Wednesday 10 August 2016

Where the Christmas Trees come from

The Boy has spent his summer working in Norway, as a chalet boy.  This involves cleaning and cooking for guests from every corner of the known world.  All this will stand him in good stead for the future.

We decided to visit as neither of us had been to Norway before and it seemed like a great idea to visit him in a world that he enjoys.  We thought we would take in a trip that would encompass as much of Norway as is feasible in the week we had available.

We flew to the lovely city of Bergen, and spent the afternoon in the UN World Heritage Area of Bryggen.  This is the very old and pretty part you see in all the holiday brochures.  By coincidence shortly before we left, the subject of the Hanseatic League had come up....a name that we both vaguely remembered form 'O' Level history days.  Fortunately, all was explained in the Hanseatic was a trading league run by the Germans and had its own set of rules and regulations that put it above Government control.  No wonder Elizabeth 1st expelled it from England.

At this point it should be noted that TCM was heavy with cold.

The next day we took a ferry to Flåm, which is where TB has been working.  It was a beautiful five hour journey along the coast and fjords.  Unfortunately, TCM was feeling pretty rough and slept for all but an hour of it.  The scenery was as beautiful as expected...really very magical.  What was also amazing was how quickly the boat docked and undocked at the various stops along the route...some of which appeared to have no more than a dozen inhabitants!  I can't imagine the UK supporting such a service.

Anyway, we arrived at Flåm which is famous for its railway (one of the most beautiful and steep in the world) and because it gets something in the order of 300 cruise liners every year.  That's a lot of ships and an enormous number of passengers.  Still, it remains largely unspoilt.  TB and Norwegian Girlfriend put us up where they are staying, and also took us round to see some of the sights...fabulous views from the heights looking down the fjord, the best goat cheese making village in Norway, the smallest stave church, and through Europe's longest (maybe second longest now) road tunnel to Borgund where there is the best preserved stave church in Norway.  TB cooked for us, a meal we shared with the Japanese guests, but not the Israelis who had gone elsewhere to eat.  The guests from Qatar cooked for themselves...see what I mean about guests from all over?!

We took the mountain train and then changed for the rest of our holiday in Oslo.  It too was a five hour journey through some achingly beautiful countryside.  Curiously, the teenager who sat opposite us thought it appropriate after five minutes to show us a picture of a knife that's band because it will kill you instantly.  Oh. 

By this stage, I had taken on TCM's cold so both us were feeling miserable as sin.  We had a few days seeing the sights and museums of Oslo - The Folk Museum (tick v.g. - essentially not a lot changed from the 1100s through to the 1800s), the Viking Ship Museum (wot! they didn't actually have horns in their helmets), The Fram Museum (Amundsen's exploits finding the North West Passage and getting to the South Pole - evidently he didn't realise he was in a race, he just got on with his scientific expedition), the Kon Tiki Museum (excellent...he was a nutter, but fantastic stuff) and the Art Museum (we saw The Scream whilst the Chinese tourists didn't really want to look at it, rather just have a selfie with it).

And then we went home.  Sadly, we weren't at our best so didn't get the full benefit of our Norwegian adventure, but I'm sure we will next time we visit.