Now this is a sunrise that was worth getting up for! Can you just imagine standing on the deck and being a part of sailing in this amazing fjord? We were so excited, that we scurried to get dressed and head out for the deck. Haha, we barely made it outside when we had to dash back to put warmer clothes on! Oh, was it cold and windy, but worth every minute shivering!
We stayed out on deck for a couple of hours watching enormous whales breach, icebergs float by, and dozens of areas where ice was cutting through mountains reaching for the sea. The seas had 8-10 foot swells making the natural beauty remind you of how harsh the environment really was. Prince Christian Sound (named after the Danish Prince) is between Iceland and Greenland and took us most of a day to navigate as we headed toward Nanortalik, Greenland. Check out these photos.
These massive ice flows are indescribable. It seemed like you could reach out and touch them.
Next stop, Iceland! A little fact about Iceland is that it is Europe’s northernmost nation and Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city. It has active volcanoes, hot thermal springs, waterfalls, and geysers. Here Dan and I split up for the day. He wanted to go to what is called the Blue Lagoon. It is a world-famous hot spring. I had no desire to be in a swimsuit in 45 degree weather no matter how warm those hot spring were. He loved it and said that it didn’t smell too much like rotten eggs.
Isn’t this just gorgeous? It is so hard to come up with words to describe this part of the world. Cold and idyllic? Serene and mystical? You just have to go and see for yourself.
Since Dan was headed for the lagoon, I took a tour that took me to some amazing waterfalls. The challenge was that it was so very cold and the winds were strong that it burned my lungs to breathe as I hiked down to the falls. Since I had a cold, I just couldn’t make it all the way down, which was very disappointing. In this picture the falls don’t seem that large, but let me tell you, even from half way down and with my telephoto lens, the roar was loud. The falls were so vast and the water traveled far down stream and out of sight.
After time at the falls we headed to an area where there were geysers (geysirs). Unlike Old Faithful in Yellowstone, you had to wait with uncertainty when it might spout. The only other geysers I’ve seen were in Rotorua, New Zealand. There are signs posting along the path here stating that the water is 212 degrees Fahreneit! When it shot up those people you see took off running and screaming as they were standing too close.
Iceland is a land of so much natural beauty and scenic diversity. The people were friendly and helpful. Another must see destination, especially if you want to go somewhere less populated.
Golfing is my love, my challenge, my fun, and my frustration. But then, you all know that by now. The rotator cuff has healed as much as it can without surgery, so I am playing again, but taking only half swings. Can you imagine how long a game could take if I played 18 holes? Good thing I only play 9 holes on par 3 courses!
Last week I played with my regular golfing buddy and Dan joined us so he could get some practice in. Great! His sense of humor was on display when I asked for everyone’s scores on hole number 3. His response, “Two pars and a Katie.” Translation, he and Patrice had pars, and I had… a 5. Funny man.
However, this week the tables turned. When the scores were called for, I couldn’t resit, “Two pars and a Dan.” Yes, Patrice and I had pars and Dan had a 5. I just love how things can change at any time in this game called golf.
The 22 Faroe Islands are located between Norway and Iceland and while independently ruled, they are a part of Denmark. The archipelago islands are a series of jagged mountain peeks and fjords. Our first stop was in the capital city of Torshavn. Today the people speak Faroese. The earliest inhabitants were Irish Monks, but were overtaken by the Vikings.
Most of the men fish for a living. Many of the homes were painted black because it is the easiest color for them to get. The black is derived from tar. Here too, many homes have grass thatched roofs. The green tin roofs you see in the picture is preferred if thatching is not available. I just don’t think I’d like to sit down to dinner and hear hooves on the roof from sheep eating. Does dirt fall in? How about bugs? Ick!
We also stopped by a workshop of a woodcutter who made lamp shades out of finely cut pieces of wood. It was an interesting process, but honestly I cannot imagine life there. It seems so solitary, cold, and dreary. A final interesting fact is that there are few trees of any real height. Why? The sheep eat them. They wander all over the place. Some are known to have GoPro’s on them!
Vacation time has rolled around again, and this time we took off on the Viking Sky Cruise ship to trace the path of the ancient Vikings as they explored Norway, The Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Canada. The trip took 23 days and was filled with many unexpected events and sites.
Our plane landed in Oslo, Norway and we used the Hop On, Hop Off bus to acclimate ourselves. We took in the Viking and Maritime museums.
Both had relics from the days of the Vikings.
After a day in Oslo, we took a train to Flam and passed through cloud shrouded fjords and had our first glimpse of the quiet life of Norway.
In Flam we had our first taste of reindeer meat as we strolled through a local Farmer’s Market. It was actually very good and we had it several more times during our trip.
After a day in Flam we boarded another train and headed for Balestrand for a two night stay.
Balestrand was a busier city than Flam, but still very small and quiet. The views were extraordinary. We were able to do quite a bit of walking with the temperatures being in the low 50’s.
One of the best things about Balestrand was the food. We had two nights of the most amazing buffet of Norwegian foods. The dinner service offered at least seven different ways of preparing salmon. It was all so wonderful. By this point in the trip, we had eaten, reindeer, veal, halibut,
salmon, and numerous kinds of local fish that I’d never heard of. The bread was to die for. If this was the kind of food we would be eating for the next 3 weeks, we were going to be in big trouble! It would be a challenge to keep portions small or pass on sampling everything our eyes would see.
At the end of our time in Balestrand, we took a ferry to Bergen were we would meet the ship. These three days were a nice adjustment to the 9 hour time change before we began our official journey.
The seas were so rough this day we were unable to stop in these islands. We were disappointed as we wanted to see the many ruins that dated back to the Iron Age. The swells were about 8 feet and the captain was not comfortable docking us. This was a day to take sea sick pills!
So here is the trivia for the day:
Traditionally, early houses in Norway were painted red, yellow or white. Why? The easiest colors for them to make. Red was for those structures owned by the commoners or poor. Barns too were painted this color. The middle class would paint their homes in yellow and the wealthiest class used white paint. Today, Norway has added shades of blue and green that give homes their signature look.
In Bergen, we began our day in the rain with a drive around the waterfront and then on to a small working farm just outside the city proper. The farmer had four working horses, chickens, and a dozen or so sheep. Since it was raining quite hard we didn’t wander about the farm too long, but the guide did stop to show us some of the animals. When was the last time you saw a barn/shed with a grass roof? Take that a step further and ask yourself if you had that barn and some sheep would they have kept it neatly trimmed by eating it regularly? These sheep did! I watched them climb the rooftops and nibble away. Amazing.
Eventually we went inside the farm-house and had a lovely snack that include fresh-baked pastries and tea. The farmer changed into traditional Norweigan clothing, along with the gals that worked the tours. They came out and did a traditional dance of us and the farmer played the piano. It was a charming morning despite the rain.
By the time we headed back for the ship the rain had stopped and we were able to walk along the wharf to see some of the old Hanseatic buildings. Having been in Bergen before, we didn’t spend a lot of time walking around. Instead we headed for the ship to get settled in before setting sail early that evening. This was a must see city.