On Sat I caught the train to Kristiansand, leaving Per and Anne to head off on their own holiday. Whilst it rained for most of the trip there, it then fined up for the late afternoon (and from then on the weather was just marvellous for a couple of weeks). After walking across town to the youth hostel, I spent the rest of the afternoon just sunbaking and swimming on the "town beach", very conveniently located a short distance fromm the hostel. According to the sign there, the air temp was 21C and the water 20C - very pleasant indeed. Across the front of the town there's a number of water sculptures, as well as a very large amphora (pictured). Sun morning I spent walking in the nature park in the hills above town, and went swimming in one of the lakes there. It was a very pleasant area. Then caught the train on to Stavanger. This was a pretty scenic trip, with the rail line diving in and out of tunnels as it made its way through some pretty rugged terrain.
In Stavanger I caught up with the Cutty Sark Tall Ships again! They'd sailed down to here from Trondheim. So I got to enjoy walking around the port, admiring the boats again. On Mon I caught the express ferry (boy do these boats move!) to Bergen, and as last time, enjoyed the trip very much.
Then Tues 5 Aug it was off to the airport to meet my sister Robyn, who was flying in from England where she's been working for the last 3 months. It was great to see her. After dropping her bags off at our accomodation (in the same quaint and very pleasant private accomodation that I'd stayed in on my previous visit to Bergen), it was time to start showing her Norway. That afternoon we toured the Rosenkrantz tower and other buildings in the old town fort, and the Bryggen Medieval museum. Then we caught the Fløyen cable railway up to the lookout above town, and went for a very pleasant walk in the National park there, admiring the views both out and of the lakes and forests. Then it was back down to town in time to catch a performance by Bergen Folklore, dressed in the very colourful national costume and dancing traditional folk dances from the region.
On Wed we continued our tour of Bergen by taking the Ulriken Cable Car to the lookout some 500m above town. The view from up there was just spectacular - with mountains, fjords and lakes in all directions. The "ticket" was even a rather nice postcard! Following our return we looked through a few of the art gallaries (both Robyn and I prefer the old landscape artists, and there were some lovely paintings), before catching the bus out to Troldhaugen, Edvard Grieg's residence. It was a lovely old traditional Norwegian house, set in very pleasant grounds above lake Nordås. They've now built a very nice concert hall on the property as well. Then to finish the day I took Robyn out to a very nice dinner for her birthday at the "Augustus" restaurant.
Thurs 7 Aug was probably the highlight of our trip. We caught the express ferry from Bergen north up the coast and in along Sognefjord to Flåm. This was a magnificent 5 hour trip. The scenery was absolutely classic Norway - steep mountains rising straight out of the water, with some snow still visible on the peaks. I probably can't do it justice in words, hope some of my photos can give you a flavor of the magic views. The boat weaved its way through the islands and along the fjord, stopping at a number of towns along the way, including at Ballastrand with its magnificent hotel (pictured left). I'd not done this trip before (it only runs in summer, and I'd not been in Bergen at the right time before), but I can't recommend it too highly to anyone travelling this way.
We had a bit of time to admire the views in Flåm before catching the train up to Myrdal. This line is noted as the steepest standard gauge line anywhere in the world, again with magnificent views of the mountains and of waterfalls into and down the valley. In Myrdal (which consists of the station and some holiday hytta's :-) we walked down the creek for a bit and sat, paddled in the (icy cold) water, and admired the views over the edge of the precipice there. Finally caught the evening train to Oslo. In all, a very, very, memorable day.
Fri we spent exploring Oslo. I took Robyn across on the local ferry to Bygdøynes to see the Kon-Tiki, Fram, Maritime, Viking, and Folk Museums. A great deal to see, but well worth it. In particular, the folk museum, with the buildings including the spectacular stave (wooden) church laid out over the grounds was very pleasant. Caught a bus back round to the ferry terminal in time to take a mini-cruise on Oslo fjord round the islands just off town. That was well worth doing also. Then time to catch a train on to Lillahammer.
