A Travellerspoint blog

August 2010

Catch up Time, Oslo (Eurovision) Amsterdam and Frankfurt

Travel between May 25 and June 01

View Long Service Leaving on noraht's travel map.

Tuesday May 25
Change hotels and into town for sightseeing. Spent a great deal of money on tickets. Norway is expensive. Eurovision semi final 1 is on tonight.
Ended up being way more fun than I thought it would be. My Portugal shirt got a few supporters. We met a couple from Texas, they had seen SBS broadcasting the 2009 contest and loved it, so decided to come this year to Norway.

Wednesday May 26
Fjord cruise today. Dinner at Peppe's pizza, really good pizza, shouldn't have had the Nachoes. It meant that I couldn't try the dessert. Of course it cost more than $100 australian dollars for two of us to eat , I had a pizza Kat had pasta we both had soft drink. Although am noticing that soft drink is way more expensive than alcohol. I don't need anymore encouragement.
Point to note on food in Norway. Solo is found in it's natural form with orange flavour, not the lemon flavour we are used to at home. At least it is now easier to find still water, for a while there it was hit and miss as to wether the water in the bottle was still or mineral (gas) water. Hanging out for a hotdog.

Thursday May 27
Washing day. Found the laundromat, just had to wait abit for the bus. Managed to squeeze in a bus tour before heading back to hotel to drop off clothes before we head off to the 2nd semi final. Wouldn't be a good idea to go to eurovision with a backpack full of clothes, the security personel might wonder what I am up to.
Lots of random Aussies around, the flag got alot of attention, one group wanted to know where they could get one, umm sorry guys, brought it from home. Didn't like as many songs as last time, but still fun. They interviewed an Australian couple, they were funny, wonder what will be included in the DVD, might need to bring one home at Christmas to show a few people what the fuss is all about.

Friday May 28
Museum day, as luck would have there are 2 cruise ships docked in the harbour, it makes catching the hop on hop off bus impossible to catch, no one wants to hop off. So I used the ferry to get over to the Penninsula. The viking ship museum had 3 recovered viking ships from around 800AD. They were discovered in several seperate viking burial mounds, how well preserved they are is something to see, some of the intricate wood carving is also just, wow, in this day and age we would be happy to produce such quality using a computer to assist with the prescision. The ice breaking ship the Fram is in it's own museum too, great photos of polar exploration, north and south.
The Ibsen museum was well worth the visit, a sneak peek into his apartment opposite the Royal Park gave interesting insight into the man and his life.
Caught the Prince of Persia movie at the cinema, while waiting for the film to start, the staff came in and drew out numbers from a hat, the corresponding seat numbers won promotional items, like hats and Tshirts. Thank goodness our numbers were not called, well pretty sure they weren't, it was all spoken in Norwegian.
The snack bar at the cinema was something else, in Fridges that were warm, they stored the popcorn, and chips like pringles, also many snacks like nacho chips and the like were in trays ready for eating, no loud rustling and opening of packets. We were also handed several promotional bars of chocolate before we entered the movie theatre, I think I like going to the movies here.

Saturday May 29
Well today is the last Eurovision day. We arrived at the final dress Rehearsal. Practically everyone was from Norway, their flags were everywhere.
The performances were spot on. Who knows who will win. There were rumors that one of the possible reasons for Norway winning last year was that it was one of the few countries that could afford to host the event. If that is true, then that means that Greece, Spain, Portugal and the UK are out of the running before it has even begun. I liked Greece for the same reason I like France, fun fun fun. Russia was also the kinda of song that you enjoy but don't vote for, loved Romania, Albania and Iceland. Turkey gets my vote for most original performance, also more to my taste of music.

Saw so much more on the broadcast in the hotel than in the arena, there was just too many things going on that could distract you. The divide between the better more experience performers and those that were nervous was obvious. While the dress rehersal was perfect, the final performance was marred by some of the singers just not hitting their notes. the most disappointing was Israel.
History will show that Germany won, and it was a good song, but maybe the conspiracy theorists were right, it is one of the few countries that can afford to host the event. Certainly judging by audience reaction, the French and Greece entries were popular.
Tomorrow off to Amsterdam, staying on a boat, no internet access :(

Sunday May 30
I am not fond of flying, but at least this time I remembered to remove my deoderant and all items from my pockets before security.
It was a short flight, and maybe it was me but it seemed that everyone knew each other, either that or the dutch are a very friendly people.We waited in line at the information centre longer than the entire train journey to the central station. Took a while but eventually got to the houseboat. The instructions were good, we were just disoriented.
As expected the room is tiny, two of us cannot stand up at the same time with both backpacks. The light for the toilet cubicle at the end of the hall is on the roof, I nearly missed it completely.
Afternoon spent catching trams to the Heineken experience. That was great fun. Even though I am not fond of the beer, they put on a good show. I can see why it is so popular. Two free beers at the end of the experience, and at least one "Tasting beer" as part of the experience, to you know teach you how to drink a beer properly. I never realised that I had been doing it wrong all these years. Dinner at an Indonesion place on one of the main squares, so good, walked in and it smelled like home. Ate way too much.
Have noticed that there is a great variety of foods in Amsterdam. more than one Argintinian stake house, even Urauguian stakehouse, Portuguese, Italian, American, Irish and English pubs, Indonesian, Thai and chinese.Foodie heaven. And so much cheaper than Norway

