Norway Norway (Mah Nà Mah Nà)!
I love my Grandma.
She is called Annie, is 92-years-old, and has lived in the same house (I think) for as long as I’ve been alive. Because of her, I had my very first holiday abroad, to the magical Disneyland Paris (or EuroDisney, as it was known back when I first went). I must have gone four or five consecutive years in a row, and I have fond memories from every time. That was over twelve years ago, but this year, thanks to her, I was once again off on a holiday abroad. Along with my dad, we journeyed on a coach down to Southampton and boarded the Oriana cruise-ship, setting sail to Norway.
I didn’t know much about the country before I arrived. One quarter of Aqua originates from Norway, and in The Aqua Diary VHS there is a small look at Lene’s hometown. Also, they (undeservedly) finished last in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, so we have something in common. We had roughly a two day sail until we arrived in Norway; so during this time, I got to be reacquainted with my Grandma, as we shared a room. The second night saw me attend my first formal dining event.
I ate so well during my time on the ship! And even developed a liking for fruit smoothies.
On Sunday morning, we woke up to our first sighting of land since leaving.
This was the lovely city of Stavanger.
We forewent the planned excursions, and had a leisurely walk into the town. I had spent a few hours that week researching places to visit, so acted as the guide. Thankfully, my grandma and dad kept up with me, and we reached my intended destination: Sjokoladepiken. However, it being a Sunday, it wasn’t open (yet). We lucked out with a lovely cafe opposite, called Bøker & Børst. We all had tea, and I even had Red Bush (because aside from chocolate, that’s the only other hot drink I like)!
After that, Sjokoladepiken had opened, and me and my grandma had a look inside. I was a bit nervous ordering, but the chocolatiers were very welcoming and spoke English. I bought a handmade peanut butter chocolate bar (which I’m still savouring, as it is delicious), and took away a hot chocolate, which came in two cups, so my dad held one and couldn’t help but drink most of it. He said it tasted like a melted Galaxy bar (which is quite a compliment, given he has no sense of smell). It had been about two hours, but we still had two hours left until the ship was due to leave and carry on its cruise up the fjords. My grandma and dad reluctantly let me wandar the city by myself, and I spent rather too much time enjoying myself! It felt amazing to be walking the streets of a different for once. It was only this year that I had travelled to another city by myself, so to now be on my own in a foreign country gave me such confidence.
On Monday morning, we arrived in a very wet, but still beautiful Geiranger. But that did not deter us (or me, at least) from exploring the village. After walking / climbing up the mountain side and taking some time out to breathe the fresh air and photograph the scenic views, I lucked out once again, and enjoyed some more delicious hot chocolate, this time made by Geiranger Sjokolade, inside a beautiful “boat house” cafe. I tried many different varieties of their chocolates, including raspberry, brown cheese, and even blue cheese, before settling on some of the strawberry chocolates to take home (in hindsight, I should have bought all four, they were all delicious).
By Tuesday, I was feeling a little bit tired, and had had too much fresh air, as my face was beginning to get puffy. What can I say, I am allergic to the sun, after all. Thankfully, we hadn’t seen much clear skies, otherwise my condition could have been far worse. We all decided to get tickets for an excursion which took us on a sightseeing coach trip around Beautiful Stryn and the Nordfjord.
It was breathtaking, and after having tea in Bryggen Hotel, I unfortunately fell asleep on the ride back. But, you know, once you’ve seen one snowcapped fjord, you’ve basically seen them all.
The good news is, I had got my energy back for our last day in Norway, and they truly had saved the best for last. Bergen is a beautiful, bustling city. Far too big to explore for the short amount of time we were given. Again, I had a place in mind, and we hopped on a Sightseeing bus to take us there. The Kode museum had recently reopened their Edvard Munch exhibit, and I got the chance to view some amazing art.
After that, I explored Bergen on my own, and it felt good to just aimlessly wander around. I took shelter in a record shop, as the weather was uncharacteristically glorious that afternoon, but left empty handed despite my best efforts to track down Aqua’s 2012 comeback album, Megalomania (seriously, what the hell, giving it a Danish only release). Grabbing only a Snapple from a local 7/11, I enjoyed the free wifi on the Sightseeing bus as it made its way back to the ship. My time in Norway had come to an end all too soon. But, we still had two more nights on the ship to enjoy. More formal dining, trying some Peri Peri chicken, and winding down in the evening with quizzes, bingo, and the dreaded karaoke. My dad took me and my Grandma to the casino frequently, and we both faired quite well for our first times, but the trick is to know when to leave, which is hard when you’re trapped on a ship.
Before arriving, I honestly expected to spend most of my time in the ship’s cinema, but when I finally sat down in there on the last night, it turned out to be the worst part! The film was brilliant, and free, but calling that projection room a cinema is an insult. Overall, the ship was beautiful, and I got over the Britishness of it all fairly quickly. It’s hard not to get swept up in the theme, and I would love to secretly call it my guilty pleasure – you know, if I were rich enough to book frequent cruises! It’s nice to know I’m not trapped in this country anymore, I am capable of seeing this whole world if I want to. It’s not just a dream anymore.