Hail to Helsingborg!

September 11, 2017:

After a very rough and windy sail last night, we made in port this morning in Helsingborg, Sweden. The winds are still so strong that the Captain had a very big struggle just to get the ship docked! Helsingborg lies just two miles across the Øresund strait from Denmark. When the weather is clear, you can actually see Hamlet’s castle, Kronborg, across the strait.

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Our explorations of the day will take us out into the Swedish countryside. We plan to take in morning coffee (the Swedish call this custom fika), and then we will drive out to a coastal area called Kullaberg to see a natural preserve in that area.

As we drive along, we are still dodging rain as we take to the country roads. We can immediately see some differences from the Norwegian architecture. For one thing, many of the older buildings are made out of stone. Further, instead of being painted white, most of the wooden houses were painted yellow, blue or red, which was a cheery relief on a drizzly day like today!

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Our first stop was about 45 minutes outside of the Helsingborg city center (which is the fourth largest metropolitan area in Sweden), at the farm converted into a coffee shop and bakery called Flickorna Lundberg. The current owner and operator of the farm met us at the bus, and he had a charming story to tell once he guided us into the greenhouse coffee room. Apparently, early in the last century, his mother was one of six daughters in her family when their father, who owned the farm, and told them that he was in danger of losing the farm because he couldn’t make the payments on it. The girls got together and came up with a plan to save the farm. Since all the girls were very good pastry chefs and since the farm grew many wonderful fruits and dairy products that could be showcased if they ran a bakery coffee shop, the sisters proposed starting that business. Now, nearly a century later, our host is running the business with his daughters, and his mother still lives in a charming cottage on the farm. Along the way, the coffee shop became semi-famous, as Crown Prince Gustav Adolf (who later became King) discovered their wonderful pastries and patronized their shop regularly. History lesson over, we tucked into some really fabulous flaky pasties and cookies, and then wandered outside to explore the gardens.

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The greenhouse coffee shop

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Mama Lundberg’s cottage

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Our next stop was at the Brunnby Kyrka (Brunnby Church), which was originally built in 12th Century, and then reconstructed in the 15th Century. Like most Swedish country churches, it has a very plain white exterior, but inside it features a barrel stave ceiling. Also of note is that walls of the church were painted with frescoes painted by the “Helsingborg Master” (please don’t ask me who that was!) in about 1450 A.D.

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Brunnby Kyrka

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The barrel stave ceiling

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From Brunnby, we drove on to the coastal area of Kullaberg. This seaside community is a favorite vacation spot for the local Swedes, and many from the Helsingborg area own summer houses here. By this time, however, summer is officially over, and the town looked pretty sleepy and deserted.

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The village of Kullaberg

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The main object of our visit, however, is the Kyllaberg National Preserve, a wild cliff side area just outside of the town. We were happy to see that the rain had passed on by this time and we got out of the bus to explore the preserve. We climbed up to the light house to take advantage of the great views, and to visit the the small museum there. Frankly, the wind was so chill out on this rocky peninsula (which lies to the northwest of Helsingborg) that we were happy to go into the museum just to warm up.

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Aerial view of the Kullaberg peninsula (not mine)

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Sailing away from Helsingborg

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Hamlet’s Castle (Kronborg)

Possibly the best part of the day was our passage down the Øresund Strait. We joined our new friends Marty and Bob up on the aft deck fortunately equipped with heat lamps, comfy chairs and wool blankets for the sail away. Not only were we able to see the Kronborg Castle across the Strait (at least with my telephoto lens), but as we drew near to Copenhagen, we could see the city clearly. Jim and I will return here next week when we visit our cousins in Gothenburg. Probably the coolest thing we saw, though, were the wind turbines situated in the shallow waters of the Strait. From the location of our ship, you could see the cars driving on the bridge connecting Malmo, Sweden to Copenhagen, including the place where the bridge becomes a tunnel and dives under the sea. From where we were standing on deck, it looked like the cars were just disappearing under the waves! If that weren’t exciting enough, the flight path for the Copenhagen airport had one plane after another flying right over us as they came in on final approach. Wow!

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First views of Copenhagen and the waterborne wind turbines
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Passing the wind turbines
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Jets on final approach

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With our new friends, Marni and Bob

With that, we went down to dinner. Tomorrow we will land in Szczecin. Poland. Sweet Dreams!

