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Thread: Not cold here

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    Default Not cold here

    It has been said that travel improves the mind, but to do so the mind must at first be open.
    Many who travel do so with preconceived concepts of cities, peoples, cultures and styles.
    This often brings about disappointment, as in many instances reality does not live up to expectations.

    There were no such preconceived concepts in regards to Norway, a nation of which I knew little.
    Oslo the capital, the nations prowess in winter sports, and the origin of Vikings was the limit of my understanding in the country.

    I was to discover a nation of many wonders, of great natural beauty, a beauty that is bold, raw and arrogant, but which must be seen in life to fully appreciate. Photos do not do justice to the wild and rugged country side.

    Cities of all sizes from Oslo at some 1 million to Stavanger at 140, 000.
    Houses may of wood with high sloping roofs, gayly painted in Crimson, Blue, Yellow or White.
    Small hamlets with no more than a dozen houses in obscure settings so far from civilization in wild country side.

    Houses with grass roofs to reduce heat loss, where Goats are used to keep that grass at comfortable levels. Reindeer that stroll unashamedly across the land, moving in keeping with the seasons to ensure prime conditions at all times.

    Mountains that stretch out across the land, snow capped for much of the year with breath taking views from the tops, many of which are within easy reach. 1100 fjords and thousands of small islands that make the country what it is.

    Fishing villages giving the appearance of being cut off from the world, but providing great value as a food source. Their nets hang in the breeze with fish drying on racks as they have done so for millennium.

    A county of great wealth, one of the richest there is. Hydro electric being the main source of power at some 95% allowing for the highest number per capita of electric cars. Houses mainly heated by electricity but with many still relying on wood burning fires for heating. Oil and Gas in abundance allows for major exports in such. A friendly people making all welcome and ever willing to show the wonders of the country to those willing to view.

    Stavanger, the first port of call, is set in the South of the country. An old town where the cobbled stoned roads meander up and down and with a Cathedral of unusual style. The front half is in Anglo Norman style with the rear being Gothic, unchanged since the 14th Century.
    There is also the largest collection of wooden houses from the 18th and 19th centuries considered as national heritage monuments. In the center a market with stalls set in a manner that is far removed from the conventional market concept purveying all manner of goods with foods and materials very often from the one stall.
    A charming city which as a gate way to the nations for many travelers it sets the scene for what is to come.

    Flam, the second port of call, is one such as I have never seen before. The quay, short in length, is less than half that of the ship but of sufficient size to ensure both gangways may be used.
    The view at first from the height of my balcony was that of a fairy tale.

    The railway station with train in place, one of the steepest rail climbs in the world. The station masters cottage, a collection of small houses all colorful in nature with small central gardens giving the setting a country feel. As I gazed out on this such was the expectations that at any moment the Dwarfs followed by Snow White would appear.
    Some millions of years past the exquisite scenery was carved out by waters and glaciers. Once they receded the l;and was left with fjords hemmed in by rugged cliffs.
    Into the town, a story book village tucked in the folds of near by mountains along side ice blue bays giving the appearance of a mythical kingdom. A church within considered to be the best preserved within Norway. Built without nails or bolts the church has stood here since 1150.
    A town of grace and splendor, serenity and expectation which would gladden the heart of any weary traveler.
    Flam is Norse for a small meadow surrounded by steep mountains.

    Geiranger, a region where people have lived for some 13,000 years, where temperatures vary between 37F in January to 57F in July along with some 48 inches of rain per year. This is Western Norway's Sunnmore region.

    Geiranger church, the current one constructed in 1842 is the third such on this spot, the first being erect around1450. The structure covers such a vast area set with some four smaller churches within. The architecture is hard to understand how man without the aid of modern day tools and equipment could construct such a monument.

    Geirangerfjord is Norway’s most spectacular Fjord, it is unique and exceptionally beautiful with high water falls , abandoned mountain farms, snow covered peaks and lush green vegetation. Classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
    The road to the top of Mount Dalanibba is winding with a very slow climb to the 1500 meter summit.
    Snow still remains in parts though by mid August it will be gone, to begin its return in early October.
    From the summit the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains can be seen. They are the steepest and most unusual on the entire west coast. Foaming waterfalls plunge into the Fjord from the jagged peaks creating wondrous scenes at every turn of the long and winding road.

    Trondheim, Norway’s oldestt major city, according to ancient legend Viking King Olav Tryggvason established a town here at the mouth of the Nidelva River, a situation that could protect the town from invaders. After an attempt on his life in 988 he converted to Christianity, and as the first Christian king commissioned missionaries to spread the new religion. Canonized after his death in battle in 1030 a shrine was set for him in Nidaros Cathedral.

    This cathedral is one of the most unique to be found in Norway or any other country.
    Built on the grave of the patron saint the Gothic style is the largest Medieval building in Scandinavia and Norway most important church.
    This Cathedral has to be seen to fully understand the mind of the architect and builders.
    It was constructed over a period of almost 100 years and seeing the design and workmanship one can come to understand why. Stone masons were brought in from many countries during construction, but the concept of churches with in a Cathedral makes it very unique.
    Walk through and see how what in many others such cathedrals are mainly side altars are here churches. Far larger than any side altar they are full, though small, churches in their own right.

