Tag Archives: travel

Preamble – Train from Oslo to Bergen

31 Jul

We had no idea… The train trip from Oslo to Bergen, Norway was billed as “Spectacular”. We had a nice time touring around Oslo the day before, but, we were ready to get on our early morning train to ride across Norway to our Hurtigruten cruise ship at the famed Hanseatic League port on the western coast.

Oslo is an attractive modern city, with attractive sky-scrapers, with interesting windows.

Our whole family enjoys trains. We hauled our suitcases on board, stowed them out of way, and took our seats by large panoramic windows.

Starting out, everything was green, with trees and fields and gradually less houses.


We started our gradual climb.

There are lots of lakes, and rivers and gradually we started to see mountains.

 

The railroad crossings and station were a bit sleepy.

The scenery was interesting, but not yet “Spectacular”.

The hills continued to get higher, the rivers appeared to get wider.

It was a lovely.  Red and white farm houses and the hills reflected in the water.

We started to see more rapids in the rivers.

We kept climbing higher and higher.

The villages were built on hillier terrain.

We appeared to nearing the start of the higher hills.

Then came the lakes.

Each emerging from the end of an ancient glacial valley.

Suddenly, we started seeing mountains with snow.

And there was ice in the lakes.

The green hills transformed to gray and black, still speckled with snow.

The reflections on still, partially frozen lakes were amazing.

We continued to see more and more snow cover…

And, more and more ice.

It was the 28th of May…

 

But, the ice had not cleared from the lakes yet.

Now we could see Glaciers and Snowfields…

 

Flowing down into the lakes.

We stopped briefly in the next town and saw people getting off the train with Skis!

People in Oslo were walking around in shorts the day before…

But here, the rivers were frozen…

And, ski season, if not at its peak…

Was still going strong.

   

We saw small shacks out by the still frozen lakes.

Occasionally we would see a house.

The terrain was spectacular.

The wintry landscape was unexpected.

The arctic conditions reminded us that…

Summer was still coming…

To this region…

We saw the summer homes scattered around, hopefully…

But summer, still seemed a couple of months away.

Finally we crested the high point of our rail trek…

And, started down the west side of the mountains.

Though we still saw glaciers and massive snow fields…

The lakes were starting to melt again…

Forming raging streams…

Rushing rivers…

 

The hundreds of waterfalls and rapids…

Were spectacular as they continue their dramatic drops through winding valleys.

Then suddenly, we stopped in a town where we were greeted by a friendly Mountain Troll.

The streams leveled out…

And, formed lovely glacial lakes.

It was Spring again. Everything was green again. The Mountain Troll had performed some type of magic, calming the raging rivers, melting the snowfields, returning the Norway to its broad, beautiful lakes with scenic mountains in the far distance. It has been a surprising, spectacular, snowy, scenic trip over the mountains. Just a little way further, now, to Bergen, and more adventures.

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Blog by Bruce Summers, Summersbw@gmail.com, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales. Former Board Member, Regions and Chapters Director, Association of Personal Historians.

This Blog is part of a series:

Our Norwegian Cruise

See also:

Tromsø – Hike to the Cable Car via the Bridge

Tromsø – Hike to the Cable Car via the Bridge

12 Jun

First view of the Arctic Cathedral

We agreed ahead of time that instead of a paid “excursion” we would hike across the high harbor bridge, past the Arctic Cathedral to the Cable Car. We had 4 hours and 15 minutes to get off the boat get there, explore the mountain at the top of the Cable Car and get back. We planned to walk there and if needed take the # 26 bus back. Our friend Mary agreed to join our personal “excursion”.

Tromsø is our next stop

Tromsø is about 240 miles north of the Arctic Circle, so we had our thermals and layers ready. It was a nice day, our good weather continued to hold, it was cool but not frigid cold. I prepared my day pack, we filled the water bottles, rolled up and stuffed in the emergency rain coats. We reviewed maps and confirmed our bus route back with the ship’s activities staff.

  

First view of the Arctic Cathedral

It was a beautiful trip into the harbor. Snow capped mountains surrounded the perimeter as far as the eye could see, all around Tromsø, some near while others far and then much farther in the distance. The city of Tromsø is the largest in northern Norway, about 70,000 people. We passed quite a few ships coming into and later out of port. Freighters, excursion boats, fishing boats, cruise liners, sailboats – all a lovely cacophony.

