Great Cruise Tour-day-6

Good morning view while approaching to Oslo

Good morning view while approaching to Oslo

The 6th day of our Great Cruise tour started with a lovely good morning view of Oslo. Unfortunately we only had a few hours to spend in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Moreover, this few hours would start even earlier than the days before. Therefore, I preferred to order my breakfast to our room, in order to avoid the hassle of 13th floor restaurant, and enjoy a superb breakfast with a splendid view of Oslo bay and islands. (Just a little tip here: order breakfast to your room, more than you think you will eat, as the plates are so small.)

No place to eat in our tiny room, so we did eat in our balcony

No place to eat in our tiny room, so we did eat in our balcony

Besides the breakfast, the early morning routines were pretty much the same. Today we took the “Introduction to Oslo” tour which I would not recommend if you are not a big group like ours. The only attraction of the tour was a superb Vigeland Park, which could be reached by a taxi, faster and easier. Other than the park, we did not have any chance to see the centre of the city, because of the traffic and not easy for the huge bus to go around, we could only pass trough the main streets and noted to come to Oslo again, sometime soon.

View from our balcony

View from our balcony

Vigeland park, is a must in Oslo, one of the best parks I have ever been. Home to some 192 sculptures by its namesake, the Vigeland sculpture park is the cynosure of Norway’s artistic landscape. The park is Gustave Vigeland’s artistic statement about the quintessential themes of life and relationships. A hundred meter long bridge bifurcates along a waterfall, each path adorned with large bronze wheels, while the bridge itself is adorned with granite depictions of humans at various stages of life, including Angry Boy, one of the most prominent sculptures in the park. Its other highlights include sculptures such as The FountainThe Monolith, and The Wheel of Life.

Angry boy

Angry boy

Wheel of life

Wheel of life

Vigeland Park

Vigeland Park

Another attraction of Oslo is the park where the winter Olympic games are held and the ski jump tower. The observation deck by the tower has a lovely view of Oslo and the Ski Jump simulator is very attractive for a child like ours.

Ski jump tower

Ski jump tower

Goodbye Oslo

Goodbye Oslo

I wish we could stay more in Oslo.

Another important thing to remember in Oslo is to redeem your invoices for tax free refunds, as Oslo is the last stop in Norway. To do this, you need to approach the tiny building by the Cruise, in which there are some souvenir shops and long queue of tax refund. Moreover, in the queue you find out that there are two different tax refund companies and if the invoices you hold comprise them both, you need to get in two different queues one by one. My advice would be either just skip it (which means  no tax refund), or ask your friend or partner to stay in the other queue (which is at the far end of the building). Other wise you spend a good half hour waiting in each of the queues. Is it worth waiting? Well, about 15% of the invoice, if you have a number of them, it may be worth it.

A chat from yesterday evening:

Our son: Mom do you remember the dance lessons you took.

Me: Sirtaki, Salsa, or Tarantelle.

Our son: Tarantelle, do you remember the dance steps?

Me: No, none.

Altough I enjoyed the Sirtaki class (yesterday), Salsa Class (The second day) and tarantelle class (today), during  the one week tour, when I try to remember any of them… No, not even one step is in my mind. What a pity.

Our day ended with long lunch, again in the Kaito sushi bar, the rescued island, far from the mass of people. And an afternoon nap, before dinner, after which we found – luckily- a place to sit in the lobby and enjoyed the live music of piano.

Great Cruise tour day-5

Our MSC Poesia

Our MSC Poesia

After a few weeks break of blogging, due to a 10-day trip to Australia, and a week of “traveling punishment” at work with loads to do, I am back on my blog, my pockets full of new adventures to tell. First comes first, let’s go on with the cruise before heading on the other trips.

On the 5th day of our Norwegian Fyords trip last summer, we found ourselves approaching to Stavenger early in the morning.

First sight of Stavenger, from our balcony

First sight of Stavenger, from our balcony

We had a full day in Stavenger, which was actually the largest city we have ever been in Norway. So we took a half day tour in Fyords and reserved the rest half for enjoying the summer in the city. The morning ritual was very same: early wake up, and early breakfast and early meeting at the theater and early moving out of the cruise, with our “number of the day” stickers on us and trying to follow our guides. For half day tour we took a Lysefyord boat trip, just by our cruise, which we shared with German, Italian and French speaking groups, so listened them all.

Coming to Norway I would very much like to climb on the famous Pulpit Rock, however, when you come with a cruise, with a group and with limited time to spent, we only could see it from the bottom of it.

