Thursday, June 15, 2023

Olden, Norway

Welcome to Olden!
Olden, Norway
I left the ship right after breakfast today and headed to the tour guys on the pier.
Olden, Norway
There were several options I was considering. I could have taken the little tourist train,
Olden, Norway tourist train
the red open top glacier sightseeing bus, or the blue bus to the Loen Skylift. Combo tickets were also available and since I'm only here once this summer I went with the Skylift/glacier sightseeing combo. 

First up, the Loen Skylift.
Loen Skylift pick up point in Olden, Norway
Loen is just a few minutes away from Olden.
Loen skylift parking lot in Olden, Norway
Even the view from the Skylift parking lot was pretty
The Loen Skylift is considered one of the steepest cable cars in the world, taking you from sea level to the top of the 1,011 meter (3,317 feet) Mt. Hoven in just 5 minutes. The ride was so fast my ears popped more than once.
I'm heading all the way to the top
Loen skylift traveling to Mount Hoven in Olden, Norway
Thankfully the cars are enclosed!
The views from the top were simply spectacular.
view of Olden, Norway from mt. Hoven
view of Olden, Norway from mt. Hoven
view of Olden, Norway from mt. Hoven
People were taking advantage of the hiking trails all around the area.
Loen skylift walking trails in  Olden, Norway f
The mountain was also popular with paragliders. I was lucky enough to watch some in action. Talk about a bird's-eye view of Norway!
paragliding at the top of Mt Hoven in Olden, Norway
paragliding at the top of Mt Hoven in Olden, Norway
Run some more
paragliding at the top of Mt. Hoven in Olden, Norway
Run and jump
And he's off
Not too long ago I had watched a cooking show about kanelbullar, a type of cinnamon bun with pearl sugar. I had completely forgotten about them until I stumbled upon some warm ones in the cafe. I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to enjoy the tasty treat while basking in the sun, surrounded by Norwegian fjords.
kanelbullar at top of Loen skylift
Since I went up early it was relatively quiet but by the time I left each car coming up was full of people.
full gondola at Loen Skylift in Oden, Norway
Glad my car wasn't crowded like this one
Ready to head back down in a nearly empty car.
Front row seat for me!
Found some sheep on the way
view of Olden Norway from Loen Skylift
Getting closer
At the bottom I caught the blue bus back to the port where I then hopped the red open top glacier sightseeing bus. I climbed my way up to the top level again (yay me) and found it most definitely was the best place to be on a day like today.
So much to see in all directions
Now, I've traveled quite a bit in my lifetime and I have to say today's views were some of the best. Clear waters reflecting glaciers where you can't tell where one begins and the other ends. A variety of homes and farms and shades of green. And, well...I'll just let the pictures tell the story of the beauty of Norway. I have no words.
river near Olden, Norway
lake near Olden, Norway
glacier near Olden Norway
The glacier part of the tour

Tomorrow is a sea day but if we have Internet I'll be back as it's the Most Traveled Guest Luncheon. Otherwise, see you on Saturday in Tromso!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Haugesund, Norway

Welcome to Haugesund, Norway!

Haugesund, Norway view from cruise ship

Norway is one of the countries I’ve been most excited about on this trip. It was even on my 50 things to do before turning 50 list that I never finished way back when. But I can check it off now.

I again took a Hop On Hop Off bus. Purchasing my ticket online about two minutes before I left the ship saved me 20% which wound up being around $8.50 in US dollars. Score! The pick up spot was super close to the terminal. Can you see the red bus sticking out on the left? I went straight there since I already had my ticket but then found out I still had to go to the kiosk to get it scanned. Those brownish/reddish little booths on the far right in the photo are where you have to first stop to purchase or scan online HOHO tickets. Unlike in other cities around the US and the world, here you can't buy them at the bus.
Haugesund, Norway cruise ship terminal
By the time I rolled back to the bus again it was getting filled up and ready to leave so I decided to wait for the next one. Since I was the first person on the bus and no one was even close to getting on for another 10 minutes or so I was able to take my time and not feel rushed. I left my scooter down below and slowly and gingerly walked my sorry old body up the stairs to the top level of the bus and sat in the front row. I am strong. I am brave. Or so I told myself during the climb.
Such a beautiful day for a fresh air bus ride
A few seats filled in behind me but it wasn't even close to a quarter full. With map in hand I snapped photos all along the way from the best seat in the house. 
Haugesund, Norway hop on hop off bus map
Looking at the photos afterwards I saw the window glare caused some issues but I'm okay with how everything turned out. Can’t have it all.
bridge to get to Haugesund, Norway
If you walked into town you would have to
cross the bridge. It was pretty steep.
bridge to Haugesund, Norway
Don't want to walk up and over the thing?
Take the shuttle.
View from the top of the bridge
Haugesund, Norway waterway
Lots of places to eat along the waterside
Haugesund, Norway pedestrian shopping area
Plenty of shopping opportunities
Houses were colorful, as were the rhododendrons. 
Haraldshaugen National Monument in Haugesund, Norway
Haraldshaugen National Monument
tourist train in Haugesund, Norway
You could also catch the tourist train near port
In NOK and liters.
Makes gas over $8 a gallon by my calculations

The little terminal building at the port had free detailed maps in multiple languages.
city map in different languages at Haugesund, Norway cruise ship terminal
There was a small gift shop in the building where I picked up some more bling for Scooter.
It also had a huge Adirondack chair for a photo opportunity.
huge Adirondack chair in Haugesund, Norway
No way I'd be able to get in and out of the thing
but I'm enjoying life anyway!
And lucky me will be back two more times this summer. 

