Sunday, 29 April 2012


I had the computer backing up all the photographs yesterday (while I enjoyed the sunshine outside) and hope to start editing some of them this evening once the cold drives me indoors.

I doubt whether I'll be able to load any of them on to the blog,  it's more a case of weeding out the rubbish to make room for the next batch.   I returned from Norway with only 12GB of free space on the laptop and, considering I was frequently saving more than this from the cameras every day, it was cutting it a bit fine.

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Arrived in Tobermory yesterday morning to bright sunshine.    Reached home yesterday evening thanks to Shiel Buses.

More soon,  other things to do first.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Departing Invergordon

The 9am announcement has just told us we are about to depart Invergordon and are due to arrive in Tobermory, as planned, on Friday.

Waiting on forecast and itinerary

Awoke this morning to find the wind had lessened but I still found myself unable to open the doors to the open deck on the starboard side. It isn't cold.

We're waiting on the 9am announcements for the plans for the next couple of days. There was no letter under the cabin door this morning so my hope is that we're going to arrive in Tobermory on Friday as planned.

This morning's photograph is taken yesterday from the Marco Polo in Invergordon.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Adverse weather

We've been thinking all day that the weather may prevent us going to Stornoway tomorrow. As the day progressed, the weather failed to improve so we've been told we're staying the night here, in Invergordon. They'll review the situation in the morning and let us know what is happening. A very sensible decision!

We've been aware all along that Tobermory on Friday might prove to be a problem and, if this is the news tomorrow morning, we'll leave the ship in Invergordon and find another way home.

Sunsets, oil and Invergordon

We had a lovely sunset last night as we sailed north in the North Sea. This morning saw us arriving at Invergordon where it is raining and not very warm as passengers going on excursions left the ship. The oil industry has a visible presence, dominating the view in all directions.

Sunsets, oil and Invergordon

We had a lovely sunset last night as we sailed north in the North Sea.   
This morning saw us arriving at Invergordon where it is raining and not very warm as passengers going on excursions left the ship. The oil industry has a visible presence, dominating the view in all directions.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

North sea

We've been heading north today among the other ships and oil rigs.

The weather started as overcast, drizzle and generally miserable. By lunchtime the passengers on Marco Polo were sitting out on the decks enjoying the sunshine and eating outside.

North sea

We've been heading north today among the other ships and oil rigs. The weather started as overcast, drizzle and generally miserable. By lunchtime the passengers on Marco Polo were sitting out on the decks enjoying the sunshine and eating outside.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tilbury and Tilbury Fort

Sun shining, warm, calm; of course, we were back in the Thames about to reach Tilbury Cruise Terminal.

The views of Tilbury Fort were really good this morning. I hoped to sit outside but the breeze chased us indoors. We'll have to put coats on and go on regular excursions around the decks of Marco Polo now the refuelling has finished. There was the option of going ashore but I confess, the idea of a quiet day on the ship won.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Fruit carving

I really like these fruit and veg carvings, each individual chef seems to have their own designs and this time was no exception.

Sea day, editing day

With the current raw totals of 10,000+ photographs and 45GB+ video, only a few photographs are being edited at the moment.  Of course most of this is rubbish but there are 1 or 2 good photos amongst it so this afternoon I've sat down to select a few more photos from yesterday in Bergen to go into the blog post.  I hope the people who were using the gym on Marco Polo realised the photograph I was taking were of the reflections in the windows and I couldn't even see the people.

I had thought we'd sit down at the computer in Tilbury tomorrow during changeover but other ideas have sprung to mind... watch this space, or rather watch this space next winter!

Photographs: Bergen from Marco Polo; Marco Polo, Far Sapphire & Polarlys in Bergen; Reflections of Bergen and oil vessels in Marco Polo.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Marco Polo

I was slightly confused last night when I checked that Marco Polo was arriving in Bergen this morning as expected. The ship was giving ETA of 08:00 but the port was saying 09:30. A quick look at the AIS for Bergen showed Marco Polo was in the northern approaches to the port.

It had rained overnight so, after breakfast, we put on our coats and went the short distance to the nearest jetty with a clear view of the cruise/ferry terminal and Marco Polo was in the harbour just as we'd expected. The pontoons and much of the inner harbour was filled by small boats because people from the outer areas had come into Bergen for the weekend outing and/or shopping. There were cycle tours on offer this morning and they seemed to be doing a lot of business.

