#redmondtraveldiary18 · Europe · Hurtigruten · Norway · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 19) – Hurtigruten Day 4

Day 19 – Monday 8/10

IMG_7688Today is our Wedding Anniversary!!! Two heads married today and to start it at midnight, hunting for the Aurora Borealis could not have been a better way to begin!

Sadly the cloud cover was pretty heavy last night, as was the rain so our chances of seeing the Northern Lights, although at 55%, was drastically lessened by the weather itself. I am convinced that at some point my beautiful camera, Dotty certainly picked up on a greenish hue to the skies, however this didn’t last long and again with the cloud cover these photos hardly demonstrate the beauty these lights are known for. They were also completely hidden to the naked eye!

We woke up this morning around 9am, I think our gorgeous room attendant had the fright of her life when she came in to clean the room and I was, in the words of my husband not covered by the blankets with my bum facing the door (in undies, but still unsettling I am sure!).

F1CTXgl3RB6AHBxtX0yAagDragging ourselves to breakfast, the tango dance which is navigating yourself through the buffet of 50 people who are 100% in a different age-bracket to you. G and I are quick. We get in and we get out. we like to stay out of people’s way, we are polite – we generally are pretty mindful of others and personal space. Even though this is our fourth cruise, we seem to have absolutely forgotten that 80% of the population are NOT like this. It is so hard to ignore the habitual rudeness and gang-mentality of people without even the most basics of courtesy, but we are trying!

I have to say the staff on this cruise are amazing. Hurtigruten is professionally and beautifully ran and we are having the trip of a lifetime, so sometimes we can be quite horrified at how others conduct themselves.

During the night we docked at Stokmarknes, Sortland, Risøyhamn, Harstad (Hársttákcode), Finnsnes and we arrived into Tromsø at 2:15pm. Tromsø is a place which has been on our radar for a long time so we were chomping at the bit to get off of the boat. Unfortunately our budget does not allow for any more paid activities and we have had a pretty good run, so we were looking forward to taking a wander around town on our own.

When we got off the boat the first thing we noticed was the snow and how low down on the mountains either side of our ship it was! The snow fall is currently only 30m above sea-level, which is such a stark contrast to when we started in Bergen!

I wouldn’t say we lasted too long out in town, it’s certainly beautiful but it is very cold! We did what we do best and found a cute little pub and enjoyed a whiskey together (Grant is doing his best to get me on that Whiskey/Whisky train) ahead of our arrival into Scotland shortly! Now, about this pub – whilst our Norwegian is poor, we worked our pretty quickly that this place was basically a bar and served a variation of baked potatoes. It’s almost as though this place was made for the Redmond family. Seeing as we our shouting ourselves to a fancy dinner tonight for our anniversary at the a-la-carte restaurant on board, we refrained from the potato’s.

We made our way back on board ahead of the crowd which will be the returning optional activity crew, made our way to our room and decided on the whole Netflix & Chill approach to our afternoon. It’s 4 degrees outside and the view from our room is spectacular. So having some down time with one another is always the best.

Hurtigruten on its voyage north and south along the Norwegian coast will have on one night each a King Crab night, which happened to be on our Anniversary. Grant ordered the full King Crab experience, I on the other hand can only eat crab once it is out of its shell, otherwise I feel like I am breaking apart a giant scary spider (no thanks!).

img_0859It was definitely our fanciest meal of the cruise and it was nice to get dressed up and order a beautiful bottle of wine and just enjoy our anniversary. The staff also gave us complimentary champagne, which is really lovely!

It was a really unique and gorgeous way to spend our anniversary, I doubt we will spend it that far up north in the world ever again!

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

 

#redmondtraveldiary18 · Europe · Hurtigruten · Norway · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 18) – Hurtigruten Day 3

Day 18 – Sunday 7/10 – Welcome to the Arctic!

IMG_2653At midnight the night before, we had been given the advice that there were in fact going to be passing over the Arctic Circle sometime in the morning, there was the option to place a bet of the exact time this would happen and if you won, you could receive a prize.

