Saturday 29 June 2013

Final day at sea

We are on our way back to Southampton and will dock first thing tomorrow morning, then we are catching a train up to Nottingham.
We are enjoying a couple of days at sea and last night was the Victoriana evening. Nearly everyone dressed in their finest outfits and we had lobster tail then baked Alaska for dinner.
Today there is a full programme of events to keep us entertained. The best was a talk by Robert Powell - he did three during the cruise and was brilliant. Right now we have a choice of singing along with the ships cast in a 'groovy choir', playing bridge, whist or bingo, joining the watercolour art class, going to a ballroom dance class or one for my sister Elaine, the needlework and knitting session.
It has been another lovely cruise, and we just need to get back to my mums now to see how much weight we have put on.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Torshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands

In 1709, Torshavn was hit by a plague of smallpox and 250 out of 300 inhabitants died. Today though, the population is up to 13,000 and a lot of them were out and about today.
Yet again the weather has been kind and we have been exploring the town and nearby countryside.
There are still quite a few houses with grass roofs and the whole place is lovely in a rugged kind of way.
In the last photo Darren is doing a pretty accurate impersonation of Cher in the 'If I could turn back time' video, but he insists that he does not remember it. All that is missing is the aircraft carrier, thousands of American sailors and a tiny lace outfit......

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Captain's visit to the Faroe Islands

This is the first time that we have sailed on a ship with a lady Captain and she is from the Faroe Islands.
She has been really excited all day and has made announcements over the tannoy to tell us we were approaching the islands, and then came on to tell us a legend about a witch and a giant that tried to tow the islands to Iceland.
We stopped at the second largest town called Klaksvik for the evening. Apparently only 50,000 people live on the whole of the Faroes and the local community were out in force. They had laid on special events to make us welcome, as it is only the second time that a cruise ship has visited.
We cycled out as far as we could in each direction and went about 15 kilometres before we ran out of roads.
We then stopped at the main part of the town and chatted to some young girls who loved my bike, then  drank some reasonably priced red wine from a market stall. We chatted to a lovely local lady and her adopted Indian daughter called Karen and watched a fashion show featuring local hand knitted outfits.
The locals said they were so happy that the weather was so good for us tourists, but I sat outside in five layers of clothing and my gloves, so I would hate to think what bad weather would be like.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Lava, lupins and Lutherans

There are lots of brilliant things about Iceland - cycle paths, polite drivers, lovely scenery, whales (yes, we saw one from the ship), interesting architecture, geysers, (we didn't actually visit one though), waterfalls, etc, etc.
However, three of the most memorable were :-
Lava - Iceland is volcanic and this morning we cycled out to a lava field. Almost nothing grows on them apart from lichen and a few tiny flowers. It is supposed to look like the landscape of the moon.
Lupins - They are absolutely everywhere and they are all the same purple colour.
Lutheran churches - A lot of the buildings are covered in corrugated iron sheets and look really dramatic, especially the churches. This church, called Hallgrimskirkja is the most striking of all though and is on a hill in Reykjavik and can be seen from miles around.
We got up early this morning for a cycle ride and did 41 kilometres, with a quick stop en route to enjoy a mini picnic of blueberry muffins.

Monday 24 June 2013


Our ship is docked a couple of miles outside the city of Reykjavik in the dock area. We set off on our bikes and cycled for ages through a big industrial area which was pretty bleak.
We then turned back towards town and followed the cycle path by a lovely river all the way down to the sea.
There are some amazing sculptures around the town and my favourite is this boat on the waterfront.
On the way back we followed the shore line, getting lost for a while in the harbour and covered 50 kilometres.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Snow angel in Iceland

I had been waiting for the chance to do a snow angel and in loads of places that we passed, the snow came right down to water level. Unfortunately, everywhere we have stopped the snow has been high up the mountainside.
We found a small patch on our walk today, but it was a bit solid so I couldn't make the wing shapes with my arms. I also thought that I might make an elegant shaped angel, but it just goes to show how wrong you can be.
We are now on the north west coast of Iceland and we stayed up until midnight last night to try to get a photo of the midnight sun, but it was cloudy so we missed it - ditto the whales.
We are in Isafjordur on the Westfjords peninsula. There are 9,600 inhabitants in the region that is slightly larger than Cyprus. I got this info from the guidebook, but it doesn't help me picture it as I don't know how big Cyprus is, or how many people live there.
We went on a good walk today following blue paint marks on rocks across the mountain. We had no idea where it went but after about 40 minutes we met two people coming in the opposite direction who were also on our ship, so we were all pleased to learn that we were on a circular route and would make it back to the dock in time to catch the boat to Reykjavik.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Akureyki, Iceland

We had a day at sea yesterday and because we are so far north we have 24 hour daylight. While we slept we sailed into the Arctic Circle and round the north of Iceland, then south into the Eyjarfjordur, ending up at Akureyki.
The cloud was very low as we sailed down the fjord, but it cleared to reveal the tops of all of the hills, turning into a lovely afternoon.
Akureyki is not the most exciting place we have ever visited, but it has a very pretty Botanic Garden with lots of plants and flowers that grow in England. There is also a surprising art deco style church and a busy town centre - although that might be because it was full of passengers from our ship.

