We start with a week in San Diego visiting Michael’s family. We fly to London and spend 6 days there, then north to spend time with Omnia and Gill and Bob. Next the 12 day walk along Hadrian’s Wall and then Norway and a boat up the coast and fjords
  • Last entry - Home Sweet Home

    October 28, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Liv says I should end this blog back home, so here we are! We arrived back on Saturday morning to a very hot and windy Sydney day....NOT my sort of weather, and specially not after the lovely cool of Norway and Denmark. It wasn’t a wonderful flight - we usually enjoy Virgin Australia, but somehow the attendants were wooden, not the usual friendly laid back types we usually have, and the food was inedible....I know airline food is not gourmet, but this was truly awful (and again not the normal for them). Oh well, we also left late - again unexplained - were not in the air till after 1 am, but having said all that I did take a pill and slept quite well and didn’t wake till about 6 am Sydney time, so am almost back to normal.

    This is a very long a boring description of the flight back, but it has been one of our best trips..particularly the Norway times as that was new to us and SO beautiful. And “cruising” on the Hurtigruten ship was a great experience. We have caught up with the Sertori family yesterday and look forward to seeing Paul, Tallie and offspring this week. All is good, and we already have a travel plan for next year in our minds - another Camino in France. So now I can officially sign off from this trip!
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  • Day56

    Thursday - fly home tonight

    October 24, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    This is going to be a long day! We have woken early (in fact we both woke initially at 3am) ...managed a little dozing after...but our flight doesn’t leave till 11.45pm!!

    Yesterday we had a good time, hanging out in Santa Monica, and adjusting to Californian sunshine and warm weather. We can get a bus from just near the hotel here at the airport to Santa Monica, and we can walk from here to the terminals, so extremely handy. Had coffee at our favourite coffee shop, had dinner at Mercado, one of our favourites at SM.

    Spent a fruitful time in the Apple store also!! I usually hate all the noise and activity there, but when you need something they are extremely helpful. And I achieved 2 things - firstly they replaced the battery in my iPhone, which had been totally misbehaving, dropping down to 1% very rapidly but amazingly functioning as a camera without actually dying...but when I am back and will be using it as a phone I do need a functioning battery. So they actually did it on the spot, hardly any waiting, and while I waited I bought a new cover for my iPad as the old one was disintegrating. A productive morning.

    So today we will again go to Santa Monica, have coffee etc, then hop on another bus to go to the Getty - there is a Manet exhibition that had not yet started when we went though about 6 weeks ago. Then we may also go to the Hamer gallery and eat in Westwood before finally wending our way back to the airport - bags left at the hotel. This should be a better flight - a nighttime flight - but of course we will feel a bit fuzzy as goodness knows what time we think we’re on.

    Thank heavens my keyboard seems to be back to normal...don’t know if I had cream on my fingers which meant it wouldn’t register my taps...nothing different from normal I would think, but it was a nightmare! Back to real life tomorrow (i.e. Saturday).
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  • Day55

    Wednesday in Los Angeles

    October 23, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Yesterday was a travel day pretty ghastly, but all worked smoothly. Our transfer at Heathrow went like a dream. Arrived from Copenhagen on time, entered the UK (all electronically now) collected the bags, navigated from terminal 5 to terminal 2 and checked in with Air New Zealand with plenty of time. The ghastliness was an 11.5 hour daytime flight, starting 4.15m UK time, and ending at 7.40pm LA time (3.30am for us)... spending 2 nights here at airport Hyatt hotel. Just woken early. My iPad keyboard has gone berserk so won’t say more now. Have to retype almost every word,...all okRead more

  • Day53

    Last day in Copenhagen, and in Europe

    October 21, 2019 in Denmark ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    Today was good, but not quite as we had planned. First we went for breakfast at a Hartley recommended place - called Sonny, like our Sonny! - and it was very good. Excellent coffee, fresh seedy bread, tasty cheese, soft boiled egg! And a great juice - green colour with apple, ginger, tumeric and something whose name I didn’t know ...anyway, it was tangy and delicious. So that was a good start, and then we set off to go to the National Museum with the Viking exhibition. We had seen it was open every day, but hadn’t read the next line which said from October to May open Tuesday to Sunday...so again we missed the Vikings!! But we had heard quite a lot in Norway, so we cut our losses and headed for the royal palaces.

