Introduction

IMG_8906This blog is intended primarily as my personal journal of our travel and I’m sure a lot of it is factual and pretty mundane. You are welcome to read it at your own risk…

BTW: For anyone unfamiliar with blogging formats, the newest post is at the top and older ones further below.

Edinburgh Day 1, Scotland – Wednesday, July 17, 2019

We woke up at 6:30 and went straight to the Cabaret Lounge for passport clearance. Heiki was there keeping things running smoothly and there was no one in line at all. Two young girls quickly looked at our passports and we were done. We then went up to Windows for a leisurely breakfast. After this, we collected our cases and went to wait in the lounges where we met Alison’s parents in the Mosaic Cafe.

We were not in a rush to leave so waited until about 9 am before going ashore. Two crew members took our cases down the gangway and through the terminal building. From here, we walked around the corner to Ocean Terminal, Leath, where Alison wanted to tour Britannia. Outside the entrance we found her parents waiting.

I waited inside Starbucks for a couple of hours and looked after the cases. I spent the time fixing a computer problem with my Chromebook and needed to factory reset it to fix the problem. Once Alison finished the tour and shopping, we caught the bus for a 45-minute ride into town and our AirB&B accommodation.

We were met by Charlotte who gave us an orientation of the area where we were staying and instructions for the flat. Then we left to walk up to the nearby castle, the Royal mile and stopped at the train station. Here we found a Cornish Pastie vendor and shared a large cheese and onion pastie. We continued a little further along the mile, then wound our way back to the Scottish National Museum. We only had about an hour to look around before it closed but saw many of the highlights, including an interesting electrical industrial section.

Our final stop was Sainsbury’s to get some food for dinner. However, after several cups of tea and slices of baguette with jam, we decided that we were no longer hungry. We stayed in for the rest of the evening, took care of overdue business and rested.

At Sea – Tuesday, July 16, 2019

This was our last full day on the ship. In the morning, we had the captain’s question and answer period. I spent a good part of the day sorting out the photographs for the blog. Then we needed to pack ready to leave the ship in the morning.

We met for drinks in Alison’s parents’ cabin one last time then went to dinner and coffee in Mosaic cafe. We decided not to stay up for the show this evening because there was only one very late performance at 9:45 and with the hour change, it was simply too late.

Bergen, Norway – Monday, July 15, 2019

Our last stop of the cruise was a large city where we had another tour planned. We waited a long time outside for our bus while others were being loaded because there was a very small carpark. Our guide was from France and for the first hour of the tour, he explained the history of buildings as we drove around the city, which was rather boring and I slept through most of it. We only stopped in one place for photos and none of us could see what was so special about the view. The second part was a ride up a funicular to the mountain top. We were able to get straight on to the ride and re-assembled at the top. Our guide had offered to take us on a walk to a pretty lake.

While waiting we decided to forgo the remainder of the tour and make our own way back on foot. Alison ran off to tell her parents the plan just as the guide set off on the walk. When Alison returned the guide was out of sight and we raced after him, finally catching up as he arrived at the lake. We walked with the guide around the lake and talked to him about coming to Norway to be with his girlfriend.

Back at the top of the funicular, we stayed behind, looked at the view and took photos. The tram was waiting as we descended and there were few people on it. However, there was an enormous queue at the bottom which stretched all the way past the ticket booth and on to the street.

We walked around fish market stalls and into the shopping street where we found a shop to buy gifts. Then walked back along the waterfront to the ship. After lunch, we came out again and Alison went shopping while I walked further to a library. I stayed there working for a couple of hours until Alison found me and we walked back. On the way, we explored narrow corridors between old wooden buildings. Then we boarded the for the final time on this cruise.

The ship stayed in port until late in the evening but we decided not to go ashore. The entertainment was Ned, the assistant cruise director who sang a selection of opera, operetta, musicals and told stories about life in the opera chorus.

Olden, Norway – Sunday, July 14, 2019

We had an early start for our tour so set the alarm for 7 am. After collecting our bus sticker we went straight down and waited on the bus where we talked for a while to our Italian guide and Swedish driver. After about 15 minutes the remaining guests came down and we set off. It was a 45-minute drive to the trailhead hike and we stopped in two places for views and photographs. Our destination was the largest glacier in Europe and we would see one of the tongues coming away from it.

At the trailhead, there was a cafe and a souvenir shop. The guide told us to go at our own pace rather than going as a group. The first half of the walk was an uphill slog. We followed a river that turned into a cascade and then a large waterfall. There were steps beside the waterfall and once we reached the top the trail levelled off and the river became a calm flow. As we went further we passed signs showing the historical extent of the glacier. It was about 15 minutes past the 1920 sign that we came to a lake, but still no sign of the glacier. Eventually, the clouds cleared and we could see a small sliver of ice high up in the mountains.

We retraced the steps down in about half the time of the hike up. At the bottom, we went into the cafe where we had coffee and cake waiting for us. Alison and I were the first to arrive and we enjoyed the refreshments as we waited for the others to arrive. After an hour it was time to get on the bus for the journey back to the ship.