Pulpit Rock, does not look so fascinating from down there

Pulpit Rock, does not look so fascinating from down there

Heading to Lysefyords

Heading to Lysefyords

Nature is so nice and calm

My Granddad, enjoying to be with us

My Granddad, aged 90+, enjoying to be with us

Returning from the Fyord trip, just like in all town centers, everyone of our group enjoyed to do as they wish. My preference was to head to the old town center, find some shopping places and lastly “people watch” activity at a cafe-most probably a touristy one.

Finding the old town was a bit of asking and seeking, but it was really worth it. Most superb tiny houses with fine flowers and lanes of art shops in between. Heaven for a traveler.

Tiny houses of old town

Tiny houses of old town

Cruise view from the lanes of old town

Cruise view from the lanes of old town

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Flowers enjoying the sunshine

Flowers enjoying the sunshine

Shopping streets, with some nice shops

Shopping streets, with some nice shops

And the "people watch" activity in a touristic cafe by the cruise

And the “people watch” activity in a touristic cafe by the cruise

Today our cruise departed at 4:00 pm, which allowed us to watch the departure ceremony, before dinner. With lovely song “Con teeee, partiro…” and crowds of people waving good bye to us, it was really worth to see. Departing from the port, we headed to the 13th floor deck, where a private party with the captain was organised for our group.

Good bye Stavenger

Good bye Stavenger

Our son with the captain Giuseppe Maresca

Our son with the captain Giuseppe Maresca

Great Cruise tour-day-4

The main activity of our summer has been the Cruise trip with MSC Poesia to Norwegian Fyords. We were a group of 8: Me, the organiser-as always, my husband and our son-as expected, my mom and her husband, my uncle and aunt and my grandfather. So group aged from 9 to 90.

Day 4 supposed to be at Flaam, however, a change in the schedule ruined many plans, luckily not ours. Before I joined to this cruise trip, I thought all route changes were due to weather conditions. But the case was, there was a big traffic accident in the tunnel, which was  the only connection point of Flaam to real world. Moreover, this tunnel, wouldn’t be fixed for another week. This accident did not only effected the daily excursions, but also a B plan needed to be made for food and other supplies to the cruise. It is amasing to see a “problem solving” case. In the cruise (as always in about 10 languages) it was announced that all day trips were cancelled except the “Norwegian waterfalls and train journey” tour – which was the one that we have chosen and paid for.

Once more our day started with an early wake up and a quick breakfast and getting to the theater. This time the theater was not crowded at all, as it was only a few hundred of us that would be able get off. Once more we were counted and got on the orange lifeboats and get off to the land, at another small village called Vik.

Good morning Vik

Good morning Vik

Waving good bye to our Cruise, we first visited a very nice Church, one of the best examples of wooden churches in Norway

Vik Church

Vik Church

After the visit of the church, we got on our buses and started to climb the Fyords once more, with a couple of stops at some viewpoints.

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DSC01972Besides the many waterfalls we saw on our way, our first visit to a water fall was Tvindefossen: Twinfalls, which consists of two water falls (as you can imagine) joining together just before they fall. But the main attraction of the waterfall is the belief that you obtain the infinite life and youth if you drink from this water.

Twin falls

Twin falls

Our son trying to obtain the infinite youth

Our son trying to obtain the infinite youth

Filling the depots with infinite lives, we head to another little town of Voss, just by a lovely lake, and enjoyed our meals at a hotel and restaurant – named Fleicher’s Hotel – which was a hotel managed by fifth generation of a family. Finishing our meals of open buffet, we enjoyed a nice coffee on the sunny veranda of the hotel and a little walk by the lake, before we got on our train.

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Artwork by a shop

The lake of Voss

The lake of Voss

After the little walking and some shopping at a souvenirs shop, we went to the train station. Our first train took us  to Myrdal and we took another train afterwards to Flaam, which was a 19th century train, going slowly enough to see all the waterfalls in the valley of Flaam. The train even stopped at one of the waterfalls to enjoy the cool, and take some photographs.

Train stopped by a waterfall and everybody got off to take photographes

Train stopped by a waterfall and everybody got off to take photographs

 

Train of old times

Train of old times

When we arrived the little Town of Flaam, we still had a few hours to spend. I and our son preferred to get on a touristic train to see the around, but I think it was very needless to do, as it meant another hour of sitting and watching around, which we were already doing all day. While we were stucked on this touristy thing with lots of babies and children, my uncle enjoyed a walk by the sea to find out a lovely deck with tiny sailboats, while my aunt did lots of shopping in a couple of souvenir shop, my husband and my grandfather relaxed at a cafe turned out from an old train and my mom and her husband did her daily meditation in their room.

While the sun was going down by the mountains we got on our cruise and watched the last minute shoppers. It looked a soo sad, while everybody getting on the cruise one by one, and the sun is lost very early, because of the high mountains around and only a few people remaining to wave goodbye to our cruise.

