Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oslo, Bergen & Points North

As expected the internet on the ship is fairly expensive but I plan to buy an hour tomorrow and if that works perhaps another hour in about 4 days time. I am typing this into Appleworks and hopefully will be able to paste it into my blog and email programs when I go online. My apologies if formatting is a bit strange.

As I mentioned in my last message, I had a lovely sunny day in Oslo and made use of a dageskorter (transport day pass) to first travel by ferry to Bygdoy where I visited the Fram museum (Photo) and learnt all about the voyages of Roald Amundsen on his explorations of both the Arctic and Antarctic as well as the life of Nansen. I had lunch looking across the harbour to the city then a short walk and I was in a museum of three Viking ships which had been dug up in the last century, They had been used as tombs for nobility. There were also  museums of the Kon Tiki expedition and historical villages but I find you can only take in so much in one day. I returned by ferry to the city and caught a tram to the Vigiland Park. I remember this from my visit in 1974. It consists of nearly 200 statues in granite and bronze showing the human figure in all sorts of emotions. They are quite intriguing. I have included just one photo. I may visit the museum which explains more on my return. It was closed on Mondays. Then it was back by bus and metro to the city to prepare for an early departure the next day but I did sit and listen for a while to a German Oompah band playing in the main square.

As I stated in my last message, the next 2 days were wet. It was not a problem as I travelled by train from Oslo to Bergen. Some of the mountain scenery and even some snow in late summer might have looked better in sunshine. I was amused by 2 American ladies, especially the one from Texas. As she said, they do not travel by train in Texas and they had lugged all their luggage into the first carriage until told to move, They had correct seat number but wrong car so were rather hot and bothered when they reached the correct car further along the platform. She asked whether there would be a porter at Myrdal where they got off and, of course, was disappointed with the reply. However they were quite pleasant and real characters. It took both the guard and me to convince them to collect up all their quilting material which they had spread everywhere as there was only 15 minutes to their stop. They, and most of the passengers,  alighted at Myrdal for the trip down the Flam railway to the Sognefiord then by ferry and eventually a later train to Bergen.  I took this trip in 1974 wit h beautiful sunshine (but returned to Oslo instead of going onto Bergen) and had considered it again but, considering the weather, I was happy to stay in the almost empty train and arrive Bergen earlier.

Sadly the next day was also wet and I used the Bergen card to visit Museums and art galleries. I did enjoy the Rosenkrantz tower (photo) climbing down into the dungeon and up to the top. I made a quick trip for photos out onto the parapet.  Haakon’s Hall was very impressive and the free coffee was a pleasant surprise to which I added a pancake and jam at only $2. The Bryggens museum told the story of digging up the earliest settlements and life in the 1200’s. The present buildings of Bryggen are colourful if damp that day.(photo) The Leprosy museum was a bit sad and finally I learnt a bit more about the artists Dahl and Munch in the Art gallery while it poured down outside.

However I was pleased to see the cloud lifting and the lookout above the city appearing, making it worthwhile to travel in the funicular(which was still half price with the Bergen card). From up there I could actually see the ship, which was to be my home for the next 10 days,  entering the port.

After a smorrebrod lunch, I collected my bags from the hotel and fortunately chose a break in the weather to walk the 4 blocks to the Hurtigruten wharf. I was the third person on board at 4pm but as others got drenched when the rain returned. I was very thankful.
A buffet dinner was served at 6pm and we sailed at 8pm. It was wonderful to unpack my bags and make use of the cupboard space after 6 nights in different rooms.

I will try to describe the first 3 days in a following message. We have just docked at Stamsund the first town on the Lofoten Islands. These ships are not just for cruise passengers like me but also carry local people between towns especially now that we are north of the railway system. Cargo and cars are loaded and unloaded in stops of about half an hour along the route. I am continually amazed at how the ship is manoeuvred into the wharves.  When we pass sister ships going south they  sound their sirens, at least during daylight hours.
Photos above in order, I will arrange when better connection

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