A tall bridge about a mile long dominated the channel between the major island the mainland. We knew this was the bridge we had to cross to get to the cable car. We saw on the map that our ship would birth fairly near to it. On our starboard side we could see the cable car on the hill and the platform 1,300 hundred feet above us. We would need to cross the bridge to get to it.

There seemed to be four segments to our trip. Walk along the harbor, take the 15 minute walk across the high bridge, pass the Arctic Cathedral and make our way to the bottom entrance station to the cable car, then ride the car up to top entrance at an altitude of 421 meters above the harbor.

It was 2:15 PM when the MS Lofoten snugged into its berth. The gangplank was carefully placed by a forklift. The crew prepared to check us out, we all queued up, had our Ship ID Cards scanned, “goodbye” it signaled, and the five us gathered on the pier, cameras and cell phones out and ready to take photos; then we were off. It was always great to get off of the boat for a few hours of exploring each day.

My son, daughter, and I alternated fast walking and taking the lead through the harbor piers so we would each have a few seconds to stop, snap some photos, then fast walk again to keep up with fellow hikers. Snap, snap – harbor, fishing boats, rowing boat team, statues, interesting houses, businesses, signs in Norwegian, the harbor, freighters, and then the bridge.

Once we were on the bridge it was a fairly long steep climb. Again the three of us fast walked, then paused to take pictures – city skyline, ships, piers, the Arctic Cathedral, the far shore, the cable car, and the many snow-capped mountains in the distance.

We stayed on the right side of the bridge, designed and dedicated for foot traffic. We saw or passed walkers, strollers, and joggers going both ways. Cars, trucks and buses used the center lanes. Bikers made good use of the left designated bike lanes, again being frequently used both ways.

Above us and beside us were sea gulls, floating on the natural breezes but also on the breeze being generated by ships passing under us, and by the vehicle, bike and human foot traffic passing along the bridge. They floated slowly by, hovering on the breeze slightly above us, beside us, or just below us – seemingly happy and enjoying the day. Sometimes it was just one bird smiling, Other times it was three or four birds together wafting along on their own excursion beside the bridge a couple of hundred feet above the harbor.

The steady climb up the bridge went on and on, and then finally it peaked and we started down towards the Arctic Cathedral. The walk down seemed much faster now aided by gravity. Our strides seemed longer and views of our destination drew us on at a swift pace. As we made a slight curve to the right we now had a clear view of the lovely Arctic Cathedral. We paused, snapped a few photos and then continued our march.

As we came off the bridge, we paused to take a few snaps and to orient ourselves. Our maps did not show a clear path by foot, to the bottom of the cable car. We could see the cables up the hill in the distance and decided to follow the road signs for autos to the cable car. We paused to take a photo of a phone booth. It seemed a common sight at the various islands and towns we visited during the cruise, but phone booths are increasingly rare in the US, at least where we live.

The air was fresh, the temperature cool, but not cold, it was a great day for a hike. So we set off up the hill following the road signs, After a bit of a climb there was another road sign up the hill further, then we saw the anticipated sign to the right. Another sign said the equivalent of “keep going”, in Norwegian. As per our norm, various members of our crew paused to snap a new picture of a house, a sign, the city across the harbor, the bridge, the passing ships, or the mountains in the distance.

Finally there was the expected sign to turn left and up the hilly parking lot was the bottom entrance to the cable car and we smiled inwardly, three legs of our journey done. We walked up the hill, turning once or twice to snap the view. We bought our tickets, getting two discounts for students (college students count). Then we had about a 10 minute wait for the next cable car.

These of course were not like the San Francisco Cable Cars. The cars are gondola type cabins are suspended by cables and ascend fairly rapidly to the upper platform – only a four-minute ride. Our group was first in line so we secured the optimal places in the car to look down and backwards to take more photos of the view as we rose to our destination.

We arrived to a small snack area, that opened at the front to a large viewing platform with a 180 degree view of the city and harbor area across the channel. To the right was the bridge far below us. On a hill diagonally in line above it were the 2 or 3 ski jumps, now bare of snow, that I had seen on the city map. We could see the airport on the back half of the island that had been hidden by the central hill above Tromsø. We could see the high, jagged snow-capped peaks in the far distance across the water behind the island.

We could see many other islands and snowy mountains on all sides in the distance. It was a lovely panorama. We had our friend Mary take group shots of us with the town and the mountains and the landmark bridge behind us. There were even large table like chairs on the viewing platform where you could lounge, out of the wind and just soak up the Arctic sun.

