"" Writer's Wanderings: May 2023

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Cards and Waves and Baby Yoda, Oh My!

The last week of our Norway cruise gave us three sea days. Ah, but now we were armed with playing cards and there was always an empty table in the bridge players room. 

Not only did we have a table to play cards at (we play Hand and Foot, not bridge) but there was always a table set with hot water, tea bags, coffee, cream, sugar and yup, chocolate chip cookies. One day we even had sweet rolls. And the bridge players rarely showed up in the morning.

It certainly helped to pass the time better than the adult coloring sessions or the How To Look Ten Years Younger seminars. I told Bob if I couldn't look twenty years younger, it wasn't worth sitting through.

We managed to watch a couple of movies. They showed 80 For Brady one night on the large screen near the Lido pool. At least it was quieter than the afternoon they tried to show Puss N Boots. 

There were two days that were really a rough ride on the North Atlantic. As we came out of the theater the one evening a wave caught the ship and sent us all staggering into the wall. I didn't look back but I surely hoped those people coming up the stairs behind us from the lower seats were all okay.

Bob has visited the gym most every afternoon. He's so dedicated. It's usually right after his afternoon nap.

I've spent much of my afternoons working on this blog which has helped to pass the time. What few lectures there are on sea days we've heard before, including A City On The Sea, which we saw on the first segment of our cruise. It is a video featuring areas of the ship like the engine room and the bridge that are not open to visitors. I had no idea there was a tailor onboard but it makes sense that uniforms would need repair (maybe expansion?). Back in the really old days they actually made all the uniforms onboard the ship.

Towel animals are not as frequent as they used to be but they still show up once in a while in the evening. We've had an elephant, a lobster, a frog and with the voting on Facebook done, a Baby Yoda. I wasn't sure if it was Yoda or a teddy bear so I took a survey of my Facebook friends. 

As we wrap up this last sea day, we'll be pulling out the suitcases from under the bed and packing before we go to sleep. We'll skip putting them out in the hall for pickup as we will roll them off the ship ourselves early in the morning and over to the Amsterdam Central Station to take the train to the airport. With any luck it will all go smoothly and we'll be home soon.

 At least home will be a bit warmer than it was here in the Land Of The Midnight Sun. I'm not as hardy as the Norwegian surfer we caught running across the field with his board under his arm headed for the waves. 

I wonder if he had long johns on under the wet suit?

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Discovering Bergen, Norway, Again

Bergen would be our last stop of this cruise before departing in another day in Amsterdam and ending our six week travel adventure. We look forward to going home but only to catch up a bit and plan for the next trip. This would be our third time in Bergen and we looked for something a little different to do but were concerned with traveling too far out into the countryside with the time restrictions. The next day would be a day at sea--not like we could just meet it at the next port in the morning if we missed the ship.

Instead we relied on my app, the GPS My City app. Again, it turned out to be a great tool. We saw places in Bergen we hadn't seen before. In visits past, we had stayed pretty much in the harbor area. This city walk took us away from the historic wharf for a bit.

Old city gate

The ship didn't dock in the same place as usual. We were in a commercial shipping area. It was a bit of a trek to get to main street by the port. Then a good walk to our first point of interest on my city introduction walk. We passed by the Hop On Hop Off bus. My ankle was doing quite well, still a little tender now and then but I could actually see my ankle bone and the bruising was beginning to fade. We soldiered on.

Our first point of interest was Torgallmenningen Square. Honestly, the Norwegians have the longest names for things. The square was very pretty even though we were still in some cloudy and drizzly weather. I think it was following us. 


As our commentary pointed out, Bergen has been plagued with fire after fire. Wooden houses and buildings built side by side made it easy for the fires to spread. After rebuilding and rebuilding they decided that redesigning the city with more squares and park areas would decrease the chance of a fire spreading so quickly through the city. The Torgallmenningen Square is full of nice stores, a monument to seamen and a blue stone that we never could find but was said to be a meeting place for people. 

On to the city park which is close by. It is beautiful with a large lake and lovely flower gardens around it as well as some interesting buildings. 