    First to the Rosenborg palace, which houses the thrones, crown jewels, and exhibits the rooms of the palace as lived in by Christian IV (I think, there are many Christians and Frederiks)...and that was excellent. Spent quite a while there, and then moved on to the Marienborg which is where the residence of the current royals is, but there are several palaces round in an octagon, and one is on show. Also excellent, furniture as lived in by Christian IX who was the “father-in-law of Europe” as most of his children married royalty - one being Alexandra who married Edward VII of Great Britain.

    So that took us through to about 3 o’clock when we had a coffee break, and I have a slight complaint. We cannot find what we call Danish pastries. It is like looking for what we call Sicilian olives in Sicily. They don’t exist. I just love the pastries with vanilla cream inside, with fruit, almond croissants, pain au raisins etc, and thought this would be the home of them, and the very best. We find them in France, Italy, Spain, Sydney...but here every bakery just has croissants, and nice bread, and cake things rather like muffins, and cinnamon rolls. Anyway, our hunt was fruitless. We did finally see some more like what we were looking for when later we came to the markets where there was a French chain - Brioche d’Orée - but in France we would never go there as there are so many better ones.

    As usual we took umbrellas as it threatened to rain, but never actually did! It does rain at night, as it was wet each morning. Anyway again lucky as it is miserable to walk squelching along and getting dripping, and we did a fair bit of walking. These palaces, and the museum are quite a ways apart.

    We had planned to go to a restaurant for dinner that we had seen. Amr had spied the bouillabaisse and it looked good...but when wandering later, after drifting into yet more furniture stores and sitting on their chairs and sofas, we found the market. Lovely market, you can buy things to take home and cook, and you can eat and drink at some stalls, and we found a tapas bar which just beckoned us. So we ate there instead. It had all our favourite food, and it all felt right, and it was so good just to order what you wanted as you ate it...I think we have had so many meals that it makes you lose your appetite. Anyway, this was just lovely, and we got back quite early and have packed up as much as possible and will set off tomorrow morning. First the flight to London, then connecting to the air New Zealand flight to Los Angeles. This is the thing - will we and the bags make the connection successfully as they are non related tickets! Hopefully all will work out. We stay and draw breath at LAX hotel for 2 nights before taking the flight to Sydney.
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    Peter Walmsley

    Danish pastries are actually Austrian. (Cf Panama hats.) In Denmark you have to ask for Wienerbrød.

  • Day52

    Exploring Copenhagen

    October 20, 2019 in Denmark ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Today is Sunday. Much quieter than Saturday, though when we went out for coffee this morning there was quite a lot of evidence of post Saturday night debris. This was in contrast to Norway (but we didn’t inspect on Sunday morning is Oslo) but there was litter, broken glass and vomit...not the perfect behaviour of such people so conscious of planet, sustainability and happiness!!

    We have had a good day, and quite busy. First we walked along the water to the Opera House. A huge and very fine building right on the water. Quite a long walk, obviously you can drive there as there was parking, and I think you can get a ferry. Then Amr navigated us to the Danish Design Museum which was a highlight for him. It was fun, and we saw many chairs by famous designers - Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen to name 2 I remember and liked. Besides chairs there was a lot of Bauhaus stuff (which we had seen a lot of in Germany). Anyway, we enjoyed that and then we went to see some nearby churches - a Russian orthodox with very Russian domes (and where I had to put my scarf over my head), and the Marble Church, very important looking and rather beautiful which we found is Church of Denmark - the national religion, evangelical Lutheran.

    Stopped for a shared sandwich and coffee then walked to the little mermaid just because it is a thing to see here. Many people taking photos etc, and busloads of Asians, but it was a very nice walk through parks. We have sorted out the royal residence situation! Found another Slot - the Amelienborg (I think that’s right) which is an octagonal ring of palaces where all the royals live in various buildings. We even happened to be there when they were changing the guard, all marching round in busbies (?sp) like at Buckingham Palace. The one yesterday - Christiansborg -I think is used as the parliament (that’s what the informative man at the Amelienborg said) and there is yet another castle - the Rosenborg which has Crown Jewels, thrones etc) and we going to look at those 2 tomorrow. We found this on our way to have a walk in the botanical gardens which was beautiful with autumn colours.