If it's Sat, we must be in Lillahammer! In the morning we did a very pleasant walk up the creek and into the hills above town. Then looped round to the top of the Lysgårdsbakkene Olympic Skijump - all 120m of it (90m on the small one :-) Whilst there we were lucky enough to see some of the locals practising jumps using grass skis off the 90m tower. Quite spectacular (but I don't think I'll be trying it in a hurry!). Then spent the afternoon exploring the Maihaugen Folk Museum. As with the Oslo one, this is a collection of traditional buildings arranged on a forested hill amongst lakes to show how they must have looked. Its my favorite of the folk museums I've visited in Norway. After that, guess what, time to jump on a train again, bound for Trondheim.
Spent Sun and Mon in my home away from home here. Sun we visited the Ringve Music Museum on the Lade peninsula. This is intended to be a "living" museum, where the guides play a number of the instruments as they show us round. It was interesting how I got a different slant this time compared to my previous visit, as our guide this time emphasized different things, and played different instruments. Fascinating. We then walked over to the Ringvebukta "beach" (no sand though for you pedants) so I could show Robyn what it looked like. However the weather was rather cooler, so we didn't stay. Then headed back to my apartment for a rest, before going out to visit some of my friends here for the evening. We started at Ursula's place, and sat and chatted for a while, before moving on to Lynda's for dinner. On Mon I showed Robyn where I worked at the Uni (and quickly caught up on email). Then we walked round to Kristiansten Festning (fort) and admired the view of town and out over Trondheim fjord, before walking down into town for coffee and muffins in the library cafe (where we also saw medieval ruins and the remains of a graveyard which they have preserved and on view). Next on to the Nidaros Cathedral, probably the major feature in Trondheim. Had an interesting guided tour of the church, and then climbed the stairs to admire the view from the tower (which I'd not been up before). Finally caught the tram up to Lian, where we just lay soaking up the sun and the view for a while. In the evening we had supper with my landlord's - Birgir and Marit. It was nice to sit and chat.
Tues saw us back on the morning train, heading south to Oslo. Arrived mid-afternoon, and had time for a quick (and very damp) tour of Akershus Festning (our guide was very good humoured about it - despite being very warm initially in the traditional costume she wore, and ending very wet, as we all were!). We then headed on to see Frogner Park and the Vigiland sculptures, which are one of my favorite places in Oslo - hundreds of bronze or marble sculptures of people in many poses. Quite a sight! We finished the evening having dinner with a friend, Deborah, at a very nice vegetarian restaurant. And then it was back on a train, this time a nice modern sleeper cabin on the overnight train to Bergen. Got a pretty good nights sleep on the train. We got up early, round 6am, in time to admire the views on the final run into Bergen, where we arrived at around 7am.
Had our final day together for this trip on Wed 13 Aug in Bergen. After breakfast in a nearby hotel (included in the rail ticket), we walked through town to the Aquarium, out on the tip of the Nordnes peninsula one one side of the old port, Vågen. We enjoyed the exhibits there, before making our way back to the railway station where it was time for Robyn to collect her bags and get the bus to the airport to fly back to England (and on Fri, back to Australia). We'd had a marvellous holiday together.
After farewelling her, I had a little while longer to walk around Bergen before I jumped back on the afternoon train to return to Oslo. I had Thurs in Oslo, and took the train out to see the view from the Holmenkollen Ski jump (unfortunately rather hazy but still nice), before returning via Frogner Park to admire the sculptures again, and then on to soak up the sun at the beach at Huk for a few hours. Finally I headed back to the station in time to catch the afternoon train back to Trondheim. A fire on the track ahead of us held the train up for over an hour, which meant I had to sprint from the station to the centre of town to catch the very last bus out to where I live - I decided despite being pretty fit over here, I'm **not** built for sprinting. Ah well, it'd been a great trip.
Since then, life has been a tad less frantic, though I've been busy at work preparing for my trip to Stockholm tomorrow, and the talk I'm giving there next week.
The weekend was fine again, so I went out walking, looking for Tur-Orienteering points in the Vikåsen-Solbakken area on Sat, and up in Bymarka below Skistua on Sun. Enjoyed both walks. Mon saw the church study group recommence at Ursula's, and it was nice to catch up with people I hadn't seen for a while. Wed was the final BUL "summerdans" at their hytta at Lian, and it was a very pleasant evening, with a good crowd and some wonderful live music from a couple of fiddlers (I bought their CD!). I'm gradually getting more confident dancing the "pols", though I also need to learn some of the other dances they do. Ah well, will hopefully get to classes in Sept-Oct before I return to Australia.