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We had planned a trip to Bergen, Norway and after we had finished planning it we noticed that the Tall Ships were going to be gathering in Stavanger so we decided to take the coastal bus to Stavanger from Bergen. We arrive mid afternoon and immediately headed down to the harbor to look at the tall ships. We spent the better part of three days looking at the tall ships. The best time was early in the morning. There were very few people around and the water in the harbor was very calm.

More photos from the Tall Ships Races in Stavanger can be found on my website.

While in the states we had visited the tall ships in Duluth, Minnesota. Typically they have 8 ships. The crowds are so large that it is almost impossible to tour the ships and it costs an arm and a leg. One of the ships that visited Duluth was also at Stavanger. In Duluth it was the largest ship in Stavanger it was parked by a ship that made it look like a rowboat. The best part of Stavanger was that almost all of the ships could be visited free and there was no fee to visit the docking area. Oh did I mention there were 67 ships. The Tall Ships Races will be visiting Bergen and  Fredrikstad Norway in 2019. Both would be great places to view the ships. Thinking of going back for the 2019 race.

It was a great place for photographers. One had an 8X10 view camera.

I took a few closeups of the Figureheads on the prows of the ships. I think the last item is intended to keep the rats off of the ships.

I love taking reflections shots and there plenty of opportunities at the Tall Ships Races.

There were plenty of opportunities to listen to music during the event. A number of the ships hosted musicians and there were music venues around the harbor.

 

Lots of things for the kids to do during the event. Various skills required in shipbuilding were featured.

One evening we returned from a tour and it was almost dark. As we were walking back to our hotel we noticed lots of people all looking at the sky. It took us a while to figure out that they were having evening fireworks. Somehow we had overlooked this on the schedule of events.

The great thing about the event was that almost everything was free. We have been to a number of ship events in the states and they charge an arm and a leg just to look at them. Almost all of the ships could be toured free of charge. The vessel from India was very popular and the crew was always up to something. Lots of fun.

 

Not all of the ships were large.

Portable shower and laundry facilities were provided.

Lots of food available along the harbor.

On the final day the ships were getting ready to leave port. Early in the morning the crews were being briefed and then they started to raise the sails. Unfortunately we had a plane to catch and missed the ships sailing out of the harbor.

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We initially made reservations for Bergen but when we found out that Stavanger was having a Tall Ships Festival we decided to travel from Bergen to Stavanger. There were a variety of options but looking at reviews on the internet we decided to take the Coastal Bus. It turned out to be a good decision. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was outstanding on the five hour trip.

A few shots of small towns along the coast.

The highlights of the trip were two ferry rides. We lined up to catch the first ferry.

This individual was rowing along on the water next to the ferry terminal.

Leaving the ferry dock. This was the longer of the two ferry rides. It was very convenient. The bus drove on and we were able to get out a enjoy the ferry ride. We spent most of our time walking around on the outside deck.

There were a number of fish farms along the ferry ride.

The ferry had a nice cafe with a variety of foods.

This was the second ferry.  We encountered a number of coastal express ferry’s along the way.

The bus stopped at a number of small towns along the route.

We arrived in Stavanger early in the afternoon and checked into our hotel before heading down to see the tall ships.

 

 

We arrived in Bergen via the Norway in a Nutshell tour from Oslo. It was late in the evening and raining a bit so we headed for our hotel and grabbed a bite to eat before calling it a day. We were only going to be in Bergen for a day so we new it would likely be a long one. Early in the morning we walked down toward the harbor. On the way we noticed a postman delivering mail using this interesting cart.

More photos from our day in Bergen can be found on my website.

We passed the McDonalds Restaurant. Much different from what we see in the states.Our immediate goal was to catch the Funicular to Fløyen. We arrived early and were able to catch the second car to Fløyen.

We we reached the top there were some spectacular views of Bergen and the Fjord. The fog was rolling in and out which made it even more spectacular. Later in the morning the fog was mostly gone.

There were some nice hiking trails in Fløyen but we didn’t have time to take them. We did walk through an area that was set up for kids.

They even had some goats which were a popular attraction.

