Monday, September 16, 2013

Copenhagen Denmark in three days!

Wednesday, September 11 found us flying to Copenhagen Denmark. We experienced a bit of culture shock arriving in this city of 1.2 million people after spending the last few days in Norway - the land of small fishing villages and water! Even though Copenhagen is also on the water and has a canal system the buildings, the streets, the stores, etc. were all so different. There are no skyscrapers in the old part of the city. Most of the buildings are brick and stone with statues and lots of adornment. They are close together but the streets are fairly wide. They are not laid out in a grid pattern, so I never got really oriented. Luckily my husband is a good navigator!

Our room at the Copenhagen Admiral
Our hotel, the Copenhagen Admiral, is an old grain warehouse which has been converted into a stylish hotel and restaurant right on the canal. Our room had a large wood beam and column, presumably left from the original building!

So, we were off to see the sights. We were given a City Card which allows you to ride all the transportation and visit many places with no extra charge. Our first stop was the Little Mermaid in the main canal. She is 100 years old this year. She is quite small for her age!

Abstract column, Marble Church, Amalienborg Palace, fountain
Next was Amalienborg Palace. This is the winter palace of the Queen of Denmark. There are four identical castles and she lives in one. Across the street from the Palace is Frederick's church (the Marble Church). Across the street on the other side is Amaliehaven, a park with fountains and four abstract columns designed by Amaldo Pomodoro. Beyond that is the canal and the new Opera House, which is very modern looking.

Since we were on our own and could go where we wanted, we spent most of our time in museums. We visited the Statens Museum of Kunst – SMK (National Art Gallery). They have built a modern addition in back, which was a piece of art in itself.

Winter garden at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Then we visited the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (meaning a sculpture garden). This museum was built by Ny Carlsberg, of Carlsberg Beer fame. The original building is a beautiful rose colored brick building. There are three floors surrounding a pretty winter garden which is full of plants and sculptures.  They have also built a new addition. They are rehanging the French paintings, so we did not get to see the Impressionists.

We went on an hour long bus ride to see the Ordrupgaard Museum. This was the art collection of Wilhelm and Henny Hanson, an insurance broker in the early 1900's. They built their rather simple home in a beautiful, wooded area and added a special room for their collection of French and Danish paintings. They also had a winter garden with a fountain designed by the son of Paul Gauguin. When they died they donated the property to the state for the public to enjoy. And they have also just built a modern addition to house temporary exhibits.
Don at Tivoli Gardens

Other things we did were: visit the Rosenberg Castle to see the crown jewels, take the canal boat tour, visit Tivoli Gardens and have dinner, and lots of walking around to look at buildings and statues. Three days goes by pretty fast!

Gefion Fountain donated by Carlsberg
Rosenberg Castle

Changing of the guards stops traffic!
Suzanne enjoys the canal boat tour

Old Stock Exchange (1600's) with dragons on the tower

Friday, September 13, 2013

Last day on board the Polarlys

An interesting light house
 Today is Tuesday, September 10 and our last day on board the Polarlys. We had three more small ports to visit; Floro, Maloy and Torvik. These are typical coastal Norwegian fishing villages. The herring run put Floro on the map. When the fishing got slow, these places took on the aquaculture industry. There is also ship building, and supplying the oil industry. Most of these smaller towns are limited in their growth due to their location at the base of a mountain range!
Another small village along the coast

 After, the last stop in Floro we still had six hours of sailing past the islands, small villages, and fjords, through the coastal waters, before we arrived at our final port, Bergen. It was a bitter sweet experience – I wanted to stare out the window and absorb as much as possible (it was a little cold to go on deck), but I was still anxious to get organized to leave the ship.

 We spent the rest of Tuesday In Bergen, staying at the same hotel as before. We did some last minute shopping and walked along the Sverresborg Fortress and Hakons Hall (which is under reconstruction). This is at a high spot in the city, so we got to look over the town and say farewell.
Don Kleinbub, King Hakon VI

Pedistrian street in Bergen Norway

The next day, Wednesday, found us at the Bergen airport boarding a plane for Copenhagen Denmark. I will tell you about that in my next post.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Visiting Trondheim Norway

On Monday, September 9, we docked in Trondheim again. We were here a week ago and had a city tour. Today we took a walk along the pier. Trondheim is the third largest city in Norway with 180,000 people. In a country of only 5 million, that is pretty large. Trondheim is at the head of Trondheim Fjord. On our bus tour we went to a view point so we could look down to get a feel for the city. It is the second oldest city in Norway from around 800. It was built in the curve of the Nidelva River which gave it a lot of protection from attack. This was very clear from our view point. We could see Nidaros Cathedral and the white buildings of the fort on the opposite hill. We could also see our ship in the port.
Trondheim Norway

Later we visited the Nidaros Cathedral where St. Olaf is buried. It was built on the site of a miraculous fountain that sprang up from his grave. The Cathedral is one of Europe’s greatest Gothic memorials. We drove by a 140 room house built by a widow who didn’t know what else to do with her dead husband’s money! Now it is a summer home for the king of Norway and his family.

