Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Adventure of the Seas Day 9 - Alesund Part 1 (Sailing in, Rental Car BMW 520d, Self-Drive)

Day 9 - Alesund, Norway (Part 1)

This morning, we sail to the Norwegian town of Alesund.  Yesterday, we were in Trondheim.   See my previous post for some sailing in videos. Trondheim's call was very short, but we took a good walk.

The call in Alesund would be our longest call.  Ship was due to arrive at 8am and depart at 11:59pm.  We had all the way till midnight!  What were we going to do today?   Read on!

We were still sailing at 14knots.   It was just past 7am in the morning.   By now, in case you haven't realised, these are photographs of the stateroom TV, navigation channel.

Some pictures of the harbour, as we sailed in.  It looks rather cloudy.

We sailed in from there.  Low-lying clouds.

The dock is somewhere ahead.

There it is.  We will be docking at that pier.  You can see that the harbour is not very wide.  I am always very impressed that a large ship like the Adventure of the Seas is so maneuverable that she can dock on her own power.  The ship would be doing a 180 deg turn and reversing into the dock.  See my videos on the video page here.

See that white structure up on the hill?  That is the Aksla viewpoint.  We will go there later in the day.  You could walk up, but we drove as we rented a car.  More on that later.

The outdoor screen showing the navigation channel.  Cool.

This is from our aft balcony.  Yes, aft, the behind of the ship.

And the aft was getting nearer to the dock.

You guessed it, we were 'reversing' in, much like how car would reverse into the parking lot.  Here is a 137,000GT ship doing the same thing.  Call me ignorant, but this never ceases to amaze me.  Azipod technology has certainly made a huge difference.

Now, this was interesting.  A ship pulled in right behind us!  This was the MS NordNorge.  She looked really small beside the Adventure of the Seas.

Good morning, MS Nordnorge!  She is 11,286GT.  See this wiki article.

Car Rental
The plan was to pick up our pre-booked rental car from Budget and self-drive to Trollistigen and back.  In doing our planning, we discovered that it was almost impossible to find a 6-seater vehicle with automatic transmission in Norway.  So, for today, my parents would join a ship's tour while the four of us in my family will go on a self-drive adventure.

The port call was 0800hrs to 2359hrs.  With such a long call, it surely made sense to rent a car.

We also found that emailing the rental location directly gave us much better rates as compared to the rates available on the website.  It was interesting that this was a combined Avis/Budget car rental office.

Getting here was quite easy, on foot.  After we got off the ship, we turned left and walked along a main road for about 800M and we got to the car rental office.

Our booking was for a hybrid vehicle, Toyota Prius equivalent.  We got a nice upgrade, to a BMW 520d! This BMW model was a touring model.  This was going to be fun!  This was the interior of the car.  It had an in-built Navigation System, which was neat.

Start-stop button ignition.  Similar to the Ford Explorer (see video) we drove in Akureyri, Iceland.

The car had about 34,000km on the odometer.   We spent some time figuring out how to use the onboard NAV/GPS.  The main challenge was to find the waypoints and places that we wanted to go to.  Like Iceland, the Norwegian alphabet had more letters than the English one.  Thankfully, I had prepared my paper maps and route to drive (printed out from Google), so I could find alternative towns along the way, to use as waypoints to my eventual destination.

Driving Route
This was the route we were taking.  We would head east from Alesund.   At the fork, would head south, towards the town of Valldal.  Of course, there were other small towns along the way.

And we set off!  The drive was generally smooth.  This was a Saturday and there weren't too many cars around, though traffic is heavier than in Iceland.

Following behind a vehicle.


Less traffic.

Great scenery along the drive, pity the weather.

Look at the low-lying cloud cover.

Rest-stop!  Where were we? A Shell Station.  Alright, but just where?  This was the town of Sjoholt, 40 km from Alesund.  To make things clearer, this is a map.  Just keep driving east from Alesund along E136 which becomes E39 and you will drive right through Sjoholt.  We will also be passing this town on the way back.

Shell Petrol Station - Sjoholt, Norway.  We stopped here for a bio-break.

Here is the rental BMW parked.  Good drive so far.  As expected, the BMW is a driver's car.  I feel that the car is hugging the road and the car is very responsive to my every slight movement of the steering wheel.  It does make you feel like you are in full control.

BMW 520d - TurboDiesel.  

In Norway, the rental car company name is clearly printed on the car.  So everybody knows that I am driving a rental car.  This is different from many other countries.

Nice car.  Good for touring because it has a huge trunk. (Station-wagon style)

Rather empty, the station.

We continue along the way.  From Sjoholt, we head south on highway E650 towards Valdall.   In some areas, the road isn't very wide.  So look out for oncoming cars.

Some houses in the countryside.

The place is rather populated.  There are houses now and then, as well as clusters of homes (presumably a village).

Car ahead, and in front of the car, a blue coach.

See the clouds and the fjord.  There were many tunnels along the way.  The longest tunnel I drove through was more than 6km!

Driving through a town (or village).

Drive carefully - people crossing the road.  Look at the mountains in the distance.  We would reach the town of Valldall and take a break there.

Arrived in Valldal:

Screenshot from Google Maps - this was the route we took from Alesund to Valldal. Total distance, 93km. It was an easy drive.

More pictures of Valldal here.  These were taken when we took a break.  The car was parked outside the SPAR.

That's the SPAR I was referring to.

There was a Shell station nearby, but I didn't need to fuel up yet.

There was another supermarket opposite.  Well, I think it is a supermarket.

Look, a tunnel!  No, that is the wrong way.  The road to Trollistigen is NOT via this tunnel.

We bought some Boble, thinking that it was still water.  It turned out that it was water, but flavoured and sparkling too!  Haha.  We drank it anyway.

Oh, the weather was warm.  This chap was shirt-less.

Beautiful scenery, Valldal.

That's the trunk of the rental car.

Move on to my next blog post, as we drive towards Trollstigen.

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