Leaving Geiranger

It’s time to leave the fjord and head to Oslo for an overnight stay and then on to Tallinn Estonia.

As the weather people predicted it’s raining today. Good for waterfalls and dry grass but not so good for tourists. Like me.

So I thought my trials and tribulations were over with travel in Norway but I was wrong. The only way to get to the bus stop for the next part of my trip was by taxi. Which was fine with me. And it ended up being a Tesla taxi! Even better. My driver on the way up the mountain, the same winding road I was on the other day, casualy mentions to be aware of moose and deer at my bus stop. They frequent the area where the bus stop is. Mind you it is raining pretty hard at the moment. So I ask if there is a bus shelter and he says no. And he says he can’t wait after he drops me off because he has another pickup. I don’t have an umbrella with me so we stop at a small tourist shop on the way. No umbrellas but they do have a plastic bag. Big enough for my head but nothing else! So we get to the “bus stop” (an intersection of 2 roads) and he says this is it. Now I’m looking around and I ask where? He points to the middle of the road and points, there! “The bus stops in the middle of the road when you wave at it”. I ask him are you sure. He replies, yes, I am sure. He then tells me that everyone asks the same question. Remember it’s raining and I only have a small plastic bag for protection. I immediately start thinking of carnivorous moose and deer. And wonder if any of his other passengers have ever been seen again!

Tesla taxiTesla taxi and the “bus stop”. The black spot next to the car.

bus stop

Remember it’s still raining. He then proceeds to tell me to be aware of lightning! Remember the black spot next to the car he calls the bus stop. Maybe the last passenger? So while we are sitting there he gets a phone call saying that his other ride canceled. So no hurry to get back to town. Whew!!! He says he will wait. We are 30 minutes early and the  bus is 20 minutes late. That would have been 50 minutes in the rain and wind dodging lightning while fending off the moose and deer.

So I pay while we are waiting. 750 Krone ($92 US) for a 30 minute ride, flat rate! Yes Norway is very expensive. My bus trip for 8 hours cost 680 Krone. That cost wasn’t bad at all.

The bus finally shows up and he flashes his lights for it to stop. This is the second bus I see while we are waiting. How would I have known which one to try to stop? On the bus I have a seat reserved and after the person sitting in it gets up, I sit down. Top floor of the bus. View okay, there is a pillar blocking part of the view. Seat pretty comfortable. But then the person sitting in front of me reclines her seat. These are semi reclining seats. And her seat is now in my lap! I now know what a hamburger feels like between two slices of bread. If I recline my seat, which I don’t want to do, it becomes a domino effect and everyone in the same row has to recline their seat or become the other parts of a hamburger like cheese, lettuce, onions, etc. I’ve had more room on a bus in India crowded with people, chickens and small pigs! After about 3 hours of this, someone gets off and I move to another seat. No more hamburger feeling. Room to move and a better view. And the rest of the bus trip was fine.

 

riverOne of the many rivers in Norway.

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A little more info on Geiranger

As I mentioned in the post before this one. Geiranger is a small town of 250 residents. But because of the influx of all the tourists in the summer (up to 700,000!) it has it’s own bakery, chocolate factory, cheese production and a brewery. It also has small electric “matchbox” vehicles for rent and a Tesla taxi.

electric match box2 people can fit in this little vehicle but I saw one go by with 3 in it! And these things compete with all of the buses and camper mini-vans that travel the winding roads here.

 

I was reading about the history of this area and came across some information on the possibility of a tsunami here. Below is what I found:

“All residents around the Great Fjord in western Norway are aware of the danger coming from the mountains. Storfjorden is one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway. On average 700.000 tourists flock to see this breathtaking fjord, many traveling by cruise ship. However few tourists know that this is the world’s most monitored mountain.

The 900 meter high Åknesfjället looks like a very ordinary mountain. But along the mountain side runs a 700 meters long and up to 30 meters wide crack, each year growing larger by up to 15 centimeters.This crack makes the mountain so unstable that the whole mountainside sooner or later will plunge into the fjord. When the 900 meters mountain section slides down into the 320 meter deep fjord will slide 150 million tons of rock, triggering tsunami wave up to 80 meters high.

Several communities will be completely destroyed. First affected by the disaster will be the village of Hellesylt with more than 250 residents. Six minutes after the landslide sweeps, the industrial town of Stranda will be affected, and after ten minutes the wave will destroy completely the famous tourist resort of Geiranger where many cruise ships arrive during the summer months.”

Who would have even imagined that this could happen. And how did they discover it?

