Saturday, October 24, 2015

Norwegian Fjord Cruise (Part 3)

Dear Yes, friends/followers. It's Dr. John here.
 I hope you enjoyed last week's post by guest photographer Stephanie. If you missed it, please click here. I like to think that I taught my daughter everything I know about photography but now she has surpassed me (her camera is fancier than mine!).  Anyway, today's post will be about our third port-of-call: Geirangerfjord, 16km/10miles long and 600m/2000ft deep, is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful scenic panoramas found anywhere in the world. So, on with the tour.

First up: giant David in the foreground with tiny Stephanie and tiny cruise ships in the background.

Next, a crazy tourist. Can you spot him in all four of these pictures? In the upper right photo, you can see the safety fences that he climbed over to get closer to the cliff. In the bottom right photo, you can see the 600m/2000ft cliff he's standing next to.

Views from Flydalsjuvet (a modern viewpoint platform).

Another waterfall.

At the summit of Mount Dalsnibba, high above the tree line at 1500m/5000ft above sea level. The photo on the left shows part of the winding road to the top (with eleven switchbacks).

Glacial lakes.

The floating metal dock that swung out to meet our ship, allowing us to embark/disembark without the need of tenders (small boats, usually the ship's lifeboats, used to send passengers ashore when the ship is too big or there's not enough room at the pier). Tendering is the scourge of cruising as it can waste a lot of time. Thus the big smiles.

"The Bridal Veil" waterfall.

The"Seven Sisters" waterfall (formed by seven separate streams that join at the top of the falls before tumbling down 250m/800ft).

"The Suitor" waterfall.

The Seven Sisters on the left and the Suitor on the right. The positioning of these waterfalls gives the appearance of a brooding suitor proposing to the sisters on the opposite side.

I hope you enjoyed today's fjord tour. Our next stop is Alesund! See you then.
 From Virginia:
That very morning, the kids and I hiked up to the nearby bakery, farm and Norsk Fyjord center.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Norwegian Fjord Cruise (Part 2)

Dear Yes,Virginia... friends/followers.
It's Dr. John again. Today's post will be about our second port-of-call: Flam, pronounced "flome". Flam is situated in the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord - Norway's longest (200km/120 miles) and deepest (1600m/5280ft) fjord.

Our original excursion was "Norway in a Nutshell" which Rick Steves describes as follows: With
the Nutshell, you'll delve into two offshoots of the Sognefjord, which make an upside-down "U" route: the Aurlandsfjord and the Naeroyfjord. This trip brings you right back to where you started 6.5 hours earlier--after cruising Norway's narrowest fjord, riding a bus along an impossibly twisty and waterfall-lined road, taking the train across the mountainous spine of the country, then dropping back down to sea level on yet another super-scenic train.

Unfortunately, just prior to our arrival, there was a bus fire in one of the tunnels, closing the one and only road available for this excursion. So it was cancelled! A big disappointment. I guess that is just part of the travel experience-no matter how meticulously you plan, sometimes things are out of our control. Fortunately, we were able to book another excursion at the last minute to the Stegastein Viewpoint instead.
So, on with the tour.

The Flam Railway Museum, located in the old train station, has exhibits about the history of the train that connects Flam to the main line up above.

Views form Stegastein Viewpoint, overlooking Aurlandsfjord.

Looking down on the town of Aurland.

One of many waterfalls.

The viewing platform.

Aurland again.

Salmon swimming upstream according to our tour guide (use your imagination).

Sailing away from Flam.

Above, multiple views of Sognefjord, as we head out back to the North Sea.
Hope you enjoyed this amazing scenery.
Our next stop is Geirangerfjord.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Norwegian Fjord Cruise (Part 1)

Dear Yes, friends/followers.
This is Dr. John again. Today I will be sharing some photos taken on our cruise to Norway.
 So, why visit Norway? On a cruise we took two years ago, we met a fellow passenger who had been on over 100 cruises! We asked her which one was her favorite. Without hesitation, she replied: the Norwegian Fjords, for its amazing scenery, friendly people, and relaxed pace.
After fighting traffic for 3 hours to get from London to Southampton (a distance of 130 km/80 miles), we finally arrived at the cruise port terminal. Our ship was the Celebrity Eclipse. Although I usually prefer mid-size ships (around 2,000 passengers), the Eclipse, with almost 3,000 passengers, is very well designed and rarely felt crowded. Plus the food and service were excellent. Anyways, on with the tour.
First stop: Bergen, Norway's capital in the 12th and 13th centuries. 
We were dropped off by the shuttle bus after a 5-minute ride from the cruise port. Immediately, we were greeted by this beautiful fountain in Lille Lake. From there, we walked to the city center.
The most famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (see statue) was born and buried in Bergen. You may have recognized Grieg's music (see You Tube video: Peer Gent) as it is still widely played to this day.

The Floibanen Funicular climbs 300m (1000ft) in seven minutes to the top of Mount Floyen for the best view of the town. It was a pleasant and smooth ride even though it was a bit busy at the time.
Views from the top. 
 The harbor and Fish Market (double row of red roofs).
Our ship (top), my uncooperative children, and the Floien Folkerestaurant atop Mount Floyen. Virginia had fun browsing through the gift shop and got ourselves a Norwegian cheese slicer.
David found himself a T-shirt that says "Norway"--surprise!
The Fish Market, located here since the 1500s. We had very expensive but tasty scallops.
On the left above, the wooden old town. Upper right," Lego architecture".
The old town is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Colorful wooden warehouses, originally part of the Hanseatic League, a free-trade zone established by German merchants (c. 1250-1750), where dried cod and fish oil was exported and grain, cloth, beer, wine, and ceramics were imported. 
Hope you enjoyed this charming city. 
Please leave me a comment if you would like more of Norway from Dr. John.

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