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

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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!

On the hunt for the perfect day/backpack!

 

Yesterday I shared with you a post about my new backpack for my upcoming trip. Today I wanted to cover my daypack choice. I have laboured over this like it is my job. I currently have a very trusty and loved Blackwolf 25L Tempo pack which goes with me everywhere. I also have a gorgeous Manfrotto Windsor camera/laptop bag which I love.

Now is also a great time to make it clear that I love bags. Not handbags, but bags, backpacks, travel bags, camera bags. Bags. Totally nuts for them. My Husband would light up like a Christmas tree if I told him he could give most of them away (he cannot, by the way).

However, I need another in-between daypack. Something which is easy to grab and go and is weather-resistant and secure, without needing to pull out the backpack-raincoat.

A new company, Livingstone Brand based in Calgary, Alberta (think Bannf, Lake Louise and Watertons) have recently confirmed that their new bags will soon become available on the market and have offered several bloggers the opportunity to purchase one with a discount to share our findings of the bag and its ability. I have been in contact with Livingstone Brand and have found out that they have a dedicated focus on ‘giving back’ to the National Parks across the globe. With the launch of their back pack they have in turn  launched the Packs for Parks Campaign.

Through this campaign a portion of all sales of each and every backpack, will be dedicated to your favourite National Park. I had to know more about this and honestly, I am blown away by such a unique and dedicated idea.

So in addition to my heart exploding with all of the good-feels (who doesn’t love National Parks?!), it was important to know that the bag was in-fact functional.

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The Livingstone Alberta Pack (25L) is the perfect daypack sixe. It comes in at less than half a pound and only 7 inches long – for those of us playing along in Australia it weighs less than 300grams and under 18cm long when reduced.

It is durable, made with both tear/water-resistant nylon, YKK zippers and is for all weather conditions. The zipper lining is also water resistant. It comes with breathable mesh straps, to relieve any shoulder/back stress and stays at a comfortable temperature.

Aside from this, this amazing daypack comes with a lifetime warranty against all manufacture defects.

I hope to get this bag by mid-late August 2018 and will trial it hopefully before we head off on our next adventure and if possible, will take it along with us as we head off on our five week adventure!

I’ve ordered the above bag and am beyond excited to get a hold of it and test it out, watch this space!

Is there a day pack you swear-by? Does it give you the warm and fuzzy feeling to purchase items that have a cause behind them?

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. 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

 

Will I break my back(pack) on my next trip?

Have you ever travelled over 36 hours internationally, only to reach your destination and realise you have packed a bag of rubbish (tags and receipts from your pre-vacay purchases), into your suitcase instead of a bag of undergarments? NO? Just me. Weird.

My first solo international trip I had a bag which may as well have been the same size as me. Which was an absolute hoot to drag up and down old European hotels which did NOT have elevators (now is a good time to let you know I was absolutely not prepared for international travel in 2009).

Let me show you the monstrosity I thought was suitable, for those playing at home – a bag this size is never appropriate. Ever. If you notice, there are additional bags because releasing two Aussie girls and a Kiwi girl into America was quite literally, letting loose in a candy store. Yep. Those bags are mostly filled with snacks. #noshame (okay, maybe a little shame).

giant pink bagI’ve tried soft bags, hard bags, bags with internal ribbing, bags with locks, bags without locks, bags wrapped in plastic (thanks to Mum who was not at all okay with me going to Thailand in 2012). I have tried the vacuum packs, the packing cubes and also separating clothes and accessories into their own situation. Guess what? It changed nothing. I am a mess of a person when it comes to contained, constrained and appropriate packing.

Fondly known as a ‘Court-nado’ (thanks Jem), my ability to take a beautiful new space and absolutely cover it in the remnants from my exploded bag within thirty seconds would be (if not hideously annoying), a marketable skill. bag explosionG and I are heading on a different trip this time, we are not guaranteed footpaths or lifts or even paved ground. So it was time to succumb to the backpack. I’ve often put it off because I am not overly sure I have the skills to lug a backpack around let alone pack it correctly. G was pretty excited to get his as it matches his smaller daypack I bought him for his birthday. So I ummed and ahhhed and then in a typical copycat-Wife fashion, bought the exact backpack (but in pink, obviously).

So far it has sat in the cupboard, staring aggressively at me. I think it knows I have no idea how to bond with it. This poor backpack could have been the property of an equipped backpacker and yet it has me. I’m sorry. I am going to try my very best to not ruin you, also I don’t want to ruin my back because then G will have to carry both of our bags and me and I think we all know how that is going to end (G will raid my bag for anything he wants, put it into his bag and leave me and my pink bag on the side of the road somewhere).img_2930So, my question to you all (and please feel free to give me all of the help and all of the advice) is, WHAT EXACTLY DO I NEED WITH MY BACKPACK?

Is there some kind of packing separators? How do you pack it? Are they good or are they bad? Are there any recommended accessories you can recommend? We have 73 days to get this show on the road and I don’t want to appear as obviously out of my depth with a backpack as I probably look now….

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. 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

 

 

What to pack for Norway?!

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^ Do you see how cold I am? That’s because it was winter in New York and I had packed jackets I wear here in Brisbane during “”winter””. That was dumb. Please help me 🙂

Hi guys & gals!

It is currently 30+ degrees here in Brisbane, I have had the air con on for the past 24 hours and cannot stop drinking icy cold water and wondering why I live where I live …when I am not really one for the heat!

I am all for gorgeous beach days and posts in the sun and summer dresses and cool cocktails, but I am way happier in the cool air at the change of season, enjoying cups of tea and being able to wear boots and scarfs….

Which brings me to my next point 🙂 !

I need some help from all of you lovely travellers / Northern Hemisphere locals in preparing for our trip next year. It is still ages down the track but with budgets and preparing for the trip, I would rather not leave it until the last minute to start purchasing what I need…

We are leaving end of September and will be gone through til the end of October next year. We are heading to London – Paris – Copenhagen – the Faroe Islands – Norway and Scotland…so far on my list I have…

  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Waterproof / all weather jacket
  • Thermal tops
  • Fleece lined leggings
  • Other shoes
  • Beanie
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Trail socks

I would love to hear about any brands you like and trust? I really have no baseline to start from!

Happy Sunday x

Suitcase or Backpack? 🎒

So we have quite a while until our next big trip. We have hard-shell suitcases which are great for protecting our belongings and they’re really not too hard to transport. After all – G has pushed them all through San Fran, Sydney, Auckland, New York and Queenstown haha 😂- but we are wondering, should we get backpacks for our next trip?

We are going to smaller places. Probably with less pavements, more stairs and rockier roads. Is it worth investing in a backpack? What’s the best kind? 

It’s only for moving our stuff, we aren’t camping and we aren’t hiking to our destinations. 

We both already have Day packs – Black Wolf Fury 30L and Tsunami 35L – so they’re great for during the day. We just aren’t sure about our actual travel luggage. 

Any suggestions? Do you use a suitcase or a backpack? 

X C X