Staubbach Falls

Of all the waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen valley (and there are many!), Staubbach Falls is probably the most iconic. Depending on your vantage point, the falls appear to be pouring straight into town. For us, it was our cabin.

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Also contributing to the falls popularity, is the close proximity to town and the fact that this hike is FREE. Almost unheard of in Switzerland. We were staying at Camping Jungfrau, so the walk over to the falls was very short. From the campground:

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Once you get to the entrance, the hike up and back is only about half a mile. You start with a short uphill climb area.

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Great views at the top of this trail section.

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At the end of the trail, you come to a tunnel that will take you to the back section of the falls.

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There is a set of stairs that are followed by a rough rock path. Fair warning, this path is slick. It is behind the falls and the mist keeps this area wet almost constantly so hold on to the safety rope and wear appropriate shoes. The view is worth it though.

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Can you see the mist? Can you see the glacier? O is giving you a hint.

Glacier view without the water in the way. It almost looks like a cloud.

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Overall, super easy hike with great views and the experience of standing behind a waterfall. Can’t be missed!

For your trip

Since the falls are free to hike to and they are located so close to town, they are extremely popular. So it is best to get there early in the morning or later in the evening when the majority of the crowd is gone. The falls are lit up at night.

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When leaving the falls, if you continue down the road away from town you will come across a little hut that is selling coffee and ice cream. Stop immediately! This little hut is hiding a secret. They are serving some of the best ice cream in town. All of the ice cream is made in Switzerland from local ingredients and it is super yummy. I don’t know the name of the hut and it isn’t shown on google maps but trust me you want to find it.

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If you go a little farther down the road to the end of it (again going away from town), you will find Camping Jungfrau. There is a small grocery store and a nice restaurant located here. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the restaurant is closed but a BBQ food truck parks here instead. The truck is called New Age BBQ and it was delicious. It is hard to find good BBQ in Europe so do yourself a favor and search for these guys when you are in town.

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Crazy kids with food truck in back.

Happy hiking! And…. eating 🙂

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Furka Pass

We had been hiking around for several days so we decided to take a day off and do a drive. We headed up Furka Pass in search of the Rhône Glacier.

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The Furka Pass is a lovely mountain drive. The road was nicely paved the entire way with the expected sharp turns and steep inclines. It was a beautiful day so there were also lots of bikers (motor and pedal) working hard to get up the mountain.

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We drove straight to the “Ice Grotto” to make sure to get there early and beat the crowd (a theme for our trip). The abandoned Hotel Belvédère shares the parking lot with the ice grotto and is a beacon on the side of the mountain to help you track where you are headed on the pass. Can you see her?

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We were able to snag a spot in the parking lot and headed to the entrance. There was a waterfall in the parking lot so that seemed like a good sign of what we would see ahead.

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Ok so I lied. There was some hiking on this day. You do have to hike down to the glacier from the parking lot entrance (after paying the entrance fee of course).

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There were lots of lovely spots to stop for pictures.

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Going into the glacier was a very surreal experience. It seems like you are stepping back in time a bit. The bubbles trapped in the ice is what really got me.

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The path through the glacier is only about a 100m long but the kids really enjoyed exploring it.

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Again more amazing photo opportunities.

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On the way back there is a short secondary trail that you can take to the other end of the glacier lake. There is a nice waterfall at the end. It also gives a better perspective of the glacier and mountains.

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Glad we got a chance to see a glacier before they are gone.

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For your trip

Lauterbrunnen to the Ice Grotto is a 1.5 hr drive (according to Google). However, you will most likely want to stop along the way for pictures so expect some extra time on that. There are lots of pull off stops and hiking along the route.

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There are actually several stops for food and snacks along the way. The ice grotto itself has a little cafe. The Grand Hotel sits in the valley after you have gone up and over the pass and before you drive up to the Grotto. This was a really beautiful location. At the top of the pass by Totensee is a couple hotels and several restaurants. This is also a really popular hiking spot so this place was absolutely packed when we drove by around lunchtime.

We stopped at a food truck on the way down the pass that had been recommended to us. I don’t know if the food truck has an actual name, but if you are looking for it on Google maps it has been labeled as “Lokalspezialitäten Holzofenbrot”, which is just Local speciality wood fire bread. They sell homemade bread, cheese and butter and it was amazing. Super delicious! They only speak German and of course cash only (it is the side of a mountain after all!). Oh and bring your own knife.

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Now I don’t want to end this post on a bad note but I do want to make sure you have realistic expectations for your trip. The tunnel that is drilled into the glacier is only done once a year and then they spend the rest of the time trying to keep it from melting. We arrived at the end of July so the tunnel had already suffered through the heat of the summer. They have placed a white tarp over the tunnel to try to protect it. Here’s the entrance.

