Peter and Elizabeth - RTW 2009-11 travel blog

First full day and still having fun!

Some lovely scenery ruined by some idiot in the picture

Stopping at Molde

A boat we passed just outside Torvik

Coming towards Torvik

This was the town of Torvik. Pretty big as you can see.

Heading up the hill overlooking Ålesund

Ålesund from atop the hill

Ålesund from back down at ground level!

Our ship name, Nordlys, means Northern Lights but as I write this...

Little isolated building we passed

Centre of Trondheim

Trondheim old town with more old style wooden buildings

The large Gothic Cathedral

The large Gothic Cathedral

Monk's Island at Trondheim where the local monastery used to be.

The symbol as you cross the Arctic Circle. Further north than we'd...

The ship's flag

The ship docked in Bodø

Great scene as we approached Ørnes

Enjoying the cold at Finnsnes!

Enjoying the cold at Finnsnes!

The port at Finnsnes buzzing with activity.

Winter wonderland scenery!



Still braving the cold as we neared Tromsø

October 8, 2010

We had set the alarm for early this morning as I had planned to be up to watch sunrise each day but this idea soon went out of the window! The ship had stopped at a place called Florø at 4am this morning and was in Måløy just before 7am but we saw nothing of these places! After getting up at just after 8am we went for some breakfast and then went and sat in one of the open areas, with me alternating between inside and out to take pictures.

The first place we stopped at was Torvik and we were both up on the main deck to watch the boat come into port here. We didn’t get off the boat as it had arrived here late and was not here for very long but at the next stop, Ålesund, the boat was docked for three hours so we took a chance for some fresh air and some different scenery. We headed into the town and immediately ventured to the top of the hill at the edge of the town, climbing the 418 steps to the top for views down over the fjords, the harbour and the pretty town itself. It was quite a climb and showed just how out of shape we are at the moment but it was worth it for the views at the top. We had managed to acquire some bread, ham and cheese at breakfast so we had made a home-made lunch which we ate near the top of the hill, the view in front of us featuring the amazing fjord landscape and the harbour, complete with our ship, in the foreground. We were soon back down the hill and after stopping in a couple of tourist shops we headed back towards the ship.

We had a couple of hours before the next stop and it gave us time for me to catch up on my travel journal, read some of my book and to take a nap. The next stop was Molde (pronounced almost like “Mulder” of X-Files fame!) and we were once again on deck as we pulled into port. We had an hour here and we decided not to get off the ship as there didn’t seem to be much going on around the place. There was an interesting building on the edge of the town which was shaped like a sail and with the expanse of glass windows it reflected the ship coming into port. Next to that was a small stadium and I suspect this is the home of the local Molde football team. The floodlights were on so maybe they were playing but an hour here was certainly not enough time to go and watch them!

After setting sail again it wasn’t long before it was dinner time and it was almost like being back at school with an announcement telling everyone to hurry along! Tonight was not a buffet but a set menu and this started with a nice fishcake although the portion was tiny. We continued with the main course which was chicken with some brightly coloured sauce with a vegetable risotto that was very bland. There wasn’t much chicken but what there was tasted OK and the risotto became edible after a ton of salt and pepper were added! For dessert we had apple cake with ice cream and the cake was hard and the ice cream felt like it had over-stayed its welcome in the freezer. After the food bonanza of last night this quite a letdown and given the price it wasn’t really acceptable. In a normal restaurant I’d have sent it back and not expected to pay for it but given we’ve already paid for the food I’m not even sure that is an option. If tomorrow night is as bad then I will definitely complain.

After dinner we grabbed a coffee in the bar and listened to the poor excuse for a band playing there. When the couple arrived they looked like some kind of rock group with the girl have the biggest 80s rock hairdo I’ve seen since, well, the 80s! They started their backing track and the guy played a couple of notes on his bass guitar and the scary woman played a keyboard pretty badly, hitting more wrong notes than right ones! It shouldn’t have been difficult to play since most of the music seemed to be coming from the backing track in the first place! It soon got worse though as the guy started singing, too, and we soon decided it was time to leave. Back in the cabin Elizabeth watched a film and I read some more of my book, desperate to finish them so we can dump the excess weight and get on with our Kindles!

October 9, 2010

We set the alarm early again today but it was once more of little use. When I looked out the window we were blinded by bright lights shining from the harbourside buildings of Trondheim, with little chance of seeing a sunrise today, either. Maybe tomorrow. We both turned over and went back to sleep before waking up at about 8.30am for breakfast and an opportunity to get our money’s worth and steal some lunch! Just before 10 we got off the ship and took the short walk into the city to have a look around. We walked past the old town and onto the large cathedral. It was nearly $10 each to get into the cathedral so we passed on that but did take some time to admire the immense gothic architecture and the gargoyles and statues adorning the west wall. From there we walked towards the main square where the statue of King Olav stood proud. There wasn’t much going on around the area and the town seemed quite sleepy. To be honest, all of the towns and cities we’d been to in Norway seemed quite sleepy! We had read about a brewery in Trondheim and so we tried to find that so we could sample the beer but when we found it we saw it did not open until midday, the time the ship leaves. On the way back to the ship though we passed a liquor store and we went inside. They weren’t selling the local beer there but they did have other Norwegian beers but they all seemed really pricy. We decided that a bottle of wine was the better option and we went for a bottle of Concha Y Torro Chilean wine that we knew and liked from our time in Santiago!

