Travel Letters: Steamer Fjalir, On The Nord Fiord, Norway (1872)

DEAR MOTHER, — It is a rainy forenoon on a steam-boat, and there is nothing pleasanter than to sit in the little cabin and write my weekly letter to you, although it is before its time. We are on our way to Bergen, running down one of the countless fiords that cut up the coast of Norway into slices. Last Sunday afternoon, I wrote to father from Aak, at the foot of the Romsdaal Valley. Monday morning, we drove in our carioles down to the head of the Molde Fiord, and there, carioles and all, went on a boat, and sailed, in the midst of the grandest scenery, to Molde, where we stopped a couple of hours and dined on salmon and lobster, which are about the only things that grow along this coast. Both are superb. That after-noon, we sailed along the coast to Aalsund, a little village with a most lovely situation, which is famous for nothing except the cod-liver oil which they make there. We passed the night in short beds, and the next day sailed up the Stor Fiord and its branch, the Geiranger Fiord, which is called the grandest in Norway. It is certainly magnificent. The narrow arm of the sea, with bright green water, is shut in between perpendicular cliffs of granite, two or three thousand feet high, over which countless waterfalls come tumbling down in every conceivable shape. The stillness and wildness is wonderfully impressive. We spent that night at a little group of fishermen’s huts, and slept in a schoolhouse, because the inn, which only has six beds, was full. We called on the Pastor of the place, and spent an hour with him. He is the only educated man of the whole region, and was very hospitable and conversible, speaking very tolerable English. Yesterday morning, we put the wheels on our carioles again, and drove all day across the country, through magnificent scenery, to a little inn called Faleide, on this Fiord, where last night we took the boat for Bergen. The cabin is full of Norwegians, talking their unintelligible tongue. There is one German family from Hamburg, who are pleasant people, and with whom, between their English and our German, we get along very well. To-morrow noon we reach Bergen, and there I hope to get my first letters from you all. After a day or two, we start again into the country, and spend two weeks more before we come back to Christiania. About the 12th of August we leave Christiania for Sweden, going to Stockholm. On the 22d we go to St. Petersburg and Moscow, returning the first week in September. We sail from St. Petersburg by Lubec to Copenhagen, and thence go down to Hamburg and take the Thuringia, either there on the 11th, or at Havre on the 14th. So all goes well. I am having a splendid time. This rain, I have no doubt, will clear up to-morrow, and with much love to all, I am always

Affectionately yours,

PHILLIPS.