Suzanne & Don, bridge over the Nidelva River, Trondheim

We went to a wooden foot bridge over the river in the old part of town. It was quite a lovely bridge. We were intrigued by the rows of wood houses built on stilts along the river bank. They were formerly homes of fishermen, but now wealthy families, looking for vacation homes, are buying them up and refurbishing them. This seems to be true in many of the smaller villages along the coast – as fishing declines, the tourists move in!

We also saw a unique thing called a bicycle lift. It was at the base of a steep hill. The bike rider puts his foot on the cable, pushes a button, and it goes up hill, dragging the bike and rider with it! It is the only one of its kind and it wasn't working. Now what does that tell you?

On our walk we saw the statue of Lief Erickson. He had sailed from Trondheim when he went on his voyages of discovery. When we left Trondheim and turned around in the fjord we saw an island called Munkholmen. It is the site of a former abby, then a prison, and now a place where the locals go to relax. We also saw a very unusual lighthouse, Agdenes Lighthouse at the point where the fjord enters the sea.

Approaching Kristiansund with a typical bridge
In the afternoon we stopped for half an hour in Kristiansund. We had not seen this town on the way north because it was night. So, we were very surprised to see what a beautiful city this was. It is almost a perfect example of a Norwegian village. The houses come right down to the wharf. They are painted all the colors of the rainbow. They also go marching up the hill behind the city. It is surrounded by green mountains, the water is clean, and the city is neat and clean. We were sorry that the stay wasn’t longer so we could see more.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On and Off the Polarlys

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Don woke me up in the middle of the night to say the northern lights were out. He went on deck to look, but they were actually quite pale. I looked at it through my window. Since we had both seen the phenomenon at another time, we went back to bed!

Suzanne Kleinbub in Bodo Norway
We stopped at Bodo during the night, so I should mention that we did have a little walk in Bodo last Monday on our way north. It was one of many ports that we stopped at to take a walk. And our program manager had to try hard to find something to tell us! Bodo wasn’t much of a city until 1816 when several years of herring runs made it a fishing center. Then the city lost population until recently when it became a transportation hub and home to a military installation. It did have a nice glass roofed shopping mall.

We stopped in several villages today – all of them ones we passed through during the night on our way north.We had a brief stop this morning in Ornes. This is a lovely little town at the base of some glacier covered mountains: quite picturesque.

The Arctic Circle
About two hours later we crossed the Arctic Circle. There is an island with a large metal globe on it that marks the spot. And, of course, the ship blows its horn! We have now left the land of the midnight sun.

We have been sailing through an area of skerries and small islands interspersed with small fishing villages. Our next brief stop was the fishing village and former trading post of Nesna.

Don Kleinbub, Sandnessjoen Norway
Eva took us for a walk in the next port, Sandnessjoen. Since it was Sunday there wasn’t much activity (I don’t think Norwegians go to church on Sundays much, and stores need a special permit to be open on Sunday). She showed us several statues as we walked to the park. My favorite was an abstract looking Viking.

Mid afternoon found us taking a walk in the village of Bronnoysund. Its claim to fame is that it is in the exact center of Norway from north to south. They have a marker so it must be true!

Our last little walk was in Rorvik. It was dark, so we just got the atmosphere of the town. Eva said there was so little to do in town that when the ship came in the teenagers got excited and drove around in circles yelling at the tourists. It was kind of funny – even Norwegian teens enjoy cruising!

Saturday, September 7, 2013 - Ports of Norway

Saturday held other things of interest besides our cross country bus tour. We missed the port of Risoyhamm by taking the bus. We joined the ship at the port of Sortland. This city was of interest because many of the buildings and even the Coast Guard (which is headquartered here) ships were painted blue. Painting everything blue was a millennium project.
Stockmarknes Norway
In the next port, Stokmarknes, we went to see the Museum of the Coastal Express. It told the story of the Hurtigruten shipping line which was founded in 1881. They had preserved one of the original ships, so we could see how the ships had changed. This is the company running the ship that we are on.

Leaving the Troll Fjord
Late in the afternoon we had an interesting sail through the strait of Raftsundet. We took a side trip into Troll Fjord, 2 km long and 100 m wide at the mouth. The ship barely fit, but it was a beautiful visit. The walls of the mountains go straight up. They are covered with beautiful colored lichen and plants, with small waterfalls. The base of the rocks look rather like giant toes, hence the name Troll because they turn to rock in the sun. The ship has to turn around on its thrusters because it is such a tight spot. We saw lots of birds and even spotted a sea eagle. What a marvelous sight that was!

Dusk in Solvear Norway
Our last event of the day was a walk in Solvear (also known as the capital of the Lofoten Islands) just as the sun was setting. The colors in the sky were magical. In fact, this is a place favored by artists to work. The town was a center for the cod fishing industry, so they have preserved some of the cod drying racks – large triangle shape, wooden racks where the fresh caught fish were hung to freeze dry. They also had an area of huts like the fishermen would have used for shelter when the weather was bad. They used to be all over the area. These are now used by tourists (don’t look in the windows). One of the huts even had a fish drying rack on the roof – it was doing double duty! Now the city is producing cod and halibut juveniles for use in the fish farming industry.

Our last port in this Lofoten Island part of Norway was Stamsund. We had passed by most of these ports in the late evening or early morning on our trip north. Now we will sail across the Vestfjord to continue on our way south.