A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: megandkev

Resting amidst the fjords!

sunny 70 °F

Today we did a whole lot of nothing, and enjoyed every second of it. The ship was anchored in Olden, another fjord town in Norway, but we had no excursions planned for the day. We expected to go walk around the town, but once we saw it from onboard, there wasn’t much of the town itself to see … the views from the ship, on the other hand, were once again INCREDIBLE. So, we spent a lot of the day relaxing and taking it all in! Honeymoon_Day_17_002.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_004.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_015.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_011.jpg

I woke up and had some coffee before an 8am (ouch!) spinning class, which wasn’t as good as the first one, and Kev worked out later. We headed to a late brunch (which was sooo good – some Indian-spiced eggplant dish, baked vegetables, and apple/blackberry/yogurt pie for me, and a personal Margherita pizza for Kev), then went out to read/ lounge on the pool deck. Just to reiterate, the views were amazing! Also – it was hot! Last time we read on the deck, I was wearing pants, long sleeves, and a sweatshirt, and had my towel over me as blanket, but this time, I actually went back to the room to change into a bathing suit because it was so warm and sunny out! Beautiful! We spent a good few hours reading, relaxing, and napping, and also managed to snap 79 pictures while sitting on the boat today (don’t worry, I won’t make you look at all of them!) Honeymoon_Day_17_019.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_008.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_009.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_014.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_020.jpg

In the afternoon, we came back to shower and get ready, and headed to the Planet Bar (the same one on the 18th floor looking backwards from the ship) to watch the sailaway. It was stunning, again – the snow-capped mountains, small villages, and green treed hills, all plunging into the blue ocean, make a gorgeous backdrop. We watched a nature-type short movie produced by P&O Cruise Lines in the bar, but it didn’t live up to our expectations. That was OK because we had a first-hand nature “movie” right in front of us! Honeymoon_Day_17_026.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_055.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_058.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_059.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_061.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_064.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_065.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_069.jpg

We then went to dinner, which was good again. For an appetizer, Kev had chicken and brandy pate, of which he ate about 1/16 of a bite. I had melon and sorbet (by the way, besides the unidentifiable meats, the British have a few other “strange” (to us) food customs. They seem to have the sweet parts in the wrong part of the meal – namely, at the beginning; and the savory parts at the end. For example, after your meal, you are “supposed to” get a dessert, THEN have cheese and crackers, THEN have either coffee or toast spread with anchovies. We just go for dessert and coffee, don’t worry!) We both had chicken consommé, but it was literally just broth (very good broth!) so I didn’t take a picture. For the entrée, I had chickpea tagine with vegetable couscous (this was amazing!) and Kev had roast beef tenderloin with potatoes, which he declared his favorite meal yet. For dessert, Kev had the chocolate sampler platter (yum) and I had a fruit salad, which was small and didn’t look that pretty, so I’m not including it. Honeymoon_Day_17_071.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_072.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_073.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_074.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_075.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_076.jpg

After dinner, we went to the bar to watch a bit of the Spain-Portugal match, then stopped by the casino (Kev lost and I won – ha! But just so you know, when we say “lost” or “won” it is pretty small stuff – we play at the 1 or 2 GBP blackjack tables, which is like $1.50 or $3, and in a night we’ll play about 20 GBP or $30 total! Small stuff but we have a lot of fun!) Later, we went to “Curtain Up,” which was an amazing Broadway-West End Theatre medley show with numbers from several of my favorites including West Side Story, Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, and several more. In “several more” was one musical called Blood Brothers, which I’m embarrassed to say I’d never even heard of, but I’m definitely adding it to my list! It was a really great performance both singing- and dancing-wise, and I’m glad we saw it. We’re now calling it a day … tomorrow we have our last port-day of the cruise, where we’ll be hiking a fjord in Bergen, Norway!

