The reason why I didn’t identify where this picture was taken in the title, as I usually do, was because I didn’t want anyone to think that the lovely little Norwegian town I took the photo in was terrible. What I found Hellish was the concept of travel that some people would have us believe, is desirable. I think that for most people who haven’t done it, a cruise would seem like an ideal holiday. A cruise of the Norwegian fjords sounds even better. The trouble is that reality doesn’t match the sales brochures.
The Norwegian fjords are beautiful but I don’t think taking a cruise is even close to the best way to enjoy them.
When I was in Dubrovnik a few years ago there were four cruise ships in port and the place was overflowing with people who had been ferried in for a few hours to look around, only to be hustled back onto the boat before nightfall for dinner and departure for the next destination. I asked one of the passengers where they had been the day before and I was told “Venice”. Venice one day, Dubrovnik the next and Athens the day after.
Thank you MA’AM!
So back to the image above. My wife and I have been in Norway for 5 days now and it’s rained every day. the thing is that it usually hasn’t rained all day and there have been pockets of sunshine. As I drove into Olden near the end of the beautiful Nordfjord I saw two cruise ships moored close to shore and the tiny town (population of about 500) was packed with hoards of tourist trudging through the rain with nothing to really look at other than a rather ordinary town with a supermarket and a few souvenier shops selling tat. There they were, hundreds of people who’d probably dreamed and fantasized for years as they scrimped and saved to go on a cruise to the fjords, wandering around in the rain with the view obscured by clouds and rain.
As if to mock the poor wet punters, an idle fake fantasy train (I really hate those things!) was parked by the cruise ship, devoid of passengers save its crew who lounged dry inside.
As I drove past I thought to myself, “you poor bastards!” …… Then I turned around and took the picture with a smug sense of schadenfreude…… as one does!
The trouble, as I see it, with cruise ships and just about any other kind of group travel is that they aren’t that flexible. You can’t just get off when you want, you have to leave when the tour operators want to leave and you have to suffer the further indignity of queueing up for things all the time, like buffets (bleeeegh!), checking into hotels, getting into coachs or ferries to shore etc. ad infinitum.
When you are in such a large group you have a much smaller chance to interact with the locals other than to buy something from them. Although the Nowegians have a reputation for being taciturn, I’ve found them to be a friendly lot, who are ready to spend a little time with people, who have the leisure to show a modicum of interest in them.