At the end of July Marjorie left England by boat from Newcastle, sailing overnight to Bergen in Norway. The party of four – Marjorie, her cousin Dorothy, her friend Gertrude, and their chaperone/guide Helen Macartnay – spent the next few days traveling north and east by train, steamer, and horse-driven carriages called stolk-jaerres, gradually making their way towards the glaciers of northern Norway. Their first destination was Vaatedaleu where they stayed at the Hotel Egge, “a dear little Hotel where we are treated with almost overwhelming politeness. I have just finished breakfast – a good sized fish, a boiled egg, a cup of coffee and a rather queer three-cornered flapjack – and I wouldn’t like to say how many pieces of toast! Doesn’t that speak well for Norway air! Oh, Mother, I know you would love it here.” A few days later they were in Stalheim where Marjorie described the views as the finest, most inspiring, and grandest she had even seen. They set off for beautiful walks past waterfalls with rainbow-tinted spray, and took drives in stolk-jaerres to see the countryside that was covered in harebells, buttercups, daisies, and Johnny jump-ups; and forests full of silver white birches, fir, and juniper. The lakes were especially beautiful, and Marjorie marveled at the little cottages, their grass roofs with heather or harebells growing in them.
Post-card from Marjorie to Bessie, 1903, showing the stolk-jaerres
As they traveled north towards the glaciers the weather became much colder. For the next week they crossed fjords and visited a different glacier every day, each one seemingly more magnificent than the last.
Ten days later, Marjorie wrote to her mother, “We are all so in love with Norway – really I can imagine nothing lovelier than these dear big mountains and beautiful fjords. One could never tire of it.” After a delightful trip through the Nordfjord they arrived at Olden. They drove around the lake and then rowed up toward the glacier, “and it was perfectly lovely. The glacier was the most stunning greeny blue you can imagine.” They were staying at a very plain, but comfortable, hotel in Olden, where they made plans to go to the largest glacier. The much-anticipated day dawned cold and damp, but they set off on a steam boat, armed with warm shawls, to the head of the lake, and then drove toward the glacier. As they got closer to the great mass of ice they became colder and colder. They stopped at a small hotel for “nice hot tea” and then began their walk up to the glacier. There were “fascinating waterfalls and a dear little tumbling river to look at, to say nothing of the glacier itself, so we didn’t mind the puffing and scrambling. At a distance, the glacier had seemed quite green, but as we neared it, it became a most gorgeous blue – varying as you looked at it. And when we got quite close and could look down into the deep blue of the fissures, it was the most beautiful thing you can imagine.” The snow was illuminated by the blue ice beneath.
One of the much anticipated trips was to the Stryn Road. They dressed in their very warmest clothing again, and set off with a driver to climb up and up among the mountains, “crossing and re-crossing the dearest little stream – full of waterfalls, until finally we came to the highest point – over 3000 ft. above the fjord! Then the most beautiful part of all began, for there was snow everywhere in great patches. We were literally ‘up among the clouds’. It was cold and misty … it was glorious Wherever the snow had melted, dear little delicate flowers were growing, hare-bells, wild geraniums, moss pink and lots of others. It made the snow seem almost a dream.”
At the summit they rested, and then started to wind their way down the other side to the town of Merok. They found themselves looking down into a green fertile valley, with wooded mountains on either side. Marjorie’s room at the Union Hotel overlooked the Geiranger Fjord, and after their exhausting adventure she slept until 1 pm and rested for the remainder of the day.
The following day they took the boat for Molde and left the rugged scenery behind.
Marjorie’s post-card to Bessie from Molde, 1903
They took several day-trips through sheltered fjords, including a ride in the stolk-jaerres to Eide, north-east of Molde, one of the loveliest drives of all, “winding up among huge green mountains, and suddenly coming upon glorious views of the valley on the other side. A valley bordered by almost perpendicular rock mountains, and with a splendid waterfall tumbling through it. It was gorgeous, and we could fairly feel the spray in our faces.”
The next leg of the trip was to Horre, “a dear little place, and the hotel so nice and comfortable.” Marjorie was delighted to meet two Norwegian ladies who played the piano for them in the evening after dinner – “Grieg’s music to ‘Peer Gynt’, a drama by Ibsen. It was specially interesting as both author and composer are of course Norwegian.”
Too soon, their itinerary took them to the big city, Kristiania (now Oslo). They stayed at the Grand Hotel, so grand that Marjorie felt she hardly knew how to behave after 3 weeks in simple country hotels. The first morning they set out to see the Viking Ship, 2000 years old, found buried in the ground.
They all agreed that Norway had been a most successful trip: “This Norway trip has done us all a world of good – we feel like different people….”
They left Norway reluctantly, but more excitement was in store. They crossed the border into Sweden and reached Stockholm. “This will always be one of my red letter days, for it is such a charming city. Here the hotel was even more grand.” They were staying at the Grand Hotel, built in the 1880s on the waterfront. They went to the Zoo, the Park, and the Northern Museum, and took a boat trip to see old Drottningholm Palace.
Leaving Stockholm, the travelers took the train to Copenhagen for a short stay at the Hotel Angleterre, Marjorie’s favorite hotel.
Marjorie’s post-card to Bessie from Copenhagen, 1903
They visited the King’s summer palace, and the Art Museum, before leaving Scandinavia for Germany.
In the September issue of “Notes from the Archives” you will be able to read about Marjorie’s four weeks in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, and Salzburg.