We awoke at 7:32am and found ourselves passing the Arctic Circle, our gorgeous MS Kong Harald blasting her horns as we did so. It was something really beautiful to be a part of. It is a lot to take in, being a girl from Australia crossing the arctic circle on a ship! Here are some pics of the incredible views we had as this occurred.

 

This invisible line is situated at 66 degrees 33 minutes north and marks the border to the Arctic Region. However, the exact position does change, as of today it is 66°33′47.4″ north of the equator. It is the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude. It marks the northernmost point where the noon sun is visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point where the centre of the midnight sun is visible on the June solstice. Sadly the Arctic Circle is drifting northwards at a speed of 15 metres per year.

After our beautiful crossing of the Arctic Circle we headed off to breakfast and then came back up onto the deck for Hurtigruten’s Arctic Circle Ceremony on deck, an Arctic Baptism if you will. This happened at 10am. We were taken through one of the most fun and well-thought-out activities ran by the Hurtigruten expedition crew. We were all taken out onto the deck and there was a presentation with our expedition crew leader (who was fantastic by the way) and her warm, yet fierce welcoming of Norde, who appeared on deck and looked suspiciously like our other expedition crew member? Though his feet looked like mine, so I am sure he was the real deal.

 

We had read about the Arctic Baptism and thought about the icy-cold water being slipped down the back of our jackets, but it really is not until you are on that deck, freezing your butts off that you realise exactly how cold the entire thing is going to be.

ea5adcd4-7a50-4ea9-a885-3dda08d7966cWe weren’t there to muck around and there was no way we weren’t going to participate. We held back ten or so minutes to avoid the football scrum which any activity aboard the Hurtigruten managed to be before it was our turn. I am next to certain the Captain/Norde’s eyes lit up when they saw Grant and that ladle went to the bottom of that soup pot and was given the most impressive stir.

Sitting through it is fun, honestly, how many times does anyone pass through the Arctic Circle and have the opportunity to join in something so fun? If you weren’t awake before hand, you certainly were afterwards, I am pretty sure Grant and I were picking ice out of our clothes for the next hour or so! Thank you to the staff for the shot of cloudberry wine and of course the champagne, it certainly made it better!

Grant had way more poured down the back of his jacket and it was hilarious, we all knew who was behind the mask and I think they knew we were pretty good sports so it was actually pretty fun!

Our cold activities for the day were not over, we were excited to be docking in Bordø and to go on the Salstraumen rib boat adventure.

Salstraumen is a small strait with one of the strongest tidal currents in the world and is located in the municipality of Bodø in Norway. The Saltstraumen pushes up to 400,000,000 cubic metres of seawater through a 3-kilometre long and 150-metre wide strait every six hours and creates whirlpools. We had obviously booked this trip ahead of time and there is no way to tell where the tides will be at when you visit the area.Jules Verne wrote about Salstraumen in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Edgar Allen Poe has also written about the whirlpools in A Descent into the Maelstrom and it was even described by Herman Melville’s character Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.

Our rib boat safari took around half an hour to get to the Saltstraumen, being in that gorgeous Norwegian water going past sea eagles and the landscape (and of course, rainbows which we hd become accustomed to in Norway!) was beautiful. Beautiful and freezing, as if Norway was not cold enough, throwing yourself on a boat moving at top-speed was amazing!

We also saw parts of the Caledonian Fold Belt which is one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges dating back more than 250 million years. As we made it back to the terminal it started to hail/snow? Which as direct hits to the face was both painful and hilarious. When we arrived back to the port, the Captain of the MS Kong Harald was making it quite clear that we had gone over in time, so it was a quick change and back onto the ship.

There was one couple who seemed quite annoyed that the mans pressed slacks (I am not making this up) were wet and wasn’t the outfit meant to be waterproof? The largest man I have ever seen, who was hanging the outfits up laughed the best and loudest laugh I had ever heard and said “No, not at all! Embrace your inner viking!”.

It was time to continue on up the coast, hands-down one of my favourite days on the ship.

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

 

#redmondtraveldiary18 · Europe · Hurtigruten · Norway · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 17) – Hurtigruten Day 2

Day 17 – Saturday 6/10

This morning we awoke with our love of Norway burning deep in our hearts. Here we were in a country and along a coastline with history we had researched and heard of for years (we both have Nordic heritage). Did you know that the oldest human skeleton ever discovered in Norway has been carbon dated back to 6,600 BC?!

