We awake to pink fluffy clouds, which disperse after a couple of hours leaving beautiful blue skies and sunshine. It is a warmer day than we have experienced for most of our own English summer. Up on deck, passengers are like sunflowers, moving their chairs to face the sun and make the most of the brightness and warmth.
We are advised that we will sail into Hjorundfjorden this morning. This is the very first time that Hurtigruten have made this trip and as a result we are treated like local celebrities. A helicopter flies above and around the boat taking footage of our trip and in many of the small hamlets and villages that we pass, locals gather to wave Norwegian flags at us, children jumping up and down and clapping their hands in excitement as this big ship passes through.
On route we discover that many of these tiny places have no road access. They can be reached only by boat. I think about what life must be like – no overnight Amazon deliveries, no local shop, no cappuccinos and of course you have to hope that you always get on with your neighbours. We learn that men lost their lives trying to save goats from an avalanche, children are taken to boarding school by boat and yet bizarrely one tiny enclave that looks like it only has two or three houses now hosts a regular blues and music festival that attracts thousands of visitors each year. It's all a bit surreal, but fascinating nonetheless.
Many of our fellow travellers decide to take the excursion at Urke and the coaches are lined up at the quay. We decide to remain on the boat and have trouble making decisions on whether to read a book, take photographs or sit on deck. In the end, we do all three and then finally I am overcome with it all and I go back to the cabin to nap. My only concern is that I'll miss some fabulous scenery while I have my eyes shut!
When I wake we are nearing Alesund, a picturesque art-nouveau town. It was destroyed by fire in 1904 and rebuilt. Kaiser Willheim loved to holiday in this area and at the news of the fire sent help to the town, by shipping liners and boats from the German navy which moored at the docks. The local men from Alesund lived on the boats while they rebuilt the buildings in art-nouveau style.
We disembark and take a long walk through the town, strolling through the highly decorated buildings and admiring the boats in the harbour. The art nouveau centre in town is well worth a visit. It's well done, informative and fun and they serve great cake. We know this as we visited it last time we were in Alesund, but this time we are visiting after 5.00 pm and sadly pretty much everything is closed.
Back on the boat, we jump in the hot tub. It’s bath water temperature inside the tub, but certainly not out of it and it’s a strange juxta-position talking to people in coats and scarves while we are in bathing suites and Andy is bare-chested. We wave goodbye to Alesund from the hot tub and head further North.
Over dinner that night, we reflect that today has been just perfect. If it happened to be our last day here, we would be happy. But then again, we don’t yet know what tomorrow will bring.