Behind us were hills still fully covered with snow, We had seen one man carrying snow skis earlier on our hike to the cable car. It was the first of June, but still ski season for some. Just outside of the snack shop there was a snow drift about 6 feet high. We could see where the hiking trails started, most were still snow-covered of course.

Several of us walked over to a far viewing platform through about eight inches of snow. There was a somewhat beaten path where others had walked, but it was a might slippery at times. Luckily my feet stayed fairly dry. Again the view from the far platform was stunning and slightly different than from the viewing platform. You could see another 45% degrees around to south with a long view across water to the farther away rugged snow-capped mountains and islands in the distance. It was a lovely view, I smiled inwardly, enjoying being up on a snowy mountain on the northern coast of Norway with the sun shining on my face.

We walked carefully, again with a bit of slipping and sliding on the snowy path, less beaten, through less walked path through the snow. We all got hot chocolate at the snack shop. They actually had an additional cafeteria space with tables and chairs, the Fjellstua Cafe. If we ever go back in the summer for a mountain hike, I would definitely take advantage of this. I walked out on the viewing platform for one more look at the view. Came back in and enjoyed my cocoa. We made sure we queued up early to get the prime front view in the cable car going down. After a five-minute wait we were on our way – four minutes down to the lower station while snapping more photos of the view.

We decided we still had 90 minutes to get back to the ship. My family and I decided to walk back. Our friend decided to try the bus. Again, gravity made the walk down to the bridge must faster. We stopped to take some external photos of the famed Arctic Cathedral. We decided to save visiting this for another trip, hopefully. We enjoyed our fast 15 minute walk up and over the pedestrian side of the bridge. We passed more walkers, strollers, and joggers, cars, trucks, and floating sea gulls. We did not see Mary’s bus, but we did see other buses crossing the bridge regularly. The air and the view were again lovely and interesting.

Off the bridge, we strolled through the city a bit, glanced over at Pepe’s pizza – no, no, not this trip… We got back to our ship with plenty of time to spare. We walked around the dock area a bit, then watched freight, still being loaded onto the M.S. Lofoten continuously for the past three hours. This freight was headed for still further northern, smaller, more isolated towns and villages on our cruise path north.

The M.S. Lofoten is a working ship. It carries freight and passengers to and from towns that may have no roads, air, or train connections to other towns.

We took off our extra layers, stowed away our gear, day pack, water bottles and rain gear, and assimilated back into “cruise” mode. Dinner was in another hour and a half and there would be lots to see as we started the next leg of our journey. Let’s see, it will be Skjervøy next at 10:15 PM.

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Tromsø – Hike to the Cable Car via the Bridge is one of a series of blogs – Our Norwegian Cruise by Bruce Summers, summersbw@gmail.com  Bruce is a Personal Historian and founder of Summoose Tales.  He is a former board member, regions and chapters director of the Association of Personal Historians.

See also:

Preamble – Train from Oslo to Bergen

 

Our Norwegian Cruise

11 Jun

The waves were over 15 feet high and the wind was strong as we crossed open sea during the last 13 hours of our cruise. It’s like riding a horse, but with an immensely strong “bucking” motion every 4 or 5 seconds.

Some passengers retired to their bunks at 3 pm, others just after a short stop at a port around 5 pm. I was one of the lucky few who seemed less affected by the rocking of the MS Lofoten way… forward down the back of a wave, and then way… back as we road up the front of the next wave. Then suddenly we would start to roll way… over to starboard, was it going to stop we wondered! Then a slight pause, and we would roll way… over to the port side, impossibly far…, but the good ship righted itself as it had in all-weather and all seas for the past 53 years.

Our family recently returned from a Hurtigruten Cruise up the coast of Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes. All together the Lofoten made 33 stops as we sailed up the magical and rugged western coast of Norway.

We traveled well above the Arctic Circle. At one point we were just 1,250 miles from the North Pole. We sailed above the northern tip of continental Europe and finished up about 15 kilometers from Russia and due north of Cairo, Egypt.

The Lofoten is an older smaller cruise ship, more intimate with less than 90 cabins. You really do get to know all of the crew. By the end of the seven-day sail you get to know, by face, most of the passengers. Several were on a first name basis and start sending us emails before we get home, saying they miss their “cruise family”.

