Google+ Badge

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Six Days Until Departure for Camino de Santiago!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Viking Sky, Day 15 (Bergen, Norway, and Home)

Today we went to the airport and flew back to Texas! Ending a cruise is always a bit melancholy for me, but this one had been a lot of work, and our fifth in 10 months, so I was just as happy to be heading home to rest and get back into a normal schedule — until our next trip. 

Viking Sky, Day 14 (Bergen, Norway)

On Friday, September 8, we arrived at Bergen, Norway, our final destination of the cruise, and had a terrific tour of this former Hanseatic League trading city and several historic sites in it. This was an especially important stop for my wife, Diane, as this was the place from which her great-grandparents had immigrated to the United States. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Viking Sky, Day 13 (Eidfjord, Norway)

Overnight we cruised inland more than 100 miles up the Hardangerfjord, fourth largest fjord in the world, to the village of Eidfjord, and while there did some Christmas shopping and visited a nature center where we learned about the flora, fauna, and ecology of Norway. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Viking Sky, Day 12 (Stavanger, Norway)

Arrived in Stavanger, Norway, c. 10 a.m., about the time that I got up, and I got some coffee and then worked in my cabin, mostly on updating my TravelBlogue, until going to lunch at noon. Went back to the room after that and worked for an hour before going ashore for a two-hour walking tour of the city, which included a visit to the surprisingly interest Oil Museum (below top), the cathedral, and the old historic district.
Stavanger is the third-largest city in Norway and is widely referred to as the "Oil Capital" of the country because of its booming offshore oil industry, which remains a pillar of the local economy. It is located on the Stavanger Peninsula in Southwest Norway and was established officially in 1125, the year that Stavanger Cathedral was completed (shown at right). Much of its heart is dominated by 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses, some of which can be seen in the image at bottom, which are considered to be an important part of the Stavanger's cultural heritage and contributes to its prevailing small-town ambiance.

Breakfast: Black coffee. 

Lunch: Small piece of marinated and grilled Arctic chard, pureed cauliflower, stewed mushrooms, five sauteed shrimp, some green pasta with crab meat, one glass of red wine, and a scoop of chai gelato in a cone.
Bottom: A glimpse of Stavanger from my stateroom aboard Viking Sky while in port that shows the monument to Admiral Thore Horve, who led the Royal Norwegian Navy from 1946-49 and in 1951. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Viking Sky, Day 11 (Aalborg, Denmark)

Arrived in Aalborg, Denmark, c. 8 a.m. Went to bed late, did not sleep well, and got up early, and so was not up for more than a cup of coffee for breakfast (something that I subsequently regretted just a little bit). 

Met on the pier for our 10 a.m. "Danish Beer and Walking Tour," a three-hour overview of the city by local guide Lars Bech (at left in the orange jacket), which included stops at three local pubs and two samples of beer at each. Would have enjoyed a snack with these, but it is not the first time beer has been the first thing I have had to eat on a particular day and it probably won't be the last, and the samples were fairly small and did not hit me hard (probably the equivalent of just two regular beers total). 

Our first stop was at the John Bull Pub, founded by a Lebanese immigrant to Denmark who won the lottery in the 1980s and used the funds to open the establishment. Had an Ugly Duck IPA and a Guiness there. 

Next stop was Heidi's Beer Pub, which had club music playing, prompting me to make an unevenly-received quip about "Electronic Danes Music." Had a couple glasses of Tuborg Classic here (as indicated on the taps that appear at right). Enjoyed the beer but could tell this was the place we would be least likely to return to if we were ever back in Aalborg on our own. 

Last stop was at Sogaard's Bryghus, a former church that is now a brewery and where I enjoyed a couple glasses of its own terrific dark beer. Diane and I had a nice chat there with Mark and Karen from Santa Fe, New Mexico, quite possibly the only couple on the cruise younger than us. 

Was ready for lunch when we got back after 1 p.m. and we headed straight up to the Restaurant. Was feeling a little harried by the time we were finishing up, however, as I had less than two hours to proof and print out my final presentation and get cleaned up for it, and so took my cof
fee with me and headed back to the cabin to finish getting ready.

Arrived at the theater 20 minutes ahead of my presentation to get wired up, set up the computer, etc., and then right at 4 p.m. jumped into "Aesir & Vanir: Gods & Goddesses of the Vikings." Had a decent turnout and it appeared to be well-received and I was glad for the extra work I had put into getting ready for it. 

Napped for about an hour in the room and then went to Dr. Robyn Woodward's excellent and lavishly-illustrated lecture on "The Vikings: Raiders, Traders, & Explorers," which had an emphasis on archaeology, her specialty. Was very gratified to have her refer back to my earlier presentation on mythology a couple of times. 

Were tired, and had already had lunch in the Restaurant, and so we decided to have dinner in the World Cafe, where we ran into our shipboard friends Jay and Audrey from L.A. and invited them to sit with us. 

Went back to the room after dinner and then headed out again around 1
0 p.m. to get a cup of coffee preparatory to working a few hours. Bumped into my shipboard friend Howard, a former teacher from New York, and accepted his generous offer of a glass of limoncello and chatted with him for awhile. 

Back in the room, worked on updating my TravelBlogue and a few other things and then read until I started to fall asleep around 2 a.m. 

Breakfast: One cup of black coffee, six small glasses of beer. 

Lunch: Vietnamese-style pork burger on baguette, shrimp chips, two glasses of red wine, with some brown rice pudding and coffee for desert. 

Dinner: Three types of chilled fish, pickled herring, spiced herring, and smoked sturgeon, which I opted for because they are a specialty of the region we are in. A glass of the Scandinavian aperitif Aquavit would be a traditional accompaniment with these dishes but, as I was already kind of tired, I figured it would just knock me out and decided to just have a beer with them instead. Moved on to a nice slice of roasted lamb shoulder with bearnaise sauce, a minced venison patty with mushrooms and onions, and some pureed celery, along with a couple glasses of red wine. 

A view of Alborg from the Royal Pier, which our ship had access to in the absence of a visit from Queen Margrethe's yacht. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Viking Sky, Day 10 (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Monday we arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, and took a tour of the city that started with a visit to the beloved Little Mermaid statue! We also made stops at a fountain dedicated to the Norse goddess Gefjon, believed to have created the main island of Denmark; the residence of the royal family; and Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest still-operating amusement parks in the world. 

A statue in Copenhagen of the Norse goddess Gefjon, who is credited with creating the main Danish island of Zealand by plowing up a vast area of land in Sweden, thereby creating a lake there. Her team of bulls are her four sons, who she transformed for these purposes.