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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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  • Day38

    First full day on Nordlys

    October 6, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ⛅ -1 °C

    All tucked warmly into bed after a hot shower...We had a fabulous day. First of all, this boat trip is much more upmarket than I had imagined. It is a working ship delivering things and taking on cargo etc, but as passengers we have everything we could possibly want very comfortably. Food is delicious, and almost exclusively specialities of Norway. Just come back from a superb dinner...orderly tonight at proper times and tables, delicious fish, lamb and dessert...We all have a key card that is necessary all the time - key to cabin, used to disembark and embark, to go to meals, to buy wine or we have it round our necks tied in a shoelace (most people have it tied to them!). It all works very well.

    Today we went through the most beautiful scenery that I think I have ever seen....but I know there will be more to come. Quite early we docked at a very small town where quite a few people left the ship to go on excursions. Carole and John did and said it was wonderful - they were bussed, went on ferries and eventually ended up back at the ship where we next stopped. We didn’t do the day excursion, but had signed up for an art nouveau walk through a small town, Ålesund, which had been razed by a fire in 1904 and was rebuilt in art nouveau style. Interesting and beautiful. That was at the end of the day as the sun was setting. Photos will show how beautiful. Also the amazing picture postcard scenery of fjords and mountains. So spectacular and totally different from our also beautiful Australian countryside.

    I think we will enjoy these 12 days. Tomorrow morning we arrive at Trondheim and there are many excursions. We are going on a nature walk into the hills (mountains!) with the boat expedition guides, and C and J are going kayaking on the river through the city which looks spectacular. Sounds like a good day. We stop at Trondheim on the way back south when we will have a chance to walk through the city then. It already feels cold....have been wearing many layers, but hope I have enough to add when we reach the Arctic Circle!! What a life!
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  • Day41

    Another Arctic Day

    October 9, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    We are getting very accustomed to this shipboard life. Last night I was late to bed as there was a special very narrow fjord that we entered at about 11.30pm. Carole and John retired fairly early, and Amr gave in and went off to sleep but I really didn’t want to miss it so managed to last, and put on many layers of clothes and watched as we squeezed into this very small fjord - the Trollfjord - and there are many legends about it. We just went in and turned round, very tight navigation, and went out again, but it was fun - they turned on some floodlights to light up the sheer rocky cliffs on each side. Then I stayed out a bit longer to see the northern lights. These clear nights they are usually visible, but I have not seen it as a bright colourful sky, just a lightness and vaguely green.

    Anyway, this morning we had leisurely breakfast. Breakfast and lunch are buffets and no set time or table and it usually works fine. There are so many choices of wonderful arrays of food, it takes discipline to choose wisely and not pig out!! Abundance of smoked salmon and many fish options always, every form of salad and hot options. Not to mention sweet choices. At dinner we sit in our set tables and are served dinner - no choice, but usually very delicious and artistically presented small servings of a 3 course meal, featuring Norwegian specialties. So this morning we found favourite places to sit and read and watch the passing scenery as there was no disembarking until 2.15. We went through such a passage of gorgeous snow topped mountains, small towns perched along the waterfront here and there. Stopped to unload cargo at a couple of places, and finally arrived at Tromsø.

    We did not go on any of the very expensive excursions (if you are thinking in Australian dollars) - we choose these very judiciously! But we walked round the town, very pretty and surrounded by mountains. Being October some museums are closed (from Sept 30), and some shops and cafes close by 4 pm, but we had fun walking and being yet another fine day it was not unbearably cold. We did buy Amr a beanie (found a bargain for 49 kroner as opposed to the crazily expensive ones for sale on the boat.). I was worried about his head and ears getting frozen and he hadn’t brought a beanie with him, just his Tilley walking hat - not exactly suitable in the Arctic! And we finally found a bar open and had a wine and coffee before getting back to the ship. Carole and John had also wound their way back to the same bar, so that was fun! Now back and relaxing before dinner, and about to depart Tromsø.
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  • Day40

    Across the Arctic Circle

    October 8, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ☀️ 4 °C

    Now we are officially in the Arctic. We crossed the “line” at 8.03 this morning, and you pass an island with a globe on a stand that is the marker! Everyone out with cameras. We are again amazingly lucky with the weather, and so far our Arctic experience has been a beautiful sunny day, and not all that cold (when you’re in the sun, or not in the wind!). We keep passing stunning rocky crags, and mountainsides covered in autumn colours, just stunning and not possible to capture in photos.

    There were many stops during the night, but the first one where people could disembark was Bodø, a small town and not cute and historic as it had been bombed and burnt down in WWII and rebuilt in the 50s and 60s. However, not as ugly buildings as some from that time! We didn’t go on any of the excursion but had a walk to the town, had a coffee and hot chocolate, and came back to the ship and tried the jacuzzi! Lovely to be in the hot steaming bubbling water when the air outside is so cold...we sat in it till we pulled out of port and watched Bodø recede!

