Marok And The Giant Heights Behind It, From Geiranger Fjord
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Direction—We are facing a little east of south from the deck of a Hamburg-American steamer. Surroundings—The fjord reaches off behind us. Mount Torvloisa, that we saw when we were up with the haymakers, is behind us and off at our left.
Is it any wonder that Norsemen so heartily sing:—
"Yes, we love our native land
It would be a poor sort of soul that could not feel a thrill of sympathetic pride in such majestic beauty. The village seems to nestle confidingly at the foot of the mountain, as if that titanic peak of the Saathorn, reaching more than a mile straight up towards heaven, were a giant guardian.
The landing pier is a little too far to the left for us to see at this moment. A road begins there, runs past those boat houses, and makes a sweep to the right around the church ; you remember we saw that church when we were up above the village with the haymakers (Position 84). And do you also remember that we took particular notice of a certain cliff that then stood out between us and the fjord, like a half-open gate? We can see from here that same projecting cliff. Look beyond the church, toward the right, and find a building with a low tower set at the end of its slanting roof. Now look almost directly above that tower—there is our "gate." The hay-makers were farther back, in a part of the valley which is now too much in shadow to be identified.
But to return and trace the main highway from the church. We can see the gleam of its stone-work in zigzags beyond the church ; then it turns to the left; its line can be traced for some distance to the left of the church spire along the base of that precipitous height just beyond, then it disappears from view not far from where we catch the white sparkle of a waterfall. From that point we cannot see it plainly, but it does zigzag sharply up the mountain alongside the waterfall. The hotel before which we stood with the milkmaids can be made out as a light-colored spot on the side of the mountain, almost directly above the church-spire, and two-thirds of the way up to the edge of that triangular patch of forest. When we stood there we were looking across a hollow in the side of the mountain and towards the water-fall. The hotel is a thousand feet higher than the fjord on which our vessel lies, and, though its rocky perch is really so close above the town, it takes three miles' travel to get there from the boat landing.
Several recent books of travel, e. g., Putnam's Norwegian Ramble and Goodman's Best Tour in Norway, tell about coming here to Marok and climbing up that road either to Hotel Udsigt or all the way which we have just traced between here and the lakes. It adds enormously to the pleasure of reading such books when we have seen the place for ourselves.
If we were to continue our journey on this steamer down the fjord from Marok, we should reach a fringe of islands along the outer coast. Consult Map 2 once more, trace the fjord for yourself, and see how extra-ordinarily crooked the waterway is. Some of the islands at the mouth of the fjord are uninhabited; some support a few farmers and fishermen. Two little islands, lying close together near latitude 62° 30', have been built up, forming the prosperous little town of Aalesund. We are to call there and get a glimpse of a side of Norwegian life quite different from any we have yet seen. First, we will get an idea of the town as a whole. It was nearly destroyed by fire a few years ago, but the damage is now repaired and from our eighty-seventh position we shall see things looking nearly as prosperous as ever.