Northbound on the Hurtigruten January 2020

Friday 10th January

Got up at 5. A sniffer next to me on first flight to Copenhagen. Whilst sitting on the plane about to take off for Bergen I saw my suitcase on the luggage wagon approaching the hold. Good. It’s a lovely colour, turquoise.

Weather dull in Manchester, drizzly in Copenhagen and gorgeous over southern Norway. Snowy, icy rivers, lakes and mountains.

Arrived Bergen, straight onto bus to Hurtigruten terminal. Lovely clean roads and streets, so relaxing. Quite a slow check in queue because only one operator. Then another wait to embark. Eventually got on boat. My cabin is aft and my porthole looks onto the muster area. I’m next to the life equipment. That’s all my nautical lingo done.
I attended a safety demo about how to get into the thermal suit and then add the bouyancy aid.

I have a tea and coffee package included which means as many as I like all through the voyage. Off to dinner for a hot and cold buffet, all very nice, lots of salads. I pretty much had a little of everything. And a beer at £7.70 so not quite as bad as expected.

My cabin is a good size for one person. I think 2 would find it a bit tight. It’s definitely better than when Chris and I came to Norway in early September 2004. We had a disappointing cruise, tiny cabin, no room to move in the shower room and no space between the beds. Poor Chris was seasick, she was not a good sailor despite her love of water. Then we got to Bergen and loved it, we loved the fjords and all the places we stopped at just not the cruising itself. The next time we came was late April 2013 for Bruce. We went to Bergen by train from Oslo first and we really loved that trip. Plus Bruce sang just for us.
So this is my first time to Bergen by air and now I am at sea on a nice boat, not too big and not crowded, enough seats and places with WiFi.

My angels are with me, Chris who wanted to do the Hurtigruten boat trip, Carol who just liked the idea of a litter free country and beautiful scenery (she would have preferred I called her a ghost, given her desire to see one!) and me because I don’t want to be at home on Tuesday.

I attended an introduction to the boat with the manager and el capitan rocked up.
We left a bit late because the lift was being repaired. The lights went off at dinner and later in my cabin. The wireless is new today so the instructions didn’t work.

Cabin review

On this day a year ago we waited for Liz to join us before Carol’s life support was removed. I guess we made the decision to take it off the day before. Once all the tubes were out Carol was instantly more comfortable, unconscious and waving. She was paralyzed down her right side but her left hand was making up for it by waving, waving, waving. It was endearing and funny amidst the awfulness.

Leaving Bergen
I know it’s blurry but I liked the blurring on the sea

Saturday 11th January

On this day a year ago the bastards I used to work for forced me to take my redundancy papers by hand to HR. Liz and I had spent the night with Carol in the ICU so I had to leave her to drive to Bradford very early and fart around with the photocopier. Steve then took the paperwork in and did the by hand bit. I drove back to Leeds thankful that it was rush hour so the traffic was not at all rushing.

It took a while to settle to the rhythm of the ship. I quite like the rolling. My suitcase escaped noisily from the cupboard in the night. There’s a bit of vibration when we pull into ports but mainly it’s quiet.

164 people on board so the ship is comfortable and not crowded. Germans, French, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans plus assorted Scandinavians and Europeans.

After a long breakfast of fruit then some cheese and salad, chatting to 2 gay men, Philippe (French) and Alistair, who both live in Australia, I togged up well and set off into Ålesund. Chris and I came here on the cruise of doom. We stopped somewhere else and took the bus much to the consternation of our fellow passengers, the cruise staff said it wasn’t possible so we defied their nonsense and got the bus. I can’t remember much else other than we were glad to escape from them all. We had a coffee.

Today I went straight up Aksla viewpoint which is 418 steps. It was extremely windy so I held on to the rail. The cafe at the top was shut. Terrific views even on such a wet day. Back down I did the Art Nouveau circuit. Bumped into David and Jackie from Hong Kong. I went and dripped in Raccoon coffee shop, excellent coffee.

Lunch of salads with delicious salmon followed by a small plate of hot veggie pasta and a cheese and grain mix followed by berry compote. Getting more than my 5 a day.

Watched a Northern Lights film. Docked at Molde, quick whiz round with Lynn and Jan from Kent. Still wet.

Dinner of slither of salty cod with tiny veg, salty lamb in mustard sauce with tiny potatoes, tiny cinnamon apple with ice cream. Too much salt for my no salt diet. Sitting with Glenda from NZ, Jan and Marj from Oz and Martin from Switzerland.

The MS Nordlys passed us to lots of tooting, must be terrible for the neighbours.

MS Lofoten passing us
Art Nouveau in Âlesund
The MS Vesterålen
Sea view

Sunday 12th January

£2.76 for each hot drink. I’m on at least 8 a day so the hot drinks package is excellent.

After breakfast with the boys, we docked at Trondheim, I walked into town. Noticeably colder here and the pavements were slippery in places. After my leg experience I am very cautious on slippery surfaces. A nice walk round the town, not raining and some light. After passing the old church and the cathedral, I crossed the old bridge to Bakklandet old warehouse area and went in the first good looking coffee shop, probably also old. A&P were in it too. An excellent espresso then back to the ship for lunch of salmon salad plate, hot plate, caramel dessert with berries, cheese and crackers.

Bimbled about on board, sun and dry ish so stayed out a while, found a spot with shelter from the wind and hot air on my legs! Drank tea in several different lounges. The further up we go, the fewer hours of light.