    Now having the quiet time before out 8 o’clock dinner, watched the sunset and passing islands. It is getting quite rocking as we go into the open sea for a while. When going down to our cabin a little while ago it was hard walking steadily along the corridor...hopefully not enough to get seasick...all Part of the adventure.
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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 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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  • 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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  • Day37

    Now on the Hurtigruten boat Nordlys

    October 5, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Today is an exciting day as we are now on the boat that we will live on for the next 12 days. This morning, after our sumptuous breakfast we packed up and checked out of the hotel at midday. Got a taxi to the terminal where we could leave our bags (which would be taken to our cabins) and then we were free for a few hours as check in to the boat wasn’t till 3, boarding at 4 and cabins ready at 6!

    So Amr and I went to an exhibition of Edvard Munch paintings...really good - he is so famous for the Scream that I hadn’t realised he did so many others and it was really good. Another building had the permanent exhibits - more Munch and other Norwegian artists, and some modern art - Picasso, Bracht, that took the time till we could check in and board our ship.....

    And here we are snugly in our cabin. Now writing a bit later as we had a briefing before when I was writing - about the ship and excursions and meeting the crew etc...a sort of routine as on all ships I guess, like we did on the river cruises. I think there are about 350 passengers...but people come and go at the various ports. We found our cabin and are amazed at how spacious a small space can be! Had expected to be more cramped...there is a luggage room where we can put suitcases, but we probably won’t bother as they can be put aside easily. When we arrived the beds were put away. One was a couch and one pulled down from the wall. But we pulled them into their bed formation and don’t think we’ll put them back, as plenty of room with them down, and we won’t be in here much except to sleep. Bathroom small but all works perfectly, and there are shelves and spaces to put things everywhere. We have completely unpacked - luxury!

    Carole and John booked a posher cabin than us, and with their package they get free wifi, and can log on 5 devices each! so John has very kindly let me log on my iPad, and the wifi seems good, so I think I can do the blog. We have been allotted dinner sittings and we are at 8pm which is good. C and J have been put at a 6.30 sitting and may change to coincide with us at the same table, but I think they actually prefer earlier, so we’ll see. Dinner tonight was a buffet free for all, delicious food but I can see why they regulate the times, tables and sittings as it was chaotic and people who didn’t get in early had to wait for quite a long time.

    Anyway, we left at 9.30 pm and I was out on the deck well rugged up as it was cold. Amr found it too cld and sought a warmer vantage point, but it was such fun seeing the lights of Bergen receding...just beautiful, and a huge, low, almost half moon low on the horizon. Gorgeous. Now clean and tucked in...there is even a pull out clothes line in the bathroom, and a heated floor (the bathroom floor was heated in the hotel too)...I guess Norwegians know all about cold. Now 11pm and will try to sleep, but rather excited!
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  • Day39

    A stop at Trondheim

    October 7, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Another magnificent day. It’s 6pm and dinner not till 8 (we did manage to sort out dinner with C and J together at 8!), so perfect opportunity to write what I can remember of the day. I keep forgetting little gems when I actually get down to here goes. We are at present jus cruising up the coast from Trondheim but just had a dramatic few moments when we made a right angle turn and through a very narrow passage...they only do this slight diversion when conditions are good, so again lucky.

    We docked at Trondheim at about 10 this morning, and we assembled to do the nature hike up in the hills. C and J went off to their kayaking. There were only 5 of us doing the hike, and 2 guides (not local guides, but 2 of our ship people which was fun as we are now getting to know them - Sven (who is actually German) and Nikolas. This hike turned out to be quite strenuous. We got driven out of the cry and up to the hills (Trondheim is quite flat, and the hills surrounding it are not called mountains). From there we walked uphill along an uneven and often muddy track, with many roots to trip over! It was beautiful, and we could do it easily, but certainly had to watch each step. Sometimes the water was icy so that was another hazard but I actually got hot - guess it was the work of walking, but I had prepared for the cold, and didn’t need my gloves or hat (but I did wear it in case I lost it), and tied my down jacket round my waist. The view from the top down to Trondheim was stunning of course, and we had hot drinks and chocolate up there to restore our strength. A great morning. One thing, when we first set out on the path we came across a group of kindergarten children - they must have been about 3 - all rugged up in jackets, hats, gloves and carrying backpacks and thermoses, also setting off for a hike. They were being introduced to nature and learning to be good Norwegian trekkers!

    Got back to the ship in time for lunch, and relaxing this afternoon. Watching the passing islands - just rocks poking up often, and so many of them. We passed a very old and famous octagonal lighthouse - you must certainly need guidance through all these hazards. Amr has been washing - there was a queue for the washing machine, but he does love to organise this! He is now at a talk about how to get your camera to take photos of the northern lights. They can pick up colours that are harder for the eye to see, but I doubt if my iPhone camera can do it very well...