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On the inside, there are some spots that have already completely melted and collapsed. It gives that abandoned Everest base camp feel.

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Overall, it was still a great experience and if you are doing the pass its worth the stop.

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Dwarf Trail

We heard a rumor about some friendly dwarfs living on a mountainside in Haslital area. We thought we better go investigate.IMG_0103

There are two adorable, family-friendly dwarf trails that can be found in the Haslital area. We decided on the Käserstatt trail. To get to there, you head up the gondola at Hasliberg-Twing and the trail starts right at the gondola stop.

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We followed this map to see if we could catch up with the busy dwarfs.

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We lucked out with beautiful weather and some amazing views.

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At each stop, you find a little house (of various sizes) and usually some kind of activity. There is also a story sign at each stop (both in German and in English) that keeps the excitement going for the kids.

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In this picture, E had to climb up a ladder and reach for the metal chain to “ring” the doorbell to see if this dwarf was home.

The bigger houses were absolutely amazing. The interiors were sparkling clean and there were so many detailed decorations in side.

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The kids loved having to search to find the houses (and climb up the trees).

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However, I think their favorite thing was this “cable car”.

 

The kiddos did an excellent job of hiking this trail.

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Though E needed help from time to time.

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The hike is about 3 km long and the trail website estimated that it would take 1.5 hrs. It took us 2.5 hrs and I felt we could have spent more time along the trail.

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We tried our best but we didn’t see a single dwarf. They were always off in the forest working. 🙂 We’re glad they were willing to leave their houses open for us to explore while they were away.

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For your trip:

As mentioned above, there are 2 different dwarf trails. You have to take different gondolas to reach each one. So you will have to plan ahead of which one looks best for you.

For our trail, we parked right at the Hasliberg-Twing gondola. There is a huge parking lot there. The drive up is a mountain drive for sure with lots of twists and turns. Here’s our GPS on the way up.

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Thats a pretzel road if I have ever seen one.

You take the gondola up to Käserstatt and then you will walk down to the middle stop of Lischen. You then ride the gondola back down to the Hasliberg station.

There was an excellent picnic area (with restroom) about halfway through with a nice little stream that runs next to it. I would recommend bringing a change of clothes so that the kids can play in the stream for a while.

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The trail is based on storybooks about Muggestutz. You can find out more about this dwarf on the website and there are also free coloring/activity sheets available to print to either take with or to do before/after the hike. That website is: https://www.meiringen-hasliberg.ch/en/  and then click on Muggestutz.

Happy Hiking!

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Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht)

The Aare gorge is a stunning stop just outside the town of Meiringen. This was about a 40 minute drive for us from Lauterbrunnen but I had tagged this as a rainy day destination. It was an excellent choice.

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We got there just as the entrance was opening. There were only 2 other families in line which allowed for easy distancing (as is needed in the time of COVID). From the outside, it doesn’t look like it is going to be anything spectacular.

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Once inside, the gorge shares her beauty with you.

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Part of the walk is through caves but most of it is done on wooden walkways, dangling on the edge of the cliffs.

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During this stroll through the gorge, the children are encouraged to look for the “Tatzelwurm” and its family. There are apparently multiple worms throughout the gorge.

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O and I looked everywhere and did not get a single glimpse of a worm. Ha! Guess we will have to go back!

After the walk, the kids got some time on the playground out front as the rain had stopped.

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The kids were holding up well with all the hiking so we decided our next destination would be a bit more of a challenge. That story is coming up next.

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For your trip:

There are 2 entrances to the Aareschlucht (East or West). The west entrance is the one that is considered more kid friendly as it has the large playground. It also has a shop and restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating.

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You can walk through the gorge and back, which is what we did due to very few people being present. Currently (due to COVID), they are allowing people to ride the train for free between the east and west entrances. They are trying to encourage one way traffic to reduce close contact between people and crowding. Remember a mask is required on the train so bring one with you if this is your plan.

Right next to the west entrance of the gorge is Reichenbach Falls. It is the setting for where Sherlock Holmes was murdered in the final book. There is a little funicular train that takes you up to the falls so this could easily be combined with a trip to the gorge.

If you are coming from Lauterbrunnen/Interlaken area, you will also pass the Giessbach Waterfall on the way to/from the gorge. This is a very popular waterfall to visit and could also be added to your day trip. Happy Trails!

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Allmendhubel

Another day, another playground. Day 2 of our Switzerland trip and we went up the mountain early to beat the rain. We decided on Allmendhubel, which was fairly close to our base in Lauterbrunnen.

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We caught the gondola up from Stechelberg, which took us to the town of Mürren. Mürren is an adorable, traditional Swiss mountain town that is completely car free. We had to walk across part of the town to reach the funicular train up to Allmendhubel.

