A Travellerspoint blog

September 2015

Iceland

Indescribable Iceland.

rain 6 °C

Day 9
A travel day today. After our amazing full buffet breakfast at our hotel in Bergen we returned the car to the airport and then caught our Icelandic flight to Reykjavik. We are now two hours behind Norway, so arrived at a decent hour. After getting our luggage we see two doors. ' goods to declare' and ' nothing to declare'. We chose the latter and just ended up in the main airport area. No passport or customs check at all.

The rain was pelting down and the cold wind punishing us as we drag all our luggage across the parking lot and down a road to find our car rental company. That's what happens wen you go for the cheap company, they don't have a pickup service.

We were given a Nissan micro that has seen better days, over 100,000K already, but it works for us. After spending a great deal of time getting directions to our hotel, one of the fellows handed me a GPS, " here, it's free ".
We must have sounded pretty pathetic, but grateful for it for sure. (Our GPS does not include Iceland)
It was programmed in spanish and I could not figure out how to change the language. Good thing I know a bit of Spanish, I got us to the apartment without too many u turns.

Reykjavik is so much bigger than we imagined, over 100,000 people but confusing ( to us) street names and lots of one ways. The GPS was very valuable for the city.

We have rented a one bedroom apartment with full kitchen and a block off the main tourist area. We are happy with it and after settling in for a few minutes we head to the local grocery store two blocks away just before closing. The prices in this particular store are quite reasonable but reading the labels is a bit of a challenge. We asked various other Icelandic shoppers for help, which they all gladly did.

The rain has eased off so we walk for a few blocks to check things out. Even this late in the season there are a lot of tourists. We hear quite a bit of English spoken, Americans and UK. All are bundled up in parkas and hiking boots etc. It is a bit cold, but not as bad as I imagined and there is not a lot of the wind at the moment that Iceland is famous for. I think however, the downtown area is quite sheltered.

We had an early night and dinner in our apartment.

Day 10

An explore Reykjavik day. The shops have amazing knit and gift wear. There are a lot of original designs as many designers live in the city. I tried on a few Icelandic wool sweaters, but found them very itchy. At $300 or so a sweater I don't want to have it sit in my closet because it it too scratchy to wear.

Lunch was at a raw vegan resteraunt. Some of the menus in other resteraunts have smoked Puffin or whale and reindeer on them. Iceland is so far ahead of other countries in many ways, but still hunt the the endangered fin whale for meat. Green peace is trying to convince them otherwise. We saw one of their ships in the harbour
Well we will not be dining on any of those delicacies
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We walked and walked for hours. It was a cloudy and at times a bit of drizzle, but overall not bad day. We stopped at an information area to get a map and recommendations of what to do. He pointed out a museum of Vikings, which we walked forever to get there. It was a good overview of the history of Iceland, but left us underwhelmed. Turns out it was the wrong museum. Dam

Walking along the waterfront to see the Harpa concert hall. It is very impressive architecture and a controversy locally because it cost so much to build.

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Dragging ourself back to the apartment after so much walking, we have a rest and then head out again at 9:30PM ( my bedtime!) to catch a tour to see the northern lights.

Two large busses head north to an area without lights and settle into a parking lot that was provided by Ben Stiller when he made his movie " the secret life of Walter Mitty". It was after watching this movie a couple of years ago that was one of the reasons for us to decide to come to Iceland.

Damn it was cold. I look like the Michalin man, I have five layers on. The stars and moon are beautiful in an almost cloudless sky.
A hundred people and trying to find a spot to set up tripods or get their "spot" for the best shots. It is so dark. Even with the moon. I use my little flashlight for a minute or so, but we are told not to use any light at all. Climbing over lava rock covered in this slippery moss like covering in pitch black with camera gear is challenging. Apparently there are 2,000 different kinds of moss in Iceland.