    On our way back, we stopped for a drink outside by a heater, watching the passing parade, then Amr dragged me into another department store but this one was really fun. It was purely a Danish design store - and we had such fun in the 2 floors of furniture- these beautiful chairs that we had seen in the museum we could now sit on and try - they were so comfortable and attractive (mostly) and it was actually more fun than the museum. They shut at 6 so we went back to the hotel (which has these style of chairs in the foyer) before setting out again for dinner. Found a perfect place where I had soup and mussels, and Amr had salad and herring. All happy.
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  • Day51

    Saturday in Copenhagen

    October 19, 2019 in Denmark ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We have left Norway. Woke this morning to a grey drizzly morning, and were very thankful for the lovely rain-free day we had yesterday exploring Oslo. So after breakfast and leisurely packing up we went to the airport, as no point hanging round, and getting wet. Oslo airport very organised and not to large. We did have one drama though - Amr, very unusually, made a crazy mistake....we were at the self-serve bag drop, had had boarding passes and bag tags printed, and Amr put his bag up before he tagged it, then scanned the tag (which was still in his hand) and off went the bag away on the belt before he could catch it!! General panic (by us) but SAS are very efficient, and assured him that they would catch it and tag it before it got any further....but it was a moment of horror, and we didn’t feel totally secure until it came out, actually one of the first! at Copenhagen.

    So all was well, and it was SO easy to get into the city from the airport - the metro goes right to the airport and took us to right near our hotel. We knew which stop, and it is quite in the centre with many shops, restaurants and hotels nearby. So easy, and even cheap by Norwegian standards! About equivalent to $15 for the 2 of us. The train to Oslo airport, which was very handy and easy also, was about 4 times the price, and even had seniors from 67, so Amr just missed out!!

    Our hotel is great. It is another of these Scandinavian modern minimalist hotels. Small spotless rooms, everything works, everything fits, no nonsense! If there are 2 people there is a second doona, pillow and set of towels in a drawer under the bed (you always get a doona each here it seems). And amazingly great wifi in all the hotels, and even on the boat.

    So, once we had dumped the bags we went out to get a feel of the city. It is flat...no mountains in Denmark. Also, just remembered, we saw what I think was “the Bridge” as we flew in! We had left the clouds over Oslo, and it was even sunny here, though has descended into rain this evening. Reasonable forecast for tomorrow though. We can’t help noticing all the absolutely beautiful young Scandinavian girls...they all have perfect skin, and are remarkably gorgeous - maybe from lack of sun!

    We walked around, it was Saturday afternoon, and a clear day, so everyone was out and about, walking in the cobbled pedestrian streets. Saw the royal palace (slot, which I realise is a Schloss)..but am not sure if this is the royal residence, or just a show place, as there were no visible guards like Buckingham Palace, but maybe the Danes are more casual!! Will find out more...Amr plans to find the Danish design museum tomorrow, and also we found another Viking museum here which should be good! So if it gets rainy there is plenty of inside stuff to do. Had dinner at a restaurant along a canal were there are many eateries. It was lovely...I actually had a very nice steak, and Amr had Danish meatballs. Cold by then. We had come south, and when we arrived felt too hot in thick jackets, but it certainly cooled off. Not much photo taking this afternoon.
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  • Day50

    One great full day in Oslo

    October 18, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Today was much better. The jiggling feeling after the train ride was gone and after a night’s sleep I found I could face a new city. We had spied a good breakfast place yesterday and had coffee and a yum pastry, then set off to achieve all the things we had planned. We took umbrellas as an insurance against rain, and were happy we did as when we set off it had obviously been raining during the night - wet pavements and puddles everywhere, but again we were lucky as it didn’t rain at all today - just grey skies, and even a break of blue by late afternoon.