 

created by dji cameraMy hotel and the surrounding area.

 

 

beer made in Geiranger and very goodBeer from the local brewery and very good. They have won many awards. As has the cheese factory.

 

hamburgerNow that’s what I call a hamburger!

 

falls behind hotelWaterfall behind hotel.

falls behind hotel close up

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Leaving Bergen, Norway and headed to a Unesco World Heritage site know as Geiranger Fjord

Geiranger is not the easiest place to get to! To put it mildly. After a lot of internet searching by myself and Tim before I left Stockholm and after arriving in Bergen. I finally figured out a way to get to this amazing place. The tourist center in Bergen tried to help but they only deal with local sites. Geiranger is 16 hours away by boat or 4 different buses and a ferry ride. I chose the cruise ship option. The ship was on it’s way to the north end of Norway and back. A 12 day journey. But they allow passengers to get on and off at different ports if there is room. The only problem with this option was that it was an overnight journey which meant I would’t arrive on time for my hotel room booking and couldn’t cancel it. I will let most of the photos that follow speak for themselves. At the end of this post I will continue these words with how “interesting” it was to figure out how to leave here when I do leave.

 

not the Golden Gate BridgeNope! Not the Golden Gate Bridge but similar. Leaving Bergen headed north.

bridge

overnight shipThe bow of the ship.

 

11 pm11PM!

 

midnightMidnight!

 

house on side of hillThe only way to or from this house is by boat. Electricity? Sewage? Doctor? And there are many others like this in seemingly very difficult places to get to.

 

Getting closer

Waterfall

more waterfalls

almost to Gairanger

the shipThe ship leaving after dropping me off in the small town of Geiranger. 250 residents but can swell up to 10,000 visitors in one day due to the amount of cruise ships coming and going!

 

my hotelMy hotel. The Hotel Utsikten (“good view”) and you will soon see why they call it this. It was built in the late 1800’s and has changed over the years but is still in the same spot on a curve in the road. As the buses go by, which there are many, you could almost touch them from the sitting area windows. If you dare!

 

The view from my roomThis is really the view from my room! When I first walked into my room, I thought that the curtains were drawn shut and this view was painted on them! Sitting down in my room I don’t see any part of the road and can watch cruise ships coming and going. So far there appears to be 2 ships arriving in the morning and then departing in the evening.

 

Geiranger Fjord with ships

The fjord with no ships

rays of sunlight

more fjordDay 2 at Geiranger on the way up to the Skywalk viewing point.

 

buses

hairpin turns

one of the many buses

summer camp for teenagersThis used to be sort of a summer camp for teenagers. They would spend the summer here taking care of the cattle or sheep and then walk down the mountain to deliver milk to the town and then walk back. It isn’t used anymore but is maintained by volunteers to keep the history of these types of farms alive in Norway.

closeup of houses with sod roofNote the sod roofs on the houses. Good insulation from the heat and the very cold winters.

 

grate at SkywalkThe metal grate that this brave gentleman is standing on is called “The Skywalk”. Guess why….the rock on the right is terra firma. The grate is not! I made the mistake of walking out onto this thing and then looked into the holes I was standing on. It is suspended above the valley floor! And I could see the valley below. I imeddiately froze and then inched my way to the !glass! barrier. It’s difficult to take photos with one hand holding the camera and the other one clutching the !glass! thing that is supposed to save me from falling off! It is well built but it didn’t matter. I quickly moved back onto land. Never to try “Sky-walking” again.

dreaded glass barrierThe dreaded glass barrier!

 

view from skywalkIn the upper center part of the photo is the Geiranger Fjord. The winding grey line is the road to the viewpoint.

 

more from SkywalkOnly 1500 meters (5000′) up the mountain. This road to the top opened 2 weeks ago. Closed from October to May depending on the amount of snowfall.

 

So to end this blog for tonight, it’s 10:30 PM on Tuesday the 12th of June 2018. and I can see the Fjord and the one cruise ship left in it. It has gotten cooler as the sun has slowly set. And the clouds have moved back in.