Our cruise in Flaam

Our cruise in Flaam

 

The sun urging to goodbye. View from our balcony.

The sun urging to goodbye. View from our balcony.

 

Great Cruise tour-day-3

The main activity of our summer has been the Cruise trip with MSC Poesia to Norwegian Fyords. We were a group of 8: Me, the organiser-as always, my husband and our son-as expected, my mom and her husband, my uncle and aunt and my grandfather. So group aged from 9 to 90. Tough isn’t it?

Day 3 was officially the first day of our military serving – oops pardon me – the excursion. After a long day of being in the middle of nowhere, it was nice to wake up and see the moving mountains from our window.

Good morning view

Good morning view

I live in a rather crowded part of my country, in a rather big city. Therefore it is strange to see a lonely house, in the middle of a steep hill. I wonder how one can live up there and what they can do. Today and in the coming few days, we have found out that Norwegian people are very outdoor activity guys. Cycling, climbing, kayaking, kanoing, trekking, very many outdoor activity far beyond my city life, is their lifestyle.

For today we booked a day excursion from Geiranger to Hellesylt, which meant that the cruise would leave us at Geiranger and hopefully be at Hellesylt, where we will be going bu bus. But goşng out was not so easy at the ship. We and a few thousand more people woke up early, got ready with a quick breakfast and gathered at the big theater and waited for others to gather. By the time it was 9:00 am, groups are announced one at a time, and we all got off the ship one by one. Moreover, Geiranger was a place where the cruise could not get close to the sea shore, so we were taken to the coast by lifeboats.

Little lifeboats moving back and forth to take everybody to the shore

Little lifeboats moving back and forth to take everybody to the shore

Each group, with the stickers of tour numbers on them, trying to follow their own tour guide, to the lifeboats. A bit of hectic trying to keep my group aged 9 to 90 together, but finally we got on a little orange boat of 150 people and moved to Geiranger. After a five minutes journey, here we were back on our feet on Norwegian soil at last. Finding our bus in the tiny town of Geiranger which was meant to accomodate a few hundred people, but a ship-load of people getting off to be loaded 40 buses, caused all the roads to be filled with tourists. With a little search of the buses, we finally found our bus and got on it – no missing people from our group up to now.

From Geiranger, our bus started to climb the uphill, where we enjoyed lovely view in every corner. We also did have a chance to stop in a couple of viewpoints to take some photographes.

Little Geiranger and our lovely cruise

Little Geiranger and our lovely cruise

Residues of the ice age, what caused the Fyords to be formed

Residues of the ice age, what caused the Fyords to be formed

After about 2 hours drive with 3-4 stopovers, we finally arrived to a lovely restaurant called Grotli. I should say, evet though there were more than a hundred tourists starving, the service and the food were super. The asparagus soup especially was best ever for sure. The following Norwegian Salmon is very delicious also. There is also a nice story – actually real- in April 1940, in the middle of WW2, two planes of Germany and Britain shot each other. The surviving crew members begin to shoot each other, but later must share the same cabin, in order to survive the Norwegina winter. The unlikely friendship between the pilots, was filmed 2012 with the name “Into the White”. Here are some photographes of the restaurant and the plane used in the film.

Our son's only concern is the Ipad.

Our son’s only concern is the Ipad.

Inside the restaurant, very warm and welcoming

Inside the restaurant, very warm and welcoming

My Grandfather's concern is to learn the story behind

My Grandfather’s concern is to learn the story behind

In front of the restaurant - from the camera of my uncle

In front of the restaurant – from the camera of my uncle

The afternoon was also mostly on the bus with lovely nature and view of the lakes and the mountains, with a few stops by the lakes and a village called Stryn.

View of lake

View of lake

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Colorful tiny boats

Our bus tour ended in Hellesylt where our Cruise was about to come. So with a couple of other thousand of tourists, we searched for a souvenir shop to buy something, but unfortunately a few shops in the little village of Hellesylt were loaded with people with more than their capacity. Moreover, there was a very very long queue of people, waiting for the cruise to come. So our day trip ended by waiting for about an hour in the queue.

View of Hellesylt from our room

View of Hellesylt from our room

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Great Cruise tour-day-2

The main activity of our summer has been the Cruise trip with MSC Poesia to Norwegian Fyords. We were a group of 8: Me, the organiser-as always, my husband and our son-as expected, my mom and her husband, my uncle and aunt and my grandfather. So group aged from 9 to 90. Tough isn’t it?