With true Cruise & Maritime organisation the port security gate and the ship's reception were expecting us and we were in our cabin within minutes of arriving.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Catching up

... or not.
We took the sleeper train from Oslo to Bergen last night as planned.  The cabins or berths are very much like the UK trains in size and layout and we slept well.    With our luggage having been in storage for most of yesterday (I'll tell more about this sometime),  the ability to blog was lost.
We arrived at our hotel very early and were very lucky to find they had a room we could use right away.   Desperate for a shower and change of clothes,  this was very welcome.
The weather in Bergen today has been really good and we are also very tired from our travels.  Our solution?  going on one of the fast ferries for a sail.   Photos and video will appear sometime.
Now,  we're looking forward to joining Marco Polo tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Oslo museums

After a chaotic breakfast in our hotel,   we had an interesting day with a series of firsts for us in Oslo.   3 trips on the metro,   1 by tram.
Visits to the Edvard Munch museum (and cafe) were followed by the zoological (fantastic displays) and geological museums in the botanic gardens.   Of course we were surrounded by kindergarten and primary aged children who were also visiting the same museums and using the same metro trains.   Very well behaved children.
After lunch,  it was the metro again,  down to the Aker Brygge waterfront.   We visited the Nobel Peace Centre that we missed 2 years ago and then took the tram back towards our hotel.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Arriving in Oslo

Fortunately,  our train didn't leave until late morning.   The guards/conductors were,  as usual,  bright and cheery as they helped us to find the unmarked seats that we'd reserved.   The scenery was different from our last 3 train journeys as we headed south and were joined by a group of school children as we approached Oslo.   Seems we're destined to find ourselves surrounded by groups of children and they are so well behaved!
We headed out to see the opera house because we didn't find time to visit it 2 years ago.   The cafe sold hot chocolate but we weren't paying that price and so headed back into town.   This took us through a part of Oslo I'd never seen before,   a fight broke out in broad daylight,  there were some rather strange characters about.   Definitely not the part of town we wanted to be in.
After a late lunch (or early supper ?) we're back in our hotel and studying the map and Oslo Pass information to work out our activities for tomorrow.   What have we not seen before?  where can we reach by public transport? and what is the weather forecast?  (it says snow).
The hotel is big and impersonal although the staff appear friendly and helpful.   There are no afternoon waffles,  there is no constant supply of coffee and/or hot chocolate and I don't expect to find soup served in the evening either.   There is no comfortable lounge but it is near the railway station.   Sometimes you just have to compromise a couple of nights for convenience.
... more tomorrow,  what, depends on the weather though.  I hear a rather loud snoring noise from behind me and think I may soon be doing the same.

Youth hostelling

We were tired this morning. Travelling short hops by train with 2 or 3 night stays in different places is so much more tiring than staying on a ship that takes your accommodation with you as it moves around. It had snowed overnight as you'll see from this morning's breakfast photo.   If all youth hostels are as nice as this one, I could be a convert.   We were joined at breakfast by more and more mature students who regularly stay.
The time lapse we took yesterday will be posted at some time in the future;  probably next winter we the speed I'm processing all the material from the trip.

Monday, 16 April 2012

How many seasons today?

Today started looking bright as we had breakfast although there were snow clouds around.    The heavy snow showers started soon afterwards and continued intermittently throughout the morning and lunchtime.
Guess who went to visit Mustad?   I waited until after lunch and then went down town in the 'summer sun' that gave Gjøvik a real mediterranean feel again.   I took a couple of photographs in town and was deciding on which of 2 cafes to visit when the Norwegian mobile phone rang...    guess he knew it was coffee time !
Gjøvik is quiet for an industrial town,  I did wonder if it was a Monday holiday but the taxi driver confirmed it is a quiet place.   The last photograph is the Oslo train at the station in Gjøvik.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Gjøvik Vandrerhjem

In Gjøvik,  we are staying at the Gjøvik Vandrerhjem (youth hostel).   It is at the top of the town,  looking over the recreational pond and down to Lake Mjøsa.   When we arrived,  we saw someone walking a deerhound or wolfhound around the pond.
We had a short trip down to into Gjøvik where we visited the Gjøvik Olympiske Fjellhall (Gjøvik Olympic Hall) built into the mountain for the ice hockey matches at the 1994 Olympic games.
Lunch followed before a taxi ride back up the hill to the hostel where we're going to spend the rest of the day in the comfortable lounge with coffee and tea on tap.