Although expensive, we were so glad to have paid for a room with a window. In my previous post I did say we did not have 100% visibility but what we did have was absolutely divine. The coastline, the mountains, the fjords. It’s all just absolutely magical.

We woke and made it to breakfast (another scrum of pushy and arrogant activity despite the beautiful hospitality of our staff), before we were to leave the boat for our Trondheim tour. A saving grace? Different bus tours for English and Deutsch speaking passengers. So the tourists who had decided that they were UFC breakfast buffet champions, were in-fact on another bus. #win.

Once it was time to meet down at the point for those of us who had paid tours to make, we again had to wait for those who did NOT have tours booked who of course shoved and pushed their way to the front. Hot tip: Just don’t be a dick. Wait your turn. Be polite to the beautiful staff looking after us. Don’t be a dick. Stop staring. Say please / hello / thank-you. Oh, and stop being a dick.

We made it to our bus and it was time for our Trondheim tour, inclusive of the amazing Nidaros Cathedral! This cathedral was astonishing and we lucked out with our guide within the Cathedral. The way this woman led her tour had us completely captivated and I fell in love with her instantly. There were no cameras inside of the Cathedral, which is pretty standard given those who are attending for prayer should not be disturbed by old Bob who has his flash on and is snapping a bunch of over-exposed rubbish pictures.

Now, the Nidaros Cathedral has an amazing history, I hope you will enjoy the next facts as much as I did!

  • It is built over the burial site of King Olav II of Norway and Saint Olav, the King of Norway, who became the patron saint of the nation, and it is the traditional location for the consecration of the new Kings of Norway.
  • It was built over a period of 230 years, from 1070 to 1300 but all works have continued until 2001.
  • It was taken from the Catholic Church by the Church of Norway in 1537 (and this was after a turmoil of the 16th century Protestant Reformation).
  • Norwegian Christian Faith was extremely influenced by continental Europe, the Holy Roman Empire and German Confederation.
  • Nidaros is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world.

If you do get the opportunity I would definitely recommend a visit. I only wish I had more time in Trondheim, or that I had not fallen asleep on the tour after the Cathedral tour!

Tonight was our first night on the Hurtigruten where we had an arranged table for dinner and we were seated with two lovely ladies from Adelaide, so it is always nice to meet someone from home when you are away.

Dinner was phenomenal and I seriously was flirting with the possibility of becoming part-fish, if I continued to eat the amount I was each day! Cannot best that Norwegian salmon though, not at all!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

#redmondtraveldiary18 · Europe · Hurtigruten · Norway · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 16) – Hurtigruten Day 1

Day 16 – 5/10

After a glorious sleep in our rather large double bed, in our gorgeous room on the ship we did what we do best, we buffet breakfast’d!! Anyone who knows me, knows that breakfast is 100% my favourite meal. We lay out our table like we are preparing for Christmas lunch for a family of five.

In terms of the food available, it was lacking nothing! Hot food, eggs of all types, hash, potatoes, beans, bacon, cured meats, many different types of bread, a selection of cheeses (heck yes, the crowd goes wild!), salmon (heaven for me), spreads, juices, preserves, cereals etc. The lot!

The only problem in getting to the breakfast was the 100-150 advanced-aged guests walking around dazed and confused, dripping things, coughing on the food, pushing in, shoving snacks in their shirts, pushing in, pushing me, pushing each other and generally going from Point A to Point B without any care for what was in between. Oh and the lady who just started yelling “Flan!” At the wait staff without any explanation. Rude.

Once we did get to our table (and this was our first morning on the ship), it became painfully apparent that the dead-eye staring at me wasn’t going to stop. I’m not sure about you, but if someone catches you staring – you look away right? Or do you maintain judgemental staring with a grimace on your face for minutes? Maybe those who state aggressively should have been smashing the prunes on offer, get things moving and lighten up a bit!

