A Travellerspoint blog

Oslo, Norway - Thursday, 31 December 2015

Explore Norway's Capital

overcast -1 °C

Last day of 2015. What an eventful year it has been. We started the year travelling to South America and Antarctica - 66 degrees south and ended the year in Iceland, 66 degrees north.

My mother passed away in May; Phil became a grandfather for the second time in November and my son and his family started a new life as macadamia nut farmers at Belmore Creek, New South Wales.

The bathroom floor tiles in our room are heated. Very easy on the bare feet and SO easy to dry the washing - just lie it on the floor!

Had a lovely breakfast in the Atrium this morning and then headed over to the railway station to find someone of authority who could set our minds at ease about our train trip to Stockholm tomorrow. We found a very helpful chap who explained everything quite comprehensively and even walked us to the platforms from where the Swedish trains arrive and depart. The station is within easy walking distance from our hotel, even if you are dragging a big bag. We even mapped out a route that would keep our bags on reasonably smooth ground and not too many cobble stones, that wreck the wheels on the bags.

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On the pavement outside the station, there are lots and lots of beautiful butterflies set into the concrete.

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Also, a statue of a magnificent tiger. Not sure of the relevance of him.

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We walked a couple of blocks and on our way to the Oslo Cathedral, we came across these little guys. Quite a few Norwegians still believe in trolls but the interesting thing is that a huge percentage of Icelanders believe in elves and their 13 Yule Lads. Fascinating.

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Oslo Cathedral is lovely.

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There were a few museums on the other side of the harbour that we wanted to visit so we had to negotiate the local bus system to get there and back. New Year's Eve here is quite different from Australia. Shops start closing at midday and there are not many restaurants open tonight either. We are lucky that our hotel is hosting a three course New Year's Eve dinner, commencing at 9 am.

So, making enquiries about the museums - some people said they were open and some said they were closed, but the Polar Ship FRAM museum was open and the Viking Ship Museum was closed. We decided to catch the bus out there anyway and if everything was closed, at least we had seen some of the outer suburbs of Oslo. Our bus tickets, for two seniors, cost $4 AUD.

We passed the Viking Ship Museum and it was open, but we stayed on the bus and hopped off at the Polar Ship FRAM Museum. We were very impressed with the museum. The ships FRAM and GJOA are displayed there and we walked all over the FRAM - up and down. We saw a couple of movies about Roald Amundson and Ernest Shackleton and their race to get to the north and south poles. Amundson used the FRAM to sail to Antarctica and he used the GJOA to discover the northwest passage. He discovered the northwest passage first and then headed for the south pole.

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As Australians, we all know that Amundson beat Scott to the South Pole by 37 days and Shackleton never got to the South Pole, however he survived his ordeal miracously, against all odds. We visited Antarctica in the summer of 2015 and I find it so hard to comprehend why any of these explorers would subject themselves and their men to such an ordeal. The cold, the wind, the snow and the ice, not to mention ships getting caught in the ice and being crushed into a pile of rubble. They truly were magnificent men.

They were all searching for a way through the northwest passage, to make trading with the orient much easier and quicker. We were fascinated to hear about Thomas Button, a Welshman, trying to find the northwest passage from 1612 to 1613.

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There was a film of the northern lights and I just had to take a couple of photos to remind me what we didn't see in Iceland.

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Some famous Aussies with some very famous Arctic/Antarctic explorers.

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We caught the bus back to town and noticed that out here in the suburbs, near the water, there are some stunningly huge homes. As we got closer to the city, the apartment blocks take over.

It has been very cloudy and overcast today and it was supposed to snow, but it didn't. We arrived back in the city at 3.30 pm and it was dark.

Had a rest and then dressed for our New Year's dinner at our hotel.

Entree - Lobster Salad served with truffle dressing, pine nuts, sultanas and pomme allumettes

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Main - long time fried beef fillet served with pea cream, glazed oyster mushroom, black pepper saus and potatoes confit

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Dessert - licorice mousse filled with lemon panna cotta, served with raspberry salsa, licorice and meringue

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Happy New Year! Roll on 2016

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Posted by gaddingabout 14:08 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Oslo, Norway - Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Up the Fjord to Oslo

rain 2 °C

We both had a very peaceful night. For me, it was probably due to the two G&Ts, followed by a beer with dinner. A bottle of Jacobs Creek sells here for $80 AUD - pass! I suppose that's normal because it is imported.

Very dreary day greeted us as we sailed into Oslo. It is windy and raining and not very inviting for sight seeing. Hopefully it will improve and we'll be able to get out and about.

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We had breakfast delivered to our cabin and then prepared for disembarkation by about 10am. There was quite a long wait for the lift to the 5th floor and the gangway. And then it took a long time to get through Customs, just because there were so many people all trying to get ashore at the same time. We approached Customs by coming down quite a steep sloping walk way thing and I was having a bit of trouble holding onto my big bag, when the guy behind me came to the rescue and held onto my bag until we reached the bottom. See, the grey hair thing again!