Awesome Oslo

September 10, 2017:

We arrived in Oslo this Sunday to a cool, but somewhat clear morning. Our ship is moored at a wharf right next to the Akerhus Fortress (Akershus Festning). The town was founded in 1048 by King Harald III, and became a Bishropic in 1070, and then became the Norwegian capital in 1300. The city itself is located on a huge bay located at the apex between Norway and Sweden, although they call it the Oslofjord. The bay is home to over 40 islands, and the area surrounding Oslo has 348 lakes.

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We have no planned activities this morning, so after a leisurely breakfast, Jim and I set off on a walk to see some of the notable sights in downtown Oslo. From the ship, we walk around the harbor waterfront area which a very pretty. The buildings of the Nobel foundation are also located here. Then we wandered into a flower market that seemed to only be selling different varieties of heathers.

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Oslo Harbor
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Nobel Building
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Oslo Flower Market

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Then we walked over to the Royal Palace, which lies on a slight hill in the center of the city. The views were very good, and we saw a bike tour featuring someone wearing a Viking helmet! When in Oslo …Oslo-21Special

The Royal Palace

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Viking Bike Tour

From the Palace, we walked down the main shopping street, Karl Johan, but since it is Sunday, almost none of the stores are open. We passed by both the Norwegian Parliament building and also the University of Oslo, both of which are housed in very imposing buildings.Oslo-25Special

View down Karl Johan from the Royal Palace

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University of Oslo
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Oslo Parliament

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Finally we walked through the grounds of the Akerhus Fortress, which offered fantastic views of the bay from the battlements. Even better, we chanced upon a family dressed in traditional Norwegian costumes leaving from the chapel in the fort, and they were kind enough to let us take their pictures.

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Our formal excursion this afternoon is to learn more about the maritime history of Norway. To do this, we take a sightseeing bus a short way out of the city to the Bygdøy Peninsula, where a collection of notable Norwegian museums are located. Along the way, we pass an immense ski jumping hill, the Holmenkollbakken, right outside of town, which also has a museum dedicated to the sport of skiing.

We have three museums on today’s itinerary: The Kontiki Museum; the Fram Museum and the Viking Ship Museum. We then drove on to our first stop, the Kontiki Museum. I can’t tell you how excited we were to see this museum dedicated to the explorations of Thor Heyerdahl, one of Norway’s most famous explorers.

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The Kon Tiki Museum

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Heyerdahl was an adventurer and ethnologist, with a background in botany, geography, and zoology. He first became famous by theorizing that the islands of the Pacific could be colonized by the inhabitants of South America by them building rafts out of local materials and sailing west. In support of his theory, he and several others built a raft out of balsa wood trunks called the Kon Tiki and successfully sailed from the west coast of Peru to the Marquesas islands of Tahiti in 1947. The trip took over 100 days and a distance of about 5,000 miles. Although anthropologists have largely debunked his theory (based on more recent DNA analysis of the Tahitian inhabitants), the quest was a great adventuring achievement. The Museum houses the Kon Tiki and also its later brother, the Ra II, which successfully sailed from Morocco to the Caribbean island of Barbados in 1970. Of particular interest to us was the fact that the Ra II was built out of papyrus reeds using the ancient reed boat style of the Bolivians of Lake Titicaca. Jim and I met the Bolivian boat builder who assisted Heyerdahl when we visited Lake Titicaca in May 2015. Heyerdahl was also instrumental in exploring and restoring the many moai statues of the Rapa Nui on Easter Island. The museum also houses numerous writings and artifacts of Heyerdahl’s life. Normally, just visiting this one museum would have been a great visit in and of itself, but wait … there’s more.

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The Kon Tiki

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The Ra II

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The first Tiki Bar

We next visited the Fram Museum, which is home to the actual ship, Fram, which was designed and sailed by the great Norwegian explorer, Fridjof Nansen. Nansen had a great many epic explorations to his name, including being the first to cross the Greenland icecap, and his expedition to prove the existence of a transpolar ice drift from east to west.

