“It’s the dream we carry in secret
that something miraculous will happen…
that one morning we will glide into
some little harbour we didn’t know was there.”
~Olav H. Hauge, It’s the Dream (translated from Norwegian by Robin Fulton)
In Norway, it seems, everyone has a favorite fjord.
Whether it’s a “do not miss!” recommendation on a blog or guidebook or a well-intentioned comment like “What a shame you won’t be stopping at (fill-in-the-blank)” on a travel forum, people are passionate about their fjords.
In a country with more than 1,000 fjords and a reputation for having some of the most strikingly beautiful scenery in the world, playing favorites like this didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t understand how the beauty of natural phenomena could be categorized in a top ten list. I was excited just to be in Norway and had no intention of comparing one fjord with another.
And then we sailed into Nordfjord.
Nordfjord from the Zodiac
Nordfjord is the sixth longest fjord in Norway, stretching from the island of Husevågøy at the mouth to the village of Loen, where our ship was anchored. Loen’s farms and town center are spread along the edge of the fjord, about three miles north of Olden. Both villages are quite small, with Loen’s population around 200 and Olden’s just under 500.
Herb and I had signed on for an early morning tour of Nordfjord on one of the Seabourn Ovation‘s zodiacs. The water was remarkably still and reflective, with patches of sun breaking through cloud cover adding to the mood. Our zodiac driver and expedition team member Mike provided commentary along the route, but this wasn’t one of those places filled with facts and stories. We were there to take in the magnificent scenery, which was especially beautiful from the zodiac’s low position in the water.
Mike slowed the zodiac near a long, narrow rock in the fjord where black-backed gulls were nesting. I was able to get a close look – and a few photos – with my zoom lens, including spotting some gull chicks.
Nordfjord from the Loen Skylift
Mike dropped us off at the base of the Loen Skylift, where we picked up tickets for the ride to the top of Mt. Hoven. Loen Skylift was completed in 2017 and is billed as one of the steepest cable cars in the world. Although I’m not typically a fan of the word steepest, I’d read enough about the skylift to know that the engineering was quite extraordinary, and with only a five-minute journey to the top, I figured I could handle the ride!
Mt. Hoven is 1,011 meters – 3,317 feet – above Nordfjord. The views at the top defy description. If you combine all the landscape adjectives you can imagine, including breathtaking, awe-inspiring and even heavenly, you might begin to paint a picture of what Nordfjord looks like from this vantage point. We were truly surprised and overwhelmed and humbled by the experience.
In addition to the viewing platform, the top of Mt. Hoven features a restaurant, gift shop, hiking trails and a horseshoe sculpture based on Norwegian mythology. According to the legend, Mt. Hoven is named after the Norse god Odin’s horse, who came across the mountains, struck his hoof on the ground and left a powerful depression in the earth, forming the fjord and lake below the mountain.
Back to Earth
I’m not sure how long Herb and I spent at the top of Mt. Hoven. It’s one of those places you could linger far longer than you imagine, especially on a beautiful day. I was thrilled I’d been able to ward off that deep-seated voice – ha, maybe it’s a Norwegian troll! – that knows I’m not fond of dangling three thousand feet off the ground in a small cable car. I was happy, too, that we’d had the chance to see Nordfjord from both the water and the sky.
And in a travel-loving sort of way, with all the beautiful places to explore in this world of ours, I was also overjoyed to have discovered a favorite fjord.