Wednesday, October 17, 2018



Ever since we arrived in Scandanavia (and also in Iceland) we felt almost too poor to afford even a beer. I think we paid $18 for a great 22 oz beer in Copenhagen. Even beers at the store in Norway were usually $3-6 per beer! Maybe $8-10 at a restaurant for a pint.

So, we've done without.

However, after our strange universe-hopping subway ride in Stockholm, we found the grocery store and went in and found beer for $6 for a six pack! Couldn't believe it. In fact, a single beer was about .75 c, cheaper than a Coke (which by-the-way goes for $2.50-$4 generally. Though in Sweden, Coke was about $1.40 a bottle, so even that was cheaper.

So, we bought a six pack and a few singles for dinner tonight. Hooray!

In downtown Stockholm we got off at the exit just past the train station, in the Old City area. Here, there is the Royal Opera House, the Legislature and the Royal Palace. All of it is surrounded by a river, on which I think they have canal boats.

And ... lions.

We walked around and took pictures, then found the public ferry boat (we have a 72 hour bus/train pass), but by then we were getting hungry, so we decided to do it later.

We ate at the Corner Restaurant & Bar, where Khevron had Swedish meatballs (which I figured is a must while here), and I was surprised there was no red sauce or spaghetti involved. I had lasagna. We each had a beer.

The mooses also enjoyed a fine meal and tried the meatballs.

The fire was just a video.

Interesting decor.

We got very full!

Then we strolled around the Old City some more and found a lot of narrow little alleyways which we found picturesque.

Also, there was one that had claim to being the very most narrow alleyway (in Stockholm? Sweden? the world? Not sure, but someone said it and everyone wanted there picture there). So we did it too!

A lot of cute shops too. Including this Viking restaurant (that was really expensive).

 Other shops:

Also, we found the most amazing Scifi bookstore!
More here!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


So, we had very specific directions to get to our Airbnb in Stockholm (Kiska, actually). At the top of the stairs, we turned right, over the bridge and there was our apartment. A 3 minute walk. Found it, no problem.

We settled in and then took the train back into Stockholm to see the city center. We walked around the old city quarter (more on that here). Had a great dinner and once it got dark and we got tired of walking, we caught the subway back to Kiska.

Went up the stairs, which looked the same. To the right and started walking, except. It wasn't right. I was sure that this was the wrong way. So we went the opposite way, found the bridge and went over it. There was a set of apartments that looked just like ours ... except it wasn't. It was like a mirror image, but opposite.

So, now we were feeling pretty confused. So, we turned around and went back to the station. But something wasn't right there. It looked the same, but had the ticket window had been on the other side before? Perhaps it was a different exit? So we walked around it then down the block quite aways before turning around and coming back, not finding one.

Alternate universe?
I decided that we could find out who was president of the U.S. and if it was Bernie Sanders...we would stay!

But to set it right, I decided we had to go back to where we got off the subway. So we did. All the way down the long stair (that we decided looked sublty different than when we arrived), all the way back to the platform. Sure enough, there was another exit! We went up another long stairway to the exit.

This time we turned right, went over a bridge and found our apartment. Whew. That was strange! Guess we were lucky we didn't get this lost on the way in, carrying all our bags!

Anyway, made it back to this reality!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Viking Church of Thor?



No...I'm afraid not.

After our 27,000 step day on Wednesday we took it a little easier on Thursday and bought a 24 hour bus/tram ticket to go see the sights around Bergen. Our main target was an old Viking church.

We caught the tram to the airport, and knew the stop to get off for the Viking church. I wondered what kind of churches the Vikings built but apparently this was a Stave church built in Viking style (not actually a Viking church, which was disappointing. I wanted to see a church where they worshiped Thor).

We got off at the right stop and the directions said to follow the signs. But...there were no signs. So we ventured off in a likely direction, which was the wrong direction.

But that's okay, as we are not in a hurry to get anywhere. We wandered along through a park. Finally, we asked a woman for directions. She sent us in what turned out to be the opposite direction from what we should have gone.

But we saw the spire of a church that way, so we headed for it. It did not turn out to be the Viking church, but still very beautiful. So we took pictures, as is our wont.

We headed back to the tram stop and this time we found the right direction (by happy chance). However, we walked quite a while before we even saw the one single sign for the church. Then we walked some more.

We came to a beautiful park. The leaves were turning golden and every gust of wind blew a cascade of leaves across our path. I took a number of GoPro pictures and video. As it turned out...we had arrived at the Viking church.

It was not opened (it closed in September) but the outside was made of spectacularly carved wood. And from someone else, we heard that the inside is not as amazing as the outside, which was a little consolation.

