The Design Lover’s Guide to Mexico City
American design icon Kelly Wearstler shares her top spots for aesthetic awe.
Gliding through the dramatic landscape of Norway in an electric Porsche.
AMID THE FJORDS of Norway, even the view from a ferry stop, waiting for a sleepy commuter ship, can be breathtaking. We’re queued up four or five cars deep, ready to drive our black, electric Porsche Taycan onto an open-air boat that will carry us to our next destination. We’ll travel by way of the Hjørundfjorden's calm seas through the stunning Sunnmørsalpane mountains. Outside the car’s window, the air has a chill and the water is so still it reflects the towering cliffs and the sun’s rays poking through gray clouds. The scene looks like a painted backdrop from a 1950s technicolor movie come to life. But the locals, just waiting to pilot their cars onto the morning boat and head to work, bide their time reading newspapers and sipping steaming coffees, accustomed to being surrounded by the kind of beauty people spend their lives dreaming about seeing.
This is what driving through Norway’s fjord country is like — even small moments feel huge. The luxury travel company 62°Nord offers a chance to see these natural wonders in a way unlike any other: in a Porsche, gliding between two of their incredible properties — the Storfjord Hotel and Hotel Union Øye — and stopping here and there on a planned itinerary of impossible magnificence.
The car is a chic breeze. With no combustion engine, the new all-electric Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo (which can hit speeds of around 143 mph) is as silent as the gentle waters of the fjords, and allows you to drive hundreds of miles without using a drop of gas. Norway is rapidly scaling up its usage of non-gas vehicles — over 60% of new passenger car purchases in 2021 were electric — which means there are charging stations everywhere. But 62°Nord makes it even easier: After a day rambling the roads, you come back to one of their hotels for the night, have an incredible dinner at one of their restaurants, and allow them to charge and clean the Porsche for you while you sleep.
What makes it so unique and exciting to drive a souped-up electric Porsche through the land of the fjord (from the Old Norse word fjörðr, or “where you travel across”)? For one, there are excursions up and down winding slopes that feel like rollercoasters, and the Taycan commands every contour effortlessly. The Trollstigen, or “Troll’s Road,” mountain pass curves 66 miles up to an epic valley viewpoint. Along the way, you can stop at small but raging rivers; we happened upon an unmarked forest of green moss and tall, spindly trees that felt right out of “Hansel and Gretel.” On the steeper part of the ride, the driving becomes an intense undertaking, with a sudden twist up the cliff on a narrow road. But the Porsche just slides on through. You can drive so close to the Stigfossen waterfall you feel you could hold your hand out the window and cup the white water.
How fjords were created is also the source of their beauty: The land was covered in glaciers, which moved slowly across the surface, carving, shifting, and eroding, creating thousands of unique U-shaped valleys over millions of years. At the end of Earth’s last ice age, the glaciers melted and water was left behind. Since the fjords slice into the land, northern Norway is a hodgepodge of islands and peninsulas, which is why it’s so commonplace to take ferries to get from end to end. In fact, a trip to one of the region’s best restaurants, Kami Skotholmen, is impossible without a boat. The ridiculously fresh seafood restaurant is the only building on a tiny, stark islet off the coast, a 10-minute ride across the water. Likewise, to get to Dalsnibba, the area’s highest peak, leave the Storfjord Hotel, drive the Porsche onto the ferry, skim through the water, and disembark at Eidsdal. You’ll then zigzag up Norwegian County Road 63 to a bird’s-eye view of Geirangerfjord, Norway’s most famous fjord and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The climate changes as you bend up the mountain, from temperate air at the base to the icy tip-top — snow-capped even in the summer — with wind whipping so hard you feel you could fly off the mountaintop.
However, in my mind, the best drives are the smaller, less-trafficked byways that run right up against the fjords. On these more open roads, you can get some speed, letting loose on that powerful accelerator. You feel like you’re sailing, so close to the coast you could practically jump out your window into the water, an adrenaline rush that borders on nerve-wracking.
The terrain is so sublime it looks deliberate, like art scooped and smoothed out of bedrock, everything fitting perfectly into place on an unfathomably massive scale. One understands why the Vikings, the seafaring raiders who traversed and were protected by northern Norway’s vast fjord system, created mythology around giants and giantesses. Indeed, it feels like only creatures that big could have pounded and wallowed these lands into existence.
Because of the slick, wet weather, rainbows appear along the highways closer to the Atlantic Coast, even trailing out the back of a car in front of us as the soaked wheels kick up puddles. The Vikings also had a fabled place for them: They believed in a legendary rainbow, Bifrost, that served as a bridge between the real world and Asgard, the land of the gods. When you are in the fjords, parts of the landscape are so sparsely developed that it’s easy to see things as the Vikings did. You can picture their boats floating along, built slender to navigate the tight waterways better.
The grand scale of history aside, it’s the little moments that matter most. One particularly warm and sunny midday, after a picnic lunch prepared by 62°Nord, we pull off the road to a small sand beach on a fjord next to a wheat field. We change into bathing suits and jump into the cool water. At first, it’s so cold it’s threatening, but by the second dive, it’s invigorating, so we paddle around. Eventually, we get out and let the late summer sun recalibrate our body temperature.
We snap our requisite Instagram photos to prove we braved glacial water, then hang our swimsuits over the open car door window to dry. We pause to look around, realizing we just swam in heaven. We then snatch our suits, jump back into the Porsche, rev it up, and move on. This is fjord land, after all, and there’s so much more to see.
On this 62°Nord adventure through the fjords, you drive five or so hours a day — much more if you choose to get a little lost and explore off the itinerary (which I highly recommend). Thanks to the scenery, never once does all the driving get tedious. But you do need music to match the moment, particularly because the Porsche sound system is just so incredible. So here are my test-driven picks for the best fjord albums.
Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at Vogue.com as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.
Based in his native London, Rory Payne applies a mix of analog and digital techniques in his work. His clients include Calvin Klein, Cartier, Mugler, and Versace. He has shot for publications such as British Vogue, GQ Style, Vogue Mexico, and Teen Vogue.
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