Day 2 was what they call in Cruise language “Day at sea”. A good day to get to know the cruise life, learn what is where and enjoy the only morning to be able to wake up late. Since we all did not like the 13th floor restaurant, we started the day at the a la cart breakfast restaurant at level 5, which was much more better than 13th floor self service hectic restaurant. Afterwards the group seperated to enjoy the relax day. I used this opportunitiy to take the Salsa lessons, which I already forgot the steps by now. However the numbers are still in my mind: one-to-three…five-six-seven, uno-duo-tre…cinque-sei-sette, ein-zwei-drei…funf-sechs-sieben, bir-ki-uc…bes-alti-yedi, one-two-three…five-six-seven…

The elevator door

The elevator door

Having a sushi-lover-son, for our lunch we all met at the Kaito Sushi Bar, which was an oasis, free of crowd, as it was an extra paid restaurant. We took a long table in the middle and enjoyed the fine Japanese cuisine for a couple of hours.

Our son learning to do the sushi

Our son learning to do the sushi

Kaito Sushi Bar

Kaito Sushi Bar

Our “Day at sea” went on with an afternoon nap, and getting ready for the Captain’s cocktail party, with the dress code of “formal”. Going down to the Zebra Bar at deck 6, we felt that the purpose of this getting dressed is to take picture with the captain which required a long long queue to be waited. Not my kind really. So after drinking a couple of colored liquids so-called cocktails with some chips -very unfriendly to my diet, we headed to our restaurant and our tiny far end corner table. Today it was also the birthday of my uncle. With the nice surprise cake of my aunt, and the Indonesian version of the “Birthday song” of the staff, we celebrated his birthday.

After dinner, we headed to the theater for the evening’s animation. I do not want to criticize the animation in the evenings as it s a matter of “likes and dislikes” Some days it was average, some days above average in my opinion.

Decks

Decks

"Sun" decks, if you find the sun.

“Sun” decks, if you find the sun.

Great Cruise tour-day-1

The main activity of our summer has been the Cruise trip with MSC Poesia to Norwegian Fyords. We were a group of 8: Me, the organiser-as always, my husband and our son-as expected, my mom and her husband, my uncle and aunt and my grandfather. So group aged from 9 to 90. Tough isn’t it?

Actually our flight to the Cruise point-Copenhagen, started a day earlier, so let me start by telling you the day -1. Since our flight was an early bird one (Which we all hate) first-time-ever, we stayed in the hotel just by the airport in our home city, although we live just about 30 min. from the airport. We enjoyed a fine wine with a well done meat for dinner, in a wine yard close to the airport, and the airplanes passing just above us. We saved about 45 min. more sleeping time and in my opinion can save your next day, especially if you are not an early bird family.

Day 1 was a typical traveling date, long flights with some delays. First breakfast at the first flight, second one at the lounge and the third breakfast at the second flight (not a good start for my diet). Arriving to Copenhagen Airport, transfer to our cruise and getting into the first queue of never ending “get in the queue” ‘s.  After about an hour of waiting in the queue, we finally got on our ship found our rooms on the 10th floor, saw how a room can be so tiny. Opening the extra bed for our son and the situation got worse. Good that my grandfather is with us and staying in a single room:-) Our son is immidiately posted to my grandfather’s room and here it is, we have a rather normal room again.

Checking the daily news in the room

Checking the daily news in the room

We were told that the restaurant on the 13th floor is open all day. That would be a good choice for a late lunch actually, but we got our first lesson right after. It was absolute mess with lots of children around, people with loads of food on their plate are searching for some more and we try to find a place to be seated. Lesson number one: Never ever eat lunch at 13th floor.

Learning to tie the life jackets

Learning to tie the life jackets

Having started the day very early in the morning, I would die for a mid-day nap for a few hours but duty was waiting. First I went to listen the extra tours provided during the tour, as we were a big group I wouldn’t risk not to take a tour. Later on I understood that I did the right thing, as the Norvegian Fyord cruise ports are on very tiny villages, where you would not find much things to do. Bus/Train/Boat tours on the other hand take you to further than the Fyords, which you will see on the coming days.

Listening the tours and deciding the suitable ones for us, did not finish the duties. We all supposed to be in the rescue training at 5:00 pm, ready with our life jackets. Listening to “What to do” in 7 languages and find out the deck we would be ready. Fun but not for sleepy tired people like us.

In the cruises, you either eat dinner at 6:00 pm or 8:15 pm. It was good that we preferred to eat at 6:00 pm. Altough this caused us to miss most of the departures from ports, in later days we have learned that it is not the only day 1 started early. Each day we had to woke up earlier than the previous:-(

Just after we settled down we met our waiter; an Indonesian guy, so kind, but unfortunately did speak very bad English.  Somehow we managed to order, eat and finally got in our beds, before sunset of north.

View from our room at Copenhagen port

View from our room at Copenhagen port