Over the loud speaker it was announced that for those of us booked on daytime excursions once we were in port, we could collect a sandwich bag and make, and I quote (because it was adorable) a very nice sandwich. Which we did. A sandwich, two apples and we were good to go. One lady however was scooping up bread, meat and cheese like maybe she was making sandwiches for her entire Ancestry.com family tree. Actually come to think of it, this same woman did this everyday and then intermittently throughout the day you would see her and her husband snacking on sandwiches. Also, during our week on the ship I saw more teabags get smuggled into pockets of older gentleman than I have ever seen in my life. The cruise was expensive but seriously, are they now carrying 100 teabags in their packs thinking ‘haha I showed them!’ ?!

I was so excited to get off of the boat and to get moving. We had picked the BEST excursion. We were going on a mountain hike in the Hjørundfjord! It was a grade 4 hike but we figured we could manage. Once we were off of the ship, we were straight into it. It was raining which was less than ideal but really, how often do you get to hike a Norwegian mountain in the rain?! Also for this hike which was indeed grade 4, raindrops covered any sweat/tears during the journey.

Now I’m pretty confident I now know why Australian’s call it a Bush-walk and every other country calls it hiking. A bush walk will occasionally have flat ground, a hike however is something thought up by the devil himself, it has no flat parts and you are always going up. Always!!!

Our guide was the friendliest and coolest man I think I’ve ever met. I believe his name was Kieren, and I wish I could find his details because he was amazing and was also a photographer. The tour was ran through Hurtigruten though so not sure I can find the details.

This hike was full on, it started on an old farm road and continued on a tractor path. It’s a steep climb towards the top, and the last 1,600 ft you climb an old stone stairway. Now walking up an incredibly steep ‘path’ is one thing, but doing it in the rain, after the area has had days of rain is another. Everything was slush, it was slippery and again I couldn’t quite work out why my expensive hiking boots had such little grip in the wet.

When we did make it to the top, which was easily an hour and a half – the view was spectacular, the rain had stopped and we had an incredible sense of accomplishment (which almost outdid the heart palpitations). Our lovely guide had hot coffee waiting for us, we smashed our very nice sandwhiches and after a brief break, we then walked across to the other side of the mountain to view the village of Sæbø on the other side of the fjord!

At the top you can also visit an abandoned bear cave. Before we headed back down the mountain, our tour guide took a photo of us which is now one of my favourite photos ever. He worked my camera like a magician, nearly to the point I felt like I had no right even having my camera!

It took just on an hour to go down and even though it was not as cardio-intensive it was hard! The ground was wet, we were in the back of the group, so all of the messed up ground, was even further messed up. Sadly one of the older guys on our walk took a tumble and thankfully the guide and one of the guys on the tour helped him down the mountain.

Once we were back on the boat, warm and fed we waited until we pulled into port at Alesund, this was a place I had heard of, dreamt of and could not wait to see. We only had an hour and a half rocked there. We found an Irish pub (obviously), then we found an older pub, took a few pics in the rain, ran back to the boat and called it a night.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

#redmondtraveldiary18 · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Europe · Norway · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 15) – Sogndal – Bergen

Day 15 – 4/10

Well, sadly our time in Norway had come to an end. It was time to wave goodbye to our gorgeous Air BnB boathouse loft and head back to Bergen. Now on any other holiday and in literally any non-Scandinavian country we would have taken our time, we would have just paid the extra day. We however were renting a car in Norway and therefore there was absolutely zero chance we would be returning our car a minute past 11:30, because quite frankly we didn’t have the money to spare!

Grant woke us up at 6am and we were on the road by 6:30am, heading back to Bergen. Being the Wife of the year I consider myself to be, I very solemnly swore to remain awake and alert with Grant for the four hour journey (in the dark and in the rain). I then woke up in Njardarheimr in Gudvangen, which was around two hours into our journey. Bad Wife. Also, can I just say how confusing it is to wake up after sleeping to see two traditionally Viking dressed persons at the service station?

However this was not the most shocking part about the service station. Oh no, not at all. Pop quiz for all of you playing at home. How much would you expect 3/4 of a tank of diesel for a VW Polo? Did you guess $120 AUD? No?! Weird! Neither did we. I think we only cried for the next 40km.

Once we made it back to Bergen, it was apparent that the beautiful weather we had been experiencing was long gone, it was absolutely bucketing down. So rather than wrangling all of our luggage in the rain in a cab, Grant dropped me at the Hurtigruten terminal and took the hire car back and then he cabbed it back to me.