After an hour and a half they reveal themselves and dance in the sky for a few minutes, disappear, and then return again in half an hour.
By this point I can't find my flashlight and my tripod has come away from my camera. I did my best but my photos have a lot of ' noise' not having the tripod, but it was exciting all the same. They were not as impressive as the ones I saw when I lived in Fort Mcmurray, but tonight I saw the northern lights in Iceland.

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We never got home until close to 2AM, way past our bed time. We slept well.

Day 11

Back in the car today for a tour of the Golden Circle Route. I figured out how to change the language on the GPS to English which made it much easier. The route takes us North of the city and we took in three of the favourite stops, and a few of our own as well.

I am so frustrated with the fact that you can't pull over to take pictures very easily. There are pull outs and view points now and then, but so many amazing sights that you can't stop and take pictures of. The roads are narrow and there is not a shoulder, only a one foot drop onto loose lava rock.

Our stops today included this church at the side of the road that we thought was very unique

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Iceland has a number of active volcanoes. A great deal of Iceland is heated by geothermal plants situated around the island. This provides heat for homes, hot water and hydro. They heat the roads in the winter as well which is brilliant. There are many hot pools around and you can see steam vents coming out of mountains and hills everywhere. We stopped at this plant just outside of Reyjkavik.
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Some vents on a hillside
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The national park, Thingvellir. ( sometimes spelled with a P )

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Even the bathroom had a great view.
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Geiser, similar to Yellowstone.

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Gullfoss waterfall.

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The scenery keeps changing all the time. Today there was barely a cloud in the sky and it was almost warm out.

What a fantastic day.

Day 12

We checked out of our apartment and drove East. On the way we took secondary roads past many huge farms and saw lots of sheep and the gorgeous Icelandic horses. Sorry for all the horse pictures but I can't help myself.
These guys came running up to me from the back of the field when I approached the fence. They were so curious about me and we had a great long conversation. The highlight of my day. Icelandic horses are smaller than others and the only horse you will see here, as they don't want or allow cross breeding. Some have eyes are dark with a blue horseshoe at the bottom.

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Kerio crater was our first planned stop. This crater was formed about 6,000 years ago. We walked around the rim of the crater which took just over half an hour. Iceland is similar in some ways to Hawaii, being that they were formed by volcanoes and relatively young in age. The major difference of course is the weather which is the reason the vegetation is so different.

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Our last planned stop of the day was Seljalandsfoss. A waterfall that you can walk behind. Another stunningly beautiful setting. We should have done the walk first however. Duh... Walking behind a waterfall you just may get wet! Most of the other folks were wearing full rain or snow gear. I am in my three layers of fleece. My raincoat was left the car.

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The noise from the waterfall overhead when you were behind it was thunderous. My photos are a bit hazy however, it was hard to keep water off the lens.

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Cold and wet we walked a ways down to another waterfall that was in a cave which was very cool.
The tour busses arrived just as we were finished which was great timing.

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Our hotel tonight is on a gravel road up the hill overlooking the black sand beach in Dyrholaey. There are a number of small adventure groups staying here. It is just perfect and we are here for two nights. Dinner in our room of the rest of our grocery store purchases.

Day 13
I woke to hear the Icelandic wind and rain howling outside. I opened the curtains and it did look cold and miserable.

I went back to bed.

At 8AM we went to the main area for our wonderful included breakfast. The weather is getting worse. Visibility is about NIL.
10AM we decided to go it and brave the weather. We are west coasters after all. We had hoped to go horseback riding, but that won't be today.

We headed further East towards the glaciers and past what was probably incredible scenery. Maybe tomorrow.
At one point I decided to take a picture anyhow so doug stopped the car but I could not open my door. The wind was well over 50km an hour and blowing towards my side. I opened the window and my SLR camera just went " nope. Not going to take a take a picture in this".
It would do nothing. I took out my underwater camera and took two pictures, then rolled up the window. My hair and face was soaked. And I haven't even gone outside.
We are getting the real Iceland experience today.
We kept driving and saying " I think it is brightening up" it reminded me of camping in Tofino in the rain and being optimistic. It just kept getting worse.

