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Monday, July 31, 2017

North Sea Cruise - Lerwick, Scotland

Dear Family and Friends,

Our next port was Lerwick, Scotland.  Lerwick is the main port of the Shetland Islands, located off the mainland of Scotland.

Some of the ship passengers took a tour to see Shetland ponies.  This is where they originated.  I understand that once a person takes a pony from the Shetland Islands, they can never return it.  The reason is to keep the Shetland pony stock pure.

Chuck and I did not do the tour.  We decided to go into town and look around.

This is a photo I took from our ship before we got off.

We had to tender in and it was a rocky ride.  I hate having to tender, but if I wanted to see this town, it was the only way.

The old stone buildings were so interesting.  I made a lot of pictures to share.

The weather there is quite cool, even in the summer.  The winters are not too severe because of the ocean currents.  The only problem is that there is not a lot of sunshine and there is a lot of rain, over 200 inches of rain per year.

We walked to the marine museum and enjoyed our visit.  We then had what I had been anxiously waiting to have...a traditional fish n' chips lunch.

What to do with all those old UK telephone booths?  Well here is one use we found.

The next port we went to was Portree, Scotland.

This was a tender port also and because the tender into Lerwick was so rocky, I chose to stay on the ship and take in a movie.  No regrets...just needed a day without rock and roll.

My next post will be about Invergordon, Scotland, located in the highlands.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

North Sea Cruise - Bergen, Norway

Dear Family and Friends,

Our last port in Norway was in Bergen.  I was anxious to get to this port because we had watched a YouTube video about the funicular that takes you up Mt. Floyen for fabulous views of the city below.

We were hoping for good weather worthy of taking pictures from the top of the mountain and we were not disappointed.  We got off the ship early, hailed a taxi and got to the funicular before the tour groups arrived.

The funicular takes 15 minutes to reach the top and provides wonderful views going up.

Of course the views from the top are the best.

I took this picture and was so happy that the goats were out.  They have a birds eye view of Bergen every day.

Here is our ship at port below.

After visiting the mountain top and coming down, we walked to the market in the center of Bergen.  It was a market that not only sold fish, but they prepared seafood food that looked so delicious.

Here is some dried fish (klippfisk) which is preserved salt cod. Before it can be eaten, salt cod must be rehydrated and desalinated by soaking in cold water for one to three days, changing the water two to three times a day.

Here are some sample plates offered for eating.  Norway is very expensive and these plates range in price from $25 - $50 each depending on the type of seafood it contains.


The weather was so good a lot of people were enjoying eating outside the restaurants rather than inside.

Here is a view of the old town across the waterway.

After we had lunch, Chuck continued on exploring and Audrey and I walked back to the ship, visiting many shops along the way.

Our next port is Lerwick located in the Shetland Islands.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

North Sea Cruise - Flam, Norway

Dear Family and Friends,

Our next port was in Flam, Norway.  This was by far the best port we visited. Flam is located at the head of a long fjord.  The scenery just getting there and exiting was spectacular.

You can see another cruise ship in the distance ahead of us.

When we got to Flam, including us, there were three cruise ships.  However, we were the only ship that was at the pier.  The other two had to tender their passengers to the shore.

As you can see there is not much of a town. It exists off of tourism, people come by car, train, bus and boats. It is quite remote but it is worth the trip because the scenery is spectacular.

We went on a tourist train ride up into the mountains.  Chuck tried to book us tickets online before we started the cruise but found they were all sold. We had no choice but to book with the cruise ship which made it more expensive but hey, this was a tour we did not want to miss.

Here is our train crew, having a coffee break and waiting for the next set of passengers to board.  There were two trains operating and the round trip to the top of the mountain and back took took between an hour and a half and two hours.  Each train made several trips during the day and every trip was packed with tourists.

Here are some pictures I took from the train window.

We passed a massive waterfall and the train stopped so all the passengers could get off the train and make pictures.

At the top of the mountain is a lodge. We dropped off passengers and picked up passengers. Notice the snow in the background.  This was July for heavens sake.

Beautiful views coming back down the mountain. This is billed as the most scenic railway. I don't know if that is true, but it is very, very scenic.

After the train trip we walked around the main part of the town.  Basically all tourists kiosks.  People travel here from all over to sell to tourists during the season and then get out of Dodge before winter sets in.

We even met a guy from Peru selling the same type of things you buy in Ecuador.  I don't know how well he does, but he must do quite well to travel to such a remote place to set up shop.

When our ship left Flam, we were informed that we were going to be able to cruise up another, smaller fjord before we headed back to the North Sea.  It so happened that our ship was narrow enough to make the journey.  The other two ships that were in Flam when we were did not make this side trip.  They must have been too wide.

The scenery was spectacular.

The fjord got very narrow.

You can see here how close we were to the sides making our way in.

