I have never been at all keen about the idea if a cruise.
My idea of travel is to approach a new destination on my own terms and to get to know the locals and their character as I meet them.
Being shipped in to port after port with only a limited awareness of which one is which, has never had any appeal and yet a few weeks ago I found myself accompanying my 89 year old Dad on a cruise from Rosyth in Scotland to the Norwegian Fjords.
It seems pretty churlish when some people never get any holidays at all to complain about such a luxurious one, but on the first day I felt pretty grumpy.
There was admittedly a bit of excitement at the start as we approached the Forth Bridges (including the third one which is still being built:)
But then, pretty soon, we were out at sea with nothing to be seen anywhere.
What interest I could get came from either watching the activity of the crew:
Or an occasional encounter with something man made:
But mostly I was bored and with my dad in tow, reverted a bit into grumpy teenage mode, waiting for something interesting to happen.
And then, on the evening of the second day, we made our approach towards the coast of Norway:
Obviously, the light helped, but I could begin to see why so many love this kind of travel. Even though we were told the seas were quite rough, we felt little of this because of the size of the ship- there was something really majestic about our slow approach to the country.
I still could not shake the idea that we were not really out of the UK, though. On the second morning we woke up approaching Flam at the end of Sognefjord. This, I had read, was one of the most beautiful of the Fjords, but like all the rest of the passengers I had been asleep as we had travelled through the night up its 204km.
We disembarked for the first time and got into a tour coach to head to the Stegastein viewpoint. This is a platform which has been built into the mountains above the water so that cruise parties like ours can get a super quick view of the majesty of the fjords without having to do anything as prosaic as actually walking, before taking the coach back to the boat to the next spot.
What could be more artificial than this?
But what a view:
We got back in the bus and headed down to the town of Aurland to stretch our legs. Here was a bit of the kind of travel I was more used to. A nice small town with actually very few tourists clogging the streets and the chance to see actual Norwegians:
There was a simple old church to explore:
And an old house with fish drying outside:
It had likely been left like that for tourists, but I could still persuade myself that I was properly travelling.
We headed back towards Flam itself and I again had some time to walk around this town. Flam itself is less appealing, being essentially a set of tourist shops selling expensive souvenirs, but it is easy to walk above and around the town for some awesome views:
As I headed back towards our ship (in the distance in this shot) I had actually begun to feel I could enjoy this voyage even if I had not yet actually talked to an actual Norwegian.