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Åndalsnes, Norway.



Last summer, we planned a side trip to Norway - specifically Åndalsnes located on the western coast - with our son and daughter while we were all in Scandinavia to attend a family funeral in Sweden. The vast scenery differences in one central site exceeded expectations and to our complete surprise this spring, we were thrilled to discover that parts of the area we had visited were the astounding backdrop in the fifth episode of the final season of Succession!


We elected to rent a car in Göteborg - on the west coast of Sweden where my husband is from and where we had been staying - rather than taking the train just from a flexibility standpoint to explore once at our destination and made the 450 mile drive with a fun, impromptu lunch stop in Oslo. Aside from my husband who had already been to Norway before, it was a first for the rest of us and we soaked up the surroundings along the pristine highway system through the country.



The last segment of backroads leading to Åndalsnes is breathtaking as it winds parallel to the Rauma River with its white-capped rapid waters from the melting snow gushing and tumbling over the bouldery terrain. The river has carved deep gorges slicing through thick, lush forests where small villages dot the way and mountains tower overhead as you draw closer to town.


Åndalsnes

Åndalsnes itself is wedged between narrow fjords and steep mountains earning it the title of the mountaineering capital of Norway and home to one of the world's most scenic hikes - Romsdalseggen. Our accommodations at the Grand Hotel included a warm welcome - except for maybe the seagull calls piercing the midnight sun skies throughout the night - and the staff could not have been friendlier with guidance on the outdoor trail options. During this mini vacation, we hiked, toured the fjord gliding on the glassy, cool water surface in a high speed boat, took the Romsdalen cable car a few times and navigated the sharp twists and turns of Trollstigen - a spellbinding serpentine mountain pass considered one of the most iconic in Norway.



Romsdalsfjorden

Known as the ninth longest fjord in Norway at nearly 55 miles long, it is a stunning spectacle whether from land or water. We spent an afternoon on a wild high speed boat ride traversing and traveling deeper in the fjord as clouds rolled in and were fortunate to end up on the same outing as a marketing team for the Åndalsnes Chamber of Commerce. They treated us to extra viewings of multiple hidden waterfalls and rocky tree-lined mountains rising right out of the fjord as they captured beautiful photographs for a campaign and expertly operated a drone down the mountainsides, chasing over and around our raft and floating across the smooth water surface.






Trollstigen

At its unveiling in 1936 by King Haakon VII after eight years of construction, Trollstigen - meaning "troll's ladder" - barely allowed two cars to pass each other. Containing eleven hairpin bends each skillfully engineered and crafted, improvements have gradually been made to widen the roadway. Although only accessible in the late spring and summer months, it is understandable once you work your way up that it is closed during the winter. Progressing to the top at an elevation of 2788 ft., two impressive waterfalls - Stigfossen and Tverrdalsfossen - seemingly skim the roadside and are an incredible vantage point for observation if you dare to pull over...






Once you reach the parking lot at the end of the loopy incline, there is a walking path to various platforms jutting right over Stigfossen. Watching the powerful, deafening water crashing down the slick drop right under your feet with the sweeping Romsdalen Valley endlessly stretching below and bordering mountain peaks soaring above is a memorizing sight rivaling the views in the Alps that I am used to when I lived in Switzerland. Trollstigen is briefly featured in Succession when the Roy siblings are driving to Lukas Matsson's company retreat.




Mt. Nesaksla

Like Trollstigen, the hiking opportunities around Åndalsnes offer exhilarating visual vistas. Our hike up to Nesaksla consisted of spongy dirt and pine needle trails through the trees, across chunky, uneven and worn stone steps edging the mountainside to finally reaching the flat summit shelf at 1761 ft. with gorgeous, panoramic views of Åndalsnes, the emerald green ribbon of the Rauma River and Romsdalsfjorden. This is also the endpoint of the Romsdalen cable car which you can opt to take up or back down the mountain should you not wish to hike it. Nesaksla is another location in Succession where Kendall and Roman Roy meet Lukas Matsson for negotiations of the sale of Waystar Royco. They can be seen walking along the top during their discussions, in the restaurant perched by the cable car station and riding the cable car.








Romsdalseggen

My husband, daughter and son decided to take another day to separately hike Romsdalseggen - an extremely popular trail in Norway along the mountain ridge ranging from 1246 ft to 3989 ft. It presents a series of exposed and challenging sections with tight paths, yet the hotel staff and nearly everyone else in Åndalsnes assured it is an unforgettable, rewarding adventure that they often hike themselves.


After breakfast, they were transported to the trail site entrance with their gear while I lingered behind to wander around Åndalsnes. Five hours later, they returned to the hotel recounting stories of the daunting climbing parts, the crystal views and drinking straight from the fresh, ice cold, clear glacier streams. Our daughter is the only one who would consider repeating the harrowing experience - living in California, she is an avid hiker - and I am happy I opted out of that excursion. These incredible photos were taken by her as they made their way through the diverse landscape... postcard perfection.






Trollveggen

One additional local highlight worth mentioning is Trollveggen - the Troll Wall. As a Norwegian landmark and Europe's tallest vertical, sheer rock face, it impressively stands at 3608 ft. It attracts climbers from all over the world and has an extensive history as a spot for base jumping until the 1980s when the sport was banned following a number of accidents - many fatal - requiring dangerous and expensive rescue operations. The Rauma River flows at the foot of the wall and there is a visitor center open during the summer months with exhibits and a grassy picnic area overlooking the vast, dark gray rock formations.





Spending four days in Åndalsnes immersed in its beautiful, natural setting with bright sunshine, blue skies and kind hospitality turned out to be a magnificent introduction to Norway and we look forward to uncovering more of this spectacular country.


Tusen takk Norge!







1 Comment


That looks unbelievably gorgeous. Thank you for sharing.

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