors by slowly adding shops and restaurants to accommodate the thousands of passengers who come annually.

We took a boat ride on Oldenvatnet, a beautiful lake with miles of sparkling turquoise water gleaming in bright sunshine. Clays washing down from Kjenndalen Glacier have colored the lake an impossibly bright, clear blue-green that we couldn’t help staring at during the journey.  Panoramic scenes filled with mountains, waterfalls, cliffs, and farms tempted us to snap photos every few minutes.
Amazingly blue water--and a bridge on Oldenvatnet that our boat skimmed under.
We spent most of the first hour outside at the front of the boat despite chilly weather, watching stunning landscapes pass by. Along the shore, people had built bonfires to be lit in commemoration of the shortest day of the year. Actually, we were there in the season of the Midnight Sun, so nights never really got dark anyway.

What can I say? Views of Olden Lake were simply stunning!
Back in town, we walked through a shopping area (bought a sweater for Larry) and visited a stave church (a medieval wooden church built in the Viking tradition) constructed on foundations dating back to 1308. Flowers of all colors decorated gardens and hillsides.
We checked out this ancient church and surrounding cemetery while
walking through the town of Olden, Norway.
Our June visit highlighted the contrast of peaceful valleys and tidy farms with gleaming glaciers and towering mountains. These scenes were particularly evident during a truly extraordinary departure when the ship left the fjord to continue our journey northward along the Norwegian coast.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


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