Monday May 31
Oh what an interesting mix of a day.
Started with a canal cruise, through large ones and small ones, some with houseboats and some with bikes, some with sinking boats and some with boats that were really resturants.
After a bit of a map issue made our way through the red light district, not on the original agenda but certainly an eye opener, to the hallowed halls of the Hemp museum. So cute they even have their own grow room, for seeds only and they were not encouraging anyone to take up illegal activities. So from hemp to art, the rjiksmuseum. I saw several Rembrandts and a Vermeer, the milkmaid, it took a while to see it though, there was an oldie tour group being lead by a guys that was talking/lecturing them about the painting and the one next to it by the same painter, or perhaps the body of work of the artist, because seriously I didn't know that one guy could talk for so long about the one thing. It took forever before they moved along enough for me to get a look at the iconic painting that was obviously one of the museums prized posessions.
I saw several still lifes which contained more than a bowl of fruit, and there were 2 amazing examples of Doll houses. It was once the height of extravangance and fashion to have in your home a replica of your house in minature, a Dolls House. One women had gone to the extreme of organising to have every item of furniture replicated to scale, down to the composition of the furniture item, so some items were imported from china.

Next stop was the house of Bols. Aparently Bols have been brewing liquers since the 16th century. Maybe I haven't spent enough time in Bars over the years. A little sensory experience later and we sat down to try our free cocktails and 2 tasters of the 36 odd flavours. Green Banana was just like the banana lollies you can get and the coffee liquer was a harsher version of kahlua. Also got the chance to drink Kat's two drinks, will need food soon, too many cocktails on an empty stomach.
The day was not yet over, the pancake bakery was dinner and that was a culinary experience, my pancake was more like a pizza base, it was huge. but so yum got to eat some real profitijes.
On the way back to the tram we thought we could line up and see if we could get into the Anne Frank house. Well for a while there it looked like we wouldn't make it. Eight pm was approaching and we still hadn't moved, but then they started to let people in again. We inched then footed forward. Moving around the house itself was difficult there were so many poeple that in a lot of places you just had to go with the flow. All up though well worth the admission. Must remember that booking ahead of time is the way to go not off the cuff spur of the moment, pity that.

So hemp, art, alcohol and history all in one day, the highlights (and lowlights) of Amsterdam. Worth a second visit, just to eat more food.
Tomorrow, the Hague then onto Frankfurt, a new tour awaits us, with hopefully a bunch of oldies so perhaps a slower pace.

Tuesday June 1
Train to the Hague, nice little trip didn't take long, the problem was trying to find the right platform to catch the right train. Kat had bought the tickets but I couldn't find the platform, ended up just making it, 4b 4a it is the same platform, just further down.
Saw the MC Escher museum definitly the highlight. There was a little gallery that a few paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, a little known painting called the Girl with the Peral earring. The Hague is an interesting little place.
A train ride later and were were in Frankfurt. The hotel was less than 100m from the station, just around the corner. Not an expensive hotel, but Internet, beds and private bathroom and included Breakfast. Can't go wrong.

Posted by noraht 16:53 Archived in Norway Tagged events Comments (0)

Catch up time, Norway through to Oslo

Travel from May 18 - May 25th

View Long Service Leaving on noraht's travel map.

Tuesday May 18
Late start to the day, but managed to get in some breakfast. wandered around the old town section of Odense, staying well clear of the Hans Christian Anderson House. Contemplated going to the Odense zoo via a canal ride. But the weather was still a little gloomy so sat in the park and read my book. Also found first place in Europe that knows what a Slushie is, hopefully they will be found in other countries. It was a lovely relaxing afternoon. I think Odense is a storybook town.

Wednesday May 19
Slushies by the river and a trip to Hans christian Andersons house and museums rounded off the morning. Afternoon train to Billund, well train then catch a bus then walk from the airport. Easy. Tomorrow Legoland.

