A Travellerspoint blog

August 2014

Oslo, Norway

Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Rain squalls, threatening sky and a blustery wind restricted my adventures out on the open deck this morning. It was still quite dark when we took aboard the pilot who guided the ship into the port of Oslo where the ship was made fast by 10:00. The passage up the fjord passed numerous small settlements of quaint houses.

We have a booked tour here and by 13:00 we were assembled in the theatre, checked off and led out to our coach for the city tour. First stop the National Gallery to view artworks by Edvard Munch including his famous painting "The Scream". Then on to Holmenkollen to see the famous ski-jump. Some more artistic culture in the 80-acre Vigeland Sculpture Park where over 200 sculptures by a single artist are on display. Then back to the ship, the whole time being plied with facts and stories of Norwegian history and today's life in Norway by a most pleasant and competent guide. Norway has a scant 5 million residents and enjoys an unemployment rate of only 2%.

Back in time to prepare for dinner, our first meal in the Symphony dining room. Shortly after we finished our meal the ship left her berth and bade Oslo farewell to the tune of the 'Love Boat' theme played on the ship's horns.

On our way to the open sea we passed a small inhabited island with many small homes that looked like doll's houses. That is today's image at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-08-31.

Tomorrow we visit Gothenburg in Sweden.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 11:16 Archived in Norway Comments (3)

Boarding the Royal Princess

Saturday, 30 August 2014

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After another excellent breakfast we returned to our room and packed our cases. The official 'check-in' time for the ship is 13:00 so there was no rush to leave. It was raining so we decided to just sit in the lounge and read our Kindle. We requested a taxi at 11:45 and five minutes later we were on our way.

The trip to the Cruise Ship Terminal was relatively short and to my surprise there were six cruise ships in port, three large ones at one pier and three smaller ships at the older terminal. Additionally there were terminals for domestic ferry services. Unfortunately the weather precluded any decent photos but we may rectify that in 11 days when we return to Copenhagen. The Royal certainly stands head and shoulder above the other two ships that were lined up behind her.

Check-in was most efficient and after a short delay at the security scan station we had our cruise cards and walked aboard. Some guests appeared to take longer to check-in and I asked why. Our lovely check-in lady explained that depending on the nationality some guests required upward of 5 visas, all of which had to be verified. We Australians didn't require any.

Despite the size of the ship the layout wasn't difficult to figure out. There was just so much more of it !! The Horizon Court Buffet, Deck 16 Aft, comprised a bewildering array of servery stations and it will take some time to work out what's available and where. We picked up a quick meal and had no trouble finding some seating. It was interesting to observe a party of eight trying to find a table big enough to accommodate them all. It just didn't happen, there were very few that big and all that I saw were occupied, so much easier travelling as a couple.

Went down to Deck 5 and explored the dining room, the Passenger Services desk and the Shore Excursions. All very busy given the many new passengers embarked today. Looked in on the Theatre on Deck 6 and 7, it is big but time will tell if it is big enough.

When we returned to our cabin the baggage was there so we spent some time unpacking. The cabin is the most spacious we've experienced and should be most comfortable.

Muster station drill at 17:00 was well conducted and we faced the climb up five decks back to Aloha deck 12. for no good reason we're both a bit weary and have decided that a quick meal from the buffet would suffice. While we were up there we watched the ship push off from the wharf and back out into the channel and head out to sea for the overnight journey to Oslo.

Looks like the WiFi from the cabin should work, fingers crossed.

No great images but there's one of the midship section of the ship at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-08-30

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 10:56 Archived in Denmark Comments (1)

Copenhagen - Day Two

Friday, 29 August 2014

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Awoke to an overcast sky but no actual rain - yet. Locals are almost universally wearing coats and jackets. We enjoyed our buffet breakfast and met two couples who are also sailing on the Royal Princess.

After breakfast we set out to do part of a walking tour described on one of the free tourist maps. The route took us towards the City Centre and through the University area. The cobbled streets wound their way between stately old buildings, lots of cafés and into bewildering 'squares' with many unidentified lanes and small streets. There were signs on the corners of most streets but not all were identified on the map.

We eventually found our way to the Nyhavn, an area beside a canal flanked by various sailing vessels on one side and a continuous string of outdoor eateries on the other. Very picturesque but somewhat subdued by the overcast sky. The prices for breakfast appeared rather steep Kr 99 for bacon, egg, toast, cheese and tea or coffee. That's over AU$ 20 and makes our included breakfast at the hotel a bargain.

