Activity-filled Alesund

After our bike trip, we take an early ferry back to Bergen, rent a car, and hit the road towards Alesund.  The journey is far, but the weather is perfect, and the fjords are shining.  We stop early and often for food, photographs and viewpoints. An amazing part of Norway’s highway infrastructure is its tunnels.  We go in tunnels that are 5 to 6 kilometers long, and apparently there is one that is more than 20.  Instead of going around every mountain, we go straight through some of them – I love the efficiency and the breathtaking landscape just waits for us on the other side of the tunnel. (We also learn that Norway is working on a tunnel for boats big enough to fit cruise ships.)

The next day, we explore Alesund.  Alesund’s history is bittersweet.  Because of a fire in 1904 that burned down the entire city, everything was rebuilt in the art nouveau style.  And today, the city just seems to fit together. After our typical breakfast of fresh bread, smoked salmon, yogurt and granola, we climb to the top of Sukkertoppen, overlooking the city.  This is actually the second time we get this type of vantage point as we climbed the 418 steps just next to the city for sunset (~11:15pm) last night.

For our next vantage point, we walk through the old city enjoying shops, food stands, and its many boats.  Later, to give our legs a little break, we rent kayaks and circle the city by paddle.  Turns out that when we get a little outside of the protected waters in the center, there are some decent waves that give us a salty splash now and again.

Finally, to round out the day, we drive out to Runde, an island known for its Puffins.  The bridges along the drive are stunning and slightly scary.  They are very steep, one-lane bridges.  As a result, we can’t always tell if another car is coming up the other direction, and if it were, we would have to negotiate how to best pass each other.

Runde ends up being a highlight of the whole trip.  The sky is big with layers of clouds but enough sun to give us lots of energy.  The landscape is as vast as we’ve seen it, and in every direction.  The lighting is warm, the trail we take keeps providing us with new surprising views, and the puffins (although from a distance) are as cute and playful as the stuffed animals of their likeness made us believe.  Runde was a bit of a drive outside of Alesund, but completely worth it.

Napali Coast by 17 miles of sea


Lindsey and I arrive on the nature-filled island of Kauai late from a flight delay, find our airbnb apartment that we’ll be staying in for the first half of the week, venture out to a local grocery store to procure some necessities, and head to bed setting a much-too-early alarm for our first day on vacation.

Day one is spent with Napali Kayak, who claims to “challenge your body, blow your mind, and feed your soul”.  We arrive at 6am to meet our guides, get our life jackets, and sign our lives away (in case anything bad happens).  After some safety instruction and some group bonding, we hit the seas starting from Ha’ena State park for our 17-mile adventure of the Napali coast.  17 miles is no joke, but we are grateful that the wind is pushing us along today.

Soon into our journey, before we even hit the Hanakapi’ai beach, we are already greeted by two giant sea turtles, who apparently have some pretty ghastly breath – it smells a bit like sulphuric seaweed.  Along the journey we paddle in and out of coastal caves – the Waiwaipuhi Cave and the Waihuakua Cave to name a couple.  On our way into one, we pass under a waterfall, which brings us good luck… and cools us off.  The topography of these cliffs and caves and beaches is other worldly.  One cave we venture into called Koa Mano has an open ceiling after its initial entrance.  We get out swim, climb on rocks, and just rest in this small haven from the large waves of the open sea.

Speaking of large waves, occasionally some pretty large swells rolled underneath us.  The waves could be large enough that you could be right next to another kayak but not see them because they were at the bottom of a wave that we were behind.  I’m glad that I had a full dosage of motion-sickness medicine first thing in the morning, and even still, I occasionally feel a little wobbly.  The waves can be frightening from a distance but we also must be thankful as they often give us a nice push in the right direction.  A couple kayaks flip, but I’m proud to say that Lindsey and I only swim in the water when we choose to.

We made it!

We lunch at Miloli’I Beach and finish at Polihale State Park.  Polihale State park is 17 miles from our starting point, but about 90 miles (150 minutes) from our start via the road.  If the roundish island of Kauai were a clock, we begin our trip at almost 12 o’clock, we end our trip at around 11 o’clock.  The trick is that that road that circles the island only includes 55 minutes of the hour and has a break in it between those two points.  Thus, when we get picked up by the van at the end of our journey, we need to go counter-clockwise all the way back around the island to the start.  This seems inefficient, but it was a nice way to see the whole island on our first day.

After arriving home after this long day and nursing a couple missed sunscreen spots, we quickly find ourselves very tired from a long week of work and a day of travel.  We crash early, get over 11 hours sleep, and reset for another big day two.