By the time we rode the Funicular back down the line to take it to the top was very long and stretched for several blocks. We concluded that the cruise ships had disgorged their passengers. We felt very lucky that we had arrived early.

We walked down to the fish market from the Funicular. We were a bit disappointed in the fish market. When we were in Bergen 20 years ago they were selling fish off of the boats. On the positive side the fish market is much better than Oslo’s.

We continued walking along the harbor. There were some great shots as we walked along the harbor.

We noticed one sailing ship docked in the harbor. We assumed that it was on its way to Stavanger and the Tall Ships Race. This happened to be a German ship and it looked like it was taking on passengers for the next stage of their voyage. As we were watching a second sailing ship came into the harbor.

We ended up down at the cruise ship docks. There were a couple of cruise ships in the docks but it looked like most of the passengers had disembarked for the morning.

We continued on to Bergenhus Fortress. It is one of the best preserved fortresses in Norway.

After finishing with the Fortress we walked back down to Bryggen. Bryggen is a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the Vågen harbor  It is one of North Europe’s oldest port cities on the west coast of Norway which was established as a center for trade by the 12th century. In 1350 the Hanseatic League established a “Hanseatic Office” in Bergen. They gradually acquired ownership of Bryggen and controlled the trade in stockfish from Northern Norway through privileges granted by the Crown. The Hanseatic League established a total of four overseas Hanseatic Offices, Bryggen being the only one preserved today. Bryggen has been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites since 1979.

We were looking for a place to have dinner in Bryggen but found that it was a bit too expensive for our taste. After looking around we wandered to another part of town where we found some quaint side streets and wooden houses.

I thought the add on the side of this plumbers truck was interesting.

Not too happy about the graffiti that we found on some of the back streets. Some of the true street art was more impressive.

We walked over to Lille Lungegårdsvannet Park and found some Pigeons to photograph. We had walked past the park when we arrived but it was getting dark and raining so we hadn’t gotten a great view of it.

Some young people were cleaning the slime out of the water. It looked like a big project.

As we walked along the lake there were some great views of the mountains around Bergen.

We found this beautiful Music Pavilion near the lake. The flowers were amazing.

We noticed St. John’s Church at the top of the hill so we walked up to see if it was open. It was open so we went inside to look around. We also discovered that there was an organ concert scheduled for the evening so we decided to come back for the concert.

We were still looking for some place to eat dinner and had a good recommendation for a place to eat near the University but had a very hard time finding it. When we did we discovered it was closed because the University was closed.

There were some beautiful botanical gardens at the University and some beautiful homes along the adjoining streets.

We walked through a residential area near the University. Some beautiful homes and a nice park.

 

We headed back down town. In the plaza there was an growing memorial to those killed during the 2011 Mass Murder on the island of Utøya. It was the the anniversary of the event.

We had stopped at Ole Bull Fountain to watch the kids playing. Some had climbed onto the rock formation they were afraid to come down. We noticed Pizza place near the fountain and decided to have dinner.

After dinner headed back toward the harbor passing the Sailor’s Monument on the way.

First stop was the fish market. Not sure why since we had already been through it several times already.

It was getting toward evening and there was a band playing at Bryggen and people were gathering for dinner.

My wife had been looking for some traditional Norwegian stew and had not been able to find any. Turned out to be on the menu of this food truck. Unfortunately we had just eaten.

We then walked along the harbor which was quite busy this time of the evening.

We did see a number of bicycle rental places throughout Bergen.

Our last stop of the day was St. John’s Church where we took in an evening organ concert. It was quite good but we were getting tired after another 14 hour day.

 

 

It had been a hot summer in Oslo and we were looking for someplace cooler to visit and after looking at the weather, decided that Bergen and Stavanger might be  good candidates.  We initially decided that Bergen would be a good place to visit and made hotel accommodations. We were going to take the train then started looking at the Norway in A nutshell tour which call for a train trip from Oslo to Myrdal, another train from Myrdal to Flam, a ferry from Flam to Gudvangen, a bus from Gudvangen to Voss and another train from Voss to Bergen. We didn’t take the tour package but my wife, who likes to plan trips, duplicated the tour.