One of the stops I wanted to do was a farm from the 1700 s, with small homes made into the hills and covered in turf. There is also a little church there. I found this on tripadvisor and they said even though the gate is locked and it says private property, you can park the car and go in. I double checked with our hotel manager and he said we can go ahead. The name is Nuppsstadur farm and church.
We parked the car and braved the gale force wind and rain up the road. I tried to put a poncho on, but it just flew around I thought I might get airborne. I felt kind of strange going in a place that said private but glad we continued on.

We had the place to ourselves and when we arrived the rain stopped for a bit.

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The church and a key in the door, with instructions, so we went in and saw a very tiny plain wooden church. We had a glimpse into what it must have been like to live as a farmer in Iceland with the cold wind raging. I can imagine when it is snowing and the dead of winter what it must be like.

The waterfalls are going sideways because the wind is so strong, we have never seen anything like that before.

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Back in the car, drenched and cold, we continue on for another hour to see the glaciers and icebergs at Jokulsarlon.
The landscape changes every half hour or so. Sometimes it is glowing green with the spongy moss on the lava rock. Then it looks like you are on the face of the moon. Black volcanic lava rock of various sizes for as far as the eye can see,
Then a few bright yellow tufts of grass will appear.

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We pass a couple of the glaciers and then a half hour away from our destination the weather is getting worse and visibility is diminishing. We decide to turn around as we won't see anything anyhow. We make the drive back to the hotel and put dry clothes on before enjoying dinner in our hotel.

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Day 14

What a difference a day makes. I woke to a beautiful almost cloudless morning so we rushed to have breakfast and check out. We are very close to Dryrholaey, a popular attraction. The weather changed every ten minutes from sun to rain, but our time on the beach we lucked out to beautiful sunny skies and not much wind.
It was so beautiful, the waves were wild and crashing on the long black sand beach. This is a nesting place for the Puffins, but we did not spot any today. We spent quite a bit of time here, having great conversations with other travellers from New Zealand, Turkey and Argentina.

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We drove to the other end of the beach, ( 40 minutes drive) and had a nice lunch in the resteraunt and then walked that beach as well. This one had sea stacks and very interesting rock formations and a cave.

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As soon as we left it started to rain again, on and off all afternoon as we drove back to Reykjavik. The landscape changes constantly and at timesyou would think you were on the prairies, with miles and miles of farmland.

We have never seen so many horses and sheep as in Iceland.

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We arrived back into our same apartment in Reykjavic, dropped off our things and then walked around town for a bit. Laundry and working on this blog tonight and then heading east tomorrow.

Day 15
Not a great start to our day. I had some oats soaking overnight and went to heat them up in the morning by putting boiling water into a larger bowl and then the smaller bowl inside. The outside bowl exploded into a million tiny pieces all over the kitchen. I am so lucky it didn't hit my face or eyes. It was unreal. The nex t couple of hours we were picking up all the tiny pieces.

I went down to the laundry room to get the vacuum cleaner I saw there. I plugged it in and the circuit blew, all the kitchen and bathroom lights were now out. I went out to find the 24 hour store to buy some paper towels . The cleaning lady finally came to the building at 930AM. I went down to explain, she didn't speak any English. I used charades to explain, she gave me a hug and said..." It's okay"

I used my iPad and translated the details into Icelandic and went down to make sure she understood. She did not speak Icelandic. Polish.
I redid the iPad and she said...yes yes... It is fine
We packed up and went to a coffee shop for breakfast.

Our drive West took us, once again, though some different sceanery. It was, unfortunately, a rainy miserable cold day again.

We picked up a hitch hiker who was a young man from the Czech republic. He was working in Iceland as a chef and was telling us that he and a friend went to Nepal after the earthquake to help rebuild schools and then had a fundraiser on Prague selling their photos to raise money for Nepal. He was heading for a vacation to Canada in a couple days so asked us a few questions. He told us that there really isn't any crime in Iceland, but that could change because more and more people are moving here from other countries. Iceland is expensive but they pay workers a good wage. Tipping is not done here.