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The Fram Museum

Prior expeditions, which had attempted to prove the polar drift, had all tried to move from west to east, and the prior ships had all cracked and sunk when they became frozen in the polar ice. To counter these failures, Nansen designed the Fram (meaning “Forward”) with a rounded hull of the sturdiest types of wood with a thickness of almost five feet! Nansen’s plan to prove his theory involved putting together a highly specialized team of twelve men with a plan that the expedition would take up to five years starting off the Siberian coast. Nansen theorized that the polar drift would move in a northwesterly direction up and over the North Pole. The Fram left Oslo in June, 1893, and by September of that year, had become frozen in the drift ice off the Siberian coast. The Fram performed as intended and its rounded hull allowed it to pop up on the top of the polar while being carried west without the coast being crushed. However, the drift was taking far slower than anticipated, and Nansen concluded that in order to complete the journey with the supplies on board, he and one other person would have to leave the ship and set out to reach the North Pole on foot using kayaks and dog sleds. The crew spent the rest of 1894 and winter, 1895 preparing Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen for the journey. Unfortunately, the journey was so treacherous that the two were not able to achieve the necessary forward momentum necessary to achieve their goal of the North Pole, but they were successful in achieving the highest north latitude ever recorded, and they successfully trekked to the little known Franz Josef Land (a small archipelago of islands in the Barents Sea, arriving in April, 1895. The plan was for them to try to catch a ship bound west to the east coast of Norway. When no ship had been spotted by August, Nansen and Johansen made camp for the winter. After sheltering in place for eight months, they had the extreme good fortune to stumble upon the British explorer, Frederick Jackson, and were able to take his ship to the east coast of Norway, to the town of Vardø, landing there in August 1896. The Fram and her remaining crew emerged from the polar ice near Spitsbergen and made for Tromsø, Norway, where they were reunited with Nansen in August, 1896. Nansen became recognized as even more of a Norwegian hero than before, and in his future studies and travels, he was recognized as a zoologist and oceanographer, and eventually became a diplomat, and humanitarian, culminating in his foundation being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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The bow and hull of the Fram
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Depiction of the Fram floating on the polar ice
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Aboard the Fram

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In the hold of the Fram

Although being able to board and investigate the Fram in the museum was a highlight of the visit, there was so much more there to explore. Of special interest to Jim and me was the exhibit detailing all the prior failed attempts to find a Northwest Passage, along with an exhibit detailing Roald Amundsen’s successful passage expedition from 1903-1906. Next year, we plan to take our own Northwest Passage expedition, so the history was fascinating! It was also very enlightening to chart Amundsen’s course, as well as to be able to see his expedition ship, The Gjøa. Amundsen, like Nansen, was part of the golden age of Norwegian explorers and had numerous successful quests to his name as well. In addition to his Northwest Passage, Amundsen is probably best known for being the first to reach the South Pole from 1910-1912. By this time, Nansen was no longer actively leading expeditions, and he gave Amundsen permission to use the Fram to attempt again to reach the North Pole. However, by the time Amundsen set off, there were already at least two disputed claims by explorers of reaching the North Pole, so Amundsen diverted to Antarctica, which he successfully achieved in Dec. 1911. Amundsen was also credited with being the first to cross the North Pole in an airship. Needless to say, we could have spent all day at this museum!

However, we still had one more museum to visit: the Viking Ship museum. This museum is home to three separate Viking ships: the Oseberg, the Gokstad and the Tune ships. The Oseberg ship is the most complete Viking ship ever recovered, and the museum is also home to an amazing array of Viking grave goods, including furniture, jewelry, beds, sleds, and a horse cart. The displays of these archeological treasures is very well done, and once again, we could have hoped to spend a little more time here. But it was time to return to the ship!

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Charting the Vikings Travels
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The Oseberg Ship
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The Gokstad Ship
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The Tune Ship
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Hull detail from the Oseberg

Once again, we had a very pleasant sail away from the harbor, and it was fun to see all the islands in the bay on our way to Helsingborg, Sweden tomorrow. On our way out of port, a whole flotilla of small boats accompanied us away from dock adding to the general fun of our sail away.

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Stuck on Stavanger

September 9, 2017:

Today we continued our journey down the west coast of Norway with a stop in Stavanger, located on the southwest coast of Norway. Stavanger is the third largest town in Norway, and is the center of the Norwegian oil production industry. In fact, there is even a museum all about the Norwegian petroleum industry right in the middle of town. Stavanger is also a university town and home to numerous artists and cultural events.