Walking past the city park, we ambled on through the drizzle to find King Oscars Street. There is a gate on one end of the street. Again some interesting old buildings including a hospital that was for treatment of leprosy and is now a museum dedicated to the disease. We passed.

Not far away was the Bergen Cathedral. To our disappointment it didn't appear to be open. Not only would we have enjoyed a look inside but a chance to get out of the rain that was a bit more than drizzle then. We did find a very small bakery to duck into for a coffee, tea and Bob's favorite, a cinnamon roll. 

St. Mary's

Refreshed and a bit drier, we passed on the Floibanen Funicular which was next on the list. Been there, done that and in much nicer weather conditions. Instead we headed for the Kjottbasaren Market which was supposed to be a fruit and vegetable market but turned out to be an old market building made into a whole bunch of restaurants. They all face the outside of the building and look quite nice but we planned on eating on the ship. Besides, there was that cinnamon roll....

The fish market was right nearby as well as extra food trucks. We began to get the idea that the city was gearing up for something else, not just the cruise ships. The fish market is always fun no matter what city you visit. We found whale meat at this one and heard one visitor ask what it tasted like. The answer was not chicken. The whale meat is very dark, even darker than the beef it was said to taste like. We contemplated buying some whale meat sausage but then passed on the idea. Not sure what kind of whales it came from but there was the picture of an orca on the front of the package.

Rosenkrantz Tower

Before long, we found ourselves at the historic wharf called, Bryggen. I am so glad I have pictures of it from previous trips. about a fourth of the buildings were draped for restoration and the area in front of them was a zoo of activity where they were setting up for the Tour of Norway bicycle race. I think it started in Bergen but it looked like they were still preparing for more events. 

The rain got a little heavier again so we ducked in and out of several souvenir shops in the wharf area. Eventually we made our way over to St Mary's Church which is normally open to visitors (for a fee) but this day was closed for a funeral. St. Mary's is the only survivor of the 12 churches and three monasteries that were built during the reign of King Olav (1066-1093). It is the oldest building in Bergen. There's a lot to be said for building with stone.

Onward to the Bergenhus Fortress and Rosenkrantz Tower while the rain was letting up. Bergenhus has been a military facility since 1628 and still houses some military in the fortress area. The Rosendrantz Tower seems to be a mishmash of several different buildings throughout its life. There were dungeons in the bottom, cannonballs on the top, and in between were resident areas. For $14 we could climb to the top. No thanks.

Even though the sun was beginning to break through, we had walked enough and we knew we were a good ways from the ship. It was about a forty five minute trip back using our Find My app to direct us to our suitcases left on the ship. 

Wouldn't you know it. The rest of the afternoon was filled with sunshine.

Something I have not mentioned but noticed again today are the old phone booths that are still around. No phones. Just books. Take one, leave one, I think. I would have taken a picture this morning of the one we passed but there was a lady inside of it looking through the books. Nice repurposing.

Friday, May 26, 2023

My Favorite Fjord, Geiranger

To understand why this is my favorite fjord in Norway, I have to take you back, way back, to when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. In our geography books (back then we actually studied geography) there was a picture of Geiranger. I didn't know its name at the time but it made me fall in love with the Norwegian fjords.

Fast forward to several years ago and our first cruise in the fjords. We came to Geiranger Fjord. It was a pretty day as I recall with some sunshine. As we cruised in, I suddenly had a flashback to that picture. This was the place! And it was just as beautiful for real as it was in the picture.

This day was our third visit and the earliest in the season we have ever been here. Just like home in NE Ohio, the weather was unpredictable and the best the captain could say was that even though it would snow in the upper regions, it would not snow near the water. 

No, it rained. 

The sea walk moves out to the ship.