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We arrived in Grudafjour, and find that again I have booked us into a youth hostel. It is quite nice however, overlooking the harbour and a well laid out communal kitchen to use. We need to leave our shoes downstairs in the entry as it is Icelandic custom not to wear shoes in the house,

After making some lunch we went for a drive to a nearby Stykksholmer and looked around. It is another small fishing village and I am sure it is quite beautiful on a clear day.

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Next to our hostel is a little resteraunt that is in a restored home overlooking the water and quite lovely. We popped in before we went for our drive to check out the menu and I said , sorry but I am a vegetarian and there is nothing on the menu. He said the chef would make me something, so we said great, see you at 7:30P

Doug ordered the blue cod and he said it was wonderful. The presentation of both dishes was very beautiful. I was given quite an assortment of different vegetable dishes and it was delicious. One of the best meals we have had for quite a while, and quite reasonable too. For Iceland.

Day 15

I was woken by the full moon shining into the room at 4 AM. The wind was howling but it seemed to clear off the clouds so that was great. We quickly had breakfast and packed up to explore the area. By the time we got outside the dark clouds had rolled in and the wind and cold rain was back. It was that way all day....just wait for 15 minutes.

We were on the west fjord side of Iceland and decided to do a circle route of the area. This is our last day in Iceland and we are so glad that the weather is cooperating. ( nice most of the time). Our first stop is to climb up a hill to get a picture of these two waterfalls with the mountain in the background. They are called Kirkjufell.
No rain, but dam it is cold and windy! I have on my Moreno wool long sleeve shirt, a fleece vest, a Moreno wool sweater, my windbreaker rain coat and another fleece over top. I also have ear muffs, gloves and a scarf. I am still cold. But not freezing.

The hike is worth it, a great view and we were the only ones there. We saw lots pull into the parking lot, but not venture further.

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A dirt road across the peninsula has some more interesting scenery and we reach the other side to look for Lysuholl ranch for our 11AM horseback trail ride. There must be 50 or more horses in the nearby corral but ours were in the stable ready to go. I picked out mine on the Internet when I made the booking , she has a long Icelandic name, but I call her Maystar for short. She is so beautiful, a Carmel colour with long blonde hair. Icelandic horses are so gentle and easy going.
Doug agreed to come with me which was great. There were two German girls, 20 something's, working there for six months and seemed more interested in chatting to each other than taking care of the riders.
We waited about a half hour for four others to arrive, two couples from New York around our age and ability which was nice.

Off we go, across the fields towards the beach. Rain, sun, strong winds and freezing hail. At one point the horses stopped and said...nope. Just gonna wait right here.
But weather usually doesn't last long and the worst was the hail and that was only around 10 minutes at most.

It was a great ride, about an hour and a half, and on the way back I asked if I could trot or canter, which I did and that was wonderful.

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Back in the car to continue our circuit. There were a number of viewpoints on the route that we stopped at, did some hiking and walking about at places. One was a great set of trails near a black church.. It was a perfect way to spend out last day here.

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Instead of spending the night back in Reykjavik, I changed to a hotel near the airport to make it easier for our early morning departure. It is a self serve hotel. You pay in advance, $99 CAD which is a great price for here. They send you a code to get into the door, an envelope is inside with your name on it and keys, and that's it. Nice big clean room. Perfect

Day 16

4AM was early to wake up, but we left shortly after and dropped off the car and then checked in for our flight to Stockholm. The airport was insanely busy at 5AM, but we managed to find our way around and I am now writing this on our 2 1/2 hour flight to Sweden.

Iceland was so diverse, unique and just plain awesome. We are so glad we went.

