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

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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!

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

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

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

 

 

Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve…and we are off to Sydney!

Good morning! Happy Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve!!! So I woke up and thought I would get a jump on my phone back up/last minute packing/trying not to stress about leaving my house for a week…..annnnd my Husband has just come out and told me that 5:30am is not awake time and I should go back to bed…

IMG_6681Anyways (I won’t be going back to bed) – I am sooo excited because today – we finally leave for our Christmas holiday/vacation! We are going inter-state for my Husband’s side of the families Christmas. My family and G and I live up in Queensland and his family lives in New South Wales…so it means many inter-state trips to Sydney etc., (and who could possibly be made about that?!).

IMG_6714Our trip this time is a little different and much more Christmas-on-steroids, because we will be sharing Christmas day with a very enthusiastic and kind 11 year old and a curious and sweet 9 year old. We have a few different things planned for them for the next week and I thought I would share them!

I had a bit of an incident with ‘Betty’, my beloved Canon 550D – the incident being she just stopped turning on (after I spent $80 on a brand new battery charger – of course). It was going to cost $200-$400 to have someone look at her to see what was wrong, but given she is nearly 8 years old and I could buy the same model for around $400-$500, sadly it just does not seem financially reasonable.

IMG_7792

So…my plans to purchase a new camera ahead of our Scandi-trip next year have been brought forward and I am now the proud owner of Dorothy (‘Dotty) – my new Canon 80D. Look I will be honest, Dotty and I haven’t quite worked each other out yet (in the words of Mariah ‘I don’t know her’), but I plan on becoming her BFFF over this next week (watch this space…).

Packing has been somewhat of a nightmare, honestly my own personal set of luggage scales has been an absolute life-changer!

We have some really cool things planned for Sydney, I cannot wait to share them with you. This trip is going to be really different because we are doing it as a family – so cannot wait to see how that goes in terms of activities and lines etc.,

Our flight leaves in a couple of hours, we will get into Sydney around lunch time and then we can make our way to Darlinghurst to check into our amazing lookingIMG_7816 Air BnB – its then time to Christmas the apartment up, before the little ones arrive tomorrow :).

Wising you all a wonderful December 22 – cannot wait to hear what you are all up to over Christmas!

x C x

 

Pacific Aria – P&O Cruise Ship

There comes a time, after the madness of the silly season is over, when you have been back at work for a few months and…you need a break. That sounds terrible doesn’t it? To get to April and just about be climbing the walls out of desperation for a holiday!

Let me take you back to early 2016. I was approaching 30, we were saving for a Wedding, we KNEW we could not wait until October (our Honeymoon) without at least a little break. So we decided to book a cruise. As it so happened, there was a P&O Cruise which departed Brisbane on my Birthday and went up to Cairns. Needless to say we decided this was a fantastic idea!

We booked an ocean view room, for the price of around $1500 as there was a sale, also when we made the booking, it came with the free Premium Drinks Package (all soft drinks, cocktails, wine, beer, spirits water up to the value of $12); excluding T2 and coffee from the coffee shops.

Our 7 night cruise was called the Barrier Reef Discovery and it was scheduled to travel from Brisbane up to Hamilton Island, Cairns, Willis Island (Drop Anchor) and then back to Brisbane. We were quite excited as we had heard great things about the new Pacific Aria which had been welcomed to the P&O fleet from the Holland America Line and we were on one of the first cruises for it.

IMG_5907About a week before our cruise was set to depart, P&O offered us an upgrade to a balcony room for $99 each. How can you refuse this? It was for my 30th and it was our first time on a cruise and really, what’s an extra $199 when you have a free drinks package anyway?

Boarding was incredibly easy on the first day, we had registered to get onto the ship around lunchtime, so we went and checked out our room, bought our touristy lanyard’s, grabbed our first drink and decided to check out the ship.

We booked to have our first dinner (my Birthday and our anniversary of meeting) at Luke Magnan’s Salt Grill, which is amazing. It is easy to forget you are a on a ship, and it is always really cringe worthy to see some rude person on a boat yelling at a waiter because they don’t think the food is the quality it should be. So let me be the reasonable person to confirm, that, actually – the food is quite given it has been prepared and served on a budget cruise-liner! I recommend the licorice parfait. Yum!

Dragon Lady is pan-Asian cuisine and the restaurant is very pretty, the service lovely and the lighting subtle. What we didn’t realise (on our first cruise), is that you (if you book far enough ahead), do not need to accept a share-table booking. In fact, unless you live for meeting and eating with strangers, awkward conversation or a lack of privacy then I would advise against the share table. Unfortunately, we did accept a share table at Dragon Lady and we were sandwiched in against a wall with an older couple who sat beside us. The conversation was forced, the couple were racist (seriously, not okay!) and the woman was whinging the entire time, saying how she only likes to eat fried eggs. Anyway, that’s not P&O’s fault, we downed a bottle of sake and tried to forget our hideously racist dinner mates.

Angelo’s is an Italian restaurant, it is classy and elegant and has a pretty decent wine list for a boat. The food is yummy and there is a selection of desserts available to you!

Our room was nice and had plenty of space, the public areas are nice, there are no shortage of bars, there is a beautiful view – wherever you go!

There is no shortage of activities – at all. You have trivia, bingo, drinking, game shows, dance shows, karaoke, movies on the top deck, dating games, marriage match, book swaps, cocktail lessons, whiskey tasting, mocktail classes, tours of the ship etc.,

A cruise is what you make it – if you are with good people or are looking to relax then this is for you! If you don’t really like your company and feel a bit caged on a boat for a week then it may NOT be for you.

What have you got to lose?

x