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28 September--We have the whole day to explore the city, a day we were supposed to spend in Trondheim. If you're going to be stranded, there are lots worse places to be. The Red Light District turns out to be very civilized, if a bit of an eye-opener to two naive Massachusetts boys. (I swear that was Tea Leoni in one of the windows.) The highlight of our day is the Rijksmuseum, where we see the astonishing work of Rembrandt and his contemporaries. We have just enough time to take a cruise on the canals before taking a cab to the airport. We arrive in Trondheim quite late, bummed because we are supposed to catch an express ferry to Kristiansund at 8:00 the next morning.




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Norway 2004 September 27






The North Atlantic Arc Mr Tattie Heid Home
September. . . . . . . . .
26 27 28 29 30 01 02
03 04 . . . . . . October




26 September, 2004--Win and I are off for eight days in Norway (or so we think). We have both been dreaming about Norway for years. It's the Viking homeland, the eastern terminus of the North Atlantic Arc. Leaving Boston, we are treated to wonderful views of the New England coast, including Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home of our good friend Scott. We asked him to come with us. We always ask him to come with us. He never comes. We wave as we fly by.




27 September--We are to change planes in Amsterdam. Windmills are still providing power in the Netherlands, but they have been updated a bit.




Amsterdam from the air. Neither of us have ever been to Amsterdam, and we are thinking that it would be an interesting place to visit. And we are going to find out, for our flight to Norway, almost to its destination, is turned around, and we are informed that the Norwegian air traffic controllers have gone on strike. We spend a very frustrating day in the airport, trying to figure out what's going on. Finally, late in the afternoon, it becomes evident that we will not get out that day, and we book onto a flight the following evening.




We find a cheap hotel just outside Dam Square. This is the view from our window.




Street scene at twilight. We are quite close to the Red Light District, but we are shy about checking it out at night. We wander along the canals and have dinner and a few beers. We quite enjoy the ambience.




28 September--We have the whole day to explore the city, a day we were supposed to spend in Trondheim. If you're going to be stranded, there are lots worse places to be. The Red Light District turns out to be very civilized, if a bit of an eye-opener to two naive Massachusetts boys. (I swear that was Tea Leoni working one of the windows.) The highlight of our day is a visit to the Rijksmuseum, where we see the astonishing work of Rembrandt and many of his contemporaries. We have just enough time to take a cruise on the canals before taking a cab to the airport. We arrive in Trondheim quite late, bummed because we are supposed to catch an express ferry to Kristiansund at 8:00 the next morning.




29 September--Inspiration! I had scheduled a full day (now lost) in Trondheim and the early ferry to Kristiansund, giving us five hours there before catching the onward ferry. We check the schedule and find that we can take one at noon instead, leaving us only an hour and a half in Kristiansund, but giving us the morning to see Trondheim. We walk all around the stunning Nidaros cathedral--alas, it does not open until afternoon--and cross the old bridge, gaining this view of the warehouses along the river.




Another view off the bridge.




On the other side of the river, at the top of a hill, is Skansen, the old fort, affording a sweeping view over the city.




The express ferry is very fast indeed, and looking out the front window is like watching the stars go by on the bridge of the Enterprise. We pass the coastal ferry we will be boarding later en route. An hour and a half turns out to be plenty in Kristiansund.




Sidewalk Vikings. Truth to tell, I can never remember if this was in Kristiansund or Bergen. Win will know.




The magic of Photoshop! "The Earls of Dorkney".




There are twelve ferries running up and down the coast of Norway year-round. It's a twelve-day round trip, so there is one a day in each direction at each port. We are traveling from Kristiansund to Bergen, a journey taking twenty-one hours. We were astonishingly lucky--the weather was absolutely splendid, although we were told that it had been raining for two weeks prior. We spent as much time as we could on the top deck.




A carpet on one of the stairway landings on our ferry, the Kong Harald.




The scenery along the way was fabulous. At dusk, the cliffs glowed red in the sunset.




Did I mention that the scenery was fabulous?




Dusk over the islands.




We passed another ferry going the other way. It was getting dark, and my hand-held photo came out blurry. I decided that it looked pretty good that way.




At midnight we landed at Ålesund, where there was a forty-five minute layover. We took a quick walk around the town, which had burned down in 1903 and been completely rebuilt in art-nouveau style--very pretty, but unfortunately too dark for photos. I did get one of the Kong Harald at the dock, however.




We had time to slam down a quick beer in one of the waterfront bars. "Ålesund, our aim is true."




30 September--We docked at Florø just before dawn. I dragged myself out of my bunk to see the clear morning and photograph the setting moon.




One of the many little islands along the approach to Bergen.




We landed in Bergen at about 2:00pm and found our lodgings, which were at the top of a narrow, switchbacking street that made Lombard Street in San Francisco look like the Autobahn. The taxi driver took the long way around. Later, with our rental car, I would find it easier to go forward down one slope of the street, then back down the next, rather than trying to turn around at each switchback.


We explored the central town, and were of course attracted to Bryggen, the old warehouse district, where we had dinner.



Each town we visited had its own distinctive manhole covers. Left to right, Kristiansund, Bergen, and Trondheim.




1 October--Today is planned as a museum day, which is rather a shame, as it is a beautiful day. We do manage to take the funicular up the mountain behind our guest house. At the top we get a marvelous view of the city. On our way to the museum district, we linger a while in the colorful marketplace on the waterfront.




Most of the museums keep rather short hours this time of year, so we run through the history and maritime museums. Fortunately they are small. The art museum complex is quite large, however, and is also open later, so we spend some time there looking at Norwegian landscapes, dreary Munchs, Russian icons, and a ten-foot-square canvas painted solid banana yellow. Late in the afternoon, we pick up our rental car and drive to the suburb of Fantoft. Here, one of Norway's fantastic medieval stave churches has been reassembled, stick by stick, after having been moved from another part of the country. Unfortunately, a deranged person burnt it to the ground in 1994. Fortunately, they'd done architectural drawings of every single stick, so they were able to reconstruct it. We are hoping to see one of the remaining genuine stave churches at Borgund in a couple days. Next to the church is a cross, nearly a thousand years old, that dates to the early days of christianity in Norway.


2 October--We drive south today, through Haugesund to the island of Karmøy and the pretty town of Skudeneshavn. The return trip around Hardangerfjord takes much longer than expected, and we get back to Bergen very late. Photos to be added.




3 October--This time we drive north, intending to visit the stave church at Borgund. Late in the morning, we realize that it's farther than we'd thought, and, wishing to avoid a repeat of last night's late return, decide not to go there. We do cross Sognefjord, Norway's largest, and drive along its north shore, where we get this panoramic view.




Sunbeams poked through the clouds along the fjord all day long.




Another panoramic view along Sognefjord.




The village of Vadheim, at the head of a small bay along the fjord.




A lake along the road back to Bergen. We were back in town by 6:30pm and had a pleasant evening. The next day, Win flew home, and I went on to Scotland.

We got a marvelous taste of Norway in our week there, and if we never return, we will have good memories. There is so much more to see, however, and a return trip is never far out of my mind.



Fin

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