Oh, and one last note. Our cabin steward, Wilson, made this towel elephant for us today, which was very cute. Kevin INSISTED on taking this picture, with the caption, “I may not have gotten to ride an elephant on my honeymoon, but an elephant rode on me!” Yes, everyone, that is my husband…  Ooh, and to respond to your comments from yesterday… Mom and Aunt Debbie, that was beet (did I write beef?) carpaccio with a little tart filled with goat cheese. Mol, Pat, Mom, and Ama, we’re glad you like the trolls and gnomes. Scott, Kev will be thrilled when he hears you like his beard, and yes we’re still scared of weird meats! Pat and Holly, 10 points for identifying the Friends quote! And everyone, thanks for the well wishes and comments – you’re the best! Honeymoon_Day_17_070.jpgHoneymoon_Day_17_078.jpg

Posted by megandkev 16:07 Archived in Norway Comments (3)

Fjords, waterfalls, and dancing temptresses with tails

rain 50 °F

I wrote this late last night but the internet was giving me fits (we ARE in the middle of the North Sea), and after spending $20 in internet time hitting refresh and selecting the same pictures, I gave up. So just pretend it's last night :) ...

Yet another great day – sorry for the repetitive starts but they just keep on comin’! Thanks for all the comments yesterday – it makes us happy to get them! We docked in Flaam today (it is actually Flåm but in English they write “Flaam”), and it was a breathtaking area, full of fjords, waterfalls, lush greenery, and postcard-like views. We had an all-day tour scheduled, which included a long train ride, lunch, and a return on the bus.

Overnight, we drove inland through Sognefjord, the deepest Norwegian fjord, which goes 115 miles inland and reaches 3,700 feet below sea level and up to 6,000 feet above sea level. All this, despite being only 2.5 miles long at its longest point! Fjords are amazing things. We got off the ship this morning in Flaam, which is a small community of only 350 inhabitants, but is popular with tourists. It was absolutely gorgeous already, and the tour hadn't even begun! We hopped on a train that would take us to Myrdal, and then Voss, another popular tourist location (and home of 19 Olympic medals from the last winter Games!) Honeymoon_Day_16_003.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_020.jpg

The views outside of the train were spectacular. Once again, you really can’t put it into words. Just think – steep cliffs, deep greens, and massive waterfalls everywhere. The houses that are built on these massive cliffs are amazing – we wondered how they get food, how they have contact with civilization, etc. (By the way, 98% of Norway’s electricity is actually powered by the several waterfalls they have!) A few views from out of the train here: Honeymoon_Day_16_017.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_022.jpg

Our first stop was at Kjossfoss Waterfall, which was gorgeous. We got to get out of the train and take a look, and we saw this dancer high on the cliff (you can see her in one of the pictures) doing some lyrical-like dance. When we got back into the train, a local started telling us about her, and this was probably my favorite part of the day. It turns out she “is” a real-life, mysterious troll living in the mountainside of Kjossfoss Waterfall (trolls and gnomes are extremely popular in Norwegian legend). Her name is something that starts with an H, and she has a beautiful face and beautiful dancing that tends to lure men into her cave. However, she happens to have a tail (!), and when the men see her tail, their eyes change so that, if they ever see sunlight again, they will explode. Therefore, they are forced to stay inside the cave with her forever, and never return to civilization. Sounds like a crock, but this woman HONESTLY believed it. No joke! We heard several other examples of “legends” having to do with trolls, and the Norwegians expressed various degrees of belief, but this woman was serious! Honeymoon_Day_16_035.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_036.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_037.jpg

Shortly after the Kjossfoss Waterfall, it started to rain and hail. We were on a train finished in the 1940s, and apparently it doesn’t drive well in rain, so we had to stop for a while until the worst of the storm passed. Honeymoon_Day_16_049.jpg