Our view of the fjord was clouded and gray as we boarded the tender boat that would take us to shore where we would catch a ferry that tours the fjord to Hellesylt, a little town at the other end of the fjord from the town of Geiranger. We were originally scheduled to tender and then it changed to using a retractable sea walk, as they call it. Something new to us. When another ship that was larger than ours was scheduled for the port, they were given the priority for the sea walk. It was good though as later on when we returned we saw people standing and waiting for the sea walk that had been retracted to allow for a large boat or something to pass. We were tendered to our ship while those on the other ship still waited at the shore in the drizzling rain.
Mountainside farm

The ferry from Geiranger to Hellesylt takes an hour and five minutes. Roundtrip for the two of us was about $100 USD. An inexpensive excursion by any stretch of the imagination. For some reason, back in February, I had made the ticket reservation for 8 AM. What was I thinking? We got up very early and hustled to the Lido for early breakfast then down to the lounge where the tender tickets were being handed out. Knowing they would take early excursions first, I was relieved when we got a ticket and were loaded on a tender by 7:30.

The Seven Sisters

The walk to the ferry takes about five minutes from the tender dock and we showed our e-ticket and were aboard in plenty of time. The ferry has a low deck for cars and then a lounge area above as well as a few open deck areas. The lounge is very comfortable, some couches, nice chairs, and tables with chairs near the snack area. As we walked past the snack area, the girl was making pancakes on a griddle. They smelled really good but we resisted and just got two coffees.

There were very few people on the ferry this early. I thought there might be more with two ships in. We got front row seats on two comfortable chairs and watched as the front of the ferry which rises up to allow cars to drive on was lowered and we backed out and turned. Ahead of us was my beautiful fjord, still beautiful even with the drab day.

The rejected suitor.

We passed the famous Seven Sisters Falls. Last time here there were only five or six flowing. It is said that the falls were actually seven sisters that never married but across from them is a wider and a little shorter waterfall said to be the Wooer or suitor. In the center of that fall is the shape of a bottle if you use your imagination. They say he was rejected by the sisters so much that he finally took to the bottle to ease his pain.

There are also a lot of farms dotting the hillsides. One is very old and remote. The only way to it so long ago was to climb a ladder. It was a valuable position for the farmer as when the tax man came, he would retract the ladder and the tax man could not get there to collect taxes. 

Another farm story was that one of the farms had young children that needed to be tethered because there was not much room to roam and parents worried they would fall over the edge. 

There were a few breaks in the clouds here and there and some of the snow topped mountains shone brightly only to be covered again by a cloud and a shower of snow which turned to rain as it got close to the water.

We got off the ferry just long enough to snap a picture or two of the church and the falls that runs through the town. Our return trip was in 20 minutes. Again, I didn't think of that when I booked it but it was fine considering the weather. It was only about 39 F and drizzly so we wouldn't have enjoyed walking around too long. 

Back on the ferry the thought of those pancakes and our hasty breakfast won me over. I suggested we get some along with another cup of coffee for the trip back. The pancakes, called Sevele, came with either a butter cream filling or thinly sliced brown cheese. The Norwegian brown cheese is called Brunost and is made from whey. It has a sort of sweet taste but not a heavy cheese flavor. I got that one and Bob got the butter cream. Both were very good, especially with a little strawberry jam on top.

The clouds had lowered a bit more for our trip back to the town of Geiranger. I was glad I snapped more pictures on our trip out. There would be a second chance for good pictures if the weather broke a little for our sail out around dinner time.

At around 4:30 when everyone was to be on board, the captain made an announcement. There were 340 or so passengers missing from the ship. Not to worry if you looked out the front of the ship, you would see the traffic jam they were caught in. From what we could piece together from other passengers it sounds like one of the tour busses either got stuck on one of the hairpin turns on the roads leading up the mountain or it broke down. We heard both versions. Either one required a tow truck which had to be ferried in from Alesund. I think that would have been about a three hour trip. The busses all got backed up on the road along with a small semi-truck that we could see. There was no way around the bus.

Oh, the pancakes!!

We were a little over an hour late leaving Geiranger but all passengers were accounted for as they hoisted the tenders back up and left. The wind had died down some so the captain gave us a little treat in doing a 360 in front of the Seven Sisters Falls. Everyone got a great look at them.