    Along side is the Archbishop's Palace, it is the oldest secular building in Norway. From 1556 was the residence of the Danish government.

    Friday June 21st. Longest day of the year we entered the Arctic Circle, staying within for the next four days.

    At this time of year there is no sunset so permanent daylight, this goes on for about ten weeks with a similar period the other end of the year when there is no sunrise so permanent darkness.

    The country has an interesting history.
    The Kalamar union with Denmark and Sweden occurred in 1397, but Sweden left in1523 leaving Norway as the senior partner.
    The reformation of 1537 brought the monarchy to the nation in 1661.
    In 1905 Norway split with Sweden to become the independent nation it is today.

    They are the world 5th largest exporter of oil bringing in some $40 billion per year.

    But for those of you interested in 'Climate Change' here is the rub.

    By 2035 they wish to see all petrol and diesel vehicle off the road replace by electric cars, this they claim will bring emissions down to zero, but they will continue to export oil and gas at record levels.

    End of part one.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    Part Two


    Honningsvag is the gate way to the North Cape. It is the furthest northernplace in Norway and though well in the arctic circle by some 500 klm,, and 2,000 south of the North Pole it has a sub Arctic climate due to the warm and swift gulf stream current.
    The town, officialy recognizededas such in 1996 sits in the bay of the southwest coast of Magerya island in the Barents sea.

    There is a very large tourist complex which has restaurants, souvenir shop, film shows of the region, a history section and a post office where cards with a post mark of the North Cape can be sent.

    The Sami 1,000 foot cliffs from which this overlooks are amongst some of the most spectacular in the country.
    Snow sits on most for much of the year, Reindeer grazing, Puffins in great numbers and King Crabs all under the watchful eye of the midnight sun.

    Seven large round concrete disks, one for each continent, sit to one side of the complex. Here seven girls from the continents spent a week here some years ago as part of world peace week.
    There is a large globe inside if which is a line. To one side the Atlantic, the other the Pacific.

    In December we had been in Dunedin NZ, almost the furthest south before the South Pole, now the furthest point north before the North Pole. Both ends within six months. But a strict contrast in climate, natural beauty and weather patterns.

    It was during WW2 that the battle of the North Cape took place.
    Lying in considered shallow waters is the German battle ship Scharnhorst. Along with the Tirpitz had entered the region in early December.
    Tirpitz escaped but the Scharnhorst was not so lucky, damaged by the British battle ship 'Duke of York' and escorts she sank on December 26 1943, only 32 survived.

    Though the area is subject to heavy snow falls for much of the year roads are kept open by snow plough as the people of Norway spend much of their leisure time walking or hiking around the country side.
    The day was cool, a broken clouded sky, bright sun light, temperature of 8 degrees C and a wind chill factor of minus 15 C.

    I was dressed for the occasion in shoes, not my normal style, shorts, Tee shirt, jumper with the sleeves up, leather hat and sunnies. Most were dressed like Eskimos.

    Walking across the forecourt I heard,
    'Give me five man, shorts in the Arctic, way to go'
    A Yank, who else, dressed the same as me, we ended up having a beer together later in the day.


    Tromso became a city in1794 and sits within the arctic circle on the island of Tromezya. Because of the Gulf Ream it has the warmest climate at this high altitude in the world. It is also the largest city in northern Norway and home to the most northern University in the world.

    It began life in about 890, first settled at the end of the ice age, with the arrival of the Vikings.
    The first church was built here in the 13th century and for some time was the most northern church in the world. In 1794, with a population of just 80 residents it was given the status of city.
    By the 19th century it was dubbed the 'Paris of the North'.

    The Northern Lights are visible from here from about mid August and late April.
    There are number of musuem illustrating the various stages of the regions history including an Arctic museum which houses a number of Seals on show.

    Many Arctic expeditions have set out from here and was home in the 17th century to Whale hunters.

    In the city center stands the Tromso Cathedral, built in 1861 it is the only wooden one there is. It stands in contrast to the more famous Tromso Cathedral built in 1965.
    The view from the top of mount Storsteinen is quite spectacular with a 360 degree view of the city and lake Prestvannet.

    Leaving Tromso was a problem, it has a very limited access and requires a specialized pilot, though one had been asked for there were none available so the ship had to take a longer route.
    The result was late arrival at Gravdal, port for the Lofoten Islands.

    This is an archipelago of five large and five small islands scattered around the Norwegian sea some 124 miles above the arctic circle.

    This region was developed by the Sami people drawn here by the abundance of Cod thousands of years before the Viking arrived in the 8th century.
    The Lofoten Viking museum has the largest Viking structure remaining in Europe.
    Dated at least 1500years old it is believed to have been the property of an important Viking chieftain.

    There is a replica Viking long boat and viewing it makes one wonder just hwo they travelled so far in what would have been rough seas to reach England. Tough men in tough conditions.