    First of all we walked to the sculpture garden - a big attraction here, beautiful gardens, specially now with their autumn glory, and with many sculptures by a famous person whose name I can’t remember, who must have spent his whole life making so many works, or had a workshop of helpers...figures of men, women children in all forms and contortions, in granite...there is a lot of stone here! Anyway, that was fun. Many school children and tourist groups there too.

    Then we walked back and found the Nobel Peace museum which was good, and then on to the Resistance museum, which we found was within the fortress and castle complex which was interesting in itself. The Resistance museum we really enjoyed - not the right word really, but was interesting especially as it filled in what we had learned about during talks and visiting towns during the cruise up the coast where the towns felt the main brunt of the nazi occupation.

    After that we had a break and sandwich and then found that we were too late for the Viking museum -it was 3.40 and it closed at 4 in October, so we went on to look at the opera house again while the weather was good and before it started to get dark. It is such an amazing building, and I have tried to take photos, but it is difficult to capture. We then returned to the hotel - Amr had a short outing to look at some shops - but a little down time till we set off for dinner.

    We had planned to go to a Spanish place that had a sister restaurant we had noticed in Bergen, but when we went there - along a string of restaurants, rather like Barangaroo, alongside the harbour, with ferries, it was too busy, so we gave in and went to Olivia again...I just had salad, and we had a glass of wine. Didn’t feel like much after late lunch. So now back and ready to pack up and fly to Copenhagen tomorrow. Amr’s Apple Watch says that we walked 22 kms today, so that is good!

    I am bracing for another unknown city to explore, but everyone says how good Copenhagen is, so hope it won’t be too daunting! We have already found out where to go on the metro from the airport to get to our hotel so that is a good start! We spend 3 nights there, then start the journey home on Tuesday.
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    Carolyn Anderson

    Vigeland is the sculptor I think

    Peter Walmsley

    I’m sorry you missed the Viking Museum but at least you will never forget the sculptures by whatshisname.

    Olivia Sertori

    Wow that is so pretty!

  • Day49

    Thursday and in Oslo

    October 17, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    A big day today. Up early for breakfast (the huge hotel buffet - almost as much choice as on the ship)...and then sad farewell to Carole and John who had come down early for coffee to say goodbye. Then we walked the very short distance to the train station. The train left as scheduled at exactly 7.57, and arrived at Oslo at exactly 14.45. It was a beautiful rail journey as reputed to be. Thinking about it, I think it would be better to do it in the opposite direction as you would leave the big city, go trough the usual industrial boring bit round a city, then get into the pretty flatter, then undulating countryside and farming land that gradually turns into mountains and ending in spectacular scenery as you get to Bergen! Of course, I don’t wish we had done that because it wouldn’t have worked for us, but after 2 weeks of such amazing and spectacular scenery, it did get a bit less as we approached Oslo. And 7 hours is quite a long ride. I am still feeling the shuddering movement of the train whenever I am still...very off putting! But I don’t think I’ve done justice to the train ride. It was amazing - we climbed (though you didn’t realise it as we went) up high into the mountains beautiful panoramas, then it was very snowy and quite whited out for a while, then that gradually lessened as we descended and came into obviously more moderate terrain where there were fields, ploughed and soggy looking, and grazing animals. Very different from the totally rocky crags and water of the last 2 weeks.

    So here we are in the big city. And we have had our first - almost - Scandinavian rain. We found our hotel, very near the central station, and went walking round getting our bearings. Walked along the main pedestrian road that leads to the royal palace, surrounded by beautiful gardens, and it did start to sprinkle a little...so eventually we went back to get umbrellas and coats, but it never became heavy, just very light drops, but you’d get damp if you didn’t have some protection. We did then go to inspect the opera house that is nearby. And it is magnificent! Very modern and angular..sloping and you can walk up the slope on the roof...very hard to describe and neither of us had our phones to take photos, and anyway the sky was all grey and it wouldn’t have been a good photo...will take some tomorrow.

    We have great plans for tomorrow - the Viking museum, the resistance museum, the Nobel museum and the sculpture gardens. Hope it is not too grey a day. We are again facing the extremely high prices here - had been insulated rather on the boat not having to buy meals etc...but we drew the line when to go to the loo at the station cost 6 kroner - that is equivalent to $3.50 - just for a pee! So we decided it was time to have a glass of wine, and use the loo there.

