A Week in Ålesund, Norway

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After a ten hour ride from Bergen, we were dropped off at a bus station near the city center in Alesund. With all of our belongings in tow, we started off toward the studio apartment we were renting for the week. We walked 30 minutes uphill to get to our place, which was incredibly exhausting, but having an apartment at the top of the mountain had its payoffs. The view of the mountains and fjord from our studio was breathtaking.
Right after checking in and dropping our luggage we had to traipse back down the hill for groceries. But once we settled into our temporary home, began making a home cooked meal and enjoyed some wine – all while enjoying the view – we began to fall in love with this place.
The next morning we woke up to sunshine (amazing what a little bit of that will do for one’s spirits) and set out to explore Alesund. We walked through the the woods to the Fjellstua – a point at the edge of the mountain with the best views of the town – and down 400 stairs to reach sea level. We walked into town and marveled at the uniquely patterned apartments, manicured landscaping, and colorful architecture of the buildings.
The city of Alesund burned in a fire in 1904 and was entirely rebuilt a few years later in the Art Nouveau style, leading to its fascinating style of art and architecture. It was interesting to learn about and observe this as we walked down the small cobblestone streets lined with cafes and tourist shops as well as the quieter residential streets a bit further outside of town.
Walking through town we saw signs for some tours to the nearby islands and ferry rides through the fjords. Being on the list of our big bucket list adventures, we decided to take a ferry ride through Hjorundfjord the next day. (More about that soon.)
We took advantage of the warm, sunny weather the next three days and went out hiking on many of the islands near Alesund. One of our hiking highlights was on our anniversary. We went to to Sukkertoppen (The Sugar Top Mountain) on Hessa Island which is, as they say in Norway, only a “troll’s toss” from town. Norwegians are pretty intense hikers, and this one was categorized as moderate, specifically indicating that it did not require “extensive use of ice axes.” Yikes! We hiked alongside two little Norwegian boys (the youngest could not have been more than four years old) who had run far ahead of their grandparents, and it was a struggle for us to even to keep up with them.
It was a lovely hike with breathtaking views the entire way up. At the top there are 360 degree views of Alesund as well as the neighboring islands, mountains, and fjords. Also at the top is a notebook hidden inside of a rock where visitors are supposed to sign their names for good luck.
We began to feel at home during our week in Alesund. Both creatures of habit, Jeff and I have been craving routine ever since we left home, and it’s amazing how quickly we began to establish our own structures once we stayed put for a bit. While settled for six days, we created and clung to the routines of drinking coffee and eating peanut butter toast on the deck each morning, doing pilates on the floor of our studio every afternoon, and FaceTiming with Jeff’s brother Jon after dinner every evening.
Shortly after settling in, however, it was time to leave this special place for another Norwegian highlight: the Sunnmøre Alps.
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