A New Mode of Transportation

August 16, 2017 Bergen, Norway > Hirtshals, Denmark

Somewhere among the last few days in Bergen, I got to thinking: “The girls are headed back to the States and we as a family are going to Denmark. How are we getting to Denmark? Daniel hasn’t told me…I haven’t asked…maybe I should find out.”

His answer? A ship.
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Excuse me? Did he say…a ship?

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Why yes. He did.
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This one, in fact.

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It couldn’t have been nicer.

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When traveling with children, sometimes you just want a bit of privacy. You know, after public planes and public buses and public trains, it seems like your entire life is on display. Everyone can hear and see your child(ren) crying and you have to keep up appearances at all times for everyone’s sake. For this leg of our journey, Daniel selected a cabin with a window (oh bless him!), 4 pull-down or fold-out beds and our own tiny bathroom. I truly felt like I was in a book. “Betsy and the Great World” anyone? (Of course, she was very single in that book…and I am…very not…but it was almost the same. Somewhat.) It was about an 18 hour overnight trip and it took us down around the bottom of Norway, to the top of Denmark.

We spent our time alternating between our little room and exploring the ship. There was live entertainment at the bow of the ship with dining.

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On various levels there was artwork to check out.

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Naturally, we spent a fair amount of time supervising Natasha who loved the children’s ball pit and play area. There was even a scavenger hunt for children to do with clues on various floors of the ship and a little prize at the end.

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Back in our little cabin, we could relax privately and enjoy the ride. I was slightly worried about being seasick, and both Natasha and I felt a little funny at times once we got out more on the open sea. But we just took ginger capsules and it was fine.IMG_5928
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Out on deck, we could let the children run more freely, to the great amusement of bystanders.

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I truly felt like I was in a book. The wind, the salty air, the sunset…can you tell I was slightly giddy? It felt surreal.

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And that, my friends, is how we arrived in Denmark.

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If you go:

  • Get a cabin with a window. You won’t regret it.
  • Take snacks. We had our typical salami, meat sticks, clementines, apples, bread, chocolate, etc… Food on the ship is pricey. There is a small shop on board, but the food (well, probably everything) was highly overpriced.
  • If you want to sit in the common areas the best seats are taken fast. So if you see a desirable seat, snag it up.
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In Which we Say Goodbye to Bergen

August 13-14, 2017

The last day or so in Bergen was mostly spent perusing the mall, bookstores and shops for last minute items we might like to take home. It always began by waiting for a bus. 011

One last stop at Det Lille Kaffekompaniet pretty much completed our stay in Bergen.021020018015

The walk back to the bus station was not without a final goodbye from Bergen to us: Yet more rain. It’s inevitable. Never go without an umbrella to Bergen, Norway. File_003 (4)File_002 (12)File_000 (21)

And yet, the sun does appear for brief moments as shown here on our last walk up the hill to our AirBnB. The girls were headed to the airport the next day and we were headed to Denmark for the remainder of our stay in Scandinavia. It was the end of an era, in a sense really. Maria, who has been our traveling companion for three trips now was to be married in about two weeks after returning to the States. Happily, her {now husband} loves to travel as well, so any future trips will include them both. File_001 (18)

Thanks for Melody for sharing her pictures with me.

A Funicular, A Hike and Coffee with a Toddler

August 12, 2017

If you are visiting Bergen, one of the “not-to-be-missed” activities is somehow getting to the top of Mount Fløyen. The view over the city is striking and however you end up at the top, it is an adventure. Right at the base of the mountain is a funicular, which Melody and Natasha decided to try out, while the rest of us followed paved walking paths up the mountain on foot. File_000 (20)File_001 (17)File_002 (11)

Of course, Melody and Natasha beat us to the top and made friends with local trolls while waiting for us stragglers to catch up.File_003 (3)

Meanwhile, we were huffing and puffing our way up, discussing how various adventures we have had in the past can feel like a lot of work or even not fun in the moment but later on we all have fond memories of it. This was one of those instances. It’s just hard work walking uphill, no matter how you put it. Very fit Norwegians were running past us practically the whole way up. Obviously, I wasn’t attempting that with a toddler on my back. 312

The view from the top though…wow. IMG_5862303

We all walked back down together and enjoyed mystical mossy forest sections at the sides of the path. It did seem like trolls live there. File_004 (2)

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At the bottom, we took over all free chairs at Det Lille Kaffekompaniet and enjoyed some quality coffee and refreshments.File_008File_005 (1)

I tried to keep Lincoln’s hands out of my torte, and even my cappuccino, but I was unsuccessful.

