On Top of the World
Norwegian Snow Angle (with skirt)
Solvaer Snow Man
Ellen takes the Cod Liver Oil, Back Across the Arctic Circle
Ellen vs PomPoms
Mai Tai & Apple Pie in Norway? Ja
Yesterday was a long lazy day. Ellen and I finished packing on schedule and put our bags near the elevator and headed off for breakfast. We met Kristen on our way and ate together. Dave slept through breakfast.
The ship’s breakfast selection is varied and good. After 11 days of the same buffet, I was a bit tired of it. The muesli and yoghurt was good, egg with a single very thin slice of bacon was good, the fruit was good. Still some additional variation day to day would have been welcome.
We sat in the Observation Lounge watching the mountains lining the fjord pass by. The weather was gray and foggy over the mountains lining the fjord; good indoor lounging weather. Dave arrived and mentioned we could store our “hand luggage” with Inge in a room beside the auditorium. Dave, Kristen, and I headed back to the lounge. Ellen arrived about 10 minutes later. No surprise, she chatted with Inge for a while.
Sometime later the four of us had lunch together. Again a buffet and again with the same foods, though this time there were trays of last night’s cheese cake. Yum. I must say the deserts served on the Hurtigruten ship were great.
We spend the afternoon before disembarking in the observation lounge. At some point it was time to retrieve our hand luggage. Not wanting to lose our seats, I kiddingly suggested I stay and have Ellen get my bag. I thought this was funny because my bag was quite heavy with a DSLR camera, lens, batteries, binoculars, water, power cables, and some clothes. I thought Ellen and Kristen would balk, but they headed off to get “our stuff”. Later I was told there was a struggle about who would bring the bag up: Dave, Kristen, or Ellen. If my spy is correct, Kristen and Ellen had the bag between them, Dave took it from them, and Kristen then took it away from Dave to carry up the three flights of stairs. They could have taken the elevator, but we typically chose not to. Thanks Guys for letting me be lazy.
Rather than taking the bus from the ferry terminal to Bryggen, we took a cab. I think it was less expensive for two and it was much faster than waiting for a group to disembark, find their baggage, and mount the bus. Then too with the luck we’d had with busses, it might never had made it to Bryggen.
We went to the Radisson Blu, dropped our bags, and walked Bryggen. The shops along old town were open today! Yay! One shop had a variety of Dr Zhivago hats. I thought one would be perfect for Ellen. We stopped in. The shop was a specialty shop that had mink, fox, gray fox, and other furs. The furs are so soft, colorful, warm, and have such beautiful colors it is difficult not to be seduced by them. We wear leather and eat meat from cows regularly. It would be easy to justify purchasing a fur hat thinking that the fox was farmed for its fur just like cow is farmed for its meat and leather. We did not purchase anything. I’m torn even now. The gray fox fur was so gorgeous.
We walked bryggen, had lunch in a converted bank with dramatic columns, retrieved our bags from the Radisson Blu, and took the bus to the airport. The bus stops right in front of the hotel. The trip to the airport was a bit of a surprise. We stopped to pick up passengers three times. Ellen began to question if this was the “express to the airport”. At one of the stops I pointed out the Express Airport sign at the bus stop.
Bryggen Coastal View
Bank now a Resaurant
I had checked into Norwegian Air the night before. I tried to do it on line from a PC and was directed to load an app on my phone. What? No online checking from a computer? I tried a number of different pages then gave up and loaded the Norwegian Air app on my phone. The app is the key to check-in and to getting a e-ticket on your phone. It works remarkably well. We went through two checkpoints with the e-ticket bar code. No passport, no fumbling for papers, just that barcode on the smart phone.
This flight was an hour and a half. We had emergency seats and had an extended discussion about emergency scenarios, people’s behavior, the military, and life in general before takeoff. The flight was nearly empty!
On arrival at Stockholm we found our bags right away and headed to information. How do we best get from the airport to Glama Stan, Stockholm’s old city. The tall blond attractive woman at information suggested we take a taxi explaining that taking a bus for two then a taxi from the town center would cost just about as much at a taxi. Further taxis had a standard rate of between 500 and 600 SEK (roughly 50 to 60 USD). That simplified our dilemma. Outside there were maybe eight rows of taxis waiting for customers. The two drivers to our right began shouting “Taxi Here” and “Where do you want to go”. I took a few steps toward them, realized there were eight rows available, and chose a nice looking volvo for our taxi. The driver was very good and very fast getting right to our hotel. Even so it was a long drive of about 40 minutes in little traffic.
What is that Yellow orb in the Sky?
Af Chapman at Port (er Starboard)
Waiting for the Bus
Great to be Right in Front (not us!)
Only in Sweden.
Bells Rang Out, Not on the Hour!