Our dinner was special. Normally, or should I say in the past and on some other cruise lines, there is a lobster night. On Holland America there is no longer a special lobster dinner night. Instead you pay $15/each for two small broiled lobster tails. Bob decided we needed to try it. The lobster was good but we remembered the night we had lobster on a Celebrity ship not long ago and we got surf and turf with an extra lobster for no extra charge.

On to Bergen...

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Safari On Water At The North Cape of Norway

All suited up in thermal buoyant suits and life vests, it was time to board the RIB boat. One look and I knew I was in trouble. The seats were made to straddle. I could barely move as it was (not to mention the bad ankle). I was so bundled up I felt like Randy in his red snowsuit in Christmas Story. 

As I danced about trying to figure it all out, Johnathon, our captain, looked at Bob and told him to lift my leg over while he kept me from falling. It was all done so quickly, I had no idea how it happened. 

Suddenly I was straddling the seat like riding a horse. Thankfully my toes touched the bottom of the boat. It brought back several painful memories of other horseback rides not too far in the distant past and I figured they were going to have to carry me back when this was done.

The six of us were all seated and ready to go. Johnathon did a few maneuvers with the boat so we could get the feel of it. Surprisingly the seat was quite comfortable as it supported my back. He promised no high speeds or quick turns. It would be an easy ride. And it was.

We all searched the shores and the slight waves for any sighting of birds or marine life. There was a chance of seeing minke whales or dolphins or seals and lots of birds. Most of the birds we saw were sea gulls and dotted the small islands we explored with their bright white feathers. Today the sun was making them brilliant. 

Along with the large gulls were a smaller breed called kittiwakes. They had large colonies on the islands and would rise up in a group and take to the sky. Dotted among the gulls and kittiwakes were large black cormorants. 

Trust me. The little dot on 
the left is a puffin.

Several times we saw an eagle soaring above our heads. Not easy to catch on camera with the boat bouncing and turning and sitting in close quarters. 

Once in a while I would see small birds skimming the top of the water and wondered if they were puffins but they usually turned out to be black and white guillemots.

At last we saw a puffin! It was floating by itself although Johnathon mentioned that there were others flying about. I never caught sight of them. We circled the little guy who would disappear beneath the surface and pop up again as he went after food. This is the time of year they are still out in the water feeding. I managed one shot where he was actually in the picture. Look closely. Some day we'll be in the right place at the right time to get to see them on land when they're nesting.

Rounding the end of one island, Bob spotted the head of a large seal who was in the water. He bobbed up and down and dove a couple of times but wasn't curious enough about us to get too close. 

Enough bird watching, we took off to view the North Cape from below. It truly is an amazing place. When Johnathon told us about the winter waves being so high that they wash over the islands we'd been around, I could only imagine the pounding that the cliff walls of the North Cape take in the winter. This was the perfect day however to be boating and viewing the shoreline. The waves were minimal and the sun was warm. The breeze only picked up a bit toward the end of our water adventure.

Back on land we were treated to coffee or tea once we were out of our thermal suits. We enjoyed the relaxing moments and talking about our experience as a group. Johnathon offered us the opportunity to add on to our excursion. Since it was such a beautiful day and we had plenty of time before needing to be back on the ship would we like to drive up to the North Cape and view it from the top? We all agreed and paid an extra fee for the trip. A good part of the fee would go for the entrance fee to the area. They charge per person and per vehicle. 

It was a bit chilly on top since it was an open area and the wind was blowing a little harder. There is a building with a gift shop and cafeteria and some places to view from inside. We walked around a bit and looked at the globe that is the iconic symbol of the North Cape and some other monuments, in particular the Children of the Earth monument.

The monument is dedicated to the destitute children of the world and each year a prize is awarded to an individual or a project that has demonstrated compassion and ability to help children that suffer somewhere in the world. 

At  71° 10′ 21″ N25° 47′ 4″ E the North Cape is often said to be the northernmost point of Europe. It's not. There is a piece of land that extends about 5,000 feet further north but it isn't quite so dramatic as the North Cape cliff. 