Dinner thin vegetable soup, poached salmon on mash with fennel and roast veg, berries with soured milk dessert, all very good.

Attended talk by the hotel manager which was informative on the mechanics of how Hurtigruten run the ships.

More wet
The old church in Trondheim
Trondheim cathedral
Bakklandet area
Bakklandet
Great coffee shop
Bakklandet
Tricky entrance
Bakklandet
Munkholmen (Monk’s Island) near Trondheim

Monday 13th January

Breakfast, then we docked at Ørnes, ice on deck. Watched the loading/unloading. Nice spot.

Midday almost dark!

On the way to Bodø

Arrived Bodø at 12.40, Inger picked me up in the red Nissan. 5 minutes later we were at her home with Steve who had come home for lunch to see me. Bouncy little dog, Rosy and later big fluffy cat. Lovely home and good soup and great to see them both. It’s about 16 years since we had the App Soc Psy reunion.
2 hours was a bit too short so I will simply have to return! Very impressed they’ve been together for 46 years.

Back on the boat. Read my Patrick Gale. Vegetarian dinner this evening. Beets with goats’ cheese, mushroom burger with bell pepper sauce, lingon berries with oaty cream and a flower on top. All quite tasty, but the oaty cream was a bit strange and overall there wasn’t enough quantity.

Talked with G over dinner, she is the same age as me and a year further into her widowhood. Other widows totally get it. And also parents whose children have died. I’m not saying they’re the same thing.

Tried to disembark at Stamsund but they wouldn’t let me off the ship because it was rolling too much. Those returning had to jump on carefully gauging the right moment. Reminded me of doing this with my car going from Islay to Jura. Chris was driving and did it perfectly.

Farewells to Philippe and Alistair, lovely boys who made me laugh. They are off at Svolvaer and then to further adventures with dogs.

Alistair had found a recommendation in Lonely Planet for the Styrhuset pub, the oldest in Svolvaer. So I trotted about on the grit and ice, turned out it was pretty much next door to the Hurtigruten terminal. I knew I remembered the name from the year before last. Anyway it was not old either externally or internally. It reminded me of a 1980s gay bar but sadly lacking the customers. It was the sort of bar Carol would have loved. I had a beer and slithered back to the boat.

The boat stopped at the Trollfjord in the dark, no spotlights. They dished out hot sweet tea with a tiny tot of rum in a souvenir mug. Then they turned the music off and we took in the view as our eyes adjusted. Magical spot. Water flat as a pond.

Ørnes
Ørnes
At sea
More at sea
Inger
Steve with fluffy cat, they weren’t actually doing this when I was there!
Return to Svolvaer
Svolvaer
The old bar, Styrhuset!

Tuesday 14th January

Carol up a mountain in Naxos
Chris and Carol in Milton Keynes before going to see Bruce

This is the day at last. I drank some Jura whisky to take away the taste of the tea. Carol didn’t die until 5.45 in the evening so now it’s time to sleep. I need to get this day done. I’ve almost learnt that it’s possible to introduce myself to people without saying as the first thing that Carol is dead.

After breakfast we docked at Finnsnes, a nice little place. Much colder up here.

I deliberately missed the crossing the Arctic circle ceremony. Involves getting ice down your neck and castor oil, horrible ideas.

Lunch then out at Tromsø where it was only light for a hour and a half.

With my grippers on I walked over thick ice to the Polar museum in the dark at 2.30, that’s 1.30 UK time. Took them off for the museum. Exhibits were a lot about seal and polar bear killing. I found them upsetting and not very respectful. Next was a floor about Roald Amundsen, then one about Fridtjof Nansen. Interesting because Chris and I went on the actual Fram ship in Oslo.

I wanted to look round the shops but the grippers are not good on hard floors because they damage them. By then I was getting tired and scratchy and irritable because too many layers, too hot. Wanted a beer but settled for a nice coffee.

It was seafood buffet night so I had cauliflower soup, salmon with veg and rice and a little reindeer with potato followed by small spoons of 3 desserts.

Sat up with Marj and Jan laughing away about snores and farts. Just what the doctor ordered.

A funny day. Not marked it as such except for photos and Bruce and music on Facebook. I finished the L’Occitane perfume Carol gave me and wore my Born to Run shirt.

Drinking whisky.

Finnsnes
Finnsnes
Gisund bridge
Tromsø
Polarmuseet (Polar museum) Tromsø

Wednesday 15th January

Docked Havøysund. Stepped out briefly, dark, cold and windy. It was so windy this morning I thought the deck door would take my arm off.

Timetable today is packed. It would be possible to eat breakfast up to 9.45 and start lunch at 10.30! I got up early to try to have a longer gap between meals. Especially as I have to do the late sitting for dinner today.

It turned out the trip for those going to the North Cape, a whole 2 km away got cancelled because the North Cape complex was snowed in. This reverted the lunch times for everyone.

Upon arrival in Honningsvåg I went to find the Honni cafe but despite an open door and lights on, was not serving coffee. I went to the very good museum and learnt about the Nazi occupation and destruction of the town. Also a good Sami exhibit.

I found another cafe with no proper coffee, another slightly strange place so I had a quick drink, no espresso today.

I had a late lunch on the boat then watched a film about the North Cape peninsula.

I was nearly ready for my snowmobile trip, long John’s and various other layers on when there was a call to reception. The trip was cancelled because a car accompanies the snowmobiles on the road and the snow plough was busy clearing snow in the mountains and not where we would be. I was a bit relieved as it was cold and snowing quite a lot then. Instead I did my packing.