We arrived at the Amalienborg Castle about an hour before the 12:00 'Changing of the Guard'. There weren't many of us at that time but by 11:45 people were 10 and 12 deep around a section of the square. There were no barriers just a jovial older policeman who politely asked the front row to stand behind the black line. We watched as he asked a rather large lady to move back and then encouraged a small girl to come forward, all very lighthearted and civilised.

While we waited we fell into a conversation with an American and a Canadian couple, all of whom are booked on the Royal Princess. That make four couples we've met and aren't even aboard yet !! The actual "Change of the Guard" was a low key event and once the New Guard had been posted the crowd dissipated and the square was almost deserted again.

As we were near the Marble Church (Frederik's Church) we stopped to look inside. It is built as a complete circle with a massive 31 meter dome, the largest church dome in Scandinavia. Unfortunately, like much of Copenhagen it was engulfed in scaffolding and construction equipment making it difficult to see the outside in any detail.

A brief shower encouraged us to don our rain-jackets but the rain didn't amount to anything much.

We were back at the hotel by about 13:15, about four hours after we'd set out. Some hot drinks and biscuits in the lounge and up to our room to download our photos and for me to record the morning's events.

Looks like the rain has set in for the afternoon so spent a few hours reading and snoozing. By 18:00 figured we should blow the budget and have a meal at a proper Danish restaurant. I found a place on the Internet but decided to ask Victoria at reception, she recommended "Koefoed" just a block away.

It was a basement setting with sheep-skins on the seats, very stylish and frighteningly expensive. I asked the waitress for her recommendation and she pointed to a five dish "taster" offering, we baulked at the DK 600 each and settled for a main course from the regular menu. Jenny had a pork dish while I had a beef, both quite minimalist meals, looked great but not a lot to them. With a shared cheese platter and a cup of coffee for me I was somewhat taken aback when the total came to DK 710. I reluctantly added a small gratuity to round it out to DK 750.
For a once-of experience Denmark is a great place but I'm glad we're here for two days and not a week. By all accounts Norway is even more expensive, certainly makes the cruise ship look very affordable.

We board the ship tomorrow so this will be the last upload from Copenhagen. First impressions of the Royal Princess tomorrow.

This link should take you to today's image of the Palace Guards http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-08-29

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 10:58 Archived in Denmark Comments (3)

Copenhagen - Day One

Thursday, 28 August 2014

View 2015-02 South America & 2014-09 Royal Princess on greynomadm's travel map.

Got up this morning after about 15 hours sleep and felt almost refreshed. A lovely hot shower and a delicious buffet breakfast and we were just about ready for anything.

The lovely lady at Reception marked some highlights on our map and we set off Northward to find the "Little Mermaid". We walked for quite a while and finally located her surrounded by bus-loads of foreign tourists !! Not exactly 'surrounded" but certainly obstructing her.

On our way there we walked through an old fortification surrounded by earth ramparts and moats. Everything beautifully maintained and so clean. It is a pleasure to walk through a city where public buildings and art-works are not defaced by mindless graffiti.

On our way Southward towards the City Centre we struck up a conversation with a British couple who were off a cruise ship that was in port. They walked with us for a while and eventually wandered off to do their own thing. Jenny found a place marked on the map for fine handmade chocolates. It was like entering an exclusive jewelry store, each chocolate like and exquisite piece of jewelry. Tempting and all as they were, they were a little out of our price range.

Wandered some more along the NorthEastern edge of the main square and found our way to the Rosenborg Slot - from Wikipedia -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenborg_Castle "Rosenborg Castle (Danish: Rosenborg Slot) is a renaissance castle located in Copenhagen, Denmark. The castle was originally built as a country summerhouse in 1606 and is an example of Christian IV's many architectural projects. It was built in the Dutch Renaissance style, typical of Danish buildings during this period, and has been expanded several times, finally evolving into its present condition by the year 1624. Architects Bertel Lange and Hans van Steenwinckel the Younger are associated with the structural planning of the castle."

Walked back through the gardens and then a short walk back to the Hotel. By the time we got there we were both quite weary and enjoyed a juice and a cup of coffee before crashing out for a snooze.