When we came to a spot wide enough, the captain (pilot) turned the boat around and we headed back out.

This is the view leaving the fjord.  Wow, what a beautiful part of the world.

The next day we were in our last stop in Norway, Bergen.  Fun day in that town too.


Friday, July 28, 2017

North Sea Cruise - Stavanger, Norway

Dear Family and Friends,

Stavanger is the third largest city in Norway.  Unfortunately, it was a cold, rainy day when we were there.

I got off the ship long enough to go to Starbucks to check my email and catch up with Facebook.

After that I went back to the ship.  I didn't want to risk my improved health.

Here are some pictures of the port I made from the ship deck.

It looks like it would be a nice city to tour in better weather.

One interesting thing we learned is that Norway was occupied by the Nazi's for five years during WWII.  There were about 15,000 soldiers there when the war ended.  They had made 150 mine fields in this area with 480,000 mines.

After the war was over, before repatriation, the Germans were made to stay and clean up the mine fields. Sixty two Germans were killed and ninety four injured while cleaning up the mines.

One other picture.  I took this at 11:40pm as we were sailing along.  Amazing that it stays light so late.  We never experienced darkness this whole trip because anytime it was dark outside, if it ever was, we were fast asleep.

Our next port was Flam.  Beautiful place, lots of pictures to share on my next post.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

North Sea Cruise - Kristiansand, Norway

Dear Family and Friends,

Our next port was Kristiansand, Norway.  This was a fun, small, very walkable town.

Here is Chuck posing in front of a stuffed moose they had on the dock.

And this is an artsy photo of our ship's reflection in the glass windows of the Kiden Theater.

The wooden houses were so pretty and bright.

The main shopping street was all pedestrian. There were many interesting buildings.

We couldn't have asked for better weather.  It was easy to see that Kristiansand is quite a tourist town.  There were souvenir shops everywhere.

Do people send post cards anymore?

Here is Chuck posing at a tourist shop behind a troll.  As you can see, Chuck got his glasses fixed...well fixed Chuck style, he taped the lens back in.  "Gotter Done."

Our next town was Stanvanger, Norway.  The weather was not quite as nice but got some pictures anyway.  I'll share them with you next time.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

North Sea Cruise - Oslo, Norway

Dear Family and Friends,

In Copenhagen over a thousand people got off the ship to go home.  Those of us who were continuing on were given a pass so that we could get on the ship easily after enjoying a day in Copenhagen.

We sailed away and headed for Oslo, Norway. I really looked forward to this because we have not been to Norway before. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Oslo I was having a reaction to some medication that I had just started so I sent Chuck out to enjoy the city.

I did take a picture from the veranda of the ship and here it is:

This is Akershus Fortress, it is a medieval castle that was built about 1290 to protect Oslo.

I stopped taking the medicine and thankfully the rest of the cruise went great.

The next port we went to was at Kristiansand, Norway.  Pictures in my next post.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Baltic Cruise - Warnemunde, Germany

Dear Family and Friends,

We had another day at sea before we arrived in Warnemunde, Germany.

When we arrived there we took a tour bus that took us to Rostock, Germany. We saw St. Peter's Church.  St. Peter's Church was built in the middle of the 14th century.

The stained glass windows behind the choir are decorated with scenes from the life of St. Peter.

Another church we went to is St. Mary's Church. This church was built in the 13th century. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture to share of the outside, but this astronomical clock that was on the inside stole the show for me.

It was built in 1472.  It consists of three parts. At the very top is apostle-go-round giving an hourly performance. The apostles go by Jesus for his blessing before entering heaven, then Judas the last apostle has the door shut in his face.

The second part is clock with the zodiac signs and phases of the moon.

The third part is a complicated calendar that tells what day any date falls on.

It is amazing technology for the time.

We had lunch in the main plaza.  Once again it looked just like you would want an old town in Europe to look.

Chuck broke his glasses.  Since they are the can that darken in the sun, he looked like a pirate.  All I can say is better half blind than all blind.

The Baltic cruise ended by returning to Copenhagen, Denmark.  However, we signed on for the subsequent cruise of the North Sea.  My next posts will be about the sights in Norway, Scotland and England.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Baltic Cruise - Stockholm, Sweden

Dear Family and Friends,

Our next stop was in Stockholm, Sweden.  I was so glad that I felt great and could enjoy seeing this beautiful city.

Stockholm is made up of 14 islands. We visited Old Town with it's wonderful cobblestone streets and ochre-colored buildings.

I made this picture of the city before we docked.

I love the beautiful architecture of the old buildings.

The building below is Nobel Museum.  If I am not mistaken it is also where the nobel prizes are awarded.

This street is K√∂pmangatan, the oldest street in Stockholm.  It is pedestrian only.

I especially loved looking down the narrow side streets.

We had a great time in Stockholm.

Click the link, Stockholm, for pictures of our previous trip there.