Now. What happened next may or may not be a miscommunication, but it kind of set the tone for the rest of that day. We were aware that you could do a bag-drop at 1pm (thank god!) and could check-in from 3:30pm and get onto the ship. So, we cooled our heals in the coffee shop at the terminal, excited to know that technically it was our last out of pocket expense for food for the next week (we had paid for the full-board package oh our journey (this does NOT include alcohol). We dropped our bags at 1pm and asked what we needed to do to check-in. Now, our recollection of these instructions were that we could get our tickets and then at 3:30pm we could go upstairs and board. Pretty clear right?

So off we skip, into town to try and see more of Bergen than we had the other day. Except it was hammering down rain, which we don’t mind, but it can really kill your strolling around town vibe! We went to the Irish pub we had seen, except they don’t open until 5pm and quite frankly, I am not sure the Irish are aware of this. Surely it’s against Irish law?! The barkeep (I am positive that’s not the term, but ah well) kindly told us (with judgement in his eyes) that no, we could not drink there but thankfully there was a coffee shop around the corner where we could get a meal.

We found a booth at said coffee shop, saw a sign for ale, reminded one another of the dietary blessing that is a stout that it’s magical liquid is basically a steak and two eggs and that technically we were eating.

Guinness was not available but we found Murphy’s Irish Stout and promptly ordered several pints of this. We FaceTimed the kids which is always really nice when we are travelling and let them know that we would be on a ship for the next week so reception might be poor. We then took a walk around the old fishing village and checked out a few stores.

Bergen was founded in 1070AD and was the capital of Norway for many years. A central point for Norwegian travel it holds the beautiful history UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, which is dated back to the 14th century. When we stopped in at one of the sweet little gift shops down an incredibly old alley, we learned that the Norwegians take great pride in their manhole covers on their roads, and in fact each municipality has a different plate with intricate designs on them.

We had an hour to spare before we could get onto the ship and so we found a local supermarket, bought two rather large beers and drank them like uncouth backstreet bandits. It was pouring and we had a few stouts under our belts. Not my proudest moment but hey, that’s travel for you babe!

Now is the time to bring back into focus the aforementioned ‘miscommunication’ at the check-in counter, because it’s a doozy. We make our way upstairs, the lovely lady tells us that check-in has been moved to 4pm. No matter. That’s just another half hour wait. We see downstairs that there is easily 200 people waiting to do their bag drop and check-in. Oh my god we think, thank god we did that earlier. That line looks horrendous.

So 4pm rolls around, we’ve got the jump on hundreds of people and then it happens. We find out that yes, we’ve done a bag drop but no, we aren’t checked in. Wait, what?!

So downstairs we go, beaten. Devastated. Horrified. We were now at the back of the line of hundreds of people who, and I mean absolutely no disrespect here, but people who in the event of any emergency are not winning that hate v. Tortoise race. Ever.

An hour and a half later we get to the front. We check-in. We’ve had at least 15 comments on our age, our lack of luggage, our height and our age. Great.

Hurtigruten is not marketed as a seniors cruise, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s an incredible, educational and adventure trip up and down the coast of Norway and guess what? We had every right to be there with ever other person and we had certainly paid for it!

All of that aside we finally made our way onto the ship and even though they advise your rooms are not available until 6pm we figured if the room opened we could go in and drop our belongings. I think we may have been the reason it was announced over the speaker that you were not permitted into your rooms until 6pm. Sorry Hurtigruten. Also when we made our booking we had requested and paid for a room with unobstructed views. Trust me when I say the price difference is noticeable. So when we first boarded and saw large life boats sitting outside our room, our hearts sank. However when we had a peek into our room we saw that for the most part we could see outside of our window. Not whilst in bed though, we could only see the lifeboats. So that was disappointing but not the end of the trip.

Once we were allowed into our rooms we unpacked, found the laundry – washed our clothes and got ready for dinner. Our dinner spot for the first night was beautiful, the food was amazing and our early night to bed, in the comfiest bed we had had all trip was welcomed.

It was time to start our Hurtigruten voyage!