We stopped afterward at the top of a hill and ate our lunch before continuing to the airport, for no particular reason, as we didn't need to catch a flight. But it was the end of the line. We walked around there for awhile, but it is quite small.

We got back on the tram and headed again to Bergen. We wandered around downtown looking for dinner and finally stopped at a cafe and bought two calzones.

At some point, while shopping, we saw this Norwegian version of the game Catan (one of our favorite board games. Also, we've been playing this on the train on my iPad).

Can't Make it to Trondheim!

The Central train station in Oslo, Norway

Oct 13 in Oslo

We had planned to go spend 3 days in Trondheim but we were dismayed to find all the trains booked for both Saturday and Sunday. At first, we thought this was a mistake, as did Thomas, our Airbnb host. Finally he called the station and learned that, no, it was not a mistake. They were all booked!

Apparently, every so often the cities take turns having "holidays" so Trondheim was taking a week off. Literally, the whole city. So a lot of people had come to Oslo for vacation.

Since we couldn't get out of town, we needed to stay another night but all the Airbnbs were booked up too and the place were were at was booked. So in the end we booked a hostel downtown for $30 a person.

Ankor Apartments. The place seemed more like a sanatorium where they lock you up if you're crazy. The halls were all white and uniform, the lights were bright. The workers there were very serious. There were locks on the hallways and locks on every level and locks on the rooms.

Since we had sleeping bags, we avoided a separate charge for sheets. Not excited about this hostel. In Copenhagen, it was more like a college dorm where there was a party every night downstairs in the lobby complete with beer and music! And the workers there were kissing each other behind the counter when not helping anyone.

Odd sculpture near Thomas's Airbnb, Oslo

The Train to Flåm, at Last!


October 12, 2018

We got up early, trudged to the bus station carrying our heavy bags and caught a bus to the train station, feeling like pros getting around now that we’d spent 3 days in Bergen. This time we’d thought ahead to reserve seats, using our first class Eurail pass ticket. We were going back from Bergen to Oslo, with a detour to Flåm

The train to Flåm takes about an hour and is famous for its magnificent mountain views. We’d planned to go on our way to Bergen but an avalanche had closed down the line. But we were determined to try again.

In Myrdal, the timing is tight for getting off the Oslo train and getting on the Flåm train. We had about five minutes in between but made it no problem, as Myrdal is small. A small crowd of people got off to join the Flåm train, many of them a group of Japanese that wanted to stay together and waved us to get in another coach, which we did.

The Flåm train is an older, more quaint train, the sort you might expect to take you to Hogwarts. It goes a little slower and the windows (which were quite clean) had several that would slide open from the top to take pictures. We put our two huge backpacks, and spare bags in a luggage rack, got our cameras out and settled down for picture taking.

 The ride was well worth it; amazing scenery straight from a postcard. So we kept busy, Khevron with his camera and me with my 360 GoPro. The car wasn’t very crowded and soon everyone was moving from one side to another to catch the best angle to take photos or video from.

I opened the window and stuck my 360 camera out the window to maximize its usefulness, otherwise, I. Outlying get a shot of the inside of the train.

 After an hour of happy picture taking, including a stop at a magnificent waterfall, where they actually let you out for five minutes, we arrived in Flåm.

At first I was taken aback that we would have 4 hours to kill in this little town and almost tried to talk Khevron into getting back on the same train to go back to Myrdal. But we didn’t (as he pointed out that there was even less to do in Myrdal but wait for our other train). So I relented.

But, happily, we found a self-guided hike to a waterfall that looked doable, that we could do in 2-1/2 hours, so we opted for it. The first 30 minutes were easy, and then we got to the actual trail, which was very steep.

 It did have a stone stairway, made of every large, uneven stones. I got the hang of navigating it but soon grew out of breath. The truth is: I’m in terrible shape (not for my age--I think I do pretty well for someone who is 50-something). But even the 27,000 step day climbing to Floyen didn’t get me ready for this.

I took a number of breaks to get up to the top, but the view was worth it. The waterfall was spectacular but also, we had a magnificent view of the valley. And it was October 12th and the leaves were all turning golden yellow and an occasional wind would send a cascade of color around us.

 Also, we were the only ones here! So I was able to take great 360 photos without other tourists coming up behind me to shoot, not realizing my camera shot in every direction. In Iceland e saw a wonderful waterfall but there had been maybe 100 other tourists there (we’d gone on a tour bus).

We got some bangers and mash for dinner and caught the train back to Myrdal and then to Oslo. We were both pretty worn out.