Once we got to Voss, we walked to the Park Hotel (still in the rain!) for lunch. This was definitely the worst part of the day – we had probably 150 people on the tour, and we were ALL in the same room, using the same small buffet line, with about 3-4 waitstaff. It took at least an hour before we got seated with our food, and while the British raved about how good it was, we honestly just didn’t enjoy it that much (probably due to our mutual dislike of unidentifiable salami-looking meats). Oh well! In the hotel, we bought a gnome (!!!) and some Norwegian cough drops that did a great job. We wish we could have looked around Voss a bit more, as we think it would be a fun and interesting city, but lunch took too long and it was pouring, so … onto the bus we went. Honeymoon_Day_16_043.jpg Honeymoon_Day_16_051.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_054.jpg

The bus took us to a few more amazing stops, the first of which was Tvinde Waterfall. This was enormous, and so much fun to see! Apparently, if you drink water from the waterfall, you’ll stay young forever, but Kev wouldn’t let me try it  Also of note, this waterfall (of ~600 feet) completely freezes in the winter, and several people try (with mixed success) to climb it each year! We took a video here and at a few other stops today, but I haven’t yet figured out how to upload videos, so that will be a treat for later. Honeymoon_Day_16_063.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_065.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_066.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_070.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_074.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_075.jpg

After the Waterfall, we drove down Stalheimskleivane, the steepest road in Norway. The gradient was 18% the entire time, with really tight switchbacks, and in a huge passenger bus, this is a bit scary! However, the views were completely breathtaking, so it was worth it! Trust me, the pictures don’t show you how steep this was! Honeymoon_Day_16_092.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_096.jpg

At the bottom of Stalheimskleivane, we drove to another fjord called Gudvangen Fjordtell, which was by far Kev’s favorite sight of the trip, and possibly mine as well. All we did here was look, but we could have sat there for days and days just staring – it was amazing! There is a small, rustic hotel at the bottom of the valley, and we set a goal to come back and stay there at some point in our lives. Honeymoon_Day_16_112.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_115.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_118.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_120.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_122.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_125.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_131.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_134.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_136.jpg

The bus then took us back to the ship, at which point we relaxed a little while, changed, and went to dinner. We really enjoyed dinner tonight! I had beet carpaccio as an appetizer (amazing!) and Kev had shrimp with butter/ flour mixture, made into a cake (about as strange as it sounds!), then we both had French onion soup. I had salmon as an entrée and Kev had sirloin steak, and we finished with brownie and cream ice cream (Kev, with an awesome face) and lychee compote (me). Honeymoon_Day_16_144.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_147.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_149.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_150.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_151.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_152.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_153.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_154.jpgHoneymoon_Day_16_155.jpg

After dinner, we walked around the ship and took in some of the views as we were exiting the fjord, had a few drinks, and went to a comedy show, which was very British- and mature-crowd-centric. Half the time, we couldn’t understand the comic, and when we could understand him, we only thought he was funny about half of that time, so we ended up leaving halfway. All in all, it was an amazing day. Even though we really only sat on trains and buses all day, we’re both tired, so we’re heading to bed. Tomorrow we’ll be in Olden, another town in Norway, but we have no excursions planned, so we’ll see what happens! Hope you all are doing well and thanks for reading!

Posted by megandkev 01:31 Archived in Norway Comments (7)

Stavanger Countryside

sunny 55 °F

We had a great day today touring the stunning countryside of Stavanger, Norway (pronounced “stuh-VAN-gur”) by bus. The ship docked around 8:30am, and we got room service for breakfast (Kev was upset that I only let him order 3 pastries!) and met our tour group at 9:30. The bus driver was a cute Norwegian guy who delivered a few snippets of good commentary, but the highlight was definitely the scenery. The fjords are just gorgeous, and – as most landscapes – just do not come out in pictures as beautifully as they actually look. But here is a sampling of what we saw!

