A Travellerspoint blog

Norway

See you later, Norway!

rain 55 °F

As I sit here and write this, we’ve just finished up our last night on the Norway cruise … we can’t believe it has gone so fast and we’ve had a blast! We really enjoyed Norway and hope to come back again one day. Last night, I was too tired to write, so tonight I’ll give you a recap of the past 2 days.

Yesterday morning after breakfast, we were set to hike Mount Floien, a fjord in Bergen. Unfortunately, the day was very foggy, with some scattered showers, so we knew the view from the top wouldn’t be as spectacular as we were hoping, but we decided to give it a go anyway. We were glad we did – it was a lot of fun! Honeymoon_..-19_024.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_032.jpg

We took a bus from the ship to the city center, where we caught the funicular – this cool trolley-like thing that takes you halfway up the mountain. You can see the tunnel of the funicular here, as well as the view from it (raindrops and balding man’s head included). From there, our group hiked several paths on the mountain, eventually making it to the top. The hike itself was pretty – very lush and tree-lined, with nice, wide paths and several lakes along the way. Honeymoon_..-19_002.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_004.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_028.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_030.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_049.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_059.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_035.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_041.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_074.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_088.jpg

One pretty hilarious thing was that our guides had NO idea where we were going! It was their first time guiding a tour group on this mountain, so they kept pausing to look at signs and maps. They even had us hiking up a “waterfall” (more like a river on a hill, but waterfall sounds cooler!) at one point! It was pretty funny, because we didn’t mind taking the circuitous route as we were enjoying the views, and we knew that the ship wouldn’t leave without us (since we booked the tour through the ship). You can see them looking at signs and maps a few times here. Honeymoon_..-19_082.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_085.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_108.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_110.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_111.jpg

From the top of the mountain, the fog was still quite heavy, and you really couldn’t see anything, but once we got back down to the halfway point we had a great view of Bergen! The hike took about 3 hours and was a blast. Honeymoon_..-19_118.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_122.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_125.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_113.jpg

Once we got back to the ship, Kev went to the gym and I took a nap – I really wasn’t feeling that great after being in cold, wet weather all morning – I can’t seem to shake this head cold! After that we looked at the dinner menu for the main restaurant, and were really not impressed (we saw “egg mayonnaise” and “breast of pigeon” on there, to name a few), so we decided to hit up the Italian restaurant instead. We are so glad we did – it was awesome! We started with minestrone soup (me), tomato and mozzarella and bruschetta (Kev), and then had tuna (me) and lasagna (Kev). The lasagna was basically a big bowl of meat with a couple of noodles, so it was very filling, but we still had room for some chocolate cake with cream (Kev) and strawberry gelato (me). Yum! Throughout the night, we also went to several bars and lounges around the ship, just trying to soak up all the entertainment and fun on our second to last night! Honeymoon_..-19_148.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_151.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_157.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_158.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_159.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_160.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_161.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_156.jpg

Ama, as we were watching the sailaway, we saw this lighthouse and I thought of you, so I had to include it here! Honeymoon_..-19_149.jpg

This morning, I had my 3rd and last spinning class on the ship, then joined Kev for breakfast. We sat in a lounge area and read (two side notes here … first, the initial lounge we tried to go to was having a seminar on “Arthritis: Conditions and Treatments,” which we thought was pretty hilarious and really gives you an idea for the crowd here! Second, I read like a madwoman today, trying to finish up my cruise library book. I had just finished “What is the What” yesterday, and it is an amazing, historically-accurate book about the Lost Boys of Sudan, and now I have 60 pages of “Body Surfing” by Anita Shreve to finish up by tomorrow!) Somewhere in the midst of reading, Kev went to work out, then we relaxed a bit more throughout the afternoon, eating pizza, doing laundry, packing up, and enjoying our last afternoon here.

Tonight, we headed to our last dinner on the ship, and it didn’t disappoint. We each ordered the “avocado and pear salad,” which was actually a TON of avocadoes and a few raspberries, then we had roasted red pepper soup (Kev) and green lentil soup (me). Kev had grilled sirloin steak and I had lemon sole, and we finished off with Strawberries Romanov (me) and vanilla ice cream (Kev). We were wondering earlier how much weight a person could possibly gain on this 7-day cruise, and we figured 7 pounds was about right. Sometimes it seems like all we do is hop from buffet to buffet, but we’re not complaining! (And while we personally haven’t gained 7 pounds on this cruise, I definitely wouldn’t rule it out for the whole trip!). Honeymoon_..-19_162.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_163.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_164.jpgHoneymoon_..-19_165.jpg

We spent the evening hopping between various spots on the ship again, just enjoying it all. We saw a great show called “Reel to Reel,” which took some of the most popular soundtracks from British cinema and performed them through dance and song. It was great – these people are really talented. Also, one of our favorite P&O employees is from Hungary, and happens to know a fellow Hungarian that is an employee on our next cruise, even though it’s a different cruise line. Tonight, he hand wrote a note introducing us, saying we’re honeymooners, and asking the new employee to treat us well. Isn’t that so nice? The staff here has been great.

Tomorrow, we will get off the ship, and somehow transport ourselves from Southampton to London, where we’ll stay tomorrow night before flying to Venice on Saturday. Of course, we’re sad to leave Norway and this cruise ship behind, but it’s hard to complain when you have such amazing things ahead!

Posted by megandkev 15:42 Archived in Norway Comments (2)

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)

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