Went out for another stroll about 17:00 and we were surprised at the number of bicycles on the road. Many riders were in business attire and the wearing of helmets appears optional. There is a great variety of bicycle styles from the more sedate erect single speed through mountain bike and multi-geared models. There are also some strange adaptations with the front wheel well out from the rider's position. Many of the cobbled sidewalks have two narrow concrete strips whether for bikes or prams/pushers I couldn't determine.

I spotted a petrol station where diesel was priced at DK10.3 per litre which roughly translates to just over AU$2 per litre, no wonder there are so many bikes.

It has been a very warm day and with daylight savings time at 19:00 it was still quite warm and bright outside but we were getting a bit foot-sore so calling it a day. Tomorrow is another full day and we'd like to visit the Queen's Palace and observe the 'Changing of the Guard' which occurs at 12:00. We were considering the Tivoli Gardens but decided that we just weren't up to an amusement park, even one that was the inspiration for Disneyland !!

More from Copenhagen tomorrow.

This link should take you to today's image of the "Little Mermaid" http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-08-28

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 10:06 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Dubai and Beyond

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

View 2015-02 South America & 2014-09 Royal Princess on greynomadm's travel map.

We left Sydney close to 21:00 aboard a packed airbus A380-800 about 500 passengers aboard. The facilities were nothing short of outstanding with an amazing selection of movies to watch. There was also a view from the tailplane looking over the length of the aircraft, one on the nose looking forward and one in the middle looking down. Nothing much to look at after we'd taken off and a brief light show on landing.
The in-cabin service was excellent and the meals as good as any airline food we've had. The only exception would be when we once flew QANTAS Business Class to and from New York, that was an experience.

Two of the movies I watched were "Avatar" and "Railway Man". Both excellent ways to while away some of the 14 hours we were in the air.

It is 0615 Dubai time as I type this and despite a decent breakfast aboard the aircraft I'm feeling peckish and could murder a cup of decent coffee. More after we get to Copenhagen.

The impression of the airport was that of a refugee camp where thousands of people of every colour and ethnic origin sat, squatted and huddled on just about any horizontal surface. People stood about eagerly waiting for someone to vacate a seat in order to pounce on it. The ladies toilet was another disaster with a queue of dozens waiting to relieve themselves.

When our flight was called this third world impression was not diminished, our weary legs traipsed down six flights of stairs and escalators that weren't functioning. The 'gate keeper' had curtly stated "Down the stairs" not even suggesting the lift. Perhaps it wasn't working!! Next, two ineffective Immigration officials who minutely examined some passports, curtly glanced at others and took time out to answer the phone while the queue grew. Herded onto a crowded bus, fortunately well air-conditioned in the 36 °C heat. We then started on a journey with many stops and starts to the other side of the airport where we climbed the stairs into the B777 aircraft. The chaos didn't end there !! Some genius had directed another bus to the rear stairs and we, moving from the front to the rear, fought for space with the other party finding their way to the front all the while dodging those who had found their seats and we trying to stow their luggage in the overhead bins.

There's an image of the airport at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-08-27

My impression of Dubai airport ?? I had expected something glamorous, modern and efficient like Singapore but was sadly disappointed.
Once settled into our seats the crew handed out warm damp towelettes which went a long way to refresh my sense of humour and continued to provide, drinks and meals at regular intervals. I had the pleasure of a bright young woman from Brisbane as my seating companion. We chatted and whiled away the almost seven hours to Copenhagen.

Our arrival was not too tedious with only reasonable delays at Immigration and then waiting for our baggage. Once loaded onto the complementary trolley we wheeled it out to the taxi rank. All very classy Mercedes. Our driver was from Serbia, now a Danish citizen who spoke excellent English and piloted us to the Christian IV Hotel. The fare was a bit steep but I was in no mood to find our way on the trains.

The Hotel is 'QUAINT', a very ancient building with a tiny reception desk. A lovely pleasant lady who spoke perfect English and quickly provided us with a key. The quaint nature was exemplified in the tiny lift - 3 persons or 250 kg. Just room for Jenny, her suitcase and carry-on. The room is comfortable with adequate facilities and a soft comfortable BED !!

We both stripped off our outer gear and crashed at about 15:30 local time.

I'm writing this at 06:00 on Thursday having pretty much slept for the past 14 hours.

More from Copenhagen tomorrow. Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:22 Archived in Denmark Comments (1)

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