Our group had spotted lots of reindeer here and there along the way. Johnathon couldn't stop along the road for pictures. The road was pretty busy with busses and cars and a lot of campers. He did have a friend who was very accommodating though. This friend is a surgeon for seven months out of the year but for four or five months he honors his Sami heritage by coming back to take care of his reindeer and dress in the Sami traditional dress for the visitors. 

We stopped at a spot along the road that was set up with a small gift shop in a wooden shelter along with some artifacts. Inside you could purchase some warm gear like boots made out of real reindeer hide.

Outside was a fenced in area with two reindeer. This time of year they are shedding their whitish colored fur for a darker brown. We were told the rabbits do the same thing in the spring. One of the reindeer was very used to tourists. The other was in training so to speak and was a bit skittish. He had to bring him up the hill on a tether. 

Photo ops done, we loaded the van and headed back to Honningvag admiring the beautiful landscapes along the way and learning more about life in the most northern parts of the world. It was not without mutual sharing of customs in our country as well and a discussion of gun laws. There is a ban on automatic weapons and handguns must be a certain calibre. To modify a gun into a semiautomatic is a felony offense. 

After much thanks and appreciation extended to our wonderful guide who dropped us off near our ship, we made it back on board in just enough time to get the last few minutes of lunch on the Lido before it closed. 

It had been a spectacular day and I was so grateful to have found a tour operation who treated us so well and offered us such a wonderful experience. Just in case you need to information if you are visiting the North Cape any time in the future here is the link to The North Cape Experience website. There are several different tours offered and they were extremely accommodating for cruise passengers. Baring bad weather, you will have an excellent time and I'm guessing even if the weather is bad, Johnathon and his staff will find a way for you to enjoy your visit.

Our day of beautiful sights was not ended with our return to the ship. The day was so perfect that the captain actually slowed the ship at the North Cape and turned it around completely to give everyone a view of the Cape. It was after dinner but the sun was still up and wouldn't set again until we made our way past the Arctic Circle in another day or two. We sat on our veranda and wrapped ourselves in a blanket to keep warm when the ship turned and we were in the shade. It was peaceful and restful and satisfying. 

What a day it had been!

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Perfect Day In Honningsvag, Norway

A Honningsvag welcome

The last time we were in Honningsvag we did an excursion out to king crab traps and had an encounter with them just before we returned to shore to eat some. I had originally booked an excursion to do a similar thing but I received word as we got closer in time to our arrival at Honningsvag that the excursion did not have enough interest and it would be canceled. The company I booked with however offered us an alternative adventure and it included the possibility of seeing puffins. We were in!

After a little bookkeeping, canceling through the booking agent and booking directly through the tour company, we were set to go when we arrived. Our arrival morning could not have been more pleasant. The temperature by the time we were done with breakfast was already up to 50 F. The sun was shining brightly, although it had done that all night as well. We went ashore to find our meeting point.


The ship was docked right near the information building and just outside, we met the tour leaders from The North Cape Experience.  There were two large vans, one for the group who were not going on a boat ride and the other for those who were. Yes, we were on the boat ride.

Our guide set out with the six of us who were going to experience the North Cape by sea. The other van followed and our first stop for both groups was a fish operation where they were drying the fish in the open air. It has been done for hundreds of years this way. They are called stockfish and are usually cod but he had another variety there as well, haddock or halibut.

The fish are dried during the colder months. The cold dry air slowly dries them. I believe there is one other step when the May temperatures begin to climb. The bodies of the fish can be rehydrated and used in a variety of dishes depending upon what country is using them. They are shipped all over the world. Our guide said the reconstituted fish is even better tasting than fresh. The heads of the fish are also dried separately and are used in fish seasonings or ground up and added to other foods to add protein especially in countries where protein foods are at a premium.

Next up was a stop along side the road where a Sami tribe lived. The picture I have shows the old traditional shelters they lived in. Nowadays they live in more comfortable homes. The families that make up the smaller Sami population near Honningsvag own all the reindeer herds that are on the island. I believe he said the reindeer numbered about 7500. 