At about 5pm I was standing up and the boat appeared to run into something. There was a loud bang and I fell into the mirror. Titanic!

Dinner was celery soup, Arctic char, choc mousse, berry sorbet and soft meringue. I had a Trollfjord beer. It was fun to be with the dinner crew after all. I would have missed them if I’d gone on the snowmobile trip.

Chatted with Marj and Jan. Early to bed, no aurora. Lots and lots of roll and roll. I don’t get queasy but just can’t sleep. Did eventually.

Havøysund
Honningsvåg
Honningsvåg

Thursday 16th January

Breakfast with the girls. Vacated cabin. Sat in front lounge. One moment full dark, the next dawn. Started to see sunlight bouncing off the edge of the world so the light will soon be back. Arrived Kirkenes, located suitcase, located airport bus. 20 minutes drive in the countryside to tiny airport. It has 4 gates, numbered 21-24!
Farted about with luggage, farted about with electronic baggage check in.
Delay leaving supposedly while they got the bags on and removed the something and the mice! So curious as to what the something was. Runway sweeping and de-icing. ICE IT WAS ICE! Tired is my excuse!
A blizzard before we set off. Short runway.
Flight 1/3. Kirkenes to Oslo. Middle seat, both sides hogging arm rest. Right wearing thick wool making me itch, left synthetic making me hot.
Oslo to Copenhagen was easy. Sat with a man in the wrong seat but he was moved so I was able to stretch out. Only an hour, got in early, just as well because it was a long way to the gate, nearly 15 minutes walk.
Copenhagen to Manchester. One of the cabin crew walked down the aisle bent over saying “seat belts” reminiscent of Two Soups! Why is there always a group of tossers on every flight to Manchester?

I waited for the suitcase to come round the carousel but it had decided to stop over in Copenhagen. I reported this to Global Baggage Solutions and filled in a form by hand. The boy then typed this into his computer. He said the case was trolling about in Copenhagen and would return the next day.

Kirkenes
Bye bye boaty
It really was this colour, from the bus on the way to the airport

Friday 17th January

I waited all day for the suitcase, received 7 emails about it. Found out the boy had mistyped my postcode and not typed in my village so pretty much no chance of the case ever reaching me. I sorted that bit out. Despite it having arrived in Manchester at 9.30 am, it took until 8.30 pm to get to me. It came home very grubby and with one lock and zip opened. However all the contents are ok. Meanwhile I have no fresh veg because of having to stay home all day.

Lofoten Islands Part 3

Monday 27th

Today we got on the bus with our nice driver to go to Fiskebol. Drove onto the ferry for the half hour trip to Melbu on Hadseloya.

A good walk on a different island. Slowly going up to a lake which had cabins that seemed only accessible by boat but maybe there was a hidden track up there. Then the rain arrived just as we stopped for lunch. The first rain that landed on me so far this trip despite this being a very rainy place.

We went up to a small summit for some great 360 views. Then on a wet boggy soggy path back down to Melbu.

Bus, ferry to hotel. I turned up the bathroom floor heating to 40. Hot feet! The hotel is totally unprepared for walkers, so all drying is done in the rooms. All the rooms are the same size so I’m fine but this must be very tight for those who are sharing, especially with lots of wet gear.

No plug in the washbasin, I didn’t bring mine, thinking Norway, plug, no don’t be ridiculous. Wrong. Making do with the top of my deodorant. We have sensor controlled taps which are also most annoying when you are trying to fill the basin.

We think this is an owl’s feather

On Barheia

Svolvaer

Tuesday 28th

We walked about 10 minutes to the ferry to take us to Skrova. About a 25 minute journey from Svolvaer. My friend Inger tells me her great great grandmother came from Skrova. It’s a very lovely island and a working island dedicated to the fish, although that work has finished now for the season.

We walked first to a jetty and looked out to sea, then to a beach with jellyfish, I hadn’t seen any before, they are most odd and look so harmless. While we were there a pair of sea eagles did several fly pasts.

Next to a small viewpoint so we could get a good 360 view from the island, magnificent.

Then to another amazing spot for lunch, looking at sea and rocks.

We went to the tunnels to see a photographic exhibition of island life. Finished up with a hot chocolate (this one nice) in a cafe at the harbour while we waited for the ferry back.

A woman passed us on a bicycle holding a bunch of flowers, she stopped and offered them to us to smell. Honeysuckle and a deep blue lavender. Such a lovely thing to do.

Packing.

Dinner, and prolonged farewells. I am very glad to have met Penny and John, they helped me to have a lovely holiday.

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Skrova

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Looking back to Svolvaer

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Cat man, why so many cats?

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Wednesday 29th

Up at 5 and horribly conscious that this will be 4 later on. On bus at 6. Linda helped me to get my bag down the stairs. Breakfast boxes to take on the bus. I opted for veggie but this seems to be simply carrots, radish, cucumber, apple. Did a swop of orange for cheese. Boxes then supplemented with further boxes of bread and jam. Coffee to take out.

  • Coach 2.5 hours to Evenes airport
  • Plane 1.5 hours to Oslo
  • Plane 2 hours to Heathrow
  • Tube 1 hour to King’s Cross
  • Train 2.25 hours to Leeds
  • Train 1 hour to Sowerby Bridge
  • Taxi 15 mins home

A long day and cream crackered, but fantastic that in 15.5 hours I can get from above the Arctic circle to home. Arrived just after 8.30.