At just after midday the ship left port and we headed around a little island called Monk’s Island which is in the Trondheim harbour. There is a small monastery on the island and it was really picturesque but the view was brief as the ship continued westwards back out towards the open ocean to head further north. The scenery we’ve seen so far has been stunning and the autumn colours are certainly on full display now. In some ways I am a bit disappointed as I’d been hoping for more snow but I’m not giving up yet – we still have two more days of travelling north and at some point tomorrow morning we cross the Arctic Circle!

I dozed off this afternoon and obviously needed the sleep although I did have time to get some more of my book read – I’m halfway through the 600 pages now so I’m hopeful of being able to leave the book on the ship. Elizabeth has finished two books since we came onboard and she’s onto using her Kindle now but I’m still 2 and a half books behind her!

Dinner tonight consisted of cauliflower soup (very good), trout for me and steak for Elizabeth (neither great) and a dessert that was a bit hard again. There seems to be a theme to mealtimes!  

October 10, 2010

This morning at around 7.30am we crossed the Arctic Circle and if it hadn’t been for an announcement in the cabin we’d have probably missed it. On the port side of the ship we passed a globe which signifies the Arctic Circle and I rushed around to get a picture of it. It was so cold and blustery outside and the boat seemed to be travelling pretty swiftly past this monument that I didn’t have long to snap it. This wasn’t helped by my stupidity – I knew the port side was the left side but for some reason I’d come out the wrong side and rather than taking the logical step of crossing the boat inside I decided to rush around the front (into the gale!) and just managed to get some pictures before my camera got soaked and we got blown away! Still, I just about have the memento!

Our next stop along the way from there was Ørnes and we stopped there briefly, for just half an hour. It gave me some time to take pictures of the surrounding scenery but I didn’t bother to get off the boat. It seems almost uncanny but since we have crossed the Arctic Circle the weather seems to have got a bit worse!

Our main stop for the day was Bodø and we had a couple of hours here. Like Trondheim, we’d read about a brewery here and given the slightly more sociable hours of our stop we decided we’d try again. The town was really dead as everything is closed on a Sunday. Thankfully, the bar was open but when we arrived we found they had stopped making their own beer and were just selling one called Mack. This would’ve been good under normal circumstances but Mack is brewed in Tromsø and is where we are leaving the ship. The brewery is one of the few things we have to do there so we didn’t want to spoil that treat. We took a slow walk back to the ship, stopping briefly for some pictures along the windy, wet harbour. All of the towns we’ve stopped at have been quite pretty but they have all been very quiet although it is hard to judge Bodø from just a Sunday lunchtime stroll!

Most of the afternoon on board was spent crossing an open stretch of water called Vestfjorden and so there wasn’t anything worth looking at from the ship. I got stuck more into my book and managed to get through a fair bit more and I also managed to sort through some of my pictures. I have decided (due to lack of memory – the computer’s, not mine) to go through my pictures and have a cull of those which aren’t very good or are a bit, well, dull. There is a whole lot to get through but I’ve done the first couple of months already and have probably deleted well over 1,000 pictures already. I do still have a full copy of all of them burnt on DVDs back home but for now I don’t need those not-so-good pictures clogging up my drives! I’m ultra-conscious about my photos or, more to the point, losing them. As well as DVD backups, I have a backup on an external hard drive that is at my parents, another external hard drive I keep with me and the copy on my laptop hard-drive. I hope four copies provides ample insurance!

In the latter part of the day we ended up at the Lofoten Islands. They are often described as pretty and scenic and picturesque but by the time we arrived at the first port, Stamsund, the sun had retired to bed a couple of hours ago and there was nothing to see. Similarly, the second stop at Svolvær was not until 9pm and I barely bothered to look out of the window of our cabin at this point! We were also supposed to go into a fjord which is described on the daily sheet as being a “highlight of the journey” but given it was pitch black outside we didn’t enter the Trollfjord. At this time of year they know when the sun goes down and they do this trip often enough to know that there was no chance of going into the fjord at night so why did they bother to include it on the daily sheet at all, let alone tell everyone it is a highlight they won’t get to see?!

October 11, 2010

Today was our last day on the ship and honestly we were both quite glad. The stops had not given us much in the way of things to do (climb a hill in Ålesund, brewery closed in Trondheim and everything shut in Bodø) and the scenery had been decent enough although seemed nowhere near as spectacular as we’d imagined, particularly compared to the Alaskan cruise we did last year. However today did get a little bit better as after breakfast the weather took a turn for the worse and in my masochistic way it was great. The snow coverings on the hillsides and around the fjords we passed through made everything look so amazing and even though standing out on deck was a wet, windy and cold experience I wasn’t going to miss out on trying to get some pictures!

We stopped briefly at a town called Finnsnes which wasn’t of much interest so we didn’t get off. We were only there for about half an hour so like many stops it was barely even worth disembarking. The next stop was Tromsø and this was the end of the line for us. As we looked out the window the weather seemed to be getting worse but once we were off the ship it didn’t seem too bad. The hotel was really close to the ship terminal but what we hadn’t realised was it was up a large hill and as we got to the bottom of the hill the snow started falling pretty quickly and pretty heavily. We got inside the hotel just in time and quickly went to our room and hung out for a little while, eventually wrapping up and heading out to the supermarket. Even after a short while the streets had become slippery and we had to be careful heading back down the hill.

We managed to get some beers at the supermarket and these are actually brewed here by a place called Mack Brewery. We planned to visit the brewery but didn’t see the harm in getting a head start on the tastings! We went back to the hotel and enjoyed a couple of them with tinned Norwegian stew to warm us up! Tonight we tried the Arctic and Høstøl beers and both were really good.

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