Saturday, July 14, 2007

Norway Cruise Part 1

(First of all, if you click on the midnight sun pic on the previous entry, you'll click through to a high resolution shot that is an excellent desktop pic. I'll be posting a few more of those as I go along.)

We first flew to Copenhagen where I knew an old friend of mine was living. His name is Bret Perkins and he is a songwriter who moved there from the US and has found himself a nice career both performing and sponsoring songwriter retreats and "living room" concerts both abroad and in the states. I used a hotel computer to send him a quick message that we would be at this hotel for only a couple of hours. It was great fun making old acquaintance and eating actual Danish danish in Denmark.

Bret Perkins

Sadly, we only had a brief time in Copenhagen and it was raining, so I only took photos from the bus to the ship terminal. My favorite one is this one because it reminded me of the boat ride we took when we were there a few years ago. Copenhagen is a relentlessly beautiful city.

(Click on photo so see it in full).

Our first stop was a small village inside a fjord, Geiranger. Fjords were created over millions of years by glaciers cutting through mountains. Therefore, the water inlets are as deep as oceans and the cliffs rise vertically out of the water. During the summer months, the snow on the highest peaks melts, leading to numerous beautiful waterfalls. This one is called the Five Sisters because it consists of five waterfalls all flowing next to each other.
The Seven Sisters
(Click on photo for full image)

It's impossible to describe the breathtaking beauty of Norway, which is riddled with these fjords. You can't take a bad picture. Each turn led to heartstopping magnificence. And all along the way, little colorful villages would be hugging the shores. Their main "industry" is fishing and tourism. People from all over the world come here to hike, boat, dive and fish during the summer months. Click on this next picture and you'll get a hint of the awesomeness displayed.

The fjord wound for miles and miles with one breathtaking view after another. The sky was a bit overcast, but the clouds hugging the mountaintops only added to the scenic wonder.

There were many trolls walking around, of course. Mountain trolls are numerous in Norway. This one took a fondness to Jim and scooped him up in his arms. The only way I could get Jim back was to pick the troll's nose.

My grandfather's last name was "Olsen" so when we saw this ad for ice cream, I realized that I was heir to the great Hennig-Olsen ice cream fortune. I wonder if they know about me? So far, no one has sent a check. However, they do make excellent soft ice cream.

If you click on the above pic, you can see how beautiful the view is from Geiranger back across the fjord, and also see how our huge cruise ship is dwarfed by the mountains.

The small village here was lined with little souvenir shops selling, uh, fisks and fritids. Can't get enough of those. Notice, however, the roof. It is planted with grass. During the winter months, it gets very, very, very cold here. Like, COLD cold. They plant grass on their roofing for insulation.

When we finally left Geiranger and headed out to sea, the sky cleared. Here is another clickable shot of the mountains as we were clearing the fjords.


For two days we were at sea heading north. (North from Norway??). My body clock was completely off. I slept until noon, trying to get my body back to normal so that I could enjoy the sea days, but mostly I wandered around in a daze trying to get my bearings. The sea was mostly overcast, so we spent a lot of time in the fog. It would clear in the afternoons (a bit) and I was reading a really sad novel, so I feel like I was barely there.

Also, I was tired. I hadn't realized how much work I'd been doing at home and in New York trying to get the Big Voice score ready for publication. It's all hurry, hurry, hurry. At sea, there are lots of activities onboard for one's enjoyment, but mostly I ate a lot and read, slept, ate, slept, read, ate and slept. It was just what the doctor ordered.

We were also heading farther and farther north, so the sun stopped setting. Now, THERE'S something that will throw off your body clock. First you see the on the ship's program "Sun sets at 11:30pm. Sun rises at 2:30am." Then "Sun sets at 1am. Sun rises at 1:30am." Then, finally "No sunset. No sunrise."

The North Pole is at the 90 degree parallel. We were heading toward a little island, rarely visited by cruise ship, called Spitzbergen, which prides itself at being at the 78th parallel, which is so close to the North Pole, you can almost touch it. Google Earth this thing and you will see. Usually Spitzbergen is an ice ball, like in a Star Wars movie. Wall to wall white. But for just a little crack of summer, it gets year round sun and thaws out enough for visitors.

However, it's now 2am and I have no business being awake right now. Most of my Spitzbergen pics are video and I don't have the energy to upload them right now. So, I'll be back...


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