The bus stopped about 10 minutes before the ship to allow people to get off and view a church. Alison got out and planned to walk back the rest of the way while I stayed on. I waited for Alison before going to lunch but after half an hour decided to go anyway. She finally arrived an hour later having gone in all the shops along the way.

In the evening we were invited to a loyalty event in the Sunset bar at the back of Windows. We did not qualify but were invited to join Alison’s parents. There was an abundance of high-quality canape. The remainder of the evening went as routine.

Molde, Norway – Saturday, July 13, 2019

After breakfast we went for our daily walk. In front of the dock was a hill that we climbed up to an old chateau. We then continued along a the road, passed a catholic church and to the cathedral. Molde is known to its roses and there was a rose garden in front of the cathedral. We then descended to the main shopping street next to the city hall. From here we walked to the end of shopping district and found a large thrift store to explore. On our way back, I left Alison to shop at her own pace while I continued back to the ship.

Once Alison returned, we had lunch on the Sunset Bar patio behind Windows. Then went ashore again in the afternoon and found the nearby library to use the Internet where I did some more projects. Alison stayed for a while but went of exploring the town later and we both met up in the cabin in time to get ready for dinner. Then followed our usual evening routine. The entertainer tonight was Helen Jayne again, the solo singer from England.

Trondheim, Norway – Friday, July 12, 2019

We had quite a late arrival in Trondheim, so had an early lunch before our arrival and departed as soon as the gangway was cleared. There were buses taking us into the city and we rode to the 2nd stop by the cathedral. After walking through the cathedral grounds, we crossed an old bridge then ascended a nearby hill. The steep hill included a bicycle lift which was somewhat like a ski tow. We watched with amusement as a boy tried to use the lift and kept falling off after a few metres. For pedestrians, it was simply a slog up the hill. At the top, we rested on a picnic bench and met a couple from Canada who we talked to for a while.

Continuing up a little further we came to an old fort which was our destination. Our research told us there was an admission fee, but we found it was free. Exploring the inside there were a few displays and we were able to ascend two floors and had great views over the city from the canon holes. Back outside we made our way across the gardens and to another bridge leading into the town. We explored the shopping area and a shopping mall before winding our way back to the cathedral for the return bus pickup.

There was a large crowd waiting for the bus and we wondered if we should walk the 25 minutes back to the ship. The host there told us the buses come every 20 minutes and we had no worry about fitting everyone on the bus. She was wrong! When the bus arrived 15 minutes later there was a scramble for the bus and we were able to get the last seats, but others were left behind. It seemed poorly organized.

We had an early dinner in the Windows Cafe as soon as it opened with Alison’s parents. Then met in the Cabaret lounge for a reception before being escorted to the AzAmazing evening. Cruises on Azamara often include a free evening of cultural emersion and we were privileged to be invited as VIP guests. Following refreshments, Lisle escorted us out and on to the first bus taking us back to the cathedral. There we were met by the captain and had photos taken. We waited outside for about 10 minutes before being allowed inside the cathedral. After taking our seats, we waited about an hour for the other 600 cruise ship guests to arrive and be seated. During this time a paster told us about the cathedral.

With everyone seated, Danny, the cruise director introduced the captain to make a speech followed by the deputy mayor of the city. After this, the concert began. We heard several pieces by a chamber orchestra, organ music, a soloist and finally a folk fiddler accompanied by the orchestra. The concert extended over an hour and longer than planned. We were first to be escorted back to the ship and had coffee in the Mosaic cafe on arrival. By the time we were finished, it was close to 10 pm but did not seem late since it was still so light out.

Bodo, Norway – Thursday, Juy 11, 2019

We arrived early in the morning but had a leisurely breakfast before leaving since we did not have a tour planned. We walked into town and along the street nearest the waterfront until we encountered the Tourist Information. There did not seem to be a lot to see in Bodo and we wanted to see if there were other local attractions. We asked about the maelstrom which is about 45 minutes drive from the town. There was a bus tour, but the timing was tight and there was no guarantee that we would see anything.

The staff had suggested walking along a long pier which we did and took photographs of our ship. We then returned up a hill to the Swedish district, which was an area rebuilt following bombing during the war. From here we walked to the cathedral and inside listened to the organ music being played. Continuing our walk along the main street, there were a lot of shops but many were closed and there were very few people about. This did not seem like a thriving city. We eventually came back to the ship and went up for lunch.

After lunch, Alison went back out to find the wifi and came across a shopping mall we had missed. Apparently, this is where all the city life was that we had missed in the morning. Meanwhile, I stayed behind to catch up on some work and my afternoon nap.

In the evening, there was a loyalty event in the Cabaret Lounge where the captain made a speech and introduced the top cruisers. Since Alison’s parents had a special dinner, we decided to try dining in the Windows Cafe where it was Greek night. The food selection was fine but the service was lacking and overall the experience was disappointing. On a previous cruise, we had a much better experience in Windows. Still, now we know not to try that again.