Posted by debbep 11:12 Archived in Iceland Comments (1)

"Norway

Norway!!! You take my breath away.

rain 8 °C

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September 13, 2015
Day 1
Our flight from Vancouver to London was the best we have ever had. We used all of of "points" and flew business class on British airways. The design was a little odd, two seats facing each other and when the bed was made up the person on the inside was almost trapped inside. But laying down flat and actually sleeping on a flight was indescribable. I don't think I could do another overnight flight in economy again, but certainly not prepared to pay the cost of upgrading with cash either.

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We connected to Bergen and then took the airport shuttle downtown andmade our way on foot to find our hotel, the Basic Bergen. It was very basic, looked like it was aimed to young people, but the price and location were good and the room was clean and beds firm. It was now 10PM so we went straight to sleep and happy to wake at 6 AM

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Day 2.
We walked a lot of the downtown area today and along the picturesque waterfront where wooden buildings are 200 years old. I knew it would be expensive in Norway but still had a bit of sticker shock today. A small coffee was $7 and 1/2 of a wrap was $8. You need to pay $2 every time you want to use the public bathroom, so I won't be drinking too much coffee anyhow. ( the bathroom cost ended up just being in Bergen).
We went to a grocery store to pick up a few items for lunch and that will make a big difference.
I had an early afternoon back in the room and then the rain started to come down quite heavily so Doug was not too much after me.

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Observations: everyone is incredibly good looking. We have found that almost everyone speaks English and is very friendly and helpful. There are a lot of young people here. Young fathers pushing baby carriages on their own. Most people are wearing shades of black and greys with an occasional orange jacket once in a while. All are very well dressed, even those who are casual have the high end activewear on. The city is very clean and modern with a mix of cobblestone streets and old wooden buildings too. The homes are mostly painted bright cranberry, golden yellow or white. Occasionally you will see a blue or black house. Most designs are the same, two or three story wood siding homes, many with tile roofs.

Day 3
We took the bus back out to the airport to pick up our rental car and the lovely helpful young man had us on our way in a little Toyota Yaris in no time.
We bought a 'Tom Tom' GPS at home that included Europe maps and it worked like a charm ( once I got used to it).
As we left the city we pass by many pastoral scenes and the fjords along the way. The day turned out to be beautiful and mostly sunny which was a bonus. As we got further north we could see the trees were starting to turn the fall colours. Most of the trees are deciduous, not many coniferous around other than the occasional pine.

After a trip to the grocery store we found a spot near the water to have our picnic lunch which was just perfect.

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Many of the roads are connected by ferries to get across the fjords, and today we took our first one. It is a bit smaller than the Denman island ferry, and makes the 15 minute trip back and forth constantly into the night. The cost for us and the car was around $20 one way. We are in the area of Sognefjorden.

There are so many tunnels through the mountains and we did one that was the longest in the world, 25 kilometres. I slept through most of it thankfully as I don't particularly like tunnels.

We arrived in the small picturesque town of Hafslo and found our little cabin overlooking the water and town below. It is so beautiful here I really had no idea what to expect and we are pleasantly surprised.

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Day 4.

Our day started with a drive to Solvern, a beautiful little town on the water. The road was so narrow the car barely fit between the houses. Another ferry took us across to Ornes. There is only one other car with two young people and two others on bicycle. It is off season now, and it is also raining again which perhaps deterred some from making the trip. This small village has a Unesco heritage church perched high on the hill. This church has been rebuilt four times since 1129, a hundred years between each rebuilding. This is the oldest of the stave churches in Norway. The woodwork is incredible, and most of the inside of the church still dates back to the 1100s. Scaffolding covers the exterior of the church, which was a shame for us as we could not get a clear sense of its beauty, but good that they have the money to keep it restored.

As we left I saw a herd of reindeer in the nearby farm being herded away somewhere. We also found a shelf with fresh raspberries for sale so we bought two containers. Yum.