The young lady at the reception desk. Her name is Elsa, has helped me immensely in my search to find away to get to Oslo. My next stop on my way back to Estonia. I had heard that the train trip from the west coast to the east was beautiful. So I had hoped to take the train. The only problem with that, as you can see from the photos of the roads here, it isn’t an easy thing to do. First it was take a  2 hour ferry to the first bus stop. Then 3 different bus rides to the first train ride that would take me to the second train ride. Well when we tried to book the first train ride, it was sold out. So nix that plan. Onto the next one. Let’s bypass the first train ride and go directly to where I can catch the second train ride. Oh it’s possible to do but! 14 different bus rides, swimming across a fjord and hiking for a day didn’t appeal to me! I’m joking of course but it was similar to my description. Elsa called it a “hocus pocus” trip. She suggested an express bus directly to Oslo that leaves from a spot 45 minutes down the road from here. On the road that just opened 2 weeks ago! And only takes 8 hours. Otherwise the other road that leaves here is a 16 hour trip. So I leave here on the 14th to Oslo and fly to Estonia on the 15th.

11PM. Still light outside. Going to sleep. Good night.

 

 

 

 

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Yes it’s true. I am now in Norway!

After a 1 hour flight from Stockholm to Bergen, Norway on Friday June 8 in the evening, I  caught a taxi to my hotel. The Park Hotel Bergen. The taxi ride was about 20 minutes and cost $75 US! I had been told that Norway would be expensive. And it is. But it will be worth it I am sure. My hotel is on the Heritage list for older buildings and was wonderful. I was on the top floor. No elevator and narrow winding stairs. But I managed. I spent most of my second day in Bergen trying to figure out how to get to the second stop on my travels in Norway. Because I am not traveling with a tour group, things get complicated. After many hours at the tourist help center, the bus station and online, I am on an overnight ship to my next destination. Geiranger Fjord. A world Heritage site that looks amazing from the photos I have seen. I will be staying there 2 nights. Then I have to figure out how to leave and travel back to Estonia for my flight home. Not so easy looking at the moment. We shall have to see.

Bergen harborBergen Harbor.

 

boat in harborBoat in harbor.

 

view from my roomView from my room.

 

street in BergenView from the hill my hotel is on.

 

violin maker

houses in BergenA couple of houses near the hotel.

 

quote of the dayQuote of the day at an outdoor bar at the harbor!

 

 

 

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A little more of Stockholm

200 year old Diplomat Hotel200 year old Diplomat Hotel.

 

a real bus:boatThis is a bus that can go on water or land!

 

old steam ferryTim and I took this old steam ferry to another island for lunch.

inside steam boatInside the old steam ferry before it was packed with people. Very nice wood everywhere!

 

one of the many ferriesOne of the many car ferries.

 

refurbished castleRefurbished castle.

 

sleek subway trainSleek subway train. They are quiet, clean and comfortable. Unlike the BART trains that run in the Bay Area in California.

 

 

 

 

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Stockholm

Leaving EstoniaLeaving Estonia on an overnight ferry/cruise ship

 

my cabinMy cabin.

 

the ferry

I have now left Estonia (temporarily) and am now in Stockholm staying with friends. The trip here was very enjoyable. I had my own cabin with a view, toilet and shower. Beer available upstairs. Expensive (the beer) but less than you pay at an airport. It was a combination ferry/cruise ship and very nice. The trip was smooth because the sea was calm. Just before I left Estonia, my friend Liina, reminded me of the terrible accidental (?) sinking of the same kind of ship in the 90’s. Thank you Liina!

I haven’t mentioned the lack of darkness here yet, so I will now, or you could say the amount of daylight that is here at the moment. At about 10:00 pm twilight sort of starts. By 11:00 pm it is sorta dark. Midnight is dark. Then it starts to get light at 3:00 am and is light by 4:00!. And I understand that the farther north one goes, the more pronounced this effect is. Of course in the winter they don’t see the sun for 9 months! Time to head south!!! So everyone looks forward to this time of year. This year has been unusual because it has been hotter than normal. And some people have started to complain. And when the sun goes away soon for 9 months, they will complain that they miss the sun.

 

on the way to StockholmThis photo was taken at 4 in the morning as we got closer to Stockholm. Now by closer I mean on the map. Time wise we were still 6 hours away because from here on the ship had to navigate around and  in-between islands and go slower. It wasn’t going fast to begin with but now it was going half as fast.

 

If the island is big enough the Swedes will put a house on itIf the island is big enough, the Swedes will build a house on it. Or even a city!

 

The ferry docked in StockholmMy ferry docked in Stockholm.

 

Permanent amusement parkPermanent amusement park on one of the many harbors in Stockholm.

 

one of the many harbors in StockholmOne of the many harbors in Stockholm.

“Stock” means connecting, as in bridges and ferries. And “holm” means islands. And Stockholm is built on many islands connected by bridges and many ferries. Very clever these Swedes.