We tried to capture a few out of the bus window, but they didn’t turn out great d15_14.jpgd15_23.jpg
Our first stop at a fjord took our breath away – the water is so sparkling, and the green mountains plunge right into the water, which is exactly what we like (some of our favorite places “scenery-wise” – St. Lucia, Puerto Vallarta, Haiti, and now Norway – involve mountains going directly into the water). Here are several shots, including the now-standard ring shot d15_33.jpgd15_36.jpgd15_37.jpgd15_39.jpgd15_43.jpgd15_53.jpg

Our second stop was at an old cheese-factory, now converted to a candle factory, situated right next to a cave that is used for balls, weddings, etc. We got to have a traditional Norwegian snack inside the cave – it was coffee and pancakes with some sour cream-like topping and jam. It was really good but very filling! Halfway through the snack, we looked at each other and thought – “How random and amazing is it that we are in a cave in the middle of Norway eating pancakes on our honeymoon?” We are NOT letting the enormity of this huge honeymoon go unnoticed and are definitely appreciating every moment! 066.jpg068.jpg062.jpg073.jpg

Our next stop was at a giant slope of boulders that had fallen shortly after the Ice Age. The rocks were HUGE and it was amazing that they were all so perfectly poised … we’re thankful they stayed that way until we left! Again, the scenery was amazing. 080.jpg098.jpg094.jpg101.jpg104.jpg107.jpg

We took the long way back through the countryside of Stavanger, but the pictures through the moving bus window just don’t do it justice. Stavanger is Norway’s capital of oil and gas, which is the country’s main industry, so there were several offices and oil facilities (we’ve also been passing several oil rigs in the ocean while approaching Norway).

Once back at the ship, I took a long nap – my throat had been hurting all day and I was coughing a lot last night, so I tried to sleep it off. Kev went to read and nap by the pool and then went to the gym. Later, we went to the Planet Bar (on the 18th floor of the back of the boat) and watched the sailaway. The views were amazing, once again, and we had fun watching and talking. The white wooden houses you see are over 200-years old and are one of the top attractions (besides scenery) in Stavanger. 121.jpg123.jpg125.jpg134.jpg

After the bar, we headed to dinner. We each started with a Caesar salad, then Kev had sweet potato and prawn soup (forgot a picture), and turkey with potatoes for an entrée. I had baked Icelandic cod with fava beans and vegetables for the entrée. We had fruit salad (me), and maple-walnut and chocolate truffle ice cream (Kev) for dessert. By the way, tonight’s stated attire was semi-formal, and Kev looked very nice in his slacks and collared shirt, but almost all of the men were in black suits, white shirts, and ties! Last night’s formal attire was even worse – we knew Kev would be a bit underdressed in khakis, a sportcoat, and a tie, but all the men where in tuxes, with even a few white tux spottings! I guess the British love dressing up! I think this is one occasion where being a young female is helpful – you can kind of get away with the “nice dress” look even if it is not actually formal. OK, enough of that discussion! 143.jpg144.jpg145.jpg146.jpg

After dinner, we headed to the evening’s show, which was called “Destination Dance” and was awesome! I usually think the dance quality is just average on cruises (and the quantity of dancing in most productions is relatively low), but tonight’s show was a solid 45-minutes of high-quality dance. Most cast members were in about 80% of the numbers – that’s a LOT of choreography to remember especially when they are in a different show each night! The idea of the show was to do a dance or two from several countries around the world. The first number they did for the US was a military one, and this was a bit of an unfortunate choice. There is just a lot more to the US than declaring war, but that is the first thing that “foreign” people think of. Let’s be clear, though – even though we thought this, we still have the utmost respect and admiration for our troops. Hope I didn’t open a can of worms there!