    We had dinner at an Italian restaurant - Olivia - the same chain where we had our first meal in Bergen! We loved the Norwegian food on the boat, but suddenly couldn’t face more fish and felt like pasta. I had ravioli with fungi and truffles, yum, and a delicious salad.

    Will put a couple of photos from the train, but not good through a window when moving...and there were many tunnels during the most spectacular times, and I took several photos of tunnel interiors, missing the moment of view! Hope I feel more normal after a night’s sleep.
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  • Day48

    Wednesday continued

    October 16, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    Well here we are, back in Bergen at the Scandic hotel we stayed at before we left. What an amazing 12 days we had, and we are now recovering from it all being over! This morning was a little weird...we had breakfast and then had to vacate the cabins by 10. Which was not a problem, all the bags were left out in the corridor and were taken away by magic and we had to claim them when we disembarked. All is so well organised, Norwegians are a bit like Swiss and Germans, everything is worked out and runs like clockwork. After 12 days, we arrived back at Bergen at exactly 2.30pm! And we disembarked deck by deck....very orderly.

    Our journey this morning was through more interesting and scenic views - we had not seen this before as it had been nighttime as we left Bergen at 9pm. So wonderful to go through these straits of thousands of rock islands - requires excellent navigation skills and knowledge, as many submerge at high tide. As we approached Bergen we saw a very low cloud, and it obviously was raining...oh well, we thought, i has been so perfect for 12 days, we can’t complain, but by the time we actually got there, it had cleared up and we felt so good that we wheeled our bags back to the hotel rather than indulge in a taxi - we are now familiar with Bergen and there was no time constraint... and the weather has continued cloudy bright for the afternoon!

    After checking in and showering Amr and I had a lovely walk through the little streets that we hadn’t explored before and the ended up meeting Carole and John at the fish restaurant where we had had a lovely dinner before we left. Again a lovely dinner - I had mussels and scallops. Yum.

    Now back at hotel for a fairly early night as we leave by train at 7.57am for the train to Oslo. So looking forward to this train trip, reputed to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. The sun rises at 8.20 so I think we have maximised the daylight. Get to Oslo about 3pm. And luckily breakfast at the hotel starts at 6.30, so we can eat and leave - the train station is only about 3 minutes walk from the hotel...perfect! Tomorrow a new adventure, we spend 2 nights in Oslo, then fly to Copenhagen and have 3 nights there before heading home.
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  • Day48

    Wednesday morning

    October 16, 2019 in Norway ⋅ 🌙 6 °C

    I totally forgot to write anything yesterday!! There wasn’t lots to say, but as we were sipping wine before dinner watching a beautiful sunset would have been the ideal time. Oh well, it’s now early Wednesday morning - and we leave the ship this afternoon.

    But first, yesterday we had an early start as we arrived at Trondheim at about 6.30. This is one place that we had stopped at for a visit on the way north, but we had gone on a hike and not walked around the city, so we had early breakfast and left at 7.30 - we had till 9.45 when the ship left. It was absolutely freezing so early, just getting light with a big almost full moon, and had to be careful not to slip on icy paths. We walked as far as the cathedral with its very famous carved facade, and walked around for a bit. This is a big city, cars and traffic lights, and people off to work....it still felt very Arctic at that time of day.

    After that we had an uneventful day, just cruising along, stopping here and there, had a lecture on the Vikings, stood on the deck for a group photo and generally relaxed. Another cloudless day, and much warmer by the time the sun was up! It is good not to wear longjohns all the time, and so many layers...getting dressed and undressed is so time consuming!

    Had our last dinner - salmon pastrami (salmon cured like pastrami is - delicious) and pork shanks.

    Now packed up almost. We have to vacate the cabins at 10am, even though we don’t dock in Bergen till 2.30pm. Quite a business getting everyone off, and new people arriving, and ready to sail off again this evening. Will give another episode tonight, when we will be back in our Bergen hotel for the night.
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