Gjøvik and snow

After a promising early start to the day,  the snow has now arrived and is starting to get heavier.  Perhaps our boots aren't getting the rest they thought they were?
Our thoughts were to visit the town and lakeside,  downhill all the way,  taking a taxi back up the hill.   I think we might wait and see how the weather develops before venturing out?   We'll have to go down to the town at some point for a meal.
There is always the alternative of going to Lillehammer.


First stop on arrival at Hamar was to speak to the guards at the railway station and find out about the bus that was replacing the train on the next part of the journey.    It turned out that our train was not to be affected,  good news!
Arriving in Hamar was like arriving in the Med.   It was hot,  the streets are wide.   The main difference is that everywhere was closed or closing (it was 16:00 hours) and this is Norway.   Someone directed us to a cafe where we could get a snack to keep us going until we reached out destination of Gjøvik.
We then went down to the shoreline of Lake Mjösa where the locals were enjoying the sun.   They have very unusual chimes (see the photo) that play on the hour;  one of the other photographs is the Nestle factory with tower.
Soon it was time to return to the railway station,  reclaim our luggage from the lockers and wait for our train to Moelv.  We were met at Moelv by a friend (who had thought we'd be arriving on the bus) and enjoyed a very nice meal together before retiring to the local youth hostel.

Taking the train from Tolga

There was no hurry to get  to the train yesterday,  we were catching the same train as we had arrived on 2 days earlier.    Packed up and ready to leave at midday,   we telephoned for a taxi only to find there were none available.    Our hosts at Malmplassen Gjestgård offered to run us the 500m to the train station.
We sat on the platform waiting for the train to arrive,  it was warm and sunny and we were soon joined by a party of French people.
The guard on the train was very helpful,  suggesting that we take better seats so we could see the scenery.    They are also very helpful by making the announcements in English as well as Norwegian when we approach the station where we're to leave the train.   On each train,  discovering that we're visitors,  the guard has made a point of coming to talk to us about our journey.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Train cancellations

Despite all the planning,  it looks like there has been another train cancelled today.   The trains north from Hamar this evening are being replaced by buses but they appear to be running at different times from the train timetable.   Fortunately there is a transfer time of 3 hours in Hamar so we'll be able to find out what the arrangements are at the station.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Tolga, real Norway

Our guest house,  Malmplassen Gjestgård,  also has a restaurant and meeting rooms.    Our unexpected meeting with Sven was because he was attending a meeting being held here.    It seems to be a hub for the local community with more meetings being held today.
The community appears to be thriving with the 'Coop' on the other side of the bridge and a cafe at the garage around the corner.
My hands have been freezing when taking photographs and we found a local craft shop where I bought fingerless woollen gloves from a lovely lady.   Interestingly,  another lady who was in the shop told us that if we wanted to eat,  that we'd get a good meal in Malmplassen Gjestgård.
There are groups of historic buildings and many are actually lived in while others appear to be undergoing renovations.   The farms are in use with both old and new wooden buildings to house the animals.   The white church stands guard at the top of the hill.  The last photograph that I've included is the railway station where we arrived yesterday and will depart tomorrow.
The sun is shining and the temperature outside is now 1.5 degrees C but feels much warmer.   With the snow obviously melting,  I suspect that the temperature is really much higher.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Amazing coincidence at Malmplassen Gjestgård

We got a taxi from the railway station to Malmplassen Gjestgård even if the taxi driver was amused by our request.   OK,  it was only 500m but it was snowing,  the bridge has no pavement and we have 'some' luggage.
Of course we brought the good weather with us and after our initial blizzard coated outing,  it cleared and the sun came out.
Going down for dinner,  we bumped into someone we know from last summer.   Now how weird is that?    Neither Sven nor ourselves have been in Tolga before,   we are here for completely different reasons.   We are all a lot of miles from home.
More tomorrow...

Trondheim to Tolga

This morning MS Finnmarken docked in Trondheim.  After an early breakfast,  it was time to finish packing,  say our goodbyes and leave the ship.
Our train left Trondheim sharp at 09:50 and we had an interesting journey to Tolga.   The snow cover increased again as we travelled south and east towards (but not over) the Swedish border.

South to Trondheim

I spent most of my short computer time yesterday backing up the photographs and video so had little time to write a blog post.   Yesterday began with rain and was overcast so we doubted whether we'd see much scenery on this part of the southbound trip.
But then it changed,  the sun came out and the Captain of MS Finnmarken even made a detour to allow us to look through the 'hole in the mountain'.
We met MS Nordkapp and later MS Nordnorge.
We took many photographs,  some video and otherwise sat literally watching the Norwegian part of the world go by.