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Instead of taking the ferry back we took the coastal secondary road on this side of the fjord. Even with our small car it felt at times the road was narrower than we were. Thankfully there was not much traffic and the scenery on this route was amazing. The rain seemed to make everything even more brilliant green and yellow. The water is a beautiful blue green and at times reflected the landscape like a mirror.

There a roadside stands here and there and we found one where we bought rhubarb strawberry jam and bag of salad greens.
I love some of the older wooden buildings and the way they were constructed. We left the pastoral water side road and, unbeknownst to us, headed up into the mountains. This road made the road to Tofino look like a straight a way. Hairpin corners on narrow roads heading up the mountains with the fjords and valleys below. Thankfully, once again, it is not too busy so we really enjoyed the drive.

The landscape changed dramatically to low brush and rock and eventually snow and glaciers. There were no trees, just low lying shrubs and ground cover is bright shades of gold yellows and reds. This area is popular for cross country skiing a bit later in the season. We were thrilled to have taken this road instead of the main one.

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We make our way back down to where the scenery is once again the beautiful colours of fall and farmland on the sloping hills. There are huge mountains everywhere and more waterfalls than I have ever seen. Huge ones, some miles high and others also very wide.

Another stop in the town of Lom to do more grocery shopping and on to find our cabin in the town of Skjak. It is great to have full kitchens instead of eating in restaurants all the time.

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Day 5

Another rainy day unfortunately. Some parts of the day had just a bit of drizzle which wasn't too bad. We took the old road to Stryn, another narrow winding mountain route past some incredible colours. The glacial lakes are ice blue and the trees and ground cover are brilliant shades of golds and reds again, but much further along in the bright fall colours. Mountain peaks and glaciers are surrounding us. Thankfully once again there are not too many cars on this road, as one has to find a wide spot and either back up or wait for the other to pass.

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An hour into the trip and the fog settled around us, we could barely see a foot in front of the car. It was quite eerie. Years ago you would be advised never to travel this route alone, only in groups as there were 'vagrants' in the mountains who would ambush you as you travelled through. I could see cars parked on the side of the road once in a while but no one in them. They had been murdered and then eaten I am sure of it. Every horror movie I could think of was entering my mind.

I am sure that the scenery was spectacular, we could hear and sort or see magnificent waterfalls and rivers, but we could not see any of it unfortunately.

After our white knuckle drive down the mountain we got back onto a larger road and into the town of Stryn where we went to our first Norwegian restaurant for lunch. It really wasn't picnic weather. This beautiful small town was gearing up for a huge Octoberfest celebration on the weekend and most workers were dressed in German lederhosen and dress. We spoke to a few of the local people and got some information about sights to see in the area. Everyone is so friendly and they all seem so happy and relaxed all the time.

Fifteen minutes down the road we came to another small town Loen, and headed to the fjord there to do a bit of walking and sightseeing. Even with the rain and clouds you can see how beautiful it is here. Many of the out buildings and the older camping cabins all have the grass/sod roofs which are so picturesque.

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Another hair raising drive though the thick fog on hairpin corner mountain roads to find our home for the night in Geiranger. We have a gorgeous little cabin with a breathtaking view of the fjord and mountains. I could stay here for a few days, but we are off again tomorrow. There is so much to see!

We are so impressed how neat and tidy and orderly everything is. The rest stops, parks and towns are all so well maintained. The homes cars and people are all immaculate. Alot of oil money here, but the country spreads the wealth around so that everyone benefits.
Even now with prices being down the government had the good sense to put a lot away when times were good, so that everyone is still doing well.

Day 6

A wonderful lazy morning with checkout not being until noon. We just relaxed and enjoyed our view for the morning .
A trip into the small town of Gieranger where we decided to grab an Americano and waffle. It was actually a pancake and Doug has his with fresh cream and strawberry jam and I had mine with a brown sweet Norwegian cheese. Across the alley was a chocolatier whom our hotel receptionist said we had to buy a brownie from. I always do as I am told, so we bought a small one and asked him to cut it in half to take with us. We had it later on the ferry and it was hands down the best brownie I have ever had.
He was very informative and told us of some areas we should visit and then said we should start soon as the cruise ship has just come in. We looked out and saw that a huge ship was tendering the passengers into this tiny town so off we went.

