Occupying an area of just approximately 3 square kilometers and home to around only 3,000 residents, Åndalsnes, Norway is a small town. But when it comes to visitor appeal, it is huge! Situated at the convergence of the Romsdalsfjord and the base of the towering Romsdal Alps, Åndalsnes serves as a gateway to both scenic wonders and outdoor adventures.
Merge’s first order of business that morning was to take the Romsdalengondolen (Romsdal gondola) up to the Romsdalhorn (Romsdal point). A return trip on the gondola cost NOK 540 (approx. USD 52) and takes approximately 4 minutes to travel the 1700 meters from the fjord to the top. The prize at the top is 360-degree views of the town centre, lush valleys, and the river Rauma.
Later that afternoon, Merge signed up for a tour by Norway Excursions that would go to view the Trollveggen (Troll wall) and then drive the Trollstigen (Troll road) to visit the Trollstigen visitor centre. It was a good decision!!
Trollveggen, known as the “Troll Wall,” is a massive vertical rock face in Norway and one of the tallest cliffs in Europe. Rising dramatically to a height of about 1,100 meters, Trollveggen is a mecca for rock climbers and a sight to behold for visitors. Its imposing presence and challenging climbing routes have earned it a reputation as a legendary destination in the climbing world, showcasing both the allure and the demands of Norway’s rugged terrain. Additionally, Trollveggen has become a renowned destination for BASE jumping and parachuting enthusiasts, who embrace its formidable heights for thrilling descents. However, after a number of fatalities, Norwegian authorities made BASE jumping from the Troll Wall illegal on 25 July 1986. Despite being illegal, BASE jumpers jump from the Troll Wall most summers, and are generally able to flee before the police arrive!! From a mythical perspective, the Trollveggen is so called because cave trolls are known to turn into stone when exposed to sunlight. The story is that this wall was formed when a group of trolls were distracted long enough that they were unable to return to their caves before dawn. If you look carefully (and use your imagination!), you can see the faces and body parts of the trolls outlined in the wall.
Trollstigen (literally translated means “ladder for a troll”) is one of the most iconic scenic routes in Norway. It is an impressive mountain pass that twists through eleven hairpin turns that navigate through a steep mountain incline in the Romsdalen valley. The Trollstigen connects Åndalsnes with the village of Valldal. It offers spectacular views of waterfalls, valleys, and cliffs, making it a popular destination for tourists and adventurers seeking a unique driving experience in a breathtaking natural landscape. Each bend on the Trollstigen has its own name, often named after the foreman of the construction team that built it. “Svingen” means bend in Norwegian, so the bends are named “________ svingen” with the person’s name in the blank. One of the road’s bends is unique, namely Nikkasvingen or Nikka’s Bend. Nikka was a former cook for the Trollstigen road’s construction workers. In 2020, she was the first woman to have a Trollstigen bend named after her.
On the way back to Åndalsnes from the Trollstigen Visitor Centre, Merge’s group stopped at the Trollstigen Camping og Gjestegard (Trollstigen Camping and Guesthouse) for a short break to stretch their legs. And got to see more trolls! This facility offers rustic cabin rentals, and plays up the troll reputation with a dose of good humour!
Åndalsnes may be a small town, but it is certainly a destination in Norway that should not be missed!!