After the show, we headed to the bar and casino (where we won back our losses from the other day, plus a little bit for Kev!), and back to the Planet Bar, where they were showing a montage of pictures from the Orient on the amazing 3-panel TV. (As a side note, I am not usually comfortable saying “The Orient” or “Oriental,” as I thought that was no longer PC, but they say it all over the place here, so when in Rome…) We stayed at the bar for a while, headed to the late-night buffet, and are now headed to bed! We will be in Flaam tomorrow where we’ll be going on the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour – stay tuned for an update!156.jpg
Oh, one last note … LeBron is supposedly headed to the Bulls? I am not LeBron’s #1 fan, and up until now I was not the Bulls’ #1 fan either, but we are moving to Chicago, and it would be pretty fun to see the energy that LeBron could bring to our new “home team” … but DON’T WORRY, my Mavericks fanship will NEVER be compromised!!!!!! Just saying!

Posted by megandkev 15:56 Archived in Norway Comments (3)

Day at sea!

sunny 60 °F

Today was our first “Day at Sea” on the cruise and it was a blast! Rover got most of the day off, but we still managed to get a couple of pictures to share.

First off, here are the remaining ones from last night (I’m sure you just couldn’t sleep in anticipation! Haha). Our first drink at the pool bar, Kev looking handsome, shrimp cocktail and minestrone soup appetizers, salmon, steak, and desserts. Honeymoon_Day_14_002.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_003.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_006.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_007.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_010.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_011.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_013.jpg
And a happy dinner eater! Honeymoon_Day_14_009.jpg

Here are some shots of the amazing video we watched. Can you tell which backgrounds are the movie and which are the window? (Behind me is movie, behind Kev is window, the last is the movie). Honeymoon_Day_14_017.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_020.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_021.jpg

OK, now on to today! I had signed up for a 3-class spinning package yesterday, and the first class was today at 9am. I am pleasantly surprised to report that it was an awesome class! We even beat Lance Armstrong at the end ;) After working out, Kev and I conquered a huge task – LAUNDRY! We are so lucky that our cruise ship has free laundry facilities. It was definitely needed! I feel like a new person now. Once that was done, we headed to an early lunch. No pictures, but it was good!

After lunch, we went to the pool deck to read a bit. It was sunny, but boy was it chilly! We used our towels as blankets! We came in to take a quick nap, then headed to the casino. They had 1GBP lower limits (~$1.50), so we played for a while, but we still lost. We caught a little bit of the Korea – Uruguay World Cup game, then got ready for dinner.

There was a captain’s onboarding reception tonight, so we stopped by, but we weren’t really having a great time there so we decided to head to dinner early. Here’s us on the way to dinner. Honeymoon_Day_14_027.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_028.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_032.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_035.jpg
We did get some professional pictures taken of us at the reception, so I hope those turn out well! Even with the addition of Rover this trip, it would still be nice to have a professional photo to add to the ever-expanding cruise collection!

At dinner, we got the best seats in the house – right next to the window! Honeymoon_Day_14_036.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_039.jpg
Here is the entire dining room. Honeymoon_Day_14_008.jpg
We started with some appetizers that were a little too gourmet for us – game terrine for Kev and asparagus with duck egg for me. Instead, we both got the vegetable soup which was great! For the main course, Kev got steak and lobster tail, and I got maple-glazed duck breast – both came with some sides including cauliflower gratin! In Kev’s picture, he’s saying “you’re my lobster” … 10 points for the first person to identify the TV show that comes from!!!! I had strawberries and cream for dessert and Kev had vanilla ice cream. Honeymoon_Day_14_040.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_041.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_042.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_044.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_045.jpgHoneymoon_Day_14_046.jpg

After dinner, we hung out at a bar watching the US-Ghana game. At the beginning, EVERYONE was rooting against the US, and Kev was being quite loud in his support of the US … it was awkward! We’ve heard British people speaking badly about Americans several times on the cruise, and this may or may not have been the best way to change their minds! By the end of the game, we had more US supporters, but it didn’t turn out to help the team … we lost. It was still fun! Kev wants me to mention that we do have 2 British friends so far – one is the cutest old man named Erroll who we keep running into and loves to talk. The other is our cabin steward, Wilson, who is awesome and SO friendly! Anyway, we hung around a bit more and hit up the 24-hour buffet, and now we’re going to call it a night. Tomorrow, we have a countryside excursion through Stavanger – our first stop in Norway! Stay tuned for more pictures!