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Our excursion today will take us outside the town a few miles to visit an Iron Age Farm, which has been excavated, and then on to the Ullanhaug viewpoint, before returning to town to walk among the picturesque 18th century wooden homes in the old city core. The Nordic Iron Age lasted from about 500 B.C. to 800 A.D. However, a huge plague hit southern Norway about 600 A.D, and vastly depopulated the farms in southern Norway. This left those areas open to resettlement by the Vikings. In fact, on the way to visit the farm, we passed by the huge Hafrsfjord, which was the site of the Hafrsfjord battle of 872 A.D. where Harald the Fair Haired prevailed. This was a big historical moment for Norway because it was the first time that Norway had been unified under one leader. There is a monument on the shore of the fjord commemorating Harald’s victory called the Statue of Three Swords (Sverd I fjell). Harald is also celebrated for winning the hand of Princess Gyda, who was notoriously picky. These stories are celebrated in the Icelandic Sagas.

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Hafrsfjord and the Statue of the Three Swords

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The farm we visited was believed to have been used from about 350-550 AD. The farmers who lived there grew barley, sheep, cattle and chickens. Our guide for the tour was dressed in period costume and was very into her part, even though she was from Ireland! We went inside a long house and then walked around the farmlands. The farm burned down somewhere around 550 A.D., but was later inhabited by Vikings came, who arrived probably in the 8th or 9th Century. All that is left of their occupation is “long boat” graves they erected on the site of the previous farm buildings.

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The Iron Age Long House

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The Iron Age Farm
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Learning about domestic life in the Iron Age

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Some of the long houses converted to long boat graves by the Vikings

Next, we made a stop at the Ullanhaug viewpoint, which offers terrific views of both sides of the Stavanger peninsula, and all the way out to the North Sea.

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Views from Ullanhaug

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Finally, we spent some time exploring the old historic core of Stavanger, where we admired the lovely old wooden homes, all painted white. Then we had an early sail away because we have to get all the way around the tip of Norway, past the west coast of Sweden and up to Oslo for our stop tomorrow. Once again, it was a lovely afternoon for a sail away!

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Old Town Stavanger

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Stavanger Sail Away

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Bergen (for Bill)

Sept. 8, 2017:

Dear Readers:

Apologies for our sloth in the much-delayed posting of this day in Bergen, Norway. Fortunately for us, today is a much less arduous day after our mammoth bus tour of yesterday. Jim and I were able to eat a leisurely breakfast aboard ship before setting off on foot to explore Bergen.

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As with all these western Norwegian towns, the bay here is beautiful, and the sail into port was eye-catching with all the low islands in a very secluded bay carved by the glaciers’ retreat several millennia ago.Bergen-1

Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kirre. Over the centuries, it grew great in commercial clout. For a time during the Middle Ages, Bergen was the largest city in all the Nordic countries. In the 1400s, because of the strength of its fish and grain exports, it became one of the German Hanseatic League’s four great trading centers. The old town port area of Bergen known as the Bryggen was the center of this activity, so it was there we headed to check out Bergen’s maritime history and architecture.

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The crazy crooked streets in the Bryggen

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If you have seen any photos of Norway, chances are that at least one of them was of the darling Bryggen area. The old wooden trading houses in beautiful bright colors are amazingly photogenic! Jim and I had a blast wandering through the narrow alleyways that snake between the buildings. Like Ålesund, Bergen has a long history of fires destroying its central core, particularly in the heavily-trafficked Hanseatic wharf area. The last major fire took place in 1702, so most of the buildings only date back that far, even though the town’s history dates back much further.

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The Hanseatic Bryggen area

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In addition to its shipping past, Bergen is well known for two other contributions to world culture. It was the home of pianist/conductor Edvard Grieg, and is also home to the fashion houses of Dale of Norway (think iconic Norwegian knit sweaters) and the Ileana knitwear company, which has brought a much more contemporary floral motif and color palette to the huge Norwegian wool industry.

Our first stop was to wander through the grounds of the Bergen Castle (Bergenhus Festning) , which is a huge fortress built right on the water. It dates back to the 13th Century, when it was built by King Håkon Håkonssen. From the ramparts high above the town, there were beautiful views over the harbor.Bergen-7Bergen-9.jpg

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Then we walked on through the Bryggen area and on to the central fish market, which is outdoors right at the harbor mouth.

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The main downtown square

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The fish market

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Our major activity of the day was a ride up the funicular to Mount Floyen, which overlooks the harbor of Bergen. We were scheduled to take a hike around the top of the mountain, but the combination of rain beginning to fall, and my lingering cold meant that Jim and I took the trip up, took the requisite photos, admired the ubiquitous Norwegian sheep and went back down the hill, the better to have a warm drinkie on board the ship. That’s it folks; nothing more to see here!

