Kristiansand,Norway the old quarter and the old canon & museum-Aug. 16/22

The tour today is a walk through old Kristiansand and old cannon. There was a minor wrinkle this morning. There is no room for us at the piers so we are being tendered in. The seas are calm so it will be easy unlike one we took previously in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. The high today will be 21C under cloudy skies…. not bad.

Norway has the 2nd longest coastline after Canada.

Theatre opera house on the pier.

Poorer people lived in the old part (Posebyen) section with the wealthy nearer to the water. Apparently the insides of these buildings are modern even if they are old on exterior. All harbours in Norway are ice free. Homes built on the west coast have horizontal planking and those on the east coast are vertical. It has to do with the climate and rain. White paint shows more wealth. Sign on outside says wet paint and thing on left of is m so fire department can get in if a fire without you not necessarily being home. We have that at home but only on apartment/condo buildings.

Device on upper left is to give access to fire department. Sign says “wet paint”.

Named Kristiansand after King Christian IV is built on sand. Pop. Of 115,000… half own a 20-30 ft boat. In 1893 there was a fire that destroyed a big portion of the city and so anything built after that is concrete or brick. 80% of the people own their own home/house. 80% of new vehicles purchased are electric.

Bigger door is used as main door including for animals.

The 2 angled mirror on window is to see people on street without peering out the window.
Garbage recepticals for plastics,glass, paper, bio (compost) and garbage. The “garbage” contents are burnt and then used to heat the shopping street. You need a card to open them so that they not used by people out of the area.

All homes have a device on exterior in order to give access to nurses to keep everyone in own home as they age. On average those that go into care homes only last less than a year because they are beyond keeping at home by that time. All medications are paid for incl. diabetes meds etc.

Norway is a very strict gun control….. even police who have to ask permission to take a gun out that is locked somewhere in the police car. Otherwise the police do not carry. Having guns by police has only happened since there was an attack in Oslo a while ago.

Guards on roofs are to prevent people on street from being hit by huge amounts of snow.
Saw lots of Segways ….this looked like a tour group.
Nice ditch!
Under this square is a huge parking garage.

The tower in old city centre is of a firehouse tower used for hanging hoses … pretty elaborate for that.

The spire on the cathedral is 70 meter high but because of the sand they had to build 70 meters below in order to make it secure. The old town square was dug up so there is parking garage underground.

Nickel refinery….99.99% pure. Underground tunnel underneath the sea that is 3 kms long. Norway is into windmill production but they prefer to install them far out in North Sea.

The Krupp co. of Germany manufacture submarines but are tested here because of the depth of the ocean which they don’t have in Germany

Next we go to the old cannon museum. These were built by the Germans. It is kept to show the children how bad war can be. The tracts that we see are used for munitions delivery. There were 4 cannons. The biggest was the 2nd largest in the world. It was built for the future ….was never shot at the enemy but was only used for practice. This cannon at Kristiansand had bullets that could travel 50+kms and another in Denmark that would travel the same distance. The area in between had mines suspended just below the surface of the water. This way they could control the marine traffic to and from the Baltic. Built by Germans, Danish and Norwegian contractors and Russian prisoners of war. They changed the paint colours for different seasons. The 330 ton gun only needs 2.5 minutes to do a full 360 degree turn. Norway was invaded by Germany from 1940 til 1944.

Guns in Norway and Denmark to stop marine traffic to Baltic.
The one of 4 guns … this one was not completed.
A mine
Bullets for the cannons
The barrel
From the outside
Look at the size of this cannon compared to size of the man there.

The bus driver had to blow into a device before driving the vehicle. If he has had anything to drink, the bus will not start.

Stavanger, Norway -Aug. 15/22

BTW the “g” in Stavanger is hard.

Oh my temperature is going to be between 23-25C. Actually by the time we left to get back on the ship, I was perspiring.

What I gleaned from a talk on board… 5.5M population. Only country in Europe on the Arctic Ocean. It is also on the Norwegian and Barents Seas. Ranks 9th in the world for aquaculture. One of only 3 countries that still are into hunting whales (Minke). 13th largest in production of oil. …..but are managing the supply so that it lasts longer. Almost 1200 fjords in Norway. One is 5000 deep. Fjords are only found in the extreme latitudes of the world both north and south because they are glacier formed. Strange but here are cold water corals in the waters. Lumpfish are used in fish farms to eat the fish lice. The Arctic Ocean is only Ice covered ocean surrounded by land…the reverse of the rest of other oceans. Because of the decrease of ice cover, fish are moving north and so is fishing fleets.

This is a view of the cruise ships in dock… humongous P&O, an Aida and our tiny Oceania in the foreground.
OMG… there’s the P&O leaving. Compare it’s size to the apartment tower on the left.

Our tour today is “Panoramic Stavanger”.

Oil capital of Europe. 150,000 people in Stavanger so it quite large, larger than any other place we’ve been. Oil profits/taxes are used for education and health care. It is free except for cosmetic surgery and education except kindergarten, not for building monumental buildings. 5-7% of cars are electric. On toll roads there is no charge for electric vehicles. No charge for camping on the lake in summer or for ice skating in winter.

Hapsfjord where we stopped, people swimming. That’s where the 3 erect pillars were. When asked if the e-scooters that you see along on the sidewalks were free, our guide said nothing in Norway is free.

After 1969…American Phillips company found oil. Share seabed continental shelf with Great Britain. Taxation is quite high. Biggest oil fund in world with a value of $250,000 per person. People go home for lunch to be with family. 35 hour work week. The pandemic made Norway aware that they are short of hospitals so are building…. Something we should be doing. Roads and bridges are quite narrow to try to protect nature by not encroaching too much. To get a driver’s licence along with lessons for young beginner drivers, it coast $7500. BTW all figures quoted are US$ equivalents.

100% of electricity is from hydro power. After beginning American interest in the oil industry, the rights and freedoms were made into law. Only 6% of land is useable for agriculture. Except potatoes and corn along with berries are all imported. Dairy and meats aren’t imported.

Next stop @ 130 meters high