The Sami have their own language and have historically been herders, fisherman and hunters. Today they make most of their living from their reindeer. Reindeer meat is high in protein and low in fat, so low in fact that pork fat is often added into their sausage. The Sami are said to be an indigenous people but like the dispute over the northernmost city, there is also a small dispute over this as well. The Sami can also be found in several other northern countries including Sweden, Finland and Russia.

A lookout point gave us a great view of the Tufjorden (fjord). This day could not get any better weather wise. The clear blue skies and warm sun was a true gift. This view of the fjord was spectacular. The snow still lingering on the hillsides and nearby mountain cliffs was a reminder however of just how far north we were.

Back in the van, we headed along the road to Skarsvag, the northernmost fishing village in the world. I don't think this one was disputed. It also happened to be the place where our guide lives in the months that he is a fishing captain bringing in a ton or two of fish to the place where they are dried. The darkest months of the year (when the sun never rises) the family spends in the Canary Islands and the months that he is a tour director I'm guessing he spends in his home in Honningsvag.

Here is where one group parted with the other group but not until we had the opportunity to meet up with the king crab. There was a large pool with a half dozen or so very large crabs. Our female tour guide fished one out and explained how to hold it safely for man and crab. Rubber gloves were passed from one person to another for whoever wanted to hold the red crusty clawed creature. Bob got his chance and we took the photo op.

Meanwhile our guide, the captain, was preparing the boat for our wildlife safari on the water and our visit to view the North Cape from the water. We six needed to suit up. While we were promised not to get wet, the thermal suits were buoyant and warm against the cold air. And just to make things a little more challenging, marine regulations required an extra little life vest.

I think I'll save the ocean adventure for the next post. Hang on. It was quite a ride.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Across The Arctic Circle, Hammerfest, Norway

About midnight of our sea day between Trondheim and Hammerfest, we crossed the Arctic Circle. I wasn't up for it but I assume the sun still was at two in the morning since it was still light outside when I woke for a visit to the bathroom. Our sea day was foggy and cold and full of swells that looked about eight foot or more. The captain assured everyone that the ship could handle it and more, which could happen as we traversed the North  Sea. There were times I wondered if the Deadliest Catch was filming nearby.

Our docking in Hammerfest the morning of our arrival was delicate. The dock is not very large and they had to drop anchor as well as tie up to shore to be sure the ship would not move if the wind kicked up. There was also a little tricky maneuvering to get the gangway fixed properly. The tide was up so we had to climb up and down and "mind our head" as the top of the hatchway to exit was not far above it. (Later when we returned and the tide was lower, it was much better.)

The morning had featured some showers just before our arrival so the ground was wet and the clouds were hanging around as well. Still the pretty colors of the buildings on shore looked inviting. Mountains in the distance still had plenty of snow and we noticed the snow line was a little lower here than in previous ports. There were also lots of snow fences dotting the hillside behind homes and buildings. We could only imagine how deep the snow got in winter.

Snow capped mountains and snow fences aside, the Gulf Stream flows all the way up here and keeps the seaport open with its warmth. The lake Bob found however was still frozen. No Gulf Stream there.

Again the ship offered a shuttle into town ($19.95) which was only an eight minute walk around the harbor. Well, it was a little longer for us as we took it slow with my ankle. There was no hurry anyway. The town isn't that large and we had all day.

It is said that Hammerfest is the most northern city in the world. Some of that is disputed by several other cities including what will be our next stop, Honnigsvag. It seems the dispute has to do with qualifying as a city with your population numbers. I believe Hammerfest is a little larger in that respect but Honnigsvag claims to be grandfathered in when they changed the qualifications for city status. 

As we walked into town, we began to see bear pawprints on the sidewalk. They were painted white and we assumed, correctly, that they would lead us to the Polar Bear Society. This place has nothing to do with taking a cold plunge into the Arctic waters or even local polar bears. The bears are no where near here. It has a small display of a stuffed polar bear and several other animals and information on fishing and exploration of the area. There was a sign that said by appointment only so I don't know if there was more to it or not. I don't believe so as I can't find anything else online to indicate that. 