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The Bergen Funicular
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Views from the Floyibanen

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More Norwegian Sheep

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Ålesund

September 7, 2017:

After another rough and stormy day at sea, we made port in Ålesund on the west coast of Norway this morning at dawn. Most of the towns on the west coast of Norway are in protected harbors, usually at the back of a long fjord. In the case of Ålesund, it is on a peninsula and sheltered by a curved bay at the entrance of the Geirangerfjord. The town of Ålesund is probably best known for its amazing collection of Nordic Art Nouveau buildings, all of which were made possible in the downtown core by a huge fire in 1904 which leveled that area.

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However, our explorations today will take us away from the town, as we head inland to see some of the natural beauty of this area and experience the famous switchback highway known as the Trollstigen (or Trolls’ ladder). Trolls are a big time part of Norway’s cultural history and identity, and we were regaled with troll legends all along our drive.

Our drive meanders along the Storfjorden, and offers some spectacular views of crystal calm water topped by rising billows of fog. There are scattered farms along the fjord, making the drive very picturesque.

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After we turn inland along Hwy. 63 up the Valldolen (Valldol valley), we made a short stop to see one of the many waterfalls in this part of the country. Sadly, I didn’t catch the name of this one, but it made for a pretty hike.

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Finally, we started our climb to the famous Trollstigen from the backside. Although the roads getting up here wind us through some lovely forested scenery, they are not nearly so full of switchbacks as the Trollstigen itself. When we reached the summit of the road, we got out at the visitors’ center to hike out to the scenic outlooks over this crazy road. I think all of us heaved a big gulp when we realized we would be driving down that road in a huge touring bus!!! Nonetheless, there were some truly spectacular views!

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Driving down the hairpin road, we had to make a sudden stop because we had a “sheepocalypse”! Out tour guide got off the buss to try to herd the sheep off the road. Just when we thought she had succeeded, two of the overgrown lambs decided it was time to nurse, and they tackled the mama sheep. Finally, with order restored, we drove on!

After an entirely forgettable lunch at a roadside restaurant, featuring fish (what else) and festooned with trolls, we drove back to Ålesund. We arrived back too late to do any sightseeing in town, but we did get to drive through and gaze at some of the Art Nouveau buildings before getting back on the ship. Tomorrow, Bergen!

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Touring Tórshavn

September 5, 2017:

After a fairly rough day at sea yesterday, we have landed in the Faroe Islands. Upon our departure from Iceland, we again crossed the Arctic Circle after we left Akureyri (for which we have received duly signed certificates), and sailed further eastward. Jim and I tried again to see the Northern Lights, but bad weather again prevented us. Current Score: Lights-2; Jim and Stacy-0.

This morning we have docked in glorious sunshine, albeit with a wind blowing about 35 knots.

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Fort and lighthouse erected to protect shipping fleet

I have managed to come down with a cold, so I missed this morning’s sightseeing tour. Therefore, most of these pictures are Jim’s. He took a scenic drive which gave him some amazing panoramic views of the harbor, and countryside of Tórshavn.

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Jim came back for lunch aboard, and then we took the shuttle into town to walk around.  From everything we can see, this is an incredibly prosperous island, one of 14 islands in the Faroe archipelago, which are a dependency of Denmark.  The main industry here is said to be fishing, but the town looks too rich for that.

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The early history of the Faroe Islands is somewhat unclear. According to Wikipedia, “It is possible that Brendan, an Irish monk, sailed past the islands during his North Atlantic voyage in the 6th century. He saw an ‘Island of Sheep’ and a ‘Paradise of Birds,’ which some say could be the Faroes with its dense bird population and sheep. This does suggest however that other sailors had got there before him, to bring the sheep. Norsemen settled the Faroe Islands in the 9th century or 10th century. The islands were officially converted to Christianity around the year 1000, and became a part of the Kingdom of Norway in 1035. Norwegian rule on the islands continued until 1380, when the islands became part of the dual Denmark–Norway kingdom, under king Olaf II of Denmark.”

Following the 1814 Treaty of Kiel that ended the dual Denmark–Norway kingdom, the Faroe Islands remained under the administration of Denmark as a county. During World War II, after Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, the British invaded and occupied the Faroe Islands until shortly after the end of the war. Following an independence referendum in 1946 (which was unrecognized by Denmark), the Faroe Islands were given extended self-governance with the Danish Realm in 1948 with the signing of the Home Rule Act of the Faroe Islands.” Today, they seem to function as a Danish depency with some limited self governance. Speaking of that, this is another place which developed early traditions of democratic governance.