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From the bus

Lofoten Islands Part 2

Friday 24th

This day started well with sunshine over the water. Looked stunning.

On Vestvagoya and Gimsoya islands today. On the bus for an hour and a bit to Haukland beach. White sands. We’d dropped off the people doing the harder walk. We walked up and over a col to reach the white sands beach on the other side at Utakleiv. We had lunch on picnic benches. Some of the easier group were continuing to walk along the beach and some of us got back onto the coach to go to the Viking museum. This was very good. A Viking longhouse had been uncovered and a replica created. After watching the rubbishy film and looking at the artefacts, I went for a boat trip in a Viking boat which was fun. George was with me, a nice young chap. I looked after a boy whose mother could not come because they only allowed 12 at a time. Then George and I did some archery and some axe throwing. We walked back up to the museum.

I was chatting with Penny and John when very suddenly felt very ill. Went to the loo, massive sweat, almost spraying out of me. And then I collapsed, passed out completely. Luckily there was someone in the loos who got help. I came to and managed to get decent and open the door. Very very wobbly so they put me in a wheelchair. Wheeled back to where we’d been sitting. Someone said the word “sick” and I promptly obliged making a horrible puddle on the museum floor.

The bus took us back to the hotel and I went straight to bed although shivered violently for an hour. Still out of it, brushed my teeth with moisturizer just to make a terrible time even worse! Felt weak. I was sick twice more and then slept till morning. The poison is all out of my body but I banged my elbow (same one as I injured in June) and have hurt my ribs, I think from the fall, very painful, hard bending, getting out of bed.

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Haukland beach

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Irritating Viking woman who asked me if I made my own soap!

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Viking longhouse

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Utakleiv beach

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Real Viking boat!

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Real Viking

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Axe throwing

Saturday 25th

Managed to shower. Had some melon and yoghurt. Rang the doctor re my ribs pain and he said take combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen. He said it would hurt for a lot of days!

Had a crispbread and a tiny bit of slightly sweet cream cheese. Also a pancake and raspberry jam.

The view of yesterday’s drama is that it was something in my lunch. I had bread, cheese, salami, tomato and some nuts. All except the nuts, prepackaged. So I think they were the culprit.

Little walk to do some shopping. Feeling sleepy.

Slept some more. Out again to the shops.

Dinner of salads, pork and veg and mashed potato and apple pie.

Out to look at the Hurtigruten Lofoten ship which I will be on in March. Then the war museum which is a huge private collection from the Nazi occupation. Includes an enigma machine and some paintings supposedly by Hitler.

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This lights up after dark

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Rorbuer near hotel

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House made from fishing racks?

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Hurtigruten Lofoten boat

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NSU motorbike, my first and most useless car was an NSU (I paid £60 for it)

Sunday 26th

Today we walked from Apnes to Stamsund. This was a great walk with fabulous views all round.

I had a hot chocolate in the bar at Stamsund which wasn’t very nice.

Dinner of salads, beef goulash and desserts.

Short walk to Svinvoya to look at rorbuer and bust of Gunnar Berg.

Cloudberry, delicious

This will become an emperor moth

So windy I’m holding onto the cairn so as not to be blown away

Trump and Kim Jong Un in car

Svolvaer

Svolvaer

The Lofoten Islands August 2018 Part 1

This is another trip that Chris and I had hoped to do together. It’s fitting that I’m flying out on what would have been her 65th birthday.

Tuesday 21st

My journey to Heathrow was easy, all to plan. I spent my senior Railcard and split ticket savings on a first class seat from Leeds. Very comfortable, complementary food and drinks. I had orange juice, pasta salad, crisps and shortbread. The air con was too powerful and I ended up with my hood up I was so cold. Lovely and warm in London. After the tube to the airport I got on a free red bus to the Radisson on Bath Road. Very nice hotel, decent sized room. I had my M&S salads, went for a lager and watched Allo Allo (never seen it before but so silly, made me laugh) and Die Another Day (not seen this one either, how did I miss it?) on the telly.

Wednesday 22nd

The travel all went well but boy oh boy what a long day, it was easier getting to Canada. Left hotel at 7.45, straight to T2 for breakfast. Heathrow to Oslo 2 hours. Oslo to Harstad Narvik Evenes airport 1.5 hours. For an airport with so many names, ours was the only plane there. Then there were lots of people in the terminal. Maybe it’s the happening place. Off quickly on a big bus for 2.5 hours. Lovely scenery. A bit of rain and cool. Arrived Svolvaer on Austvagoya island at 8.20. Buffet dinner, salads, chicken, potato and veg, various yummy puddings. Introduction talk from Howard and Feli. Lager in memory of Chris and because I like lager. Jeg elsker pils. Unpacking took ages. And then whiskey – a half plastic bottle of Grouse which was very reasonable from Oslo duty free, for medicinal purposes!

Harstad Narvik Evenes airport

Airport

Thursday 23rd

Breakfast buffet was a bit bonkers with no set route around the different stations. I had salami and cheese on rye with sweet gherkins. I made up a crispbread and pate sandwich with gherkins and tomatoes for lunch.

Howard took us for a 15 minute tour of the town to show us the cash point, bakery, post office and supermarkets.

Set off with Feli for the hard walk. Out the town then up a steep climb to Tjeldberg-tinden at 367m. Very windy on ridge. Option to go up a gully with a rope. I walked round with some others. Lunch overlooking islands. Steep down and then lots of boggy bits. Into village of Kabelvag and to Storvagan. Got bus from Kabelvag back to Svolvaer.