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After a short ride, we had arrived! The best part…. we had the entire playground to ourselves!

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This was an excellent playground. It had all the essentials like slides, climbing ropes, swings and a zipline. It also had some bonus areas like a “cheese shop” with stackable cheese rolls, tunnels that ran under the playground, and a fake cow that you could “milk”. You had to pour water into the wooden cows mouth and kids could then “milk” the water out of the udders. Sounds crazy but was E’s favorite.

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It was such a peaceful location. We were able to sit and watch the kids play with nothing but the sound of cowbells echoing in the background.

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Next to the playground is a small flower trail. It has planters along the trail with all of the local wild flowers planted and labeled. There are also cute hands-on educational activities. Everything was in German and English.

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The trail cuts through a cow field so watch for cow pies!

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After our hike, we had an ice cream treat and retraced our steps back down.

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We made it back to our cabin just in time for the rain.

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Another lovely day in Switzerland in the books.

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Info for your trip:

There are 2 ways to get up to Allmendhubel from the Lauterbrunnen area. You can take the train from Lauterbrunnen or you can take the Stechelberg gondola. We heard the Stechelberg gondola was more scenic so we chose this option. For either option, there are gondola switches and train change overs but they are pretty straight forward. For either option, you still need to walk across Mürren to get to the funicular but it is a short walk with great views.

We were able to buy a combined ticket for the Stechelberg gondola and the Allmendhubel funicular at the Stechelberg station. The Stechelberg station also had a ton of parking available, which might make it easier to get to compared to the Lauterbrunnen station. Oh and it has a waterfall very close to the parking lot that you can pop over to see. Win-win!

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Männlichen

We recently did a week long trip to the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. It was the perfect place to get some fresh mountain air and some serious outdoor time. For our first full day of holiday, we headed up the Maenlichen gondola.

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Maenlichen is a kid friendly area and is know for the cow trail or LieselotteTrail. We didn’t get a chance to do the trail but did see the map and it looks super fun.

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The first cow stop is located at the gondola station at the bottom.

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It has been awhile since we have been on a gondola so it felt like a new experience for the kiddos.

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Once up top, you are greeted by a gigantic cow playground.

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You go up via the backside and slide out the mouth. Ha! On the inside there are a few play items and you can climb to the top for a view of the surrounding mountains.

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Surrounding the cow, there is other playground equipment with a stunning backdrop.

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(These are mini trampolines. It made it look like they were jumping for the udders. Ha!)

The top of the Maenlichen gondola is also where you can start the “Royal Walk” to the peak. At the top is a viewing platform in the shape of a crown and views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks. The kiddos and I stayed at the playground while Gav ran to the top. He literally ran to the top and back down. He will use any excuse to run at altitude. Ha!

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It was a nice morning trip and a good way to start our holiday. We were back at the cabin in time for lunch.

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Info for your trip:

The Maenlichen gondola starts in Grindelwald. There is a large parking lot just outside the station and it is 5 CHF to park *cash only*. They are building a new Jungfrau cablecar at this location. The building is huge and they are putting in a parking garage next to it. This wasn’t open during our trip but you may want to check if it is open when you go.

Masks are required in the gondolas at this time. They were allowing people to space out and it was usually only one family per gondola which was nice. Kids under 6 travel free. Gondolas in Switzerland are always pricey so make sure to check the current rates before you go or you may be shocked when you get there. And as always, go early!

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That’s the end of day 1. More to come!

North Pole

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time, perhaps to the 1950s? Well you have the chance when you head up to the North Pole in Cascade, Colorado.

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The North Pole is a family-friendly amusement park located at the entrance to the Pikes Peak Highway. It opened in the 1950s and it has been frozen in time ever since (in the best way possible). It was a must visit item on our list when we were home in Colorado for the summer.

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The park is sparkling clean and it has all the fun old school rides of yesteryear.

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Most of the rides were for younger kids, which was perfect for us. There are some rides that are a bit more daring so the park is probably best suited for kids 2-12. No Six Flags style roller coasters here.

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Besides the rides, you also have the opportunity to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus or you can touch the North Pole (yes that’s ice in the middle of summer).

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They also have little shows throughout the day. We were able to catch the magic show and the kids were amazed (despite what E’s face looks like. Ha!)

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We love the North Pole. It is a great place to visit and a great place to take the grandparents as there is a nostalgic factor in there as well.

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Here is my favorite picture from the day. Don’t worry this was their favorite ride and they rode it multiple times, which makes this picture even funnier to me.

