This is our second visit to Ålesund this year but we are a little better prepared this time. We’re going to visit Waldehuset, a house with a very unusual history…
On January 23rd 1904, a devastating fire swept through Ålesund, destroying 850 homes and leaving 10,000 people homeless. In the Eastern district of the city, every wooden house burned down except one – Waldehuset.
Anders Nor, the owner of Waldehuset, was visited by an angel on January 22nd, the day before the fire. The celestial visitor advised Nor that his home, and all who were in it, would be spared. And so it was – everything outside the house was burned to the ground. Photos of the area in the days after the fire clearly show Waldehuset standing unharmed in the midst of acres of debris – it’s not even scorched.
It’s all very reminiscent of the Jesus statue in Le Havre.
Sadly, Waldehuset was closed today. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the museum is now only open by appointment. Thankfully it’s only a half-mile walk from the cruise terminal.
Top tip: Make sure you book a viewing before arriving in Ålesund. You can find contact details and pictures on the Waldehuset website.
Afterwards, we travel back downhill and it begins to rain lightly. Then it begins to hail heavily. Which is very exciting. Or not.
Thanks to the scooter, Linda is more mobile than on our previous visit, we take the opportunity to see a little more of Ålesund. Obviously, the climb up the stairs to the Fjellstua Viewpoint is still out of the question, but it’s nice to look at the rebuilt city. Even if it is very cold.
Top tip: Ålesund, like most of Norway, is closed on a Sunday. And when we say closed, we mean CLOSED.
Our route back to the ship takes us past a number of upmarket shops and boutiques, including one selling an extremely well preserved Raleigh Tomahawk bike, much to Linda’s delight. However, window-shopping is as far as it goes. Aside from a two or three tourist-tat shops, everything is closed.
Top tip: The combination of steep inclines and cobblestones makes Alesund particularly punishing on the mobility scooter battery. If you are travelling with a lightweight, folding scooter, be sure to invest in a second battery – and don’t forget to take it with you.
We toy with the idea of hanging around on the dock for the MOLO Brew brewpub to open, but it’s far too cold. Besides, we sampled several of their beers on our last visit, so we head instead for the warmth of the Island Princess.
Alesund is our last port call on this cruise. It’s depressing to realise that the next time the ship docks, it will be to drive home.