To supermarket to get lager at half price of hotel.

Buffet dinner. Lamb for me, very tender. Small plate of desserts this evening.

Storvagan

Storvagan

Hill we climbed and some of our group

From the bridge that goes to our hotel

Svolvaer

Norway April 2013 and Bruce

Weds 24th April

Chris arrived at our house and we set off smartly and on time.
Everything went smoothly at Manchester airport.  I was very thoroughly checked over in security, it felt as if most of what I was wearing had to come off and the scanner went up and down about 3 or 4 times. Just as well I don’t fly very often. We got a free sample of Beefeater gin so Chris bought a plastic litre bottle of it for £13 and some sunglasses and I bought a half bottle of The Balvenie.
The flight was fine and relaxed. Interesting to see frozen lakes but not much actual snow as we approached Oslo airport. We appeared to land in a field but the airport is really quite big and we had to walk a good way to collect our bags and then a big queue to get through passport control and another long walk to the train station.
At Oslo Sentrum we bought some hair dye. C to change from the strong carrot shade and me to hide the grey. Then a bus to the Hotel Anker. A nice man was keen to help by telling us it’s only 5 mins walk. Not with these shoes! (we were wearing our hiking boots to save on luggage weight when flying). Well actually not with the weight of our luggage and I’m sure I can’t be the only one to mentally add a W prefix to the name of our hotel!
However the hotel is clean and comfortable in our basic room. Just as well we like it as we are coming back here on Monday. The wireless is less than useless though.
Straight out to find dinner. The resto we look for is a building site so we wander around a lovely indoor market in a new apartments area near the river then we go to a rougher downtown area where C gets tonic water and eventually we opt for Santino’s spaghetteria. C has tagliatelle and scampi and I asked for a 4 seasons pizza but got a spicy beef one the size of a tea tray. The food was very fresh and tasty and I got half my pizza to take away in a box. Prices are eye watering.
Feel we have not yet seen the best of Oslo. It looks a bit tired after the winter, much as our garden does. It is not as clean a city as I expected.
Back to the hotel for hair dying session, nice shower and so to bed.

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After the gin

Thurs 25th April

Got up early. Breakfast was a bit mixed. There were some horrible looking hot things – violently yellow  eggs, fried potatoes in what looked like sweet chilli sauce but the mini frankfurters were ok. Lots of cold meats, some were fine. Also cheese and pickled gherkins and fresh tomatoes and cucumber. The muesli  and runny yoghurt in a big carton were good. The juice was weak and the fact that the coffee was hot is the only good thing to say about it. The rye bread was fab.
We ate some of the food and made up bread rolls for lunch on the train. Then we checked out and got onto the bus. Another nice man was keen to help by telling us it’s only 5 mins walk. We’ve still got the luggage to consider although the footwear is not an issue today except that some twit in the shop had their eyes shut when they laced up my new Merrell shoes so as we were early for the train to Bergen I re-laced them.
The train was comfortable and we had lots of room to spread out. We went and bought coffee from the buffet car and then found we had free drinks in our Komfort section.
As soon as we left Oslo it started to become clean and lovely. We passed iced over lakes and wooden cabins. Getting higher up there was lots more snow. We went through Geilo and saw the hotel we will be going to on Saturday. It looks a good place. Some snow there but not enough for dog sledding or snow shoeing.
Higher and higher and serious amounts of snow. Travelling through miles of whiteout across the Hardangervidda plateau and up to Finse which at 1223 is the highest station on the journey. Deep winter there for the population of 10 who work in the hotel.
The train left Oslo at 8.00 and we had our slices of pizza for elevenses and our bread rolls for lunch. The first half of the journey was dry and bright. Then we went through snow and sleet. Got to Bergen and rain.
A short hop to the Radisson Blu hotel on Ole Bulls Plas.
Our room on the 6th floor is an eclectic mix of designs but clean and comfortable.
Off for a swim and jacuzzi, both hydro therapy and air therapy, then a sauna.
Off out to Pingvinen bar which is literally just round the corner. I have some problem with the bar stools which twirl me round and nearly off at 180 degrees. Chris has a dish that is only available on Thursdays. It is salted lamb with sausage, bacon and mashed swede and potato dumplings. This was raspeball. But we don’t know why it’s only served on a Thursday.  I had meat balls (kjottkaker) with mashed peas, carrots, new potatoes and lingon berries. Great combination and very tasty. Not sure about the berries they were small and red and delicious. Could even have been red currants. Also drank Hansa beer.
We finally spotted a man in a Norwegian sweater. Then out to walk off the dinner. Found a mini market for more tonic and much cheaper. Wandered around the theatre streets and narrow pedestrian streets and the harbour but both cold so after we had looked at but not entered the only gay bar in Bergen we headed back to warm up. The hills around have now got more snow on them and the cloud is low. The funicular station at Floyen is flood lit through the mist but now the rain has stopped.
We like that there is a fold out ironing board and an iron in the room, although really this needs Carol to be fully appreciated. Chris very happy that there is an ice dispenser just outside the room.

Why this was good training for polar exploration
Why this was good training ground for polar exploration

Through train window
Through train window

View from train
View from train

View from train
View from train

On the train
On the train

A relaxing glass of champagne
A relaxing glass of champagne

Old town
Old town

Old town houses
Old town houses

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The theatre
The theatre

I have no idea what to do with this
I have no idea what to do with this

The ironing board, but where is the Iron Man?
The ironing board, but where is the Iron Man?

