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Monday, 13 November 2017

Monday 13th November- Tilbury...... eventually.

So, we had a little bit of uppy downy on Saturday, but nothing too bad, and yesterday the weather across the North Sea was good enough for the engineers to come and unbatten the hatches.

Peter ran his last classes.  All the passengers seem to have enjoyed it and we have a little space in the suitcases due to all the paper and stuff they’ve used up.  I’ve been buying stuff from the CMV shop make up for it.  I love mocha chocolate, and for the first time in about two years I’ve found somewhere that sells it, (well, Ritz Espresso chocolate anyway), so I’ve bought a stash to take home with me.

We packed our bags and put them out ready for the porters to unload in the morning, and spent our last night watching Stranger Things on the laptop.  We had to put our clocks back one hour, and the alarm is set of 6 am.  According to the timetable, we should be off the ship at about 9.40 am.

So here we are, at 2.40 pm, waiting for the ship to berth.   It didn’t go to plan did it? 

It turns out that, although we had plain sailing, this was not the case around the East coasts of England.  The seas have been so rough that the pilots could not come out to meet the ship.  The Magellan effectively sat outside the Thames Estuary from 2am until 10.30 am this morning waiting for a pilot.  The captain made the announcement to the passengers this morning at just gone 7 am, after we had all vacated our cabins according to instruction.

But we able to go back and make use of them for a little while longer, thankfully.  Peter and I are now sitting in the Hampton Bar where we’ll spend the next few hours until we can get off.

So, final verdict on the cruise.   Well, I liked it.  As I’ve said before, I prefer this ship to the smaller ones simply because it is much more comfortable in rough seas, and it always feels like there is plenty of room for everybody.  We like the pub, and the garden at the back of the ship is also a favourite.  We’ll be very happy to come back on board for the Amazon Cruise.

So that’s it until 7th January.   I’m getting excited about coming back already, and we haven’t got off yet!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Saturday 11th November – Bergen

Oh What A Night!!  From what I can make out, the only person that seems to have slept through it was our cabin steward.  Every other passenger, waiter, cleaner or barman missed a good few hours sleep as the sea tossed the ship in all directions.  From what I can make out, the captain must have found calm water at around 3am and that was when everyone could finally sleep.

So this morning, no one got up early.  We are not due into Bergen until 10 o’clock,  and no one needed to hurry.  The restaurant closes for breakfast at 9am, so you can imagine what the Bistro was like.  It Peter and I two or three circuits to find a table.

No escorting today, because we had our own ideas of what we wanted to do, which was to take the funicular up the mountain (Mount Floen) and have a walk around the top.  Bergen is known for its rainfall, and today was no different.
Wrapped in waterproofs we made our way past the Bryggen to the little station, and after 180 kronas and a short wait, we were in the funicular car and on our way up.

We’ve been up here before, on a tour which meant we didn’t have much time and I
it was getting dark too.  There was snow today, and the rain had turned to sleet.  But we had all the time we wanted to wait for the clouds to clear.  The views were better than I remember.

Hoping the weather might remain dry, but not expecting it, we set off to explore.  There are loads of paths and tracks leading from the funicular station.  Covered picnic areas, bbq stands, and small notices to keep the kids interested were everywhere.  Despite the snowy paths, a group of Norwegians ran past us, amazingly surefooted across the slippery surface.
Our plan had been to put in a good few miles walking up here, but with repeated bouts of hail and sleet, we decided that a short walk would be more than enough.  (And not only that, our legs were tired and achy from coming down that hill yesterday).
We took the funicular back into the City, and then headed for Starbucks and McDonalds, wanting a little bit of a change from food on the cruise ship.  A wander around the shops reminded us how expensive it is in Norway.  Even the cheapest souvenir tat such as fridge magnet or a pencil would set you back a minimum of £5.  We left it all there on the shelfs.  We did end up buying  a couple of sets of shoe spikes though.  Much lighter than our metal micro spikes, these were what had been keeping them Norwegian runners upright earlier.  It might be a couple of years before we put them to use though.

So that was our day in Bergen.  The captain has warned that he is expecting rough seas again later, so our cabin window remains battened down, but the sea is calm at the moment.

Tomorrow is a sea day, and then we should be back to Tilbury early on Monday morning. Fingers crossed for smooth sailing.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Friday 10th November-Andalsnes

OK – so I missed out yesterday, cos there wasn’t a lot to report, except rough seas, Peter’s classes, and the desire to get into the fjords, port and flat water.  We got there in the end, the ship tied up about 7,30pm and we had a brilliant night’s sleep.  It’s nice when the bed isn’t doing it’s best to chuck you out.

Thing is, it was a bit too much of a good thing.  We didn’t get up till 9am, and it we weren’t ready to leave the ship until 10.  We had plans today though, in the form of a lovely pointy hill right outside the port.  Last time we’d visited Andalsnes, we’d taken a walk up it, and got as far as a viewing platform about ¾ of the way up.  This time we planned to reach the top.
We wrapped up well, thermals, layers, coats, gloves and hats and set off with purpose.  We reached the base within minutes and started up the first leg.  The Norwegians take care to make things accessible to everyone, even the mountains!  A ramp leads from the base meaning even wheelchairs can reach the lower viewing points.  Awesome.
A view from the lower slopes.  Still a long way to go yet. 
The hill is really steep and really hard work.  (Especially for the not so fit such as ourselves).  We started to peel layers off, and wish we’d remembered to bring water. We met people on the way, either going up or coming down.  The younger ones hurtled past us, the older ones tended to have gone so far and started to come down. 

I was surprised when we reached the snow line, as I’d expected it to be higher, but at least it resolved our water problems.
Onwards and upwards we went.  There are parts of the climb which are quite steep.  The Norwegians have provided rails and chains to help, which are very much appreciated.

The views all the way up are brilliant.

Still going up.  These steps run alongside the cliff edge, but there is a chain alongside for the fearful.  (Like me),  We had our microspikes on too, they added confidence on all those steps. 

I even walked out most of the way onto the viewing ramp, although I stopped at the point where the floor becomes  a metal grid and you can see through it.  Peter was perfectly happy there though.
He was also happy to keep going, although I was worried about time and light.  In the end, I waited whilst he went on up for a few more minutes which turned into well over half an hour, because he was determined to get to the top.  He didn’t quite make it to the summit cairn though, although it was near as dammit.

Then  it was time to come down.  I tried the “Winter Route” and decided it was too hairy, so we went down the way we’d come.  It seemed to take forever to get down, but finally we reached the road back into town, and the ship and at last, Tea!

A really good walk.  We loved it. 

There was one little cloud on our day when we got into the cabin though, somebody had sneaked in and blocked out the window in preparation for rough seas.  The captain is expecting really bad weather, and has warned us that once we have left the fjord tonight, we are going to feel it.  He told us that he has two Norwegian Pilots on board, and they are going to do their best to keep us sheltered by hiding behind the various little islands along Norway’s coast.  When that isn’t possible, we are going to be at the mercy of waves up to 7 metres high.  That’s big!

 Peter and I have decided to spend a night in then.  That is, we’re gonna sit in the cabin and watch Star Trek on the laptop.  Tomorrow we’re due to arrive in Berge. Hopefully the weather won’t slow us down too much.