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Olden & Stavanger

Just as I did with Geiranger, I made sure to set the alarm, got up early, and headed to the top deck to watch the ship cruise through the fjord and into Olden. Unlike Geiranger, I was greeted with an almost completely empty deck. It had rained early that morning and I think everyone voted to stay in bed after having an early morning the day before. They had no idea what they were missing.

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Olden is what I imagined Norway to be like. Mountains, mist, green grass, red barns and of course waterfalls.

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The final view at port.

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Unfortunately, the rain from early that morning was just a prelude for the day to come. It rained most of the morning and even teased us all with a little bit of snow. There was one break in the weather and we headed off the boat to see Olden. We did the tourist train. The kids fell asleep immediately and slept for the entire trip. We were afraid to move in case we waked them, so we have zero pictures of our little jaunt around. I promise it was beautiful. We headed back to the boat to warm up and got back just in time to join Spider Man’s Web Warriors.

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An ice cream run and we called it a day.

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The next day was our final stop of Stavanger.

Stavanger is an adorable town. You dock right in the middle of town and everything is walk-able. We headed over to the Norsk Oljmuseum (Norway Oil Museum). Now you might think an oil museum doesn’t sound very kid friendly but this museum was very hands on and even had a play area.

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You could climb up into that helicopter and make the blades spin. There was also an escape shoot you could try out to see what it is like to get out of an oil platform quick. A small, but super fun, museum.

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Just outside the museum is the Geopark. It is a park made out entirely of recycled materials used in the oil industry. I have mixed feelings about this park but the kids seemed to love it.

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E jumped on that trampoline for like 20 minutes and O loved bouncing on the buoy balls and balancing on different objects. But yeah….glad I brought hand sanitizer.

Stavanger also was home to lots of great quirky shops and cafes. Overall I would love to come back to Stavanger on its own and do a more thorough exploration of the area.

Norway is such a beautiful country with so much to see and do. Already thinking about another trip!

Geiranger, Norway

Geirangerfjord is something out of a dream. It is steep cliffs and mountains that dive straight down to the water. There are waterfalls everywhere you turn and there is this amazing stillness that is only disturbed by the water falling off the cliffs and into the fjord. Just look at it.

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The most interesting thing about the slow cruise through the fjord was just how quiet it really was. The boat was moving very slowly, almost coasting, barely making a ripple in the water. There was over a hundred people on the top deck taking in the views but everyone was silent. The view had taken their breath away. You could only hear the rush of the waterfalls and an occasional “Wow”.

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To imagine how close we are to the side of the fjord, here is a picture of the boat with the cliffs in the back.

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Geiranger itself is a very small town at the end of the fjord. We decided to head up to the Norwegian Fjord Center to spend our day. The walk up to the Fjord center is a very unique experience. It is 327 steps up the side of a hill with a raging waterfall roaring next to the stairs.

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The Center at the top is a nice little stop. It walks you through the history of the fjords and the people who lived here. There is a lovely children’s area and of course they serve waffles!

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It also has some great views.

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We were so lucky to have such a beautiful sunny day. The cruise out of Geiranger that evening was just as beautiful.

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After walking all 327 steps (both up and down) we ended up having a tired and cranky Viking by the end of the day. Ha!

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Oh the joys of traveling with littles!

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Alesund, Norway

Sailing up to the Norwegian coast is a sight to be seen. There are beautiful islands popping up out of the water and the mountains meet the ocean right at the coast. Everything is green with a bit of a mist surrounding it all. It is stunning and other-worldly. Then out of nowhere you find a city with bright colored houses set up across several islands to greet you.

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Alesund is a beautiful art nouveau city situated at the opening of Geirangerfjord and it also happened to be the first stop on our fjord cruise.

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We decided to spend our day walking out to the aquarium. We will talk more about that walk in a minute. The aquarium sits on the outskirts of town right on the water and it is in a stunning location.

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The aquarium is rather small but had fish and animals that are only natural to the area so that was a unique twist. We were able to see most of the inside of the aquarium in under an hour.

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They also had frequent “shows” during our time there. We watched the diver feeding the fish. There is a diver in this picture somewhere.

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The real star of the museum, particularly on the insanely beautiful day we had, was the outdoor area with the children’s play area. I mean look at this.

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The children loved playing around in the sunshine and we enjoyed taking in the amazing views.

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We had lunch and started the walk back to the ship. Just outside the aquarium across from the parking lot, there is a little trail that leads you down to a seaside park, a great place for a picnic.

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Overall, I think the Atlantic Sea Park is worth a visit, particularly if you have kids. The aquarium only takes a few hours to fully enjoy. So I would suggest taking the bus out to the aquarium to save some time. That way you can schedule an additional activity for the day.

We were able to enjoy our day in Alesund and enjoy the views from the ship. Norway is stunning.

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That night we would be off to Geiranger to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.