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During my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 18 September 2001
Åndalsnes --> Ålesund (N)

What a busy day it was today. I thought I would just wake up and find my way to the end of town and hitchhike to my next town Ålesund. But of course something fun comes in between…
Now I won’t make any remarks about the hotel anymore. The Grand Hotel Bellevue where I stayed for the night had a long season with a lot of tourists and who am I to expect a full restaurant at night. It’s a quiet time now…

Yesterday night I went out, after publishing yesterdays report, but realized in half an hour that I already passed the town. I found only one pub and a discotheque. Of course, both were closed, it was Monday night.

This morning my friendly radio deejay called me again, and we had a live chat on Dutch national radio. Because it was 5.45 in the morning I fell asleep again after the talk. It's by the way strange how I never remember what the conversations are about later the same day...

At 8.45 am I got called again, but this time with the room phone. The receptionist said that the people of the Tourist Office wanted to talk with me. I thought “Oh no, I didn’t really write that bad about them, did I?”

I had a shower and a breakfast in the dining room and met up with two ladies of the Tourist Information Office of Åndalsnes.

Somebody, who sent in an email about my current whereabouts, tipped them. They wanted to show me things around Åndalsnes, which I would never see if I would leave to my next destination that soon.

It sounded good to me, and they showed me a video documentary about the creation of the Rauma Line train tracks, which offers the most beautiful train ride in Norway and I was going to experience that on coming Thursday, as I would get a (a new one!) Scanrail Pass, which entitles me to travel for free by any train in Scandinavia!

It was very interested to see how the train track was built, I am getting curious now about seeing it in real life!

After the video, they took me around the vicinity of Åndalsnes, where we drove through green valleys with high mountains. Unbelievable sights.

First they took me to Trollstigen (The Troll Road), the most staggering place in Norway I saw.

Water falls down from enormous height, from eternal snows into green valley and a zigzag road climbs up all the way to the top.

The mountains, which encircle the road, are enormous; Store Trolltind, a mighty 1788 metres above sea level, and mountains called Kongen (the King), Dronningen (the Queen) and Bispen (the Bishop) confirm their majesty in this mountain world.

In this valley they also took me along to the Troll camp, where you have to be very careful at night.

The ugly trolls only live at night and if they are confronted with daylight, they turn into stone.

, a hard working man who also runs a farm down the valley, runs the Troll camping place. With over 90 beds and busy tourist seasons, he is doing very good, together with his wife.

Edmunds family crossed over the Trollstigen mountains in the early years of the 19th century and settled in this valley. His grandfather built the place up and Edmund is still a proud man about that. It was just interesting to listen to his stories.

I couldn’t leave his campsite, without accepting a Troll camp t-shirt with me, a sticker and a Trollcamp mug from Edmund.

I think I have found myself a future holiday spot, it’s so fertile and peaceful around here!

From Trollstigen it was a short drive to another valley, where I was shown Europe's highest vertical mountain face, Trollveggen.

That is just almost 2000 metres of rock going straight up. The Eiffeltower can just fit in there three times!

It was an amazing view to stand there on a parking spot as this little human being. Humans will never ever win it from nature, believe me!

Trollveggen is very popular for rock climbers. Although it seems to go up only, rock climbers have discovered different routes to climb. In the eighties this mountain became also popular to sky jumpers, who intentionally had to land down again with their parachutes, but it got prohibited as some of them just did not make it down alive.

From the Trollveggen it got time again to head back to Åndalsnes, where a lady of a local restaurant treated us with a small lunch: salmon soup and some local speciality: a fish-macaroni-dish. Very good, but very rich food!

At the Grand Hotel Bellevue I collected my luggage again, after thanking the lady at the reception for having me over for a day, but no way I was going to hitchhike to my next destination.

I planned to go to Ålesund today, so the ladies of the Tourist Information Office arranged me a free bus ticket all the way to Ålesund, over 100 km away!

I thanked them for the hospitality and generosity of taking me around town here, I was really overwhelmed. With a bag of presents I entered the bus and waved goodbye to Åndalsnes.

A city where at first sight nothing happens, but where you can actually see and get pleasure from a lot! And I haven’t even mentioned the many mountains paths here, stunning cascades of water crashing down on every mountain corner, fjord-side beauty spots, …

The bus took me along the Romsdal fjord, passing valleys where the clouds stayed low, showing strange sight over water, and about two hours later I arrived in Ålesund centre.

I wrote about Ålesund (pronunciation: ô'lu-soon) before. The Hurtigruten coastal steamer anchored here ten days ago, and the Geiranger excursion tour took me along to the Geiranger fjords and ended up in pretty built Art Nouveau city Ålesund.

I made a panorama shot with my camera, presenting 9 little shot in one picture. Last week I got an email from Brett, USA, who experimented with Photoshop and made a complete wide panorama image of my picture of Ålesund (two inches high, very wide). Just look at that!

In Ålesund my new hosts were already awaiting me. It was the Taco and Cecile who invited me over. Taco was, by coincidence a former neighbour of my Oslo-host Remco Brink and he also knows my last weekend host Ruben van Tienen. Of course, they are all Dutch, exept his Norwegian wife Cecile.

Taco and Cecile once met eachother on a cruise line, where they both worked and sailed around the world.

When Taco was 17 he moved out of his parents house, finished school, went to university and decided that was enough and started to go for jobs in other countries. Fun jobs, preferring in bars and restaurants and he ended up on a cruise boat where he fell in love with Cecile.

Now, years and years later, they are happily married and they are expecting their first child in February!

Cecile is normally a social worker, but is on pregnancy recess for the coming year. Taco now works in the fish industry of Ålesund.

Ålesund has one of the largest export harbours in the world for klippfisk: split, dried and salted cod. 80 % of Norway’s klippfisk exports are done in Ålesund. The export of fish to many countries such as Portugal and Brazil has made some exotic meals like Bacalao, a national food of the area.

Taco and Cecile live in Ålesund, but you have to know that this city is spread out on different islands. Their home is situated on the island Ellingsøy, located west of the island where the centre of town is located.

I believe Taco when he tells me how much he enjoys living here and standing on his balcony everyday while having this great view on the water with mountain tops at the .

We ate, what a coincidence, tacos for dinner on the balcony in the summer sun (as long as it was shining this night) and ended up inside in front of the television, watching the Norwegian version of Big Brother.

Here, they are a bit more original and the Norwegian television has, next to their normal Big Brother also Farmen, which basically means that a group of people just have to survive on a farm. Grow food, kill the goat, etcetera, to survive.

Now that’s what I call reality television, in stead of those Big Brother versions I have already seen until now where 8 out of 10 people are mostly doing nothing in a so-called back-to-basic apartment with all possible facilities.

Hey! I just saw there is a Big Brother in South Africa, and it just started this September! Do you think they would invite me in the house to stayforaday?

Good night Ålesund!


Visit this Ålesund photo-album too!

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