Stockholm’s Observatory near the University
Historic and Interesting Architecture is Everywhere
They Love love Love lights in Stockholm
The Glass Obelisk, Cranes are Everywhere
The Swedish Moose Everywhere Too!
Not Just Any Kebab!
View Over a Glama Stan Bridge
Walking into Glama Stan
First Hotel Reisen
First Hotel Reisen sits right on the water on the island of Glama Stan. Carlos checked us in and suggested we get a larger room for “a few dollars more”. He said we wouldn’t be happy for three days in the small room I had booked. “Yes, you will have a view of the water”. Ok, we took his advice. The major question at any hotel is: is the bed comfortable. The foam beds on the Hurtigruten ship was really comfortable. The beds at the First Reisen, felt soft at first, but firm under the softness. In fact the bed is extremely comfortable. Again, just as on the ship, the bed has two twin size comforters rather than one king size. This works extremely well. There is no issue with one spouse dragging the covers off the other, which of course never Never happens with Ellen and I!
First Hotel Reisen is a modest and inexpensive hotel. Our room has very little storage for our clothes and the bathroom shower is very small. The room and bathroom are modern with tile and very nice fixtures. All in all I like the room. The restaurant has an abbreviated menu though with Swedish Meatballs on the menu, we were pleased with our dinner. The side of mashed potato was most welcome and the gravy on the meatballs was quite delicious.
Breakfast at the hotel is included and was quite the surprise. The buffet was extensive and sufficiently different than the cruise ship’s that we loved the food. Fresh bread, cheese and cold cuts, fruit, rolls and sweet rolls, three juices, cereals and yoghurt, eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, pickled vegetables, and coffee. Scrumptious!
Right across the water from us sits the Af Chapman, a 3 masted square rigger now used as a youth hostel! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Af_Chapman_(ship) This serves as a landmark for us as we walk a few of the islands of Stockholm.
This morning we took a “hop-on-hop-off” bus to see the city. The brochure states credit cards are accepted and tickets can be purchased on the bus. Not so. Our driver looked confused, shrugged his shoulders, pointed to a bin of red things, and motioning us aboard said,, “take one”. The red things, were ear buds to plug into the sound system that describes points of interest en-route! We found our way to the top deck and listened to the pre-recorded guide of the city. We rode past the the Stockholm Palace, the Vasa Museum, the ABBA Museum, the pedestrian walkway, Central Station, the shopping district, and the Financial District, In the 1960’’s old historic buildings were raised to build a modern shopping center. The plan was to have central shopping in the city with residents living in the suburbs. This decision is controversial in Stockholm today.
After one circuit on the bus, we rode back to a stop near the pedestrian walkway, stopped for a Starbuck cappuccino, then found and walked the pedestrian walkway to the old observatory on a hill overlooking the city and back to Glama Stan.
A Glama Stan Bridge
We had an early dinner at Restaurang Polpette, an italian restaurant. Again Ellen wanted soup. Though soup was not listed on their menu outside, Ellen agreed to go in. We had mushroom soup, and a salami and red pepper pizza. Both the soup and the pizza was remarkable. Unlike the soggy thing I was served in Bryggen, this pizza had thin crispy crust and (bonus) spicy salami. It was great.
Ellen Avoiding at Polpette
Our waiter, Louis, was from Lebanon. He said he would never go back. It’s too dangerous. His mother visited and had a very hard time getting back into sweden. Louis would love to visit the US, but figures he would have a difficult time today. I have to agree. The rampant xenophobia in the US today would create problems.
The sun had set when we left the restaurant and walked “home”. Stockholm is lit up like a Christmas tree in the evening. As with so may other wonderful places in the world, I could easily live here. Unlike in other parts of the world, the women here seem open. They are much more willing to make eye contact and smile than in the US or even Italy. On the bus we were told that Sweden is a secular country and that only 9% of the people of Sweden identify as religious. That is a fantastic statistic.
Tomorrow we will actually pay for a hop-on-off ticket and use the bus to get to the Vasa Museum, the ABBA museum, and perhaps to see a production of Carmen. It is playing here in Stockholm. I’ll have to check date and time. We could “get lucky”.
Carmen at the Opera House?
Close to, but not The Royal Palace
Not the Royal Palace, again!
First Hotel Reisen
Our hotel is right around the corner from the Royal Palace. Assuming it is open to visitors, we’ll “drop by” tomorrow. I want to see the Vasa Museum and how could we not drop in to the ABBA Museum. We could take a boat tour of the city too.
Stockholm is the largest city we have visited since leaving Paris. I really enjoy small towns like Bergen, Trondheim, or Tromso. I can imagine visiting a small town for an extended stay. I could never live in one. Big cities, like Stockholm, appeal on so many levels. I can imaging living in Stockholm. Stockholm, a secular city indeed!