More photos from the Norway in a Nutshell trip can be found on my website.

We were at Oslo Central Station early to catch the train from Oslo to Myrdal. We we arrived we found out that the train was delayed. It turned out to be 45 minutes late. Fortunately it was able to make up most of the time during the trip. This is me waiting for the train.

The first section of the trip was through relatively flat farm land and small towns. One of the unfortunate facts of public transportation is you can’t pick your traveling companions. One of the folks in our car had a loud grating voice. It wouldn’t have been so bad but he was full of himself and didn’t stop talking until he exited the train in the mountains. The folks around him were rolling their eyes.

We gradually started getting into the mountains. The scenery was spectacular.

Trees finally gave way to rocks as we entered the mountains.

We finally reached Myrdal and had made up most of the time from the delay in Oslo. We quickly changed trains and grabbed a seat on the train to Myrdal. It was a beautiful trip down the mountains to Flam. About 20 years ago we had hiked down the valley from Myrdal to Flam. It was a beautiful hiking trip.

We exited the Flam Railway and started looking for the ferry which would take us from Flam to Gudvangen on the Nærøyfjord.

We found the ferry without any problem. It was dwarfed by the large cruise ships in the harbor. There were some small kids on the ferry and they were tearing around the first part of the trip. It wasn’t long before they were tired and were sleeping.

We passed many small villages on the trip down the Fjord. I assumed these could only be reached by boat.

The day was overcast but the scenery was still spectacular.

It started to rain as the ferry pulled into Gudvangen. We switched from the ferry to one of many buses that waited at the ferry terminal. The buses had to travel down this narrow winding road to get to Voss.

When we arrived in Voss this person was directing people to the train station. There was construction at the station and the buses had to park outside the construction zone. We had some time before our scheduled train departed so we grabbed a bite to eat at the station. We discovered that our train would not arrive but that we could hop on another train that was going to Bergen.

We had only gone a few stops before an announcement came that due to an electrical failure the train could not continue on to Bergen. At this point we were in a very small station. There was a small waiting room with bathrooms. Finally the train staff announced that buses would be called to pick us up and take us to Bergen. It was raining fairly good at this point so we got back on the train out of the rain. Finally some buses came so we got off the train. Just after we got off the train left the station and went back to Voss. Somehow we missed the announcement but fortunately we got off in time. We finally caught the last bus to Bergen.

We finally made it to Central Station in Bergen late in the evening. It turned out to be a 12 hour day.

During our stay in Oslo we had walked past and into the Opera House on a number of occasions. They had public restrooms so it was a convenient stop. On our last visit we decided to take a tour of the Opera House. It was well worth the time.

More photos of the Oslo Opera House can be found on my website.

The wide walkways round the Opera House offer a great stage and seating for public events.

The floating She Lies Sculpture can be seen from the Opera House.

In the lobby there is a restaurant, a glass sculpture depicting a glacier and the wooden facade of the performance area.

The back stage ares were very interesting. They had a number of performance stages as well as rooms where sets and costumes were under construction for the upcoming season.

One of our goal for our stay in Oslo was to revisit Akershus Fortress. We had walked through when we were in Oslo last year but had less than an hour  in the Resistance Museum. We took the metro into Central Station then walked over to Akershus Fortress. It is so nice to live in a town where it is easy to walk to most places or take public transportation. The origins of the fortress go back to the 13th century. It was besieged by invaders many times but never captured. In 1940 it was surrendered to the Germans after the Norwegian government fled the country. During German control Norwegian resistance fighters were executed at the Fortress. After the war a number of Norwegian traitors were executed at the Fortress.

More photos from Akershus Fortress can be found on my website.

Our first stop was the Resistance Museum. We spent several hours walking around. It is well worth the visit.

As you can see the grass is brown on the Fortress grounds. It was a very warm dry summer in Oslo. The last rainfall was in May and it was the end of July when these photos were taken.

One of the cruise ship docks are located right outside the Fortress. It makes for some interesting shots when the cruise ships are in port.

 

In the morning we took the metro out to Kolsås, Norway with the goal of hiking up Kolsåstoppen. There was some construction on the metro line so we had to switch trains at Majorstuen.