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Raisins just weren’t cutting it for this little boy, to the great amusement to the lady sitting inside the cafe, watching us the whole time. She left before we did and as she passed us she commented, “That was fun.” I know she was speaking from experience, having been in my shoes at some point with her own children many years prior. IMG_5868IMG_5876IMG_5869IMG_5873

We dubbed this the best coffee shop in Bergen, and so enjoyed our time there. It’s quaint, you can tell the locals visit it regularly and it’s worth your time. The sun peaked out some on our way back to the AirBnB, and gave us a glimpse of the mountain we just descended from. A perfect ending to another day in Bergen.IMG_5880

{Many thanks to Melody for a good hand full of the above pictures.}

The Waterfalls of Norway

It’s been one year since we were in Norway, galavanting around with Lynette, Melody and Maria. When we look back at pictures, most of us look the same. Except, the youngest of the group, who rode around on my back teething his way through Scandinavia.

On August 11, 2017 (I’m probably off a day or so…), Daniel and Lynette took the bus to Bergen’s airport and rented cars. I wish I had a link to share with a super savings for this rental that we found, but that’s sadly not the case. We wanted to get some driving time in and see some fjords and scenery outside of town though, so even though it wasn’t all that budget friendly, we did it. I remember there being some debate whether to get a van, which would seat all of us, or two cars, and for some reason, two smaller vehicles won out. So with Lynette driving one Volvo with the girls, and Daniel driving our family, we all headed out in search of some amazing views and waterfalls.

We were not disappointed. Skjervsfossen was the first stop and we saw it from above, before going below.

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Photo by Melody

Lincoln was such a trooper. If I coaxed hard enough, I’d get a smile. IMG_5817

But not for very long. It seems he was thinking, “If I prostrate myself at Mom’s feet, maybe she’ll pick me back up.”290

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Photo by Melody

The mist coming off the falls was pretty strong in some places. None of us ventured up real close, but if you went out a bit on the rocks, you could get misted quite easily. Which Natasha enjoyed.IMG_5829

Is walking behind a waterfall on your bucket list? This can successfully be checked off if you visit Steinsdalsfossen. It was next on our drive and after a slight hike up the hill, you can truly walk behind the falls.

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What is it with gift shops that lure all children closer? The shop here at the base of the hill had many typical souvenirs and among them are little troll figurines which were popular in Norway. None came home with us, by the way.IMG_5845

Ah, the cars again. They matched! IMG_5848IMG_5852

Fjords were harder to get close to and/or find than we anticipated. I was expecting something more like Milford Sound down in New Zealand, which was simple to view without getting out on the water. Getting a boat tour here in Norway to get that close wasn’t on the itinerary so we just paused near the shore to observe the view.IMG_5855IMG_5857IMG_5854 (1)

Returning

Our adventure in Panama had come to a close. We spent a little over 5 months there, and loved it all. It will always have a special place in our hearts.

Pause.

Okay, before I start sniffling, I’ll move on.

We caught the bus right outside our apartment, and ride 2 1/2 hours back down the mountain from El Valle de Anton, to Panama City for our flight to Miami. I loved the views on the way down:

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Partway there, we realized that we had forgotten to leave our apartment key with the landlords! So we fiddled around a wee bit, and managed to wrap it up in an old laundry detergent box, and tried to communicate with the bus attendant that we needed this “parcel” to return to El Valle when he returned. (In our limited Spanish…all the while praying he wouldn’t take advantage of the situation and…peak.) Daniel told him this needed to go to the house where we were picked up and the naturally, he wanted paid, and of course, asked what was inside the little box. Daniel cautiously replied, “It’s for her house.” We did followup on that transaction, and were relieved to find out our hostess did receive her key. Whew!

Here’s a view from my seat, with our little American, blue-eyed passenger, crossing the Panama Canal:

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We took a taxi from the Panama City bus station across town to the airport and…flew home. First stop: Miami.

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We spent the night there, before catching our flight out of Ft. Lauderdale the next morning.

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While waiting for our flight, I watched the sunrise, and we had the most expensive banana ever purchased, along with a breakfast scramble for our morning nutrition. Natasha then followed it up by her morning workout by dancing to the classical music from the intercom.

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You can catch up with the rest of our adventure, back in the States here. And…I think that officially concludes our Panamanian updates, more than a year after the adventure. :-/ Now I can hopefully stay more updated with current events and pictures. The main difference? Natasha has more hair.