It was a short taxi ride to our hotel, which is right in the middle of a very busy square. We are on the 9th floor and have a huge room with three rooms plus a big bathroom - Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania, Room 980. This is the foyer of our hotel.

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This is the view looking down from our floor to the breakfast area and the external glass lifts.
We wandered over to the shopping mall across the road from our hotel. Had some lunch and decided to do a recce for our train journey to Stockholm on New Year's Day. The station was quite confusing - not many signs in English and we still haven't found the ticket office for SJ trains. We do have an electronic ticket with our seat number on it but they seem to like you to swap this for a proper boarding pass. We'll see what happens.

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It's raining, windy and cold, AND dark, so we spent a few hours this afternoon snuggled up in our lovely hotel room, reading.

We went to Peppe's italian restaurant for dinner - it's still raining, windy and cold. Tomorrow, the forecast is for snow, but we are planning to visit a few tourist destinations so I hope we can.

Posted by gaddingabout 11:45 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Copenhagen to Oslo, Norway - Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Taste of Copenhagen and Cruise to Norway

overcast 2 °C

Lazy morning this morning. Sleep in and late breakfast. Checking out at 12 noon and will do more exploring until 3 pm when our taxi will take us to the harbour to board our boat for an overnight trip to Oslo where we will be spending the next two days.

Phil's back is improving slowly but he is still pushing the invalid barrow!!

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It is now post Christmas sale time. Aren't these the funkiest models you have seen?

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This is the Copenhagen Court House.

We checked out and went for a walk to find the church where Fredrik and Mary were married. It's only a few blocks from our hotel. Apparently Mary chose the church as it was the biggest one in Copenhagen and they needed to fit a lot of guests in. It was a lovely church but looked so much bigger on TV.

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It's right next door to the University of Copenhagen.

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Phil's dream came true and he was able to eat a Danish hot dog.

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We found another cute little cafe for some hot chocolate and danishes. The wind is very cold today.

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This is the Copenhagen City Hall.

We went back to our hotel, collected our bags and caught a taxi down to the wharf to board our ship/boat/ferry. I'm not sure what it is but it takes cars on board, so maybe that makes it a ferry. The taxi cost $40 AUS. Phil is still moaning about that!

Boarding was a breeze. We presented our electronic ticket at the ticket office and were each given a card which acted as our boarding pass and our room key. We are on the 7th floor in a Commodore Room. It is quite small but adequate enough for an overnight sea journey.

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One of the staff was standing in the foyer of the 7th floor welcoming guests as they got out of the lift. She came straight over to me, took my big bag and escorted us to our cabin. Explanation - it's the grey hair. As soon as people see grey hair, they want to help. Yes please, thank you very much.

I am a shocker when it comes to sea travel, so I put my Scopaderm motion sickness patch behind my ear and off we went. Well I think I wasted it because the whole trip was so smooth and sometimes it didn't feel like we were moving at all. It was a totally enjoyable trip. The bathroom in our cabin is tiny but adequate and only one person can fit in there at a time.

We had dinner in the Italian Restaurant on board. There were about six different restaurants to choose from.

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We did a bit of shopping after dinner in a huge shop on board. I bought three little bowls from Denmark, to add to my overseas bowl collection. Then into bed for a night on the high seas!

Posted by gaddingabout 06:03 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Copenhagen, Denmark - Monday, 28 December 2015

Classic Copenhagen

4 °C

"Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen ... dah dah, de dah dah, de daaaaaaaaaah!"

Well here we are in the land of Hans Christian Andersen, "The Little Mermaid", "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Red Shoes". This place has a really nice feel. Looking forward to getting out and about today.

The bed was a dream! Quite firm and my favourite goose down pillows. A great start to the day!

Unusual breakfast this morning, totally out of my comfort zone, but yummy.

Started with a piece of melt in your mouth chocolate! Well, it was on the breakfast table, so I guess you are supposed to eat it. Then some fresh fruit and some Skyr, a yoghurt type thing we ate a lot of at breakfast time in Iceland. Then toasted black bread, a soft boiled egg, boiled ham and a huge hunk of Camembert cheese. Then a cup of black tea, infused with quince. And just to round it all off, another piece of chocolate!

Rugged up as it is only 4 degrees today and headed off to the canal for a scenic boat ride.

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Our Grand Tour of Copenhagen took about an hour and a half. We saw the Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, the Black Diamond Building, the Old Stock Exchange, the Royal Danish Playhouse, Our Saviour's Church and many more lovely buildings along the way.

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Copenhagen had rain the last couple of days and the canals were quite full. The boat only had a few inches to spare going under some of the bridges.

