#redmondtraveldiary18 · Europe · Hurtigruten · Norway · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 17) – Hurtigruten Day 1

Day 17 – 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!

#redmondtraveldiary18 · Europe · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 12) – Bergen to Sogndal

Day 12 – Monday 1/10 – Bergen – Sogndal

We woke up this morning in beautiful sunny Bergen, completely taken away with what an incredible location our hotel was. We were staying right near the fish markets and it’s location to the harbour made us wish we were staying for longer!

Our hotel came with a free breakfast and everything you could possibly want was available to us. I will never say no to a free breakfast, I’ll pretty much load up on as much food as I can to survive the day. Also, given the price of pretty much everything up here I’m inclined to shove pastries in my pockets (but haven’t….yet).

After a quick walk around Bryggen, several coffees and a forty-five minute battle with Lycamobile via phone / text / app and website to get G’s up and running. Here’s a tip, play dumb when someone rude as hell in an airport sells you a Sim and Credit, and ask them to top it up for you. Otherwise you are going to end up with a useless little plastic SIM card.

We ended up seating ourselves at a coffee shop, feeding off of the free WiFi and managed to get Grants sim working for 100NKK, which was around $20 Australian. Also, the credit that comes with SIM cards in Europe is crazy! He know has 60gig, which I doubt he would use in a year. I on the other hand, Ashe dutiful Wife will make light work of it!

We headed back to our hotel, I packed our bags and Grant caught a cab to the Hertz to pick our car up and drive it back. He was back with a zippy little VW within the hour, we did a small grocery shop and hit the road.

Our nav told us it would be four hours out to Søgndal and it was already passed lunch so we legged it. We drove straight through Flåm by accident and decided to keep going, with the hope we could see the area on our way home. Originally when we made our travel plans we had intended on doing the Norway in a Nutshell journey, but the price was obscene and still incredibly limiting without your own transport, so we scrapped that and decided to make our own way.

We had time to stop and see the incredible Borgund Stave Church, this place is absolutely incredible and was completed in the 12th Century.

Our little hire-car did the job and before we knew it we had made it to the Manheller-Fodnes ferry, which only costs around $20AUD to get across to the otherside. The efficiency of these barges are amazing. Once we crossed the fjord we were faced with two tunnels, one of which was 24km long! Which is a crazy long tunnel to drive through.

As we drove into Sogndal, we knew we had made the right choice, on heading in-land for a while, just our Air BnB in the loft above a boat-shed. We arrived quite late so we did a quick shop (just basics but honestly, the price of Norway is crippling!).

Sogndal is a municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is a beautiful little town on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden and has a population of just under eight thousand people. Your three star hotel averages around 200 euro’s, thankfully we had managed to score our Air BnB for three nights for under $600.

We settled in with some wine, some Netflix and an early night, we wanted to make sure we made the absolute most of our time in the area!

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 · photography · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 11) – Faroe Islands to Bergen (via Copenhagen)

Day 11 – Sunday 30/9 – Faroe Islands – Bergen (vis Copenhagen)

Well we knew today was a write-off, as most transit days can be. We had no idea how long the day would feel though! As our schedule really only allowed us to visit the Faroes for three days, this meant we would leave on a Sunday. Sadly there are no direct flights on a Sunday from Vàgar to Bergen, so we needed to fly via Copenhagen.

As our travels tend to play out, we woke up to shocking weather and we were beyond pleased to have experienced the beautiful weather we had whilst we were there.

Our flight was not until lunchtime, so we had a few hours to explore Vagar a little more, we drove out to a beautiful old cathedral, boat harbour and village with some older style log buildings.

We drove back to the airport, dropped off our fantastic little cat which had served us well and decided that wine + beers at the airport were our best-bet for some time wasting.

Once we were on the plane we had a few more drinks and watched movies on our phones and we were back in Copenhagen. We had around a four and a half hour layover in Copenhagen, but once we collected our luggage and then took it to the departures terminal and survived that disaster we couldn’t be bothered leaving the terminal. We had originally planned to maybe go back into Copenhagen and see some more, but sadly that was not to be!

