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Fifth Port of Call: Geiranger

9 Jul

Our two previous ports of call, Alesund and Bergen, were situated at the mouth of a fjord. Today we sailed through a fjord considered to be the pearl of fjords in Norway to visit the small village of Geiranger. The views were stunning as we approached the head of the fjord. Rugged craggy mountains with sheer drops to the water. One waterfall after another as the snow melts into the fjord. My photos simply don’t do the place justice. I had a hard time dealing with the overcast skies and low-lying clouds. There was no place to dock the ship, so the we laid anchor in the fjord and took ship tenders to shore. Aside from souvenir shops there is not much to do in the village. We opted for a ride to the top of Mount Dalsnibba. Following a series of incredibly sharp hairpin turns we arrived at the summit — about 5,000 feet above sea level. The views were breathtaking.

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Fourth Port of Call: Ålesund

8 Jul

The rains finally caught up with us during our visit to Ålesund. A steady cold drizzle lasted throughout our time in this city. A pity, as it definitely curtailed my photo opportunities in the charming little city. Alesund suffered devastation from a fire in 1904 which destroyed 850 homes and left 10,000 residents homeless. The town was subsequently rebuilt with stone buildings in a blend of nordic styles and Art Nouveau. We paid a visit to two museums —the Alesund Museum and the Art Nouveau Center. It’s a good thing they were open as most shops and restaurants were shuttered until late in the afternoon since it was Sunday.


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Third Port of Call: Bergen

7 Jul

Overcast skies and cool temperatures greeted us in Bergen where we spent the day in constant anticipation of rain which thankfully never arrived. We wandered around the wharf area, known as Bryggen, where there are a handful of wooden houses dating to the time of the Hanseatic merchants (15th century) that managed to survive numerous fires in the history of Bergen. These houses and other buildings around them now house shops, cafes, restaurants and a museum. We strolled through the fish market, paid a visit to the Permanenten museum for a display of applied arts and took the funicular up Mount Fløyen for a fabulous view of Bergen.

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At Sea

6 Jul

Today will be our first full day at sea. We have sailed back through the English channel and are in the North Sea. We have finally caught up with the inclement weather we had been expecting. It has been very foggy with visibility only about a kilometer or so. The fog horns have been sounding with regularity — a sound I find strangely pleasing. We will be docking at Bergen tomorrow around 2 p.m. Until then, nothing to do but relax!

I’ve already finished reading a great novel, Gone Girl and am on to my next ibook: The Space Between Us.

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Second Port of Call: Le Havre

5 Jul

Our port of call today was billed as the gateway to Paris by the cruise line. But, we visited Paris for a week while we were living in Germany and couldn’t see the sense of taking a 2.5-hr. train ride (each way) for a whirlwind visit of the City of Lights. We had bundled up for what we expected would be a windy and possibly rainy day. Instead the sun shone relentlessly, making it much hotter than we expected. We explored Le Havre in the morning then made our way by bus to Honfleur.


Le Havre is far from picturesque. The city suffered much devastation after both world wars. In the fifties it was rebuilt by the architect Perret in a rather severe manner with poured concrete buildings. We were curious to see the Church of St. Joseph, designed by Perret. It had a surprising charm for a modern church. We strolled over to Le Havre’s Church of Notre Dame then past the basin to the train station where we caught the bus to Honfleur.


Such a contrast to Le Havre! Honfleur was oozing with charm and quaintness. There were half-timbered houses, some painted in pastel colors, buildings covered with slate shingles, a cheerful carousel, boutiquey shops, gourmet food shops and charming bistros everywhere you turned. We had a fabulous lunch at L’ecailleur. It was a set menu and the portions were so generous we didn’t need to eat dinner that night. What a delight it was to spend an afternoon in Honfleur.


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First Port of Call: Bruges

4 Jul

Brad and I spent about  a week in Bruges in February in 1996 or 97 (we can’t remember exactly, but it was during the time we were living in Germany). So, once again, we’ve seen all the main sights and were happy to stroll through what we consider one of the most picturesque cities we’ve ever encountered. But what a difference it makes to visit Bruges in the middle of summer as opposed to late February! In February, we felt as if we had the city to ourselves and I’m sure we were bundled up against the cold. Today it was sunny and hot and the town was overrun with tourists. Still, the charm of Bruges shone through.

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Going Offline and Heading North

1 Jul

In the wee hours of the morning (4 a.m. to be exact!), Brad and I will be heading to the airport for a flight to Amsterdam. We’ll spend one night in Amsterdam. The next day we will make our way to the cruise ship dock in Amsterdam where we will begin a cruise to Norway with Royal Caribbean. This will be our second cruise with RCI — on the first one, we had a splendid time exploring the Baltic.

We had lovely weather on our Baltic Cruise. Not sure if we’ll be so lucky this time. The extended forecast I’ve been looking at shows nothing but rain, thunderstorms and cloud cover. So, even though the sun will rise around 4 a.m. and won’t set till after 9 p.m., we may not see much of it anyhow! But no matter. I’m sure we’ll have a great time. I’ll try to touch base online from internet cafes at the different ports of call…but for the most part, I’ll be offline for the duration of the cruise.

It wasn’t until I created the interactive Google map shown above that I got an appreciation of route the cruise takes. The paths I traced through the fjords and around the many islands off the coast of Norway are conjecture on my part. There seem to be many ways to go and I’m sure the ship captain will know best! You can explore the map more closely by clicking on it or this link.