    Tomorrow is a big day - we cross the Arctic Circle! This is almost as much of an occasion as crossing the equator is (or used to be when you did it in ships)! It will be between 7.30 and 8.30 am.
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  • Day42

    Reaching our northernmost point

    October 10, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

    A fairly quiet day today. After breakfast Amr went for his ritual sauna and walk round the deck. On deck 5 you can walk right round the ship - he says 5 laps is just over a km! It is always nice to get out there and watch if it’s not too cold or breezy! At 11.15 we docked at Honningsvåg which is where some people went on an excursion to the North Cape marker. We contented ourselves with a wander through the town which did not take long...we did go into the North Cape museum though which was interesting and well displayed. This place, like so much of the coast of Norway, was burnt to the ground by the Germans when retreating, so it also is rebuilt, and quite pretty and neat. Of course, it is basically just a fishing town. We are way above the tree line now, and the land we see is just rocky crags. Any trees in the town were planted, and probably have trouble thriving.

    Since leaving Honningsvåg we have been going out in the open sea and have to take care walking around, quite rocking! And I think this will continue as looking at the map we are out in the Norwegian Sea till we reach Kirkenes tomorrow morning. At the moment we have just pulled in to a fjord so it’s relatively calm, but we’ll be out in the open again soon, and continuing north till we reach our northernmost point before turning southeast to reach Kirkenes. There will be a few offload stops during the night, but for passengers that is the next port.

    Kirkenes is the end of the voyage for quite a few people who just do the northern journey, though quite a lot of people are, like us, continuing on the southward journey back to Bergen. So tomorrow there will be the bustle of people disembarking and others embarking.

    And today we did see rain for the first time!! There wasn’t much, and although it is quite cold, it wasn’t snow, so not that cold. By the time we walked around the town this morning it was quite bright, and though clouds are about there is also quite a lot of clear sky. I looked up the weather for tomorrow in Kirkenes and supposedly there will be snow overnight, but cloudy and little chance of precipitation in the daytime. That is so good as we have signed up for a walk to the Russian border! We do go part of the way in a bus, but then have a 4 km hike, which they have already warned will be wet underfoot. Glad I haven’t cleaned the mud off my shoes since the last muddy walk!

    Now sitting quietly - Amr got us prime position chairs at the front - which is good for now. There are many sitting places and chairs and it is usually easy to find a cosy place to sit and read etc. with a view looking out at the passing spectacular scenery. It is getting too cold to sit outside for too long, although there is one outside place that has heaters and is partially glassed in. There are 2 “public” decks where you can find places to relax - 4 and 7. The other decks are just cabins. 4 and 7 have bars, the dining room, lots of room for everyone, although I don’t think we are filled to capacity. Let’s hope for anther fine day tomorrow.
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  • Day46

    Monday - no longer within Arctic Circle

    October 14, 2019 in Norway ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Sitting sipping a wine glass of Tempranillo before dinner, trying to remember what happened today while watching an amazing sunset. Each day is so memorable, but all I can say is we passed yet more glorious scenery. No serious ports till 3 pm, but a few stops during the day when the usual handful of people got on and off and goods were loaded and unloaded. These stops range from 10 minutes to half an hour. During the morning there was a leaving the Arctic ceremony, and later there was a Norwegian folk dancing lesson. I didn’t think I’d participate, but couldn’t help myself - it was such fun, and our guides/leaders Nicklas and Sven are so funny and it was irresistible! Amr gave up after the first one, but I stayed on for the 3 different moves we learned. It is all a group thing, either in a circle holding hands, or one complicated one was in groups of 3. Anyway, lots of fun, but you probably had to be here!!

    Then we had lunch, and arrived at Brønnøysund at about 3. We didn’t go on a tour, but had a walk around the town. It is another perfect cloudless day....can’t believe it! The notable thing we saw was that the houses are not the rectangular shapes that we have got so used to - these ones had extra gables, a wing out to the side, and most noticeably they often had verandas or balconies. Also some of the leaves on the trees are still green and just getting their autumn colour. Obviously we have reached a more temperate climate, and in fact it was pleasant walking round without gloves or hat. We did however suddenly find we were walking down a shaded road that turned out to be icy, and VERY slippery. So not totally warm! But we had a nice wander. This town is the mid spot in Norway from north to south, and there is a stone proclaiming it.

    Will finish the day’s account after dinner. It is the second last night, but they are having a special farewell one, probably as tomorrow they will be getting all ready for the big departure of everyone and the turnaround or the ship at Bergen. We hear it has been raining all week at Bergen! Our luck continues.

    ...Just back from dinner. Dinners are always special, almost fine dining of special Norwegian ingredients, delicate portions - which is just as well after buffet breakfast and lunch. Tonight we had a pea soup, cod with fried kale, beetroot risotto and cloudberries, and an ice cream cake with meringue. All the staff lined up and they made a speech in Norwegian, English and German, a complimentary glass of bubbly (that is special, very little is complimentary in Norway!) and it was lovely. We have got very fond of these people...they are a team who work and live together - the same people make up the rooms (if you put a sign that you would like it done), wait on tables, and generally do many things, and the expedition team not only lead excursions but do a lot of entertainment and talks and general factotum stuff. This will be the end of a wonderful 12 days (but we still have one full day left!).
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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