Thursday 20 June 2013


Alesund is our last port of call in Norway and it is quite a large town that is spread across seven different islands. They are all connected either by tunnels or bridges, but unfortunately, most of them do not allow cyclists so we were limited to the main town and the next nearest island.
We had a lovely cycle around with a little rest stop, and then back to our cabin to drop off the bikes.
Daz cycled along the corridor which I am sure is not allowed!
The Fjellstua Viewpoint is right next to the town so after lunch we climbed the 418 steps to the top. It has fantastic views and the extra exercise meant I could have a jam and cream scone for afternoon tea.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Out and about in Olden and Loen

Olden is a village housing less than 500 people at the end of the Nordfjord. We are chugging further north up the Norwegian coast and the settlements are getting much scarcer and smaller.
By contrast, our ship has over 4,000 people on board, including passengers and crew, so we have bumped the head count up today.
We cycled through fantastic scenery up to the head of the fjord to the Briksdal glacier. It is impressive from the valley floor, but the glacier ends quite high up the mountain with a three kilometre walk to reach it. We decided against this option and instead cycled back and around another arm of the fjord to Loen.
It was full of campervans which inspired us greatly and it also had a very atmospheric church.
I read a notice telling us that in 1905 a huge section of one of the mountains collapsed into the fjord making a tidal wave that killed 135 people who lived in the village.
Total distance cycled - 61 kilometres.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Beautiful Bergen

Bergen is the second biggest city in Norway and is known as the rain capital as apparently it rains there for at least 200 days each year.
Not so today, and we had a quick look around the town - lots more cobbles and cute wooden houses. We then followed a cycle track up through the forest with lots of hair pin turns to a little lake. Afterwards came a super fast descent down the other side of the hill and a ride along the side of the fjord back to the ship.

Monday 17 June 2013

Stunning Stavanger

We have spent the day cycling around Stavanger and the surrounding area. We cycled 49 kilometres, or 30 miles if you don't do metric, and the scenery was beautiful.
Stavanger is known as the oil capital of Norway so for some reason, I was expecting a grim and dull place, but it is lovely.
It also has some of the best cycle tracks ever, but it was heavy going in the town as the historic areas are all cobbled and quite hilly.
We listened to a talk on board about the history of the area and made a great effort to find the three swords embedded in the rock. Unfortunately I have forgotten who won a great battle at the end of the fjord, but the swords represent peace in the area.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Lucky sea day

Our first full day at sea today as we head up the North Sea towards Stavanger.
It is a lovely bright day with a calm sea and we are enjoying the on board activities.
We started off with shuffleboard where the aim of the game is to push the counters down the deck on to a score board. We have never got the hang of this game and the first two rounds we both scored zero.
We then entered the ships paddle tennis competition and as there were only two other entrants we played them in the final and got an easy win!
Our prize was some points towards a present at the end of the trip - no idea what yet.
Darren then insisted that we rush down to the spa and gym where we had entered, along with many other people, the prize draw for free spa treatments. The only catch was that you had to be present if they drew your card. We had missed the first two prizes and were just in time for the last draw, where they immediately drew out Darren's entry!
His prize was a hot stone massage which he chivalrously gave to me. You can see the stones in my photo along with a couple of wooden truncheons and some cloth maracas.
It was lovely and I have just been hot stoned and now smell of lavender and frangipani.
We are now having afternoon tea, cucumber sandwiches and tiny cakes, although we can't sit here too long as we have to get ready for the Captain's party.

Saturday 15 June 2013

All aboard

Here we are in the glamorous Southampton docks aboard the Queen Victoria. We are about to set sail on a cruise up the Norwegian coast, around Iceland and back to England via a quick stop in the Faroe Islands.
I had hoped that the English summer weather might have been a bit kinder for our departure. The sea is looking pretty choppy and I have very low hopes of seeing much sun as the cruise progresses.
We booked the cruise at the last minute as for some reason they had not sold out in advance, but we are very excited and we have lots of warm clothes with us.
Our courtesy champagne is on ice and the captain has just announced that we are leaving soon.
Bon voyage I hope.