Tomorrow we're in Olden. See you then.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Southampton, England and a New Cruise

Welcome to Southampton!

Strange building
Some haze in the air today
Docked smack dab in front of the Tesla building
Turnaround days when you don't have to go through immigration and don't have an excursion or need to run errands are some of my favorite days. I did have one thing to take care of, though. Muster drill. Passengers are required to watch the video and visit the muster station when they embark and then every 30 days afterwards. Even though I'm at the 30 day mark I never received a separate notice but went ahead and watched the video and visited the muster station anyway. Except the guy manning my muster station told me in transits didn't have to check in. I told him I knew that and I went into the every 30 day muster thing and he still told me I didn't need to. We went back and forth a few more times with me saying I needed to and he saying I didn't. I was about ready to tell him to just scan the damn Medallion anyway but realized I could do it without his permission. So I did. And he muttered an oh when it checked me off his list.

Once I got through that fiasco, I spent a bulk of my day watching all the activity happening on the docks. I always find it so interesting and enlightening. 
bunkering barge filling up cruise ship
Fill 'er up!
I watched this huge crane unload scoop after
scoop of something. A grain maybe?
Cans and cases of ???
New carpet for somewhere on the ship
Here comes the luggage
Unwrapping new rope for the docks
The weather is nice but we do have some smoke out there and it continued to thicken throughout the day. A benefit of losing my sense of smell and taste is I can't smell the smoke a bit. Although I guess my lungs probably know about it.

So where are we headed on this new cruise? North to Norway! Unfortunately, Longyearbyen was removed a few months back since they aren't accepting large ships. Tom Cruise wanted to use a helicopter for filming his newest Mission Impossible movie there and was turned down, too. If you are turning down Tom Cruise, you are serious about protecting your environment.
No Longyearbyen but have added Gravdal, Norway and Edinburgh, Scotland
Up first, a sea day. Then Haugesund on Wednesday. See you then!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Falmouth, England

Welcome to Falmouth, England. Sort of.

Every passenger whether staying onboard or going ashore had to go through a face to face immigration inspection today by the UKBF. (I had to look it up...United Kingdom Border Force). We were all assigned times and even though we were to arrive at 7:00 AM today, my scheduled time wasn't until 9:45.

The officials boarded late but the process went faster than expected and I got in ahead of time. Officials took a quick look at the passport, ship personnel had us scan our Medallion, handed us a card saying we had been cleared, and we were on our way to go get a tender ticket.

But no one was going anywhere yet. The fog horn blaring all night was a signal things were going to go a bit awry today.

Can you see the one lone tender out there?
All those folks on all those shore excursions which should have left at 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 were waiting. And waiting. And waiting. It wasn't until 10:00 when the fog cleared enough to launch and load the tenders. 
Yes, there was land out there!
When the Captain announced the journey each way was going to be 45 minutes I decided to pass.

90 minutes on a tender 
+ at least another 30 minutes in loading and unloading 
+ probably 30 or more minutes waiting in line 
+ a short day anyway
= not enough time to leisurely explore Falmouth on a scooter

I’ll be back here again later this summer so I was okay with it and decided to stay onboard and take a little rest with the balcony door open. Listening to the lapping waves while breathing the cool damp sea air (as opposed to the frigid Arctic air) put me right to sleep. It was the rest my body needed. 

Let's be honest, it's the rest my body is needing every single day. They say I should be getting better any day now and I'm definitely better than I was at my sickest, but I'm still so very tired. And the darn missing taste and smell is getting frustrating. I'm taking advice from all over the ship as some of the crew who have been with me this past month are trying to help me heal as well. The buffet is keeping me stocked with big bowls of lemons. Straight fresh lemon juice is the key to getting the taste buds activated, one says. Lukewarm water with fresh lemon says another. Lots of vegetables says another. Another tells me every time I take a bite I need to train my brain to remember what it tastes like - and toilet water thoughts are not an option! I've been following it all. My cabin steward keeps me supplied with pool towels and blankets so I can sit on the damp balcony, bundle up with blankets, and get fresh air. He's also given me a warm fuzzy blanket I use to take my frequent naps on the bed. And he hand delivers the Princess Patter every night even though I haven't made it to one activity. 
Someone is out there living life today
Despite my Super Sensational Solo Summer Adventure not exactly going as planned I'm still happy to be here and can't think of a better place to heal than on a ship at sea.
We received certificates for our Arctic Circle Crossing

Tomorrow we're in Southampton where this cruise will end and another will begin. Some passengers will be leaving, others joining, and many will be staying on for the next journey like I am. There were several excursions available to London tomorrow, but since I've spent several days there before I went ahead and cancelled mine. It's a long drive and I need to save my energy for higher priority ports on the next cruise. To Norway!

Time zone changes so far: I think I missed one when I was sick so I'm giving up trying to keep track.