The Lofoten, is a classic cruise ship, still with elegant service and white table cloths at each meal. My favorite waiter spotted me across the dining room each morning, caught my eye and headed over to serve me a long elegant stretched out pour of coffee from a foot away.  Some how the coffee always streamed directly to my coffee cup, regardless of the rock or roll of the ship.  He knew I was good for four, maybe five refills for breakfast. One more, he would ask and I would nod and say thank you.

 

One waitress smiled at the end of dinner one night, “that’s my last meal” (the last course she needed to serve on the second serving).  She was happy because she would get a two or three-hour break ashore at our next stop. She shared, “I will go for a walk, and there is a cafe I like to go to.” Another waitress later appeared on deck. She smiling to herself with her bicycle in both hands, ready to roll it carefully down the gang-plank to the pier, and then go for a ride to relax on shore after a busy day of serving meals.

Before our cruise we took a fascinating train ride from Oslo, the capital of Norway, to Bergen, the second largest city in Norway on the western coast. A bus took us from the train to the MS Lofoten. We checked in our bags and then we got lost looking for the “tourist” harbor. Those stories will be in other blogs.

Our Norwegian Cruise will include a series of blogs, each with photos and commentary:

“Our Norwegian Cruise” is by Bruce Summers, A Personal Historian and Founder of “Summoose Tales“, former Board Member, Regions and Chapters Director, Association of Personal Historians, summersbw@gmail.com

Martin Luther King Jr. Photos and Volunteering

18 Jan

20131110_214517 MLK 4 Full length front

Martin Luther King Jr. died when I was 10 years old. Bobby Kennedy was also killed in 1968 and his brother John F. Kennedy in 1963. I tried to understand what was going on in our country.  Why did these three inspirational leaders have to die?

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As an adult I entered the United States Peace Corps, in part perhaps inspired to volunteer to give back to my fellow man by these three leaders. For many years I worked in and with nonprofits and churches often as an employee, but also often as a volunteer.

20131110_215012 MLK - I have the Audacity to believe

As a nonprofit executive my focus shifted to empowering and engaging volunteers to building community, to strengthening connections, to improving collaboration. As a volunteer with the Association of Personal Historians, I continue to work to empower and engage volunteers to work through chapters and regions to help personal historians strengthen their skills to capture and share life stories, memories, experiences and lessons learned from one generation to succeeding generations.

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Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, he inspired thousands during his life time. He still inspires me and many millions more after his death. I hope he inspires you to give, to serve, and to volunteer.

20131110_205551 cropped Lincoln Memorial - MLK speech

Integrated in this article are a few photos I took at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, I hope you have a chance to travel and visit these sites and that you are equally inspired by Dr. King and his legacy.

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian with Summoose Tales and serves on the Board of the Association of Personal Historians and as their volunteer director for Chapters & Regions, summersbw@gmail.com

Our Trip To Paradise Part 2 – Northern Virginia to Longmire

29 Sep

Day 1 – We traveled from Northern Virginia to longtime, Mount Rainier National Park.

Excited we got on an early morning flight at Washington Reagan National Airport, changed planes in Denver and we were on our way.
About 50 miles from the airport my wife points out of the airplane window. There it was – Mount Rainier in its snow-capped 14,410 foot glory.

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We landed at the airport, picked up our rental car, checked our directions and started driving towards Mount Rainier. Even 30 miles away we would see house development campgrounds and even a winery named for Mount Rainier. It dominates the landscape for many miles in many directions as well as providing the source for a dozen rivers and the primary water source for Seattle and many other parts of Washington State.

We stopped in a small town about 10 miles from the park entrance to buy a few groceries and a case of water. Drinking water is great prevention from getting altitude sickness once we get into the park and especially as we prepare to hike and explore the mountain.

We saw railroad themed murals…

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A “Caboose Hotel”…

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And a railcar pizzeria…

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We were tempted by beautiful lakes, and intrigued by signs warning that the water level could rapidly go up or down 25 feet due to flooding from the mountain run-off. “Look out for floating logs and submerged stumps!”

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We continued on, entered Mount Rainier National Park and immediately noticed the old growth forest and huge trees, and something like Spanish moss covering the ancient evergreen trees.

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We passed the park road repair crews but luckily we were only delayed a few minutes since it was late in the day. Finally we come upon a clearing and there we found our first destination the National Park Inn in Longmire, Mt. Rainier National Park.

See also:

Our Trip to Paradise – took 25 years

Our Trip to Paradise Part 3 – The National Park Inn

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 5 – Arrival in Paradise (Wildflowers were everywhere) (New)

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