More photos from Norway can be found on my website.

When we reached Kolsås we wandered around a while looking for the hiking trail to Kolsåstoppen. As is typically the case the instructions for the hike weren’t the best. We finally notice a really small sign on a lamp post. The trail seemed to take us through a residential area before heading into the woods.

We hiked for about a half an hour before I decided to call it quits. It was really hot and I don’t do all that well in hot weather. I told my wife to go on and I would wait for her but she decided she would turn back with me. As we neared the start of the trail we became lost once again. We recognized some of the landmarks but it seemed that just about every house in the neighborhood had started their own trail to the main trail so it was almost impossible to find the main trail. My wife said it was OK to walk through someones yard in Norway but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. In the USA you would like get shot doing something like that. Fortunately we did find the trail and made out way back to the metro station.

On a positive note we found the bakery I had been looking for since arriving in Oslo. On our first day in Oslo we were trying to find the metro ticked office and I spotted a beautiful bakery. Unfortunately we were not able to find it again no matter how hard we looked. I had finally concluded that I imagined the whole thing. We were wandering around in Central Station and there it was the Bit Byporten .

We then walked over to Sørenga. The area between the barcode buildings and Sørenga is under heavy development. In the second photo the new Munch Museum can be seen. The last photo shows development along the Akerselva River. It was a warm day and many folks were floating down the river into Oslo Fjord.

We walked past the new Munch Museum and walked over a floating walkway to Sørenga. Until recently Oslo the city was separated from Oslo the Fjord by highways and industry. About 20 years ago a Fjord City Master plan was developed to bring connect the city to the waterfront by placing highways under the city and removing dilapidated harbor properties. Some development had taken place before the master plan for example Aker Brygge and the Barcode Project. Sørenga is designed to be a self contained community with trendy restaurants, grocery stores and schools.

The views of the new Munch Museum and the barcode project are spectacular from Sørenga.

As I noted it was a beautiful warm day and many folks were out catching the rays of the sun. A large free public space offers floating jetties, a beach, diving boards, outdoor showers, separate children’s pool, grassy areas, a 50-metre pool with lanes, and a 200 sq metre seawater pool and it is all free and open to the public.

A couple of kids were paddling around without adult supervision. I had trouble figuring out why I took the second photo but when I looked at it closely I noticed that someone had a fishing pole out over the water from the second floor condo.

Lots of folks were floating the Akerselva River out into the Oslo Fjord.

My wife had visited the Hadeland Glassverks Factory many years ago when she was a student in Norway. We had been in Scandinavia for about a month at this point and during that time she had been a little obsessed about getting out to the factory. Just about every time we were at the visitors center she would ask about it. Each time they explained that it was a difficult place to visit using public transportation. She spent a good amount of time over two days plotting how to get to the factory. The day finally arrived to begin our great adventure. We started off the day with some fresh Raspberries which we had picked the day before.

More photos from Norway can be found on my website.

We took the train to Gardermoen Airport. When we arrived we asked where we could pick up the bus for the Hadeland Glassverks Factory. A friendly person at the information booth gave us we could take bus 260 and told us when and where we could catch it. We found the bus stop and waited. About 10 minutes after the scheduled departure a mini bus pulled up to the departure point and a few people got on. The bus didn’t have a number and the sign in the drivers side window said Gardermoen Airport. After about 10 minutes my wife asked the driver if he stopped at Hadeland Glassverks. Turns out it was one of his stops and it would be about a 45 minute drive. It was a nice drive through the countryside.

We asked the driver to let us know when we arrived at the factory. The bus stop was only a short distance from the but stop but it was out of sight. We spent several hours at the factory. They had animals and places for kids to play. Clearly this is a place that people drive to. We were the only ones that took the bus everyone else drove.

The glass works was founded in 1762 and the initial production used skilled craftsmen from Germany. The production was mainly medicine jars and bottles and some household glass. In the mid 1800’s production switched to household items such as crystal, wine glasses and dishes. In the 1920’s it started developing its own designs. It is the oldest industrial company that can claim continuous operations since its founding. Today most of its production is done overseas but they still maintain a group of artisans that operate on site at the visitors center.