Climbing once again up the many narrow switchbacks to the panoramic viewpoint at the top we were not disappointed. We hiked to the higher viewpoint and a man came over and asked if we were norwiegen when he found we were Canadian he told us a lot about the area and that a movie was just released called "the wave" and it was filmed here. It is about a huge tsunami that comes down the channel and devistates the town. We told him about our tsunami in Port Alberni in 1964 and he said they know it will happen here, hopefully not today.

He and his brother and sister and family were off to a cousins 50th birthday party nearby. His brother had been in Kelowna a couple years ago and drove to Vancouver from there he was so surprised how straight and wide the roads were in BC. I can see that after diving here, as a matter of fact he was surprised we were comfortable driving here at all. The maximum speed is 80, everyone seems to be good respectful drivers and very patient. I have not seen any indication at any road rage.
He gave us a typical birthday cake piece that was thin layers of cake with cinnamon butter filing. It was good but I am now on a sugar high.

Off to Aselund stopping at various points along the way and another ferry enroute.

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When we checked into our hotel I discover I have booked a room in a youth hostel. That is why it was inexpensive. Well they didn't seem to mind and we didn't either, we had a private room. After a rest we walked into town for a delicious Indian meal at a Resteraunt in the centre. On the way we passed a movie theatre with a big line up, " the wave" was playing. I would have gone but it would have all been in norwiegen without subtitles. We will rent it on Netflix at home.
The movie theatre and the movie poster:

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Day 7

Breakfast was included with our room and was wonderful . Doug even had salmon and caviar. After checking out and putting our luggage in the car we walked the town for a few hours. Today we actually saw blue sky and I took my fleece jacket off. Bonus. Doug had walked a lot of the waterfront yesterday while I was resting, so he went into the modern art museum while I wandered around and took pictures. It is Sunday today and looks like a ghost town most stores are closed today.

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We met up at the museum which was very small, but had a 'time machine' exibit. It transported us back to 1904 when the town of Allesand was completely burned to the ground. 10,000 people were homeless overnight. The country of Norway as well as Sweden and Germany helped out with aid and fundraising to help rebuild, and fortunately there was a huge work shortage for all building tradespeople so they came in droves to rebuild the city. A lot of family's got much nicer homes in the end. It was decided that city centres would no longer have wooden houses and instead they were all made of brick. A few well known architects helped with the rebuilding and so it became known as the prettiest town in Norway, with art nouveau buildings.

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A stop for a light lunch and we were on our way in the early afternoon driving south now, heading back towards Bergen. The route took us on three ferries and past many small towns and villages. A lot of farms are at the base of the mountain and have steep slopes that are dotted with sheep and cows.
Tonight we sleep in the town of Forde.

Day 8

Breakfast was included in the room again. Doug had salmon and pickled herring for breakfast. Norwegian breakfasts are quite large, especially is you eat meat and seafood.

Our last day in Norway involved a lot of driving. We needed to get to Bergen but wanted to detour to a few places on the way. Only one ferry involved however.

After picking up a few things at a grocery store we lucked out and found this beautiful rest stop by the ocean. Norway has a lot of picnic areas along the roads, but this one was exactly what we were looking for today.

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Two churches were located in the town of Vik, almost across the road from each other. One, a Stave church, similar to the one under construction we saw a few days ago. Tourist season is pretty much done as of mid September, so this was closed and we could not see the inside. We didn't really mind as the last one we could see inside and the outside was under construction, so this balanced it out. It looks like it is covered in creosote, to preserve it I suppose.
This church would date back to around the 10 th century. It reminded me of something from China, but also I could see a resemblance to a ship.

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The next church was a Hove, or brick church for the 12 th century. There are not too many like this one in Norway. Both were very interesting and we were glad we made the detour.