Fri 26th April

Got up and Chris went for a swim and I went for a run. I went round and round the lake across from the hotel. My longest stretch was 8 mins and it felt fine.
Back for breakfast. Very good. Lots of lovely things. Nice cereals, yoghurts, bread, cheeses, cold meats, pickles, pastries and pancakes. We made up sandwiches for lunch plus cake and apples.
Out to the Floibanen funicular railway to Floyen. Then we walked up and up into the snow to the top at about 600m. Very suddenly we were in a whiteout as the snow, hail, sleet came down so we headed back the way we came as very few feet had trodden our intended path. The snow was deep and the map poor. We stopped for lunch at Blamanen, this is a lochan with a closed kiosk. I think it was closed when we came here before (Aug 2004).
Back down the zig zag paths to the town both with assorted sore and aching bits and bobs. Feet, legs, knees.
Back to hotel to change footwear and coats and out again to Bryggen to look for Norwegian jumpers. We looked in 2 or 3 shops and found some with good discounts and tax free (we will get the tax back at the airport). A nice man sold them to us. Chris bought 2 hats for her collection. We walked round the old wooden sector which was pretty much shut.
Back to hotel to rest with gin/whisky. Out again to Zupperia where we served by somewhat bossy girl who seemed to delight in moving customers from table to table. Chris had teriyaki chicken with rice and veg. I had marinated chicken with rice and salad. I had Chris’ mushrooms and she my sweet chili sauce.
Back to hotel for packing and bathing/showering. A terrible noisy racket set up outside but only lasted for about 20 mins. We’d seen lots of young people in red trousers and hats and now they were dancing badly by a bus.
Both very tired.

One of the 7 hills above Bergen
One of the 7 hills above Bergen

Jake and Elwood Blues, not Thelma and Louis!
Jake and Elwood Blues, not Thelma and Louis!

Frozen reservoir
Frozen reservoir

In the whiteout
In the whiteout

At least Chris can find me in the whiteout
At least Chris can find me in the whiteout

She is also well visible
She is also well visible

IMG_1191

Love the bear and the bear loves you
Love the bear and the bear loves you

Bergen
Bergen

Municipal statuary
Municipal statuary

Bergen, I like this because of the pedestrian
Bergen, I like this because of the pedestrian

Centre of Bergen
Centre of Bergen

Clock above building where we ate the first time we came here
Clock above building where we ate the first time we came here

The harbour
The harbour

From the Floibanen
From the Floibanen

This is the pond next to the hotel that I ran round and round and round
This is the pond next to the hotel that I ran round and round and round

It was this big! I've no idea what was!
It was this big! I’ve no idea what was!

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Just hanging out
Just hanging out

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Bryggen

P1010684
In Bryggen

P1010677 P1010678

Sat 27th April

Up early after neither of us sleeping very well. Too hot and surprisingly noisy.
Breakfast was great and we made lovely sandwiches.
Straight to the station and onto the train. Such a lovely sunny day so the mountains and lakes are all glistening and the snow is shining. I try to speak some Norwegian but pick some Germans to try it on so it’s a dismal failure but at least I get to practice my German a little. I also chat to an Australian woman from Melbourne and learn that they do have a snow season.
The journey back to Geilo is stunning and looks so different from just 2 days ago. I like that skis are seen as normal things to carry.
We arrive in Geilo at 11.00 and walk to the Hotel Geilo. There are only 2 others staying because the ski season is over and the summer walking has not yet begun.
The hotel has nice painted wood in the public rooms. The bedroom is ok but not special unless you count the Sandtex on the ceiling!
After settling in we go in the town. Tourist Info confirms everything is shut so they give us a free buff and free pin badges.
We have coffee and carrot cake (Chris) and hot choc (me) but it’s not got much choc in it. Walk round shopping centre and buy bottles of beer from a shop selling alcohol that is very secure with a turnstile to get in and out.
Back to hotel to change and out for a walk round the lake. We don’t go all the way round as it’s hard work on slushy snow. But we do go to the Nature Park and the sound sculpture which is lots of resonant wood clanking together in an old byre. It sounds lovely and reminds me of cow bells. Then back to hotel sometimes up to our thighs in snow and sometimes just lying on it.
Absolutely beautiful sunny day. Still lots of sun at 8.00 in evening. Have drunk 2 bottles yummy beer. Soon be time for dinner.
We set off for Hallingstuene having decided to go for the best if pricey place for real Norwegian food. We go in and it looks to be lovely place with painted wood and I’m just starting to take my things off when we find the place is full for the last evening of the season so we are well buggered there then. We weren’t expecting this as the town is so quiet and empty.
We set off for best place no. 2 which is Sofia’s at Bardola Hotel. Of course I’ve come out without a map but a helpful woman, in fact the only person we meet, directs us. It is 10 mins away.
The woman’s minutes are a little ambitious. It is a good trek along a nice little road. Bardola is a big hotel. At first it seems we may not get a seat as we have not booked but then the girl changes her mind. Plenty of tables free up as we eat so this is nonsense.
We manage to work out most of the menu successfully. They then bring us English menus which is how we know we’ve got it right. Chris opts for Jim’s burger (made by her cat?!) and me for Caesar salad, all washed down with Hansa beer.
The burger comes with cheese and bacon and fried potatoes in sweet chili sauce. It is all held in place with a skewer. The Caesar has bacon bits and croutons and is very tasty.
Back along the road as the last light goes. House lights shining on the snowy slopes. Puddles starting to ice over.