Like Iceland, The Faroe Islands established a parliament called the Tinganes in Tórshavn between 800-900 AD, and like the Althing in Iceland, was open to all men and was a place where laws were made and disputes settled. Although it was disbanded during norse and Danish rule, the important representative Faroese ministers still work in the Tiganes buildings dating back to at least the 1600s.

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The Tinganes buildings

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Backside of the Tinganes

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Once of the most charming features of Iceland is the use of sod-covered homes. Instead of mowing the roof, if the grass gets too long, every once and a while, the Faroese just put a goat on the roof. Jim and I wandered around the harbor and into the old town area for a bit, but then returned to the ship. Regrettably, as this is still a country which hunts whales, and mindful of my friend, Chris’, admonitions; I wasn’t inclined to support the local economy by shopping.

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Sod-roofed home

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Traditional Faroese Dress

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Waterfalls and Whales

September 3, 2017:

Well, we got skunked last night on our attempt to see the Northern Lights. After dinner, Jim and I raced upstairs to see if we could see the lights. We threw open the drapes in our room to gauge the weather conditions and saw … FOG. Thick and complete fog. Drat.

Nonetheless, we awoke this morning excited for today’s adventures here in the northeastern part of Iceland. As the sun rose this morning, we watched as we sailed into yet another gorgeous Icelandic fjord. This town is quite a bit bigger than Isafjordur, and is in fact, Iceland’s second largest town, Akureyri.  We are in the northeast part of the island, and will travel both inland and to another fjord today.

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One cute note about Akureyri as we drive out of town. In 2010, after the Icelanders had been dealing with the depressing effects of the economic downturn, the town fathers came up with an idea to have a special day of civic cheer in which they would think of a bunch of ideas to do things just to make people smile for a day. One of their better ideas was replacing the standard red light on a traffic signal with a red heart. It was such a popular idea, that now all the traffic signals in Akureyri sport these cute red lights.

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Our travels this morning take us inland to see some incredible waterfalls.  In fact, we will travel to one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, Godafoss. The name, Godafoss, means “waterfall of the Gods”. Legend has it that Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi, one of the Icelandic chieftains, and the equivalent of the speaker of the Icelandic parliament (Althing) decreed in the year 999 or 1000 AD that Iceland should convert to Christianity. Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi, who was himself a pagan priest at that time, had debated the switch to Christianity with the other chieftains at the Althing, but the vote was pretty much split down the middle, so he went off to meditate under a fur blanket for a day and night, and when he came back, he pronounced that he had been told to convert Iceland. He did this in spectacular fashion by throwing all his pagan articles of practice (dolls and runes and such) into the huge waterfall, which became known as Godafoss.

We drove for about an hour into the interior of Iceland, and saw some beautiful countryside crisscrossed by streams and rivers running through fields dotted with sheep. We didn’t know it, but this is prime fly fishing area, with many anglers coming to fish for both the large ocean-going trout and salmon.

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I kept looking for a mountain range from which a great waterfall could fall, so it was with great surprise that I caught a glimpse of the waterfall almost hidden in a deep gorge.

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We hiked along the path and down into the gorge to get these photos. As we hiked back up, we were lucky enough to have a rainbow form in the mist and sunlight atop the waterfall. Wow!

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From here, it was on to the seaside town of Húsavík; the self-proclaimed whale-watching capital of Europe. We visited the whale museum (really cool exhibits and skeletons of various whales, except for the horrible smell), and ate lunch at a local restaurant.

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Húsavík Harbor
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Narwhal skeleton

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Then it was off to get suited up in toe to head waterproof coveralls for our whale watching trip. It was a glorious day for a boat ride, even if a bit cold. However, with the sun beating down, it wasn’t long until we were all thinking of ditching our weatherproof gear. It would have to wait however, as we finally sighted a humpback whale, which we monitored as it grazed and spouted. Chris Brady: I’m waiting for you and Chelsea to identify this guy by his tale flukes!

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Sailing out of Húsavík harbor

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Double bonus: as I was editing these photos, it became apparent that we had seen not one; but two whales, which could be distinguished by their separate “blows”. I’m guessing from the size and positioning, it was probably a baby swimming alongside mommy. The whales made for a perfect cap to the day!

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Then it was time to head back for Akureyri, which we made just in time to cast off lines for our next port, Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands day after tomorrow.

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