Molde is a small town on the northern edge of the Romsdalsfjord, which is an inlet of the Norwegian Sea. During the 15th century its only claim to fame was as a small port selling timber and herring, but in the late 18th century it became popular as a centre for the rich and famous of Europe. During the 1880’s, visitors included the German Emperor Wilhelm II, and the Prince and Princess of Wales (after whom the Alexandra Hotel was named), and in 1882 the first cruise ship arrived. In January 1916 a fire devastated the town, sweeping through many of the old wooden buildings, and later, during WW2, more than half of central Molde, including the old wooden cathedral, was destroyed by German bombing and the subsequent fires.
We have walked up through the town, zig-zagging upwards between the buildings, until we reach a viewing area above the town. We stop and admire the breath-taking panorama spread before us. The huge cruise ship Oceana docked in the fjord below, is dwarfed by the majestic mountains all around.The sun shines brightly on the line of snow-capped mountains that edge the horizon, and I can understand why visitors have been attracted here for centuries. The air is fresh and clear, with no hint of haziness. The mountain tops are jagged but the covering of snow smooths the rough edges with its blanket of white. The snow-clad slopes slip and slide gracefully downwards into shadowy blue hollows, until they disappear into the dark green of the tree line, where a band of spiky fir trees jut darkly up into the icy blue of the mountainside. Below the trees lie the calm cold waters of the fjord, sparkling in the early May sunshine.
Many of the houses in the town are of wooden weatherboard, and are painted in various colours from conservative white to vibrant red and orange. Some of the roofs are steeply pitched, and covered with tiles of glossy black or red, others are more gentle, with grey or terracotta tiles. In the open-air museum we saw peculiar timber and stone buildings, long and low, covered with turf roofs of spiky grass and thin scrubby brushwood.
My abiding memory of Molde, is of the clean fresh air and clear blue skies, and of the sun shining on the all-surrounding snow-capped mountains.