Sound sculpture
Sound sculpture

Shed for sound sculpture
Shed for sound sculpture

When I'm out on the street, I walk the way I wanna walk
When I’m out on the street, I walk the way I wanna walk

Chris liked the yellow house
Chris liked the yellow house

Big snow from the train
Big snow from the train

Frozen lake at Geilo
Frozen lake at Geilo

Our German friend took this photo
Our German friend took this photo

From the train
From the train

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From our bedroom window at the Geilo Hotel
From our bedroom window at the Geilo Hotel

A storage barn in Geilo
A storage barn in Geilo

Sun 28th April

Late and lazy start to day. We were the only ones in the large dining room for breakfast. Muesli and thick yoghurt, bread with salami and cheese. Nice coffee and juice. Rye bread fab. Crisp breads fab, I’ve not  eaten them before as Ryvita is like cardboard but these were excellent and I am converted. I had them with pâté also brown cheese which is slightly sweet. I like it more than last time but Chris not keen. We make up our sandwiches.
Off out to find the path up the hill. It is a dull day and chilly. We go into Dr Holm’s Hotel to reserve a table for the evening. The hotel is very lovely and massive. We find the path behind it and zig zag our way up and often across the ski slopes. The snow is mostly hard but when it isn’t we fall over. It’s quite fun in the birch trees and I’m pleased we got the right path from the less than brilliant mapping. It must be a very pretty path in the summer. Summer starts in June and is short.
We get up quite high at 1040m but the wind is strong and bitterly cold plus there is a big steep ski slope to cross so we turn back and stop half way for me to eat half my sandwich. We went up about 230m. Much windier back in the village so we go straight back to hotel for hot chocolate by the fire. More chocolatey than yesterday’s.
Mooch about. Finished off the last beer bottle.
Dr Holm’s is quiet. Only us and a few other parties. Chris had the fixed price menu which was scallops and langoustines, lamb shank from Flam and creme brûlée. I had coq au vin and creme brûlée. All very good and washed down with Hansa beer because we struggled with £50 for a bottle of wine.

Dragon protection racket
Dragon protection racket

High on a hill was a lonely reindeer...
High on a hill was a lonely reindeer…

Geilo ski slopes in the dark
Geilo ski slopes in the dark

Where are my skis?
Where are my skis?

We decided not to attempt this hard slope
We decided not to attempt this hard slope

I think this is a lichen, have brought some home to identify
I think this is a lichen, have brought some home to identify

Snowy walk
Snowy walk

Mon 29th April

This is Bruce day

We breakfast and make sandwiches. I have taken to crisp breads in a big way. I had no idea there were so many types.
As we get ready to leave the hotel, it starts to snow and by the time we’ve walked to the station in the blizzard there is an inch on the ground.
The journey is very pretty as everything has a light dusting of snow.
The loos on the train are gruesome today. I have taken Imodium so that my evening with Bruce is not spoit by loo breaks.
We arrive back in Oslo a bit late but quickly catch the tram back to the Hotel Anker using our 24 hour pass and get ready for Bruce. We take the 31 bus from Hausmann’s Gate to Fornebu and get off at the Telenor Arena. It’s in a bit of an industrial wasteland.
There’s a bottle neck in the queue for entrance E but we squeeze past to get to D which is much more orderly although I’m told not to block the road by a rather stern G4S security guard. As we go in I think they are playing a version of This Hard Land sung by Bruce that I don’t know and we are looking for food and drink but as soon as I realise it’s Bruce himself we race to an entrance and get a great view and he’s just singing for the people in the pit and us. He plays All that Heaven will Allow, the Fever and Growin’ Up before telling us he’ll be back later. Here is the whole pre show set on YouTube.
Despite all the arena info saying there is an 800 seater restaurant all we end up with is a long hot dog sausage in a pancake and 2 glasses of beer.
Our seats are ok and we have a decent enough view. Bruce comes on at 7.40 and gives us a great show. He’s so generous with his band. Little Steven opens with a Lillehammer song during which Bruce is just backing him. Highlights for me were the River with Bruce’s extraordinary falsetto sounding like an angel, blistering guitar on Prove it All Night and For You piano solo. Chris’ star songs were For You, She’s the One, Thunder Road and Prove it All Night.  The audience actually listened during the quieter songs but also struggled to get on their feet to dance. Even after Bruce had got everyone up, our neighbours all just sat down again.
After the show we just went and got on the 31 bus which took us all the way back to the hotel.
A Bruce nerd had attached himself to us but we disentangled quickly.
We went to Sara’s Bar around the corner and drank 2 glasses each of Frydenlund dark beer.
Very late to bed.

