Friday, September 10, 2010

Farewell to Scandinavia



I am writing this while crossing the North Sea. We do not reach Harwich until 1pm Danish time (Noon in UK) so I am taking the opportunity to catch up on my finances, diary and messages. If you receive this, it will mean I have arrived at my hotel in London as I do not have the internet on the ship. I can see the English coast out of my cabin window but when I went up on deck it was not as cold as expected but sadly no fresh air due to the concentration of smokers. Last night was very blustery and we were told to expect gale force 7 winds and some movement but, if they occurred, I slept through them.
I have, however had English television for the first time in over 2 weeks and have just watched an interview with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa whom I will hear sing at the Proms in the Park next Saturday night. At the end she was asked about returning to New Zealand and she mentioned she was given her first start at the Town Hall in Dunedin and I felt very homesick for my home of only 7 months. After becoming excited at hearing she will sing at the Proms, I was disappointed to learn that she will be singing in Dunedin while I am away.

The trip along the Norwegian coast was so wonderful that it would have been nice to go home and reflect before heading off again but sadly Australia and NZ are too far away so I have had to regroup and continue on.

My recent sightseeing has largely been in Museums, Art galleries and old palaces so not many photos to send. I feel I have seen every picture painted by Munch. I had already seen a few in the gallery in Bergen and visited the Munch museum in Oslo, then saw a whole room in the National Art Gallery in Oslo and finally a few more in the National Gallery in Copenhagen. There is a version of “The Scream” in both the Munch museum and the Oslo Gallery but while the first is expensive with security overload, the second is free with no obvious security. I believe both have lost paintings including The Scream but had them returned.  Munch’s painting grow on one and certainly provoke thought but I do like the other famous Norwegian painter Dahl of a century earlier with mainly great landscapes. The Oslo gallery also had some impressionists and Picasso as well as older painters

The Danish gallery was a bit of overload with some rooms having 4 rows of paintings up the wall. Other than Scandinavian artists I only saw some Matisse and more Picasso but may have missed others.
In Copenhagen I visited the Charlottenburg castle with the State Rooms so will know I have been there when they next show Princess Mary at a function. There were some impressive but modern tapestries (I think made in 2000) The Dining table was huge but no longer used and the silverware would be worth a fortune. . The Rosenburg Fortress had more older tapestries and crown jewels.

I spent time in the Botanical gardens of both Oslo and Copenhagen and while they were nice, it is late summer so not the prettiest time of the year. Autumn colours have not yet started. I have always been told to visit Tivoli, it was closed on my visit way back in 1974 and as it was only 2 blocks from my hotel I went on my second night. It was expensive and not really worth it as I was not going on either the wild rides nor the gentle lake boats at extra cost. I had the worst hamburger I can remember, very overcooked, and listened to a big band for a while, including a Porgy and Bess medley. However I consider Tivoli very overrated. The lighting which came on just as I left was very pretty and I believe there are fireworks at the weekend.

I do wish these countries would adopt the Euro. I know Norway is not part of the EEC but on Monday I dealt with 3 currencies. I managed to spend all except 1 Norwegian coin (about 20 Australian cents) by buying juice, 2 New Zealand apples and a chocolate at the station. I changed a Norwegian note for Swedish currency during my 2 and a half hours in Gothenburg but after paying for the locker and a salad roll was 1 kronor short of any drinks on offer so bought a cinnamon roll and am left with 4 Swedish kronor (80 cents).
Last night I spent my Danish coins on a juice and coffee while waiting to board the ship. I expected to be able to use British pounds on board (the same line between Copenhagen and Oslo accepted Danish, Norwegian and Euro) but only Danish money is accepted so I did not have a  drink with dinner (The meal was prepaid but did not include drinks, not even coffee). I bought a can of Sprite from a machine to  have in my cabin. This morning I found another 50 Danish kronor note in my wallet so have just bought coffee and muffin and am now left with 9 Danish kronor (just short of $2) which will not buy anything. Now I have to get use to British pounds and then back to Euros in a week. At least I would hope I might be returning sometime in the future to use any of those I have left.

We dock in less than an hour and I will have to catch a train to London. It will be wonderful to have announcements in English. After boarding the train in Copenhagen to travel across the country to Esbjerg where this ship started, the conductor told me I was in a carriage which was not going all the way and I had to drag my bags through the train to the right carriage.  The joys of travelling.

I am including photos of the harbour in Oslo, a nice garden near the Rosenborg Fortress in Copenhagen and a view over Copenhagen from the top of the Round tower. I certainly helped my fitness by climbing up there.

1 comment:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Nice, thanks, I´m enjoying your grand tour.

Leonardo