Posted by megandkev 15:22 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

Onwards to Norway!

sunny 65 °F

Well, we’re officially on the Norway cruise, and it’s amazing! This one will be very quick as I’m tired, and we lose an hour tonight. Here’s the recap.

We woke up super early in Dublin, and took a cab to the airport. Flybe passed the test with flying colors compared to Ryanair – check in was easy and painless, and the flight had slightly more room. It was a prop plane, so that was a definite minus, but we made it to Southampton with no issues. Once in Southampton, we decided to save 50 GBP by taking the Uni-link bus to the dock. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going, but it worked out perfectly! Once we got off, we only had a 5 minute walk or so to arrive at the ship. Look how big it is!! Honeymoon_Day_13_006.jpgHoneymoon_Day_13_008.jpgHoneymoon_Day_13_010.jpg

Check-in was again relatively painless and took only about an hour. When we got on the ship, we hit up the buffet, and I was so hungry I didn’t take a picture, but we had some random samplings of salad, chicken, Quorn fajita salad stuff, and a cool ice-cream-cone-looking cannoli. After lunch, we checked into our room – it is the nicest cruise cabin I’ve ever stayed in! The whole ship is very modern and clean and you can tell it is very new. It’s amazing! Honeymoon_Day_13_011.jpgHoneymoon_Day_13_013.jpgHoneymoon_Day_13_015.jpg

Once we unpacked, I got to do my favorite thing on cruises – look through the daily schedule! I circled and underlined like mad  Honeymoon_Day_13_017.jpg

We then spent several hours touring the ship, and again, it’s amazing! Here are a few photos of the casino, some restaurants, the main entryway, the theatre, and the library (I already checked out a book!)

We also walked around outside and noticed the several amazing pool decks. It was fantastic weather - but quite chilly at night! The sun didn't completely set until around 11pm, and sunrise is set for 4:30am! Honeymoon_Day_13_032.jpgHoneymoon_Day_13_033.jpgHoneymoon_Day_13_035.jpgHoneymoon_Day_13_036.jpg

After walking around, we did a short workout in the gym as the ship was taking off, then showered and grabbed a drink on the pool deck while watching the boat move out to sea. We then headed on to dinner, which was great! On this ship, they do "Freedom Dining," so you can eat whenever you want rather than having an assigned time. It was very efficient and convenient! We both started with minestrone soup (AMAZING), Kev had shrimp cocktail then sirloin steak, and I had grilled salmon. Then we finished with some chocolate pot thing (Kev) and mango sorbet (me). Yum! Pics coming tomorrow.

After dinner, we headed to the theatre for a production of "New York Rhythms" put on by the dance/acting/singing troupe on board. It was great! I think the males were more talented at dancing, for sure, and arguably at singing, than the females, but overall it was very entertaining and a great production!

After that, we headed to the upstairs bar (picture here from earlier in the day), as they were showing a 2-hour feature film on manmade and natural wonders of the world. It was in HD, split on 3 screens that were each ~100 inches, and the quality was amazing. It was sooo interesting to talk about all the places we've been and want to go eventually! On the way back, we hit up the 24-hour buffet and are headed to bed. Honeymoon_Day_13_038.jpg

One random note before I nod off ... People REALLY notice our accent here! We are guessing that ~80% of the people on board are from the UK, and they ask us where we're from and can't recognize the American accent! In Dublin they were all over it. Hmm... Another random note, the average age on this cruise is approximately 70. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but we are definitely in the lower 5%. I guess we just pick "sophisticated" places :) But several of the "older" generation definitely stayed at the bar way longer than we did. We'll have to step up our game! Better post tomorrow - good night!

Posted by megandkev 16:18 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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