Thursday May 20
Today is Legoland day.
Such fun, so cute. We had a bit of a hike to get there but the weather wasn't bad.
All the models of the airport and power stations, a windmill, hot air balloon, just so much Lego it was hard to know what to look at. Then the momuments in Lego, Mount Rushmore and so many others, so well done.
The aquarium was fun, fake skeletons moving underwater, with fish swimming around them, the canoe ride was slow and sedate, until the last section which sent you down a steep slope a crashing into the water, splash. Didn't really get wet though, that came later with the pirate ship, thought that if we didn't aim at the passersby manning the water cannons, they wouldn't aim at us. Was very wrong about that. Got absolutly soaked through , was short by 2 dollars so couldn't use the dryers, but didn't take too long to dry.Watching everyone have a go at the fire station was great entertainment while drying in the sun.
Did not spend enough at the lego shop.Early to bed as we have a very early flight in the morning.

Friday May 21
Today we go to Bergen.
Barely got any sleep, the lift was going all night, and because we have the crappiest room ever, can hear it everytime. So up at 4:30 to be at the airport by 5:30am, no problem as through clever planning the airport is a short distance away, like 150 metres.
Shortest plane flight ever, we arrived and then almost ran from terminal A to terminal B, not a short distance but we made our connecting flight, can see why they have buses between the terminals. Also on the copenhagen to Bergen flight was what we first thiought was a brass band, but when we looked closer at the lurid red jacket, they were a choral group. Towards the end of our flight the plane was being serenaded by the group, it was most enjoyable even though we didn't understand a thing. Bus ride from the airport seemed to take forever, have started to not feel well.
The hotel is a block back from the harbour, very picturesque. Spent the rest of the day in bed, no sightseeing, Kat went a walking around and saw much and liked it. I ate a banana.

Saturday May 22
Today was the last day in Bergen, so had a delightful breakfast and wandered into town, posted some items and back to the hotel for checkout. Still felt under the weather so, stayed in the hotel lobbey while kat took a tourist train ride around town.

Express ferry to a very small town called Balestrand. The express took 4 hours, not that you noticed because the scenery was like out of a book of postcards. Sheer cliffs, snow topped mountains shrouded in fog, the ocean is a green shade that is remakably close to grass. we were met by the hotel owner and driven from the ferry to the hotel, it was all of a 2 min ride and that includes getting in the car. Nice little hotel, we have a balcony with a great veiw across the fjord. After settling in we wandered down to the cafe. Good food for such a small place but we found out that they are not cafe poeple, they are artists, and they started the cafe to feed the visitors to the Gallery. Also Monday and Tuesday are public holidays so the market is not open, and the other restuarants in town are also closed. It is Whitsen, which is 50 days after Easter. After dinner a short walk around to the local Big Hotel in town, the Kivkine, it is in our 1000 places to see before you die, and if we had stayed there, would probably end up in the new zsection of the hotel which is not nearly as beatuiful as the old section. Plan is a short walk tomorrow before our excursion to the glacier.
This is the kind of place that time has no meaning, you go to bed one day and wake up a week later and think, where did the week go, but in a relaxed good way.
It is now 10:50 pm and starting to look like the sun is going down.

Sunday May 23
Our tour today is to take a ferry to a town further up the fjord and see the glacier ,museum, followed by a trip to the glacier. Unfortunately there are no guides at the moment that can take us on a walk over the glacier, but hey maybe next time.
The town is Fjærland and is also known as booktown for the large number of stores that trade in secondhand books. It would have been great to wonder around some of the stores but well, more on that later.
A bus picked us up from the Ferry and took us to the glacier museum, the strangest building I have seen in a while.
Due to a family mucking around and wasting time the bus was late heading out to the glacier, so we only had 15 mins to head out and take photos.which we managed to do, but the family that made us late was going to make us late to the ferry if we caught it at all, the father and son kept walking to see if they could go far enough to touch the glacier, or at least touch some ice or snow. Convinced the bus driver to beep his horn to try an hurry them up. As a result only time to jump on the ferry, not waste some time in the bookstores.
Had a meal at the little cafe attached to the art gallery. The owners of the gallery started the cafe to feed their customers, but the food is very good and the atmosphere is great. But they had a rush on earlier in the day and had run out of several of their advertised menu. They are still learning the hospitality trade I think, but so long as they churn out the good food, people will keep coming back.

Monday May 24
Departed Balestrand on the ferry this afternoon and headed towards Flam. which very much just catered to tourists. Since we had a 4hour layover wandered up the road, had a look at a waterfall and spent way too much time in the souvenier shop. So many cute items, including trolls.
Flam railway is the attraction here, in one 20km stretch you go from sea level to 866m in one hour. The scenery is unreal, as is the experience of popping your ears on a train. The photos were not a good representation of the experience. A change of trains at the top and we were on our way to Oslo. But we we not finished going up, the highest point was the next big stop on the track at 1222m, the town of Finse. It was snowing, got the feeling that it snowed year round. Late getting into oslo but stayed at a hotel near the airport so not far to go to find my bed.

Posted by noraht 16:45 Archived in Denmark Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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