We watched them blow glass and visitors were allowed to blow their own glass.

I think the real goal was to purchase something from the factory outlet. The fact that we were traveling light with only a backpack for the 2 month visit to Scandinavia limited what we could purchase. We ended up with some small glass birds.

 

We thought we found the bus stop to catch the bus back to Gardermoen Airport. There was a small sign that indicated the bus stopped at this location but buses came and went. Finally my wife notice a mini bus approaching at a high rate of speed. She knew that, if you wanted a bus to stop you had to flag it down. She stepped out and waved it down. Fortunately she did or we would probably still be standing waiting for the bus. Back at Gardermoen we caught the train into Oslo Central.

It was late in the day but we still had plenty of light so we decided to walk over to the Opera House. The new Deichman Library is being built next to the Opera House.

We had never walked to the top before so we decided to do that. From the top we had a good view of the new Munch Museum which is being built behind the Opera House. We also had an excellent view of the many apartments and condos that were being build in the area. There were construction cranes everywhere. This is clearly going to be the new trendy area in Oslo.

This is a shot toward toward the central harbor area of Oslo.

 

 

 

 

The morning after returning from our trip to Sweden we took the underground down town and walked over to the Royal Palace. As we entered the grounds from Karl Johans gate there were some beautiful flower displays.

More photos from Norway can be found on my website.

Looks like the guards at the Royal Palace are a little more relaxed than they are in Great Britain.

 

We had toured the Palace earlier on our stay and during that tour we discovered there was a royal costumes display taking place in the royal carriage house. This was our main goal for the visit. It seem that when the Queen travels to different parts of the country the custom is to gift her traditional native costumes. These were placed on display in the horse barn. You can see the names of some of the horses on the back of the stall.

After touring the customs display we walked around the grounds. I was able to get a few bird photos.

 

After a four day stay in Stockholm we took the train to Kalmar, Sweden. This was our first visit to the Stockholm Central and we were really impressed with the stations. They were so clean you could have probably eaten off of the floor.

More photos from our visit to Kalmar, Sweden can be found on my website.

When we arrived in Kalmar we had a car waiting for us at the train station. We expected that we would have a shift car but it turned out not only to be an automatic but a hot red Mercedes. First Mercedes that we have ever driven in.

We picked up the car and drove out to Skalby where my wife’s relatives had a dinner planned for us.

After dinner we walked over to the Skalby Church and cemetery where we found the only remaining grave stone for my wife’s relatives. Sweden has long standing practice to re-use burial plots. By law there is a person or family that is responsible for the care and upkeep of a grave. This right is preserved by contract for normally 25 years. This responsibility includes a fee to the parish or cemetery for the grounds keeping etc. When the contract expires, the cemetery authority will contact the responsible party to see if they are interested in renewal. If they decide not to renew the contract the cemetery will remove the grave marker and reuse the burial plot.

When we were in Skalby last year we were able to attend a service in the church. It was mostly in Swedish with a little English thrown in for our benefit.

On the way back we noticed the grain had been harvested but not many bales in the field. We were told that because of the drought, crops were way down this year.

After visiting the church we drove out to Kolboda where we were going to stay in my wife’s relatives summer cabin. It was in a nice little subdivision of summer cabins on the Baltic Sea. There were a lot of cabins in a small area yet it was very quiet and tranquil. If this had been in the states there would have been so much noise that one would not have been able to relax.

The next morning we drove back to Skalby where we were going to meet the relatives. We had a slight problem because we couldn’t remember the way back to Skalby from Kolboda. We had purchased a sim card for our phone in Norway and thanks to new EU rules it worked throughout Scandinavia.  The only problem was we didn’t have cell service so our phone navigation didn’t work. We headed back but at the first main intersection we turned left rather than right and ended up at the Baltic Sea. That was a clue that we made the wrong choice. We went back to the intersection and continued on. Some of the places looked familiar and soon we had cell service so we were able to connect with the relatives. The first event of the day was a boat tour of Kalmar. This was a first for everyone because the relatives had not been on this tour before.

This is a shot of the Kalmar County Museum which we would visit on our last day in Kalmar.