 

steam boatA real steam boat. One of many different kinds of boats that are constantly ferrying passengers from island to island.

 

Time lapse of one of the many busy harbors here. This was taken over a 20 minute period of time.

 

We are taking a ferry to a unique and exclusive island restaurant tomorrow. Not really sure what that means but don’t worry, I will let you know. And maybe I will take some photos.

 

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More from Muhu

Windmill

Windmills like this used to be used all over Estonia. Only a few survive on the island of Muhu and none of them are used anymore.

 

young fox

Young Fox

 

out of focus young fox

Out of focus young Fox

 

drinking from the spring of life

Drinking from the spring of life

 

spring flowing to the sea

Spring of life flowing to the sea

 

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360 view of Muhu

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More from the island of Muhu

For some reason I had assumed that it would be colder here than it is. I did check the weather before I left home and it  looked like it would be nice. But not this nice. For those of you in the US it has been in the high 70’s (25 degrees celsius) during the day and cools down a little at night. Luckily I packed a pair of shorts and my sandals! I understand that this is unusual for it to be this warm for so long. Mind you I am not complaining at all.

Everyday we usually go somewhere on this island or the bigger island Saarema. Some photos of these trips follower below.

serious Rommi

Serious Rommi with my face behind the camera

Rommi after seeing my face

Rommi after seeing my face!

Three updated old houses in a Unesco Heritage fishing village.

old house with aircondition

One with air-conditioning

old house with motorcycle in front

One with a motorcycle parked in front

old house with solar panel

And one with a small solar panel

flower powered tractor

Flower powered tractorcreated by dji camera

Liina, Rommi & Kristan’s house and out buildings on Muhu

Tops of old anchors

Tops of old anchors

Rommi & anchors

Rommi & old anchors

Rommi & Liina by the sea

Rommi & Liina at the sea

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Estonia

No the photo is not of Estonia (I could post a map here of Estonia but sorry, Google it!)

The photo is of a ferry between the mainland of Estonia and the island of Muhu (part of Estonia on the south west side). Which I will get to later.

So after the usual going away parties which happen every week where I live, even though no one is usually going away, I get on our local transit system (BART) (with my good friend Kerrie’s help) and make it to the airport in South San Francisco. I breeze thru security, even though I am carrying a drone and 6 spare batteries and a hair brush. They let me pass. I think it has something to do with the fact that older Santa Claus looking people are usually OK. I am fine with that and don’t argue. The first leg of my flight from SFO to Copenhagen is 12 hours. Not so bad compared to some of my 17 hour flights. But!!! About 8 hours into the flight the party liquids that I drank have started to wear off and I feel like crap! So now what to do! Drink more alcohol, oh hell no! (And on this flight not free) Watch a video. Tried to but not helping. The pain in my side from sitting…..don’t worry about it. Vomit…can’t. Nothing helped. So I would like to thank all of you that wished me goodbye with a drink……please refrain in the future, please.

My flight schedule was as follows. SFO to Copenhagen, Denmark. Then on to Stockholm, Sweden and then my final destination of Tallinn, Estonia. When I get to Copenhagen I see that my flight is going to be late to Stockholm which makes me late for my arrival in Estonia. And which means that my friend Jannus who is going to pick me up will be waiting for someone who never arrives. It all worked out, as it does. And I am in Estonia.

This is a different kind of trip for me. I am visiting friends that I have met over the years and staying in their homes. So I will only be posting photos of the area and not of them. Unless they want me to. Hopefully Rommi’s mom will allow me to post some pictures of him. He is a little over 1 1/2 years old. And adorable!!!

An old house on the island next to Muhu

My friends house on Muhu

Over 100 years old storage structure

Tree versus blacksmith shop

Tiny house for rent

Duplex for rent. No really…you can either rent one side or the other or both. Small but cozy!

Home field advantage!

Look closely at this photo and you will see a huge Oak tree in between the goals on a soccer field (football field in rest of the world). Apparently they have tried to cut, burn and in general get rid of this tree. But it won’t go away. So now it is famous and the home team has the advantage because they always play around it.

House by the sea

I had assumed that in this day and age (whatever that means) that everyone spoke English.  How stupid can an American be? Especially one that has traveled more than most do. Well I fit the stupid American part. So far what I can perceive is that the younger generation here speaks English. Some of the middle age people speak English and not many older people speak English. I don’t blame the older generation for not speaking English (which I am part of). If you come to my country and want to talk to me……learn my language. I can’t even say hello in Estonian!! Stupid American.

More from the island of Muhu soon

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