The big deal is that for around $35 USD you can buy a membership. You get a polar bear pin in silver and enamel, a sticker of their logo and a diploma signed by the mayor all to prove that you visited the "World's Northernmost Town." The money they say goes to support the exhibition and pay for the memorabilia you get. I would have considered it if some of the money were going to protect the bears. 

With the Polar Bear Society there is also a tourist information center with, yup, a gift shop full of stuffed polar bears and pins and other souvenirs.

We could see some sunshine on the snowy mountains in the distance but there was none to be had as we walked around the harbor to find the unusually beautiful Lutheran Hammerfest Church. It was Sunday and they were preparing for service and a greeter at the door was very gracious but nicely keeping all the tourists out until after the service would be over. 

We took some pictures from the outside including including a picture of a couple in traditional costume. As we left to walk back along the boardwalk on the harbor, we passed several others in costume and those not in costume, were dressed in Sunday best. I'm not sure if the fact that they were having a confirmation service was the reason but it was nice to see. Service was to start at 11 and it was then 10:30 as we heard the bells ring out. That must have been the wakeup call because about five to 11, the bells rang again. Maybe a signal you were going to be late?

Since it was Sunday, there were very few businesses or shops open. We saw a couple of restaurants who were featuring breakfast and brunch. Gradually as we walked back toward the ship, there was a little more local traffic but it was still a very quiet morning. Quiet except for the seagulls.

Bob had mentioned a little earlier that we always see adult seagulls but never baby seagulls. A little while later, we looked up at a couple of roofs that were full of seagull nests. Oh the noise! We couldn't discern little heads but there sure was a lot of noise. I could not imagine all of that above my head as I tried to sleep.

We found what looked like a town square and sat for a few minutes. I think the place was full of tourists and more were on the way as another cruise ship was pulling into the harbor. After a short rest, we picked up and moved on. There was one more place to see and it was closer to the ship. Bob made one detour to see the frozen lake while I sat at a bus stop bench and waited/rested. 

Finally we found the monument we had heard about. The monument is to the Struve Geodetic Arc which is a chain of survey triangulations through ten countries. They are points of a survey carried out between 1816 and 1855 by Astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve. It was the first accurate measurement of a long segment of a meridian and did much to help establish the exact size and shape of the earth. 

After almost three hours of wandering, we were ready to go back, We found a little shortcut between some buildings that looked like a college. 

Oh yes, there was one significant point of interest we missed, or should I say avoided, The Salen Lookout. There was a zigzag path to the top and we could see people who had braved the climb for a view from the top. We took the elevator to the topmost deck and had our view, thank you.

There were excursions available to see the Sami tribe of indigenous people nearby in the area but we passed on that as well. It was expensive and our travel budget had stretched far enough. 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Bad Start, Good FInish in Trondheim, Norway

Quiet early morning start.
It was a painful beginning to my morning. The last couple of days my ankle had felt really good in the morning and I was able to navigate the days quite well. This morning I swallowed an ibuprofen and hoped for the best. 

A few steps off the ship in Trondheim I had the feeling I knew what was causing my pain and joint discomfort. Old joints, new injuries and a drop in the barometer as it began to drizzle. Yes, folks, what my grandfather said is true. "It's gonna rain. I feel it in my bones."

Thankfully it was only drizzle and off and on at that as we navigated a huge pedestrian bridge that crossed the railroad tracks where the central station is. Commercial as well as passenger trains stop by here. Lots of tracks. I was relieved to see an elevator at the other end of the pedestrian bridge. Going up an incline/steps isn't so bad. Coming down gives me trouble right now. I think the elevator was there more for the people with luggage going into the train station.

