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      April 2012 > Meeting the ghost of Harald Finehair

Meeting the ghost of Harald Finehair

Borg Viking MuseumSome countries just have to be explored by sea – and Norway is certainly one of them.

On BBC 2 last night, the 'Coast' team travelled from Lillesand in the south to Svalbard way above the Arctic Circle, with the usual fascinating stops to delve deeper into the geography and lives of the people of Hardangerfjord, Bergen and the Lofoten Islands. Watch it here >

Norway’s indented coastline is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent and dramatic in the world – vast steep-sided fjords penetrating deep inland; thousands of rocky islands scattered along the shore, and myriad small bays sheltering neat villages of brightly coloured houses.

Neil Oliver explored Hardangerfjord, a land of waterfalls and glorious colours, before visiting the historic Hanseatic port of Bergen, one of many bustling cities that have thrived on centuries of trade by sea. In Trondheim, he boarded the famous Hurtigruten ferry that was to take him all the way up the coast and above the Arctic Circle. This is probably the best way to experience all Norway’s coastal highlights in one trip, steaming northwards into evermore rugged and dramatic scenery.

Hurtigruten, NorwayNeil’s destination was the truly remarkable Lofoten islands, where visitors can enjoy the thrill of travelling along one of the best roads in the world - graceful arched bridges hopping from one rocky outcrop to the next and sweeping tunnels that link the islands in one long, virtually car-free, road, a journey that terminates at the village of Å. It’s magnificent country for a walking holiday, too, with mountains to climb, rugged coastal paths that lead to isolated fishing villages, and gentle circuits through sheltered valleys where life has remained unchanged for centuries.

Fishing Village of SundNot to be missed is the Viking Museum at Borg, where Neil visited the remarkable reconstructed chieftain’s longhouse (below), based on archaeological evidence uncovered nearby. Up to 80 people once lived in houses like this – eating, working, sleeping and governing their community. When I visited a few years ago, I remember that walking into the Great Hall felt like wandering back in time. It looked, felt and smelled like the inhabitants had just popped outside. I wouldn’t have been surprised if 'Harald Finehair' or 'Eric the Red' had appeared, proffering me a cow’s horn filled with foaming ale.

It is places like this – created with such attention to detail and realism – and moments like stepping over the threshold where Vikings once stood, that really brings history to life and makes one truly appreciate where you are and how fortunate you are to be there.

Borg Viking Museum

Posted: 04/04/2012 09:24:04 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: heritage, islands, media, Norway, transport

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