Thursday 19th February
Quiet day today so for variety Daz shaves off the goatee and then sulks for ages because bizarrely I find his hairless face hysterically funny! ( Note to self: Don’t laugh at B/F’s face! – at least not out loud). The last time he was clean shaven was December 5th, so I’m just so used to the goatee.
At 10am we cross the Arctic Circle and have a ship’s ceremony that involves a spoonful of fish oil. Yummy! Daz throws his surreptitiously into the bin, but at least we get to keep the fishy shaped spoons that say we have been to the Arctic… Great!! We also see the monument to the Arctic circle that is sat on a small island as we sail past.
The ship stops today at Bodo, Ornes, Nesna (old trading post with only 1000 inhabitants), Sandnessjoen, Bronnoysund and Rorvik.
The rest of the day is spent relaxing on the forward observation deck, before we are tempted by free aperitifs prior to the evenings Farewell Dinner. Daz manages to circle the aperitif queue several times so we get our fill of sparkly plonk!! During the dinner we sit to next to 2 fantastic Swiss couples and have a great time chatting and telling them of our plans, they were very excited about the cycling part. We mentioned our friends, Dawn and Shaun who are doing a trip via a motorhome and all the ladies agree that might be preferable.. I get a wistful look and Daz just frowns!
The ship fails to make it into one of its destination ports tonight (Rorvik – centre of the island group Vikna) as the high winds are not conducive to docking and we can see everyone walking the ship is having difficulty doing so in a straight line… And I thought Daz was just merry!!
After all the free plonk and beer with dinner it’s soon time for bed… Daz falls asleep very quickly and I am left to take his Kindle off him, tuck him in and turn out the lights!!!
Friday 20th January
The alarm goes off at 0630. Oh my god it’s early!! We have docked in Trondheim, originally the capital of Norway, and need to get breakfast and walk into town and we only have 2 hours until the ship leaves. We manage to navigate pretty well with the tourist map (of course Daz is Army orienteering champion – retired!) and walk up the big hill to the fortress (phew), see the cathedral (from the outside only…it’s huge!!), cross the ancient bridge and get back to the ship. All the snow has gone and it’s a lovely day and Trondheim has a good feel to it! We’re the last passengers on with moments to spare before the ramp is hoisted and the ship sails.
Our next stop isn’t until Kristiansund at 1630 and then we hit the open seas before stopping at Molde after dinner.
Well dinner was fun, with the ship on the open sea it was rocking and rolling and for starter we had a very thin broth… The waitresses were having a hellish job keeping it in the soup dishes and walking and juggling 3 or 4 dishes at a time! We order a nice bottle of red to celebrate our last dinner, as tomorrow we leave our cruise in Bergen and meet our couch surfing host Eirik.
Saturday 21st January
Today we pack up and leave our cabin at 10am. Now we just need to wait for Bergen at 2.30pm. To be honest, we’ve found the last couple of days a bit dull. This is of course typical of us – we want to relax and have some comfort but when we get it, we soon become restless and bored although our current hero ‘Tom Thorne’ by Mark Billingham keeps us occupied and Daz finds a new game ‘Cut the rope’, which keeps him entertained for hours! The ship is late and we don’t dock until 3. Then we walk to the train station – about 1.2km with bags and it’s raining. Apparently it rains a lot in Bergen; in 2012 it rained every day for 100 days. But REMEMBER “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” – a famous Norwegian saying! We get the tram to Lagunen and then phone our host, Eirik, who picks us up.
He lives in Fana (probably about 19km outside Bergen). He’s our first experience of couch surfing and he’s great. He’s welcoming and hospitable. We chat and cook dinner together, play cards and then watch Birdman. I should have recognised the warning signs – a highly acclaimed film expected to do great things – award wise. I have no idea what the fuss is about and fail to understand the plot – the only real surprise is that I managed to stay awake! Daz pretends to enjoy it but I know he’s as clueless as me really! We’ve got money on this – that Trish and Carl will love it. They’re far more discerning and appreciate quality movies!!
Sunday 22nd February
We sleep well and discover it’s been snowing. It doesn’t often snow in Bergen and if it does it doesn’t usually settle. The skies are clear so a good day for sightseeing. We walk from Fana to Lagunen. It’s about 4km and we try hitching but no luck. Then we get tram into town and look round the Bryggan area ( the old harbour area), then take the furnicular up to a viewing point, looking out over Bergen. There are so many people up here: walking dogs, skiing, walking, running or taking their young children out for sledding. It’s obviously a really popular spot and it’s such a lovely day (and a Sunday), everyone’s come out to enjoy it.
Back in Fana and we share pizza and watch a movie with Eirik, ‘What we do in the shadows’ – a vampire film. Very entertaining!
Monday 23rd February
There’s been strong winds overnight and it’s raining. Eirik told us that yesterday’s weather was very unusual for Bergen and we’re so glad we went sightseeing yesterday even though all the shops were shut. We were going to do a walk around the local area today but we’ll see if the weather improves! Eirik even offered us the use of his car to visit some local landmarks – how kind is that? But we decided against it.
OMG no weather improvement – instead we’re getting hail showers. We decide to try geocaching and so off we go but after 2 successful finds our luck runs out and since most of the cache information is in Norwegian we can’t rely on previous cache finds to give us some pointers. So we give up and go shopping instead. Only to buy ingredients for tonight’s dinner. Tonight we’re cooking for Eirik!
Tuesday 24th February
An early start today. We’re up at 6am, say farewell to Eirik, and we’re off to Bergen to catch the 8am train from Bergen to Oslo. The Bergen railway has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys. We get off at Myrdal and take the Flam Railway to Flam. It’s a 20km ride dropping from 866m to 2m at Flam, which lies at the head of Aurlands Fjord. This offers the most magnificent mountain scenery Norway has to offer with towering mountains and impressive waterfalls. There’s 6km of tunnels en route and these tunnels were hand hewn, a metre taking a month to build. In Flam we book into our hotel and after grabbing a bite to eat we decide to take one of the walks shown back up the Flam valley to Flam church dating back to 1667 situated in the old centre of Flam. As we walk we notice that there’s a large amount of heavy plant working in the river valley. We watch and theorise for some time. We stop and ask a local. Apparently on October 28th 2014 there was a huge disaster here. The river flooded after 2 days of heavy rain and there was huge damage to the river valley with a number of houses destroyed, bridges washed away, the path of the river completely changed and the local school flooded and completely cut off. 200 locals had to be evacuated and the repairs are scheduled to take 7 years!