A shot of Kalmar Castle from the boat tour.

This landmark used to be a water tower but has been turned into apartments with some great views of Kalmar.

After the boat tour we walked over toward Kalmar Castle for lunch and then walked past some beautiful flowers.

 

When we reached Kalmar Castle there were activities setup in the courtyard for children. the second photo is a nail pounding board. I’m not sure that could pass muster in the states. It is a common children’s activity in Scandinavia but would probably result in lawsuits in the US.

The main attraction in the Castle was an exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci inventions.

We also walked through the church and a costumes exhibit. When we visited the Castle last year there was a wedding taking place in the chapel.

We walked back through South Cemetery on our way out to beach where a sand Sand Sculpture Festival was taking place.

The sand carving had ended by the time we had arrived and they were giving out the awards. There was a large crowd at the event.

After the sand castle festival our relatives headed home and my wife and I walked around town a bit. This a Polish sailing ship that had been anchored in the harbor and was leaving as we walked along the harbor. We then headed back to Kolboda for the night.

The next morning we met up with our relatives and then drove into Kalmar where we parked our car in the IKEA parking lot then continued on to the island of Oland. The new bridge to Oland is very impressive. Unfortunately it is a magnet for those wishing to attempt suicide. Once on the island we drove to the far end and our destination for the day which was Ottenby Naturum. Ottenby Naturum is one of the premier locations for observing birds in Sweden. There are birds in the area most of the time but they greatly increase during the spring and fall migration periods. There are nets setup to catch birds for banding. There is a large lighthouse which offers some great views of the surrounding countryside. While we were there we saw a large number of seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

We drove back through the Great Alvar and through the kings farm. There were quite a few windmills along the road. I was only familiar with Oland from reading a crime novel that partially took place on Oland. It was not what I expected.

On the way back we stopped for a bite to eat. I’m not sure what this was called but it was good. I think it was potatoes with meat in the center.

The next morning was our last in Kolboda. We drove over to Hagby Church and toured the old church. The church was built in a round shape to serve both a religious purpose and a defensive one. Seventeen arrowslits have been identified in the upper part of the wall. The present layout of the church largely dates from a renovation carried out in 1968. Inside the church, there are fragments of frescos from the 14th century on the walls.

We then drove over to Värnanäs farm to look around. This is one of the largest farms in the area with some impressive buildings.

We then drove out to Ekenäs, Sweden which is small boat building community. We also stopped at a small pastry shop and picked up some things for a snack. There were also some nice swimming places in the area.

One of the relatives is a fire chief in the area and we were able to get a tour of the fire house. Apparently things have been busy this summer with the very dry weather.

We then drove back to the home farm. It was very impressive. When we visited last year they were working on a break room for the workers. I can’t ever recall seeing anything like this done for workers in the US. The philosophy was that if I don’t treat my workers right they will go someplace else to work. There was not only a break room but a nice locker room and laundry available to workers. The cousin is probably what we would call a serial entrepreneur. He has a 900 hog operation, farms himself, contracts for road work (snowplowing and mowing), Does custom work for other farmers and is a fire chief.

We then gathered at the house to go over family history.

After our visit we drove into Kalmar and turned our car in and checked into the hotel. As we walked past the plaza outside the hotel we noticed a lot of folks watching the World Cup. We then walked over to Kalmar Cathedral. The daughter of one of the relatives was having a recital in the church so we deiced to attend..

On our final morning in Kalmar we decided to walk around town. This is the Kalmar Cathedral.

We walked along the harbor and through a residential district with some quaint old homes.

Our final stop of the morning was the Kalmar County Museum. The big draw is the large number of artifacts from the Battleship Kronan. The ship foundered in rough weather at the Battle of Oland on June 1, 1676. It capsized and the gunpowder magazine blew off most of the bow. It sank quickly with 800 men and 100 guns. Many of the guns were salvaged in the 1690’s but the wreck was eventually lost. It was found again in 1980 by the same amateur researcher that found the Vasa. Many artifacts have since be salvaged.

It was a great visit and we enjoyed seeing the relatives again. At noon we caught the train back to Oslo, Norway.