Greasy Lake set list

From the train
From the train

9.55
9.55

10.14
10.14

Geilo station
Geilo station

Bruce, 100 people in the pit and us
Bruce, 100 people in the pit and us

Bruce, 23,000 people in the arena and us
Bruce, 23,000 people in the arena and us

I came for for you
I came for for you

Merrell shoes
Merrell shoes

Tues 30th April

Woke late but in time for breakfast and sandwich making.
Out to city hall on tram and foot. The city hall was built in 1950 and is an eclectic mix of architectural styles but quite fun and big with some great paintings of Norwegian myths. Bought Oslo 24 hour pass, this covers most museum entries, all travel and discounts in some restaurants. With it we went on the ferry to Bygdoy. Walked a way to the Norwegian folk Museum. This was excellent and included an exhibit on Sami life. The museum has reconstructed farms, houses both rural and urban. It was a great place and we lunched on a bench in the sun outside a couple of town dwellings.
Then the Viking Ship Museum. There are 3 Viking ships which are most impressive, also a carriage and other artifacts found inside the ships because they were used for burials. Lovely carving and detailed metal work. They are having serious conservation dilemmas as the fartiacts are disintegrating.
Quite a hike to the Fram museum. By then we were running out of time as it shut too early at 4.00. I would have liked a little more time there but I did get to go inside the boat and see that they were very comfortable in the cabins. They very fairly had an exhibit about Scott. The statues outside are the ones who actually did get to the South Pole first though!
We had a look round the Kon Tiki museum which shut a bit later. They had the raft and also a reed boat which Thor Heyerdahl made a lot later on.
We got the ferry back to the city hall and then waited a long time for a tram or bus at a stop where the grass was growing over the tram tracks. The electronic signage was telling us that the next tram was due but ours had not appeared so we set off but then of course the bus did come and we had to run to get on it.
A quick change and off out on the 11 tram to Kaffistova. This is a self service cafe and we got 20% off with the Oslo card. Chris had meatballs with squashed peas, fried potato, gravy and then ice cream. I had mini reindeer burgers, veg mix, fried potato wedges, gravy followed by apple cake and ice cream.
I will be buying sweet pickled gherkins and crisp breads in bulk.
We passed the London Pub, Chris very quickly identified this as a gay bar because of its rainbow flag. We observed but didn’t go in.

We’ve seen a lot of people wearing bright red trousers. Reckon this is some national sport gear but not sure what. Seen a lot of people wearing wellies too. I can understand in the snow but it’s very dry now and seems a hot sweaty thing for poor feet. Once we found the other parts of Oslo away from what was quite a run down area, it was a lovely city to see and be in. Also much cleaner.
Back to hotel on the tram. A quick pack and back out to Bar Sara for a pint of brown lager. The handsome boy served us again. The bar is much more busy tonight because we are not there at midnight! Nice local bar. We are knackered so one drink and back to hotel. C falls asleep instantly. I fall asleep writing this account.

Oslo by night
Oslo by night

Three deer at Oslo City Hall
Three deer at Oslo City Hall

On the ferry to Bygdoy
On the ferry to Bygdoy

This is Chris' retirement abode
This is Chris’ retirement abode

At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum

At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum

At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum

At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum

These are Gentian, very pretty
These are Gentian, very pretty

At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum

At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum

At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum

Post Office at the Norwegian Folk Museum
Post Office at the Norwegian Folk Museum

Ye olde garage
Ye olde garage

Two storey privvy
Two storey privvy

Old deli was shut, they are missing a trick here
Old deli was shut, they are missing a trick here

Old kiosk
Old kiosk

Lovely stripey brick work
Lovely stripey brick work

Chris has decided to upgrade
Chris has decided to upgrade

Before Sealink
Before Sealink

Terrible image because of the glass but I loved his face
Terrible image because of the glass but I loved his face

I think this was the fancy "pleasure" boat
I think this was the fancy “pleasure” boat

My team is using dogs and we will get to the South Pole first because we are used to these conditions
My team is using dogs and we will get to the South Pole first because we are used to these conditions

I'm coming with you then
I’m coming with you then

Comfortable life on board the Fram
Comfortable life on board the Fram

The galley
The galley

The Kon-Tiki
The Kon-Tiki

Successful Norwegian Polar explorers
Successful Norwegian Polar explorers

Lovely day for a ferry
Lovely day for a ferry

This is obscenely big
This is obscenely big

On the ferry to Bygdoy
On the ferry to Bygdoy

This seemed quite big until it got dwarfed by the cruise ship
This seemed quite big until it got dwarfed by the cruise ship

Not sure what this is
Not sure what this is

Oslo by night
Oslo by night

Weds May 1st

Up early at 6.45 which translates to 5.45 in UK time. We are almost the first to breakfast and make up our sandwiches. Check out. On to tram to central station. I have loo emergency now that Imodium has worn off. We catch the local train to the airport.
First we get our tax back on our purchases although the desk is not where it says on the info we were given.
Then the check in which is entirely self service. The auto machine does not like Chris’ passport. Eventually we get it to work and it spits out boarding passes and luggage labels. We have to label up our own baggage and stick the labels to themselves which is just not very easy although everyone else manages to do it neatly. We have to scan our luggage onto the conveyer belt. Too much DIY and a bit stressful.
Into security. This time I don’t get a full work over. My jeans don’t fall down when the belt comes off as I have eaten so much that my BMI shows I am too short.
Into duty free for essential shopping. Onto our gate. We get coffee but machine breaks as we are supposed to be boarding. Coffee not nice. Always get the coffee from the percolator jug!
Onto plane. Beer!

And I liked this one, because I am actually in it!
And I liked this one, because I am actually in it!

On the plane home, Chris liked this one
On the plane home, Chris liked this one

Tips to save money in Norway

Don’t buy bottled water, the stuff in the taps tastes good. Buy travel saver tickets for the trams, buses, ferries in Oslo and use them wisely. Also the Oslo pass for museums and travel. Get up early if you are going to Bygdoy. Make up sandwiches from the generous hotel breakfasts. Take resealable sandwich bags. Buy spirits from the Duty Free in the UK.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.