I was prepared not to like Trondheim. No reason except waking up with a bad attitude, a sore ankle and knees and then rain. I was pleasantly surprised as we got closer into the center of town. For one, the ship had said there would be a shuttle at the cost of $19.95/each for a ride to the center of town which according to my gps map said was a 20 minute walk. We were not going to be snookered again. We walked.

When we found the center of town using GPS My City (loving this app), it was still a bit drizzly and cloudy as we gazed up at the statue of King Olaf I who is said to have founded Trondheim. Around the base of the statue is a sun dial and I guess the cross in his hand must indicate the time when the sun is shining. 

Across the way we spied what appeared to be an indoor shopping mall. We detoured from our route for a few minutes to explore. It was nice and warm and dry inside and shops were beginning to open for the day. There were three stories to the mall but we didn't explore them all.

Outside again, as we crossed the square to get to our next stop, we noticed all the food trucks parked in a circle around the square. Constitution Day we heard is not just a day long. Most people take two days to celebrate and then decide to take the Friday off as well. The thing about the food trucks though was I didn't see one that featured local food. There was Dim Sum, Greek food, Mexican, etc. Truly international.

We found the first church on our list but couldn't go in. Our Lady's Church was first constructed in the 1100s but as we have discovered with many of the places in Norway, fire destroyed it several times along with a good part of the rest of the city. 

A street was next, said to be interesting for all of the shops and cafes, cafes that become busy pubs at night where you need an invitation to get in. We passed. It was drizzling again.

The Old Town Hall (replaced by the New Town Hall) was said to house an unsavory jail in its basement during its governmental use. Earthen floors and unsanitary conditions created quite an odor. Today it is a library and I'm sure the smell of books is much better.

This city walk was much easier than I anticipated and I was beginning to enjoy it. Most of the really interesting buildings are near each other. The Nidaros Cathedral was right around the corner from the Old Town Hall and as we approached it, we were in awe. It was massive and ornate and well, absolutely astounding. I'd say as impressive as Notre Dame in Paris--with or without a roof.

King Olaf II reigned in Norway from 1015-1028 and is also the patron saint of Norway. The cathedral was built to be the burial site of Olaf. Its name, Nidaros, comes from the original name of the city of Trondheim. The building took over 230 years until it was complete in 1300 and has served over the years as the coronation site of the kings.

Along the way there were of course fires and several ended up burning the church to the ground. Restoration began in 1869 and was completed in 2001. The church seats 1,850. I can believe it from looking at its size from the outside. We opted not to spend $12/each to go in. Maybe it was a mistake but we found the outside to be fascinating with all the sculptures. And the sun was coming out. Who wants to go inside where's it's dark?

We stopped over to the Archbishop's Palace next to the cathedral. The palace was used throughout the years as a residential palace and a military facility over the years. 

When we exited the courtyard we again admired the cathedral and decided to walk around the other side to the back. At the back of the building was a special entrance. The stones had obviously been cleaned around it. A sign next to the door indicated that it was the entrance for the king.

We crossed over the Old Town Bridge. The original had been built in 1681 connecting Trondheim with the Bakklandet district. I'm not sure if the carved gates mounted on the new bridge are original but they are representative of the old town bridge. 

Across the bridge, we explored the Bakklandet area a bit. quaint streets and homes and shops. The warehouses along the river make it quite a photo stop on the bridge as you cross over.

Our last point of interest on the City Walk was the Kristiansten Fortress. We looked up, way up, and decided we weren't going there even if there was a bike lift to ride. 

Let me explain the bike lift. From a metal box in the street, a single blade comes up and similar to a ski lift, runs up the hill in a track in the ground. You stay on your bike, set your right foot against the blade and it pushes you and your bike up the hill. 

As another guy from our ship pointed out, it was going to take a lot of clean up along the curbs before it could be workable when they start it up for the summer. 

Since the bike lift was closed and we didn't have bikes anyway, we turned toward the river and our cruise ship. It had been a long morning walk with one stop for coffee and a couple just to rest. It was time for lunch and an ice pack for my ankle. 

As I looked over our pictures and thought about our visit to the city, I decided it wasn't a bad place at all. It holds some true treasures. 

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