    On the shores of the Burknes Fjord is the Burknes church in what is known as the Dragesti or dragon style, a popular design in the late 19th century.
    At the southwestend of the iisland sits a fishing village known for the 'Rorbus' small red cabins built on stilts, once the home of fishermen but now preserved as holiday homes.


    Alesund, sitting on a peninsula on the west coast of the Norwegian sea.
    Of great interest the living museum of Sunnmere. Here it is possible to experience what life may been like a thousand years ago, tough times with only basic amenities and a simple life style.

    The toughest job that of the night man. He was the man who at night emptied the 'toilets' of the residents, took away dead animals from the streets, prepared victims for execution then had to clean up the mess, bury the body and row the head across to a nearby island where it would be placed on a stake.
    No one would ever consider allowing their daughter to marry such a man, so the nighty-men of all local towns got together advertising for other night men to allow their daughters to marry them. It worked.

    An ocean rich in Cod and Salmon brought the early settlers here,about 9000 years ago. By the 8th century the area was a major Viking trading region. In 1904 the town was destroyed by fire loosing some 800 houses, but thee years late it was once again a thriving town.

    The island of Sage has been inhabited since the Bronze age and was the birthplace of the Viking Rollo who founded the Duchy of Normandy in France. Ancient burial mounds have revealed artifacts of Gold, Silver and Bronze dating back before the arrival of the Vikings.

    Bergen was the final port of call, it is about321 miles from the capital of Oslo.

    For some 900 years Bergen has lived with the legacy of the Vikings fROM about 800 AD to 1066 AD.
    Viking traders traveled around the coast of Europe, along the lakes and rivers of Russia and Germanyand as far as central Asia. Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre.

    The major export of the city was for generation dried Cod making it the largest Scandinavian city until mid 19th century.

    The city has some 400 year old drying sheds for the Cod now rated by UNESCO as heritage listed.
    The cobbled streets lead to King Hakon's hall completed in 1261 to celebrate royal weddings.

    Along the front is 13th century Bergenhus fortress, the largest medieval castle in Norway. The old city during it's heyday in the 18th and 19th century made it look very much like a fairy tale village.

    About 11,000 years ago the entire area was ice covered. Massive glaciers carved out the present landscape, long Fjords that are hemmed in by cliffs of some 3,500 feet tall.

    Overall Norway has been the unexpected jewel in the Scandinavian crown, a land of vast and everlasting beauty. Unsure of what to find on arrival we are now more than pleased with what we saw.
    A place to consider for a second visit.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    Hi John
    your post was very good, great read.
    I sailed on a couple of Norsky cargo ships. Never ate so much FISH in my life.
    Graham R774640

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    Working for a Norwegian based outfit with its office in haugesund I got the chance to spend time there on conferences and office visits and found that the natives were great friendly people, especially towards us British. Also used to load chemicals occasionally in Norwegian ports giving us a chance to see the fabulous scenery. odda, 126 miles of pilotage up to hardangerfjiord was particularly great passage as was a quick dive into Flekkafjiord to recover both anchors that had walked out overnight after the idiot mate had not put the lashings on correctly leading to a flooded chain locker and vocals store.
    Rgds
    J.A.

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    Hi John.
    Funny you saying about Norway being a big exporter of oil, I spent six months running petrol and other oil products from the UK to Norway Denmark and Sweden back in 51 we went up to a port in the Arctic Circle, can't remember the name but boy weas it cold.
    Des

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    I went to Norway back in 1969 as part of my solo trip around Europe. I went in winter as it was cheaper a point that was emphasised by a lady with whom I stayed up there in Oslo. She said only 2 types of people come to Norway this time of year, rich Americans and.....poor Australians!
    The people were great as I found most of Scandinavians to be. I liked it much better than the other parts of Europe at that time, probably as travelling solo did bring it's problems. Glad you had a good time.

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    Quote Originally Posted by Des Taff Jenkins View Post
    Hi John.
    Funny you saying about Norway being a big exporter of oil, I spent six months running petrol and other oil products from the UK to Norway Denmark and Sweden back in 51 we went up to a port in the Arctic Circle, can't remember the name but boy weas it cold.
    Des

    Des, in Sweden it was most likely Lulea at the top of the gulf there. Did a run in December 64, it was bloody cold mate.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    Always like reading the Travels of you and Terri John,thanks once again for a good insight of the places and things you did
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Wonderful item John. Thank you. Spouse and self did the 12-day Hurtigruten voyage, Bergen to Kinsarvik and return, some years back. We have also enjoyed two coach tours through Norway. Terrific country. Memorable was an occasion when the locals built a large bonfire on the beach and lit same at midnight in bright sunlight for all nearby to dance around. For anyone staying in Oslo, spend a little time at the War Museum on the western end of the waterfront if the German occupation history is of interest. (Am presuming its site remains unchanged)

    KenT
    R412277

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    Default Re: Not cold here

    Ken you are so right, one of the friendliest nations we have been to.

    Interesting point about the houses, 90% are timer ones but with the cheap electricity and insulations they are some of the warmest there are.
    The timber is a semi hard wood, lasts well in the climate and when burning gives off great levels of heat
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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