Friday, 30 July 2010

Norwegian Honeymoon

Martin and I started our honeymoon with a night ahead in Southampton. Not much to note apart from the interesting old town walls. On our way down the next day we did run into the start of the Asian festival, which looks like it could have been interesting in full swing.

Departure:
2-hour check in procedure, which I think is a new record. You arrive, dump luggage at set points, get a letter and colour. Then after waiting ages, you head up for the proper check in part which was fairly standard apart from losing my passport (standard for cruise ships however) which just felt wrong (and annoying as they didn't even get it stamped once!). Security check, then on board!! Our stateroom was on Panama Deck of the Ventura (http://www.pocruises.com/Cruise-Ships/Ventura/Ship-Overview/). Spent the next wee while running all over the place exploring our massive ship, to then scored a sweet spot to watch our departure from the dock. Champagne to celebrate the start of our honeymoon and the good times began. Great food was a constant on the ship, as was the entertainment. To add to the good start of the honeymoon, I actually won a reflexology foot massage treatment, 1 hour after departure. 

Sea Day:
There isn't much to talk about on sea days. Just relaxing, food, reading, sauna's, entertainment, more food, relaxing. Its great.

Bergen:
(http://www.visitnorway.com/en/Stories/Norway/Fjord-Norway/Bergen/) This town was very cute. Lovely old fishing village with far too many houses packed into a tiny area. And had a lot of history to go with it. We went to the main museum of the town and learnt alot of about it all focused around the church at first and the wharf. And after fires they rebuilt, another fire they rebuilt and so on. After the museum we decided rather than taking the funicular up we should hike up Mt. Floien. Took us about 1.25 hours. The view was worth it from the top, but after walking back down I was absolutely dead. Bought some Norwegian slippers and Martin ate some whale (horrible)! This was the best day for weather and the view on the way out through the fjords was great.

Flam:
This was my fav. stop of the journey (http://www.visitflam.com/visartikkel.asp?art=272#). It is situated at the end of Aurlandsfjord, which is part of Sognefjord - which is the wolrds longest and deepest fjord (every branch of the main fjord has its own name). The mistiness caused by the light rain gave the area a very magical feeling. Our first thing of the day was to do a short hike (although steep) up to the local waterfall, which thanks to the previous dry weather and the rain that had arrived with us was quite impressive. Got great views up the valley from this point and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Got the tender (boat) back for a quick lunch before heading off on our cruise tour. First part of it was a bus ride to this hotel on the side of a cliff. Had to go through very long tunnels (11km) to get there, and then down the scariest road ever (so many hairpins), Stalheimskleiva road, which is also the steepest in Norway. After getting down the bottom, we eventually ended up at our destination and hopped aboard the cruise ship which would take us through the narrowest fjords in the world (a lot of in the worlds in this area). Nærøyfjord (http://www.naeroyfjord.com/) was a beauty, reminded me of Fiordland in NZ but the rocks were more akin to Southern China in the River Li area. The sides of the fjords had a lot more trees and wild goats forage there (crazy!). Saw some seals, and an old Viking burial mound - cool! Lots of wee villages along the way, and we got absolutely soaked and frozen on the front but it had great views there. Another wonderful night on board the ship - good food and entertainment.

Olden:
Another interesting stop. Today we did things the cheaper way and caught the local bus to the Briksdal glacier (18 pounds rather than 96 to do it with the cruise). The area of the glacier was very nice but the actual glacier itself was lacking in the size and lustre I am used to being a NZer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Briksdalsbreen). But it was very cool as this glacier belonged to the largest ice field in EU and you could see it running along the tops of the mountains. The walk up to the glacier was spectacular as we had to go right by the massive waterfall, which with all the rain of late was extremely large. The mist rain produced from the thundering falls was enough to drench the side of your body exposed to it. Nice forest and birds tweeting around, with some alpine flowers thrown in just added to the appeal of the place. 

Stavenger:
Not my fav. place of the trip but still quite nice. We explored the old town of Stavenger which didn't take too long. All but a few of the houses here are painted white and they all conform to the same style and design, so it has a very interesting effect (like coronation st, but with houses actually apart and different sizes). Saw the cathedral and lake, then over to the old customs house. Once we were finished with downtown, we headed to the canning museum which is my main and only recommendation for this place. The museum isn't too expensive and has a lot of authentic machinery and you even get to interact with it, and its actually in an old canning museum. We were lucky that we arrived on a Thursday so got to see sardines being smoked in the old smoke houses/closets and have a taste of them. Enjoyed my reflexology session immensely after we were back on board.

The last day =(
Our last day was a sea day, so once again relaxing and enjoying ourselves. Ate too much all day, and finally tried out the pools (not really our thing with 3000 people aboard), and more sauna's.

Entering Aurlandsfjord

 

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