We departed Copenhagen around 9pm and landed in Bergen at 10:30pm, it was such a long day. Once we had our bags we then headed out to our bus transfer which dropped us off at the Torget stop near the old fish markets which was the same block as our hotel!

Originally we had booked to stay at a place called Citybox Hotel, but in my over-prepared state as I couldn’t pre-pay the stay I had cancelled it and booked elsewhere. We stayed at the Magic Hotel in Bergen and it was gorgeous! The rooms great, the location could not have been better, incredibly comfortable bed and all-inclusive breakfast in the morning. If you are heading to Bergen, I couldn’t recommend this hotel any more!

Really not too much to update on today, given it was a transit day – only that we are finding the serving of hot fish meals on planes to be, um…different? Also a lady kept turning around in her seat and turning our air pumps off above our seats. Seriously she did it three times, until I had to tell her ‘No, leave it – that’s my fan and it’s on me’. Oh and the other lady that tried to stay on her mobile phone during our plane’s taxi – hiding behind her seat. Hilarious.

The Scandinavians are a very tolerant and patient bunch, put it that way! We all know what sort of responses occur with that sort of behaviour in America!

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 · Travel

Travel Diary (Day 8)- Faroe Islands

Day 9 – Friday 28/9

Waking up and knowing that you are heading to a magical land you stumbled across through Pinterest five years ago, is to say the least, a little overwhelming.

As excited as we both were, we really had no idea what our expectations should be or what we would be coming across. We knew that the weather for most of our trip was likely to be rain-filled, windy and cold. So to some degree we were prepared for that (side note: jeans, as fond as Aussies are of them, are not technically wet/warm-weather pants), other than that we had no idea what would be awaiting us.

We caught a cab from our hostel to the Copenhagen Central train station, as neither of us really felt like hauling our packs there. Once we were at the station it was all pretty straight-forward and just like that, we were on our journey to Vágar Airport, Faroe Islands. The flight was only two hours, Atlantic Airways has movies available on their internal and free Wi-Fi which is always appreciated! I made a terrible choice and watched a movie about an elderly couple, one of whom has Alzheimer’s and the other terminal cancer. Grant watched a comedy and his thoughts were “why are you crying? Always go dumb with the movie Courtney. Always”. I’ll admit it, there was far too much crying on that plane.

As our plane came in for landing and we spotted many of the Faroe Islands our of our window, we were nearly jumping from our seats. Flying into the Faroes is other-worldly, it is honestly like nothing you have ever seen before. Or in our case, will ever see again.

Getting off the plane was easy, getting the keys to our hire car was easy – there was just one problem. My international sim did not work there. Grant had bought a SIM card at the Copenhagen airport as well as the top-up credit, with the assurance (yet disdain) that it would work by the cashier. Yet here we were, in the Faroes with absolutely no reception. Thankfully I managed to feed offa servo’s Wi-Fi as G bought us very bizarre drinks (my request admittedly) which tasted like Guinness cola soda (but in a bad way, not a good way). So after a few back and forthcoming we found our Air BnB in Tórshavn.

Our Air BnB absolutely blew away any expectations we had, it was gorgeous, local to everything and had anything you could possibly need. Relief. Pure relief after our bare-as-bones hostel stay the two nights before.

It was a converted area on the bottom floor of our hosts home. We had a separate bedroom, laundry, wet room, tv with Apple TV and a courtyard. The kitchen was fully equipped and it just felt like home. For three nights we paid around $600 Australian and our host had left some local fruit and biscuits and locally brewed beer as well. It was just lovely.

It was getting on in the day so we went and spent a small fortune on a grocery shop, came home, had a few drinks and watched tv. The little comforts. We also started planning our Faroe Island attack for the next couple of days.

I was still coughing and generally being gross (seriously a holiday tradition of mine is to be a germ-riddled pain in the arse. So Grant slept in the lounge room, which is so unfair for him. He’s such a gentleman, honestly if it was me I would have kicked me out to the lounge room.

It was hard to believe we were finally here, this little place we had only dreamt of, changed our plans for and squirrelled away an extra amount of money which would make your eyes water to get there!

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