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Some of the buildings are so colourful. They are lovely.

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We saw The Little Mermaid from the water. When we come back in a week's time, we'll catch a taxi out to see her from the front.

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Back on shore, we headed off for Amalienborg Palace to see the changing of the guard. We kept asking people fof directions and at one stage were standing in front of a huge building with guards out the front. We took the photos and then asked them if this was the palace. "No", they said, "this is the French Embassy"!! We all laughed. You'd think the French flag flying on top of the building would have given us a hint! Duh!

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The facade and Christmas decorations at this hotel were just wonderful. Check out the icicles.

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So we continued on to find the palace. We walked a way with a nice Dane who showed us the way. As we approached the palace square, we paused to take some photos and a policeman started yelling at us. So we walked up to him and asked him what was the matter and he pointed to the black line on the ground and said we had to stay inside it. I'm still not quite sure how we were supposed to get inside the black line from the direction in which we approached the palace. Of course Phil said "Why?" and the policeman said "Because I say so!" A policeman with a bad attitude! All he had to say was that the changing of the guard would be happening soon and we all had to be behind the black line. At one stage, I saw him give an Asian man a huge shove and pushed him over the black line. That policeman is certainly in the wrong business. Public relations are not his forte!

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The famous black line!

Isn't this a magnificent church? It is called Fredrick's Kirke.

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By now we are getting cold and hungry and found this lovely place for lunch called Pastis. I had delicious French Onion soup and a ginger beer and Phil had a steak sandwich and a beer. We both enjoyed our lunch very much.

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With full, warm tummies we started the long trek back to our hotel but popped in to a little place to do what everyone in Denmark does - eat a Danish or two!!
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Bikes, bikes everywhere.

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This is a photo of our hotel. It is really nice and just across the square from the Tivoli Gardens, which we will visit tomorrow morning before we join our boat for our overnight cruise to Oslo. We were going to pop over there this afternoon but the weather has become a bit cold and dreary, so we'll do it tomorrow.

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Posted by gaddingabout 09:32 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Reykjavik to Copenhagen, Denmark - Sunday, 27 December 2015

Bye Bye Iceland - Hello Denmark

rain 0 °C

Today we leave Reykjavik for Copenhagen on the 2.15 pm flight.

Phil had quite a restless night but doesn't seem to be any worse so probably nothing is broken. I have put a stick on heat pad on his back, so hopefully that will help. He has also taken a pain killer. It is dark and raining and is 10 am. Our airport shuttle will be here in about 30 minutes.

Arrived at the airport at about 12.30 pm on dreary, raining, sleepy Sunday. Not many people around at all. Smooth check in. Other passengers see me struggling with our bags (because of Phil's sore back) and are very willing to help me. The airline check in man jumped up to help with the bags too when I explained what had happened to Phil. I think everyone in Iceland, at one time or another, has slipped over on the ice. He is so lucky he didn't break something. Because his feet went from under him, he landed smack on his back and thank goodness, didn't have time to put out his hand to break the fall, or he might have broken his arm.

Very thorough security here and I had to take off my shoes, which I haven't had to do before. They wanted Phil to take his off too but when he explained about his back, they ran the beeper over him. Also, the security line is automated and so couth. You wait in line, a tray pops up in front of you, you load it up with all your stuff and then it takes off along a conveyor belt. If it is all okay, it comes along one path; if something needs to be looked at, it takes another path where there is a man standing who looks at your stuff and then gives you the okay. Then magically, your tray just disappears down a hole and that's that. Very orderly. Much better than all the pushing and shoving that usually goes on in airports.

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Had a coffee and a muffin, claimed VAT on a pair of glasses frames that Phil bought and now waiting to board our plane for the 3 hour flight to Copenhagen. Tavelling southeast. It has got to be warmer!

We boarded the plane and the wind was so strong that the wings were moving up and down. It was so scary and I thought taking off would be traumatic but it wasn't. In fact once we got above the weather, we had a pretty smooth flight to Copenhagen. I guess these pilots are very experienced in flying in extreme weather.

Landed at about 6.15 pm, collected our luggage and connected with our transfer driver for the 15 minute drive to our hotel which is right in the city centre, opposite the Tivoli Gardens. Great pozzie! It is called the Scandic Palace and our room is quite spacious with a lovely big bathroom with a bath. Our room number is 333 which is quite meaningful for us. Our personalised number plates on our cars are PB 333 and WB 333!

And the best news of all - it is a balmy 8 degrees!

Went for a walk and the streets are decorated beautifully with Christmas decorations. The Christmas shop has a 40% off sale, so guess where I'll be tomorrow.

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Had a quick meal at an Irish Pub and now home and into bed. Copenhagen looks like a really nice place. I think we are going to love exploring it tomorrow.

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Posted by gaddingabout 12:40 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

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