Thursday, November 15, 2007

What to say?

What to say, what to say?

Don't think for a minute that this wasn't in all ways but one, a fabulous trip.

Yes, the seasickness was horrible, and I now know that I will never again go on a cruise, but I AM glad that I went, and there was a huge amount to enjoy.

To begin at the beginning. The boat was lovely. Not too big, and more than half empty.


Here she is, the MS Polarlys, emphasis on the "ar" and it means, of course, polar light or Aurora.

Beautifully designed, with the "communal" decks well laid out into separate "rooms" so you could get cosy, particularly in the library which even had a fake log fire! The Panorama lounge was like a cathedral, we nearly always conversed in whispers, struck virtually dumb by the glorious views.

Our cabin was small, neat, functional and comfortable. The food was amazingly good. Whilst I wouldn't have chosen to eat fish every night, it was so varied and excellent that we didn't bother asking for a veggie option. Peppered salmon steaks, thin-cut, yum. And char - palest pink, delicate and delicious. Soups to die for. Apparently, a Norwegian thing. I need to make cauliflower soup, and fish soup, warm, tasty and comforting (!!)

The first few days, it rained and rained and wasn't all that cold.


We managed to totter off the boat here, at Alesund, where I had wanted to take loads of photos of the Art Nouveau decor. I failed, but it did stop raining and we perked up enough to enjoy coffee and the most delicious cake I have ever eaten in a warm and friendly cafe on the quayside.

At this point, I should say that I don't intend to write up a travelogue. I'll put up some photographs, more will be on flickr as a set, and easily findeable by clicking on one image and using your common. But one of the things that I do want to say is just how much I fell in love with Norway and the Norwegians. The country is beautiful, and one of the most alluring things about the people is the way in which they appreciate that. They revel in the bounty of the land and use it seemingly responsibly. (I saw far less litter, graffiti, general grot than anywhere I have ever been before.) They deal gracefully with their extremes of season by enjoying all to the full. The dark winter is not too much of a problem, they are (as they will tell you unashamedly unlike the Brits, a cultured nation. Winter is the time for music and theatre and dinner parties and lights. Candles and super glass light fittings are to be found in abundance in every small town, so no-one has any excuse for not having houses filled with glittering, twinkling lights. Summer is for staying awake and being outside as much as possible, so you work all day and climb mountains through the evenings, or whatever.

They are apparently a contented people - they gladly pay high taxes and receive good benefits and security in later life in return (more than one person told me that.) And, yes, many, many of them speak excellent English. Learning languages is a priority.

And so, they seem to be an exceptionally friendly people. OK, so we were journeying up the coast where tourism is replacing the traditional fishing life, but it never seemed a forced politeness. And fishing still goes on, full-time, part-time - a hard life, and getting harder, but one that still commands respect. Then there is the oil and gas industry, the entire product of which is exported as Norway gets most of its power from hydro-electricity, some wind, and before I sound too much like a geography lesson, I don't know what else.

So - as we travelled north, the weather changed and it got much colder, with for me, quite a lot of snow. For Norway - phht! A light dusting. I'll put in a few suitable photos in just a sec.

Returning was calm for the first half, then we hit the rougher open sea bits again, so I was glad to get back to Bergen. Golly, what a lovely city. I'm back there at the first opportunity. There's a yarn shop[ I spotted at the last gasp that I must go to - the others I checked out en route were ok but not exceptional and I only bought some cotton sock yarn and some glitzy fuzz I have no clue what to do with. Ahem. (Something will come to mind.)

village scene

washed out blueness


The sunsets in the Arctic Circle were early (around 3pm) but prolonged and glorious.

reflections of a snowy landscape

Took my brain ages to work out what I was seeing here, the water was so still.


This is looking across to Bryggen in Bergen, a World Heritage site. And the following is the window of a yarn shop there....

Bergen yarn shop window

I sas another like this somewhere else. Very nice looking wheels, very much the same style as my Timbertops.

spindle whorls

This rather bad photo could not be resisted, even in low light conditions through glass. Spindle whorls, correctly identified for once, in the little museum at Trondenes. Found in the locality.

This is going on for ever, I will have to do another post. I still have to discourse on the Northern Lights, and our trip to the out-of-the-way fishing village. So, I'll finish for now with this one.....

The man in the polar night. Taken at Tromso.

the man in the polar night


Catherine said...

oooh, wow. I think I'll have to add Norway to my list of future vacation spots.

Marie said...

I am simply green with envy! The pictures are spectacular. Welcome home.

Sparkley Stitches said...

My husband lived in Norway for 10 years long before I met him. He mentions it frequently - I can see why now. I was hoping to do a similar cruise in the next few years but I get terribly sea sick so perhaps it wouldn't be such a good idea. I was hoping that it would be better on a larger boat.

So glad you enjoyed your trip and I'm looking forward to more tales.

Janet said...

Yes, please continue the tale. I love the photographs. The days are short at this time of year but I keep thinking that the quality of the light is superb.

Barbara said...

Glad you recovered quickly and enjoyed the holiday. Sounds fantastic -- can almost imagine I'm there. Great photographs. Look forward to Part 2

Janet said...

I keep thinking about your praises for all things Norwegian. Great. I'm concentrating particularly on the Norwegian approach to short dark days - just have plenty of lights and candles and plan indoor activities.