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The sun was shining and it was quite warm, around 14 degrees. We could see all the mountain tops today and the scenery, once again, was spectacular.

Now in Bergen we will return our rental car and fly to Iceland tomorrow. Norway was so much more than we imagined and we are so glad we came.

Now to Reykjavik

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Posted by debbep 12:32 Archived in Norway Comments (2)

European Vacation 2015

Norway, Iceland, Sweden, France, Israel, Jordan, and then from Barcelona a cruise to Florida through the Caribbean

We are off again on another adventure. September 13th, tomorrow, we fly to Bergen Norway and will rent a car to see some of the fjords. I will post with pictures around once a week if you would like to follow along.

Posted by debbep 20:50 Archived in Norway Comments (2)

Cruise to Easter Island and Tahiti

Here is a short summary of our trip to Easter Island in January.
Ocean Princess Cruise Itinerary

Jan 02, 2015. Embark in Fort Lauderdale

Jan 03 At Sea
Jan 04 At Sea
Jan 05 At Sea

Jan 06 Panama Canal -Scenic Cruising 5:00AM 4:30PM

Jan 07 At Sea
Jan 08 At Sea

Jan 09 Guayaquil 9:00AM 7:00PM

Jan 10 At Sea
Jan 11 At Sea

Jan 12 Lima (Callao) 7:00AM 6:00PM
Jan 13 Pisco 7:00AM 4:00PM

Jan 14 At Sea
Jan 15 At Sea
Jan 16 At Sea
Jan 17 At Sea

Jan 18 Easter Island Tender Required 12:00PM 9:00PM

Jan 19 At Sea
Jan 20 At Sea
Jan 21 At Sea
Jan 22 At Sea
Jan 23 At Sea
Jan 24 At Sea

Jan 25 Bora Bora Tender Required 7:00AM 6:00PM
Jan 26 Moorea Tender Required 8:00AM 5:00PM
Jan 26 Tahiti (Papeete)
Overnight

We spent a couple of nights in FortLauderdale before our 25 night cruise. I was a little apprehensive because it was a very small ship, just over 600 people, but in the end I preferred it to the larger ships. We made some great friends on the journey and really enjoyed this cruise. We did not have a lot of stops, and the highlights for me were the Panama Canal transit, Easter Island (the reason for the cruise) and the South Pacific. We spent 5 nights in Moorea at the end and then flew to Maui for another five nights before coming home.

Our trip to Easter Island, although the highlight of the trip, almost didn't happen. Day one of the cruise the captain informed us that we have around a 20% chance of being able to tender, because the ocean is so rough and there are so many rocks.
Here is my message from my Facebook post:

Today was the best day!!! We were so blessed to arrive at Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Only one of four ships that attempt are usually able to anchor close enough to tender passengers ashore, due to high waves, but although touch and go, we eventually got ashore, yesterday we would not have been able to go. For the past two weeks all 600 passengers have been very anxious after the captain informed us that there was a good chance it may not happen. As we got closer we were all so excited, as for most this was the main reason for the cruise. It was very slow going, and when our group finally got on the tender we all cheered and clapped.
Easter island was certainly a highlight of the travels in my life and one that I never really thought I would see. But I did, and it was all I had hoped it would be and so much more. The landscape was beautiful, much like Hawaii in many areas with gorgeous flowers and plants.
The main reason that I love to travel is to learn about the country and its history and this was certainly no exception. A truly fascinating experience and one we will never forget.

On Bora Bora we did a helmet dive and island tour as a shore excursion. I am glad that we choose Moorea to stay on as we liked it the best of the three places we stopped.

Maui was a great way to end our trip. The Humpback whales were in huge numbers, calving and teaching the young how to jump and feed. It was an awesome sight. We did go snorkelling out to Molokini crater, but it was very disappointing . I has changed a lot since we were here last.

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Posted by debbep 10:45 Archived in Chile Tagged island tahiti easter bora Comments (0)

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