So I’m still going through the pictures from our recent trip to Germany, Poland, and Norway. This time, my camera seemed to focus on architectural elements. I’ve always had a very strong affinity for all things gothic, so here are some of the better elements – with some baroque mixed in.
Well, the cruise has ended in Bergen, Norway and with it the fine weather. I’d wanted to walk around downtown, but it’s a cold driving rain and very stiff breezes, so we fled back to the hotel so that I could dry out my pants with the hair dryer. This evening, we’re keeping alive our long-cherished custom of trying the local Mexican food restaurant in the different countries we go to. This trip’s adventure in dining is ‘Casa de Toro,’ advertised as Bergen’s only Tex-Mex restaurant. The other rather intriguing option was ‘Tandoori Tapas,’ an Indian/Spanish fusion restaurant (doubtless with a Norwegian twist).
Here’s a fishing village on the way in to Bergen…
This is another black-and-white experiement…
I did manage to get a couple photos of Bergen before I got drenched and wind-swept. This is our hotel, Det Hanseatiske Hotel, in an old Hanseatic trading post, the Finnegaarden, which dates back to 1403. The room has massive wood beams everywhere. It reminds me of my room in the 16th century farmhouse we lived in in Marlesford, Suffolk, England when I was in high school. (If you go to the hotel’s website, our room is the first one that shows – http://www.dethanseatiskehotel.no/en/)
And this just blew me away – have you ever seen a McDonalds like this?! The building dates to 1710. And check out the special being advertised – it appears to be a Big Mac, fries, and a drink for 150 Norwegian Krone – that’s $23.30.
Today was a city tour of Trondheim, Norway’s third largest city and home of the ‘national cathedral,’ the Nidarosdomen, built on the burial site of Norway’s patron saint, Saint Olav (King Olav Haraldsson, canonized in 1031). King Olav was quite the christian zealot – apparently an adherent of ‘my way or the highway.’ The Norwegians of his time weren’t particularly inclined to conversion, but the axe and forced baptisms seemed to have changed some hearts and minds. As the French say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
The Nidarosdomen was begun about 1320 and is an excellent example of Romanesque, Norman, and Gothic styles. Unfortunately we weren’t able to tour inside, but here are some photos from the outside of the cathedral.
We made our way back to the boat via the Nida river, with its many warehouse warfs, the oldest dating to 1750. (The tour guide was quite distressed that none of the vast amounts of oil money Norway has amassed to be set aside to renovate this old shack.)
Trondheim is essentially the last time we can leave the boat until the voyage’s end tomorrow afternoon in Bergen. Cruising today through more fjords – currently over Norway’s deepest at 600 meters. Today’s weather is windy, gray, darkly overcast, and spitting rain. I hope the soup at lunch is as good as yesterday’s; I need a good warm-up and this is perfect soup weather.
On Monday, we stopped in Harstad and toured the area by bus and met up with the ship at Sortland. (We were told that ‘Sortland’ means ‘black land’ in Norwegian, but the town is trying to find a modern claim to fame, so the town council encouraged everybody to paint all the buildings blue. Today it’s known as the bluest town in Europe. Not sure what that gets you…)
The first stop was in the village of Trondenes and its church, which is the most northern Christian gothic church in the world. A lovely little church which is today Lutheran, but it certainly doesn’t look like any Lutheran church I’ve ever been in. Decidedly medieval, the gothic door has Norse ruins carved in it. The alter pieces looked to me to be about 14th century. The floor of the chancel area was black and yellow flagstone. The church had quite an extensive burial ground; the oldest graves dating back to the 1790s.
The afternoon saw a brief stop in Stokmarknes, where we popped into a Norwegian grocery store so Brian could buy hot chocolate (which is apparently contraband on the boat).
As an aside – I continue to be gobsmacked at how outrageously expensive Norway is. Ten packets of hot chocolate came out to about $9 dollars. The evening cocktail approaches $22 each.
About five o’clock, we took a detour through the Trollfjord, a highlight of the cruise. (Typical of Hurtigruten, there was a cocktail created for the occasion which could be purchased at an outrageous price…) The fjord is approximately 3 kilometers long and 100 meters wide, so a bit of a snug fit for the boat, but it provided some great scenery as promised. I’m playing around with the black-and-white feature of my camera, but Ansel Adams I’m not.
Today is mostly at sea, but we did cross the Arctic Circle on our way south. I’ll of course buy the requisite t-shirt to commemorate the event (although we both got certificates).
So I’ve finally managed to get an Internet connection, but it’s slow, slow, slow. We’re in the middle of our Germany-Norway trip. Last week was driving 1,500 kilometers around Germany and Poland…now we’re on the week-long cruise down the coast of Norway. This past day-and-a-half has presented some pretty bleak landscape – definitely what one would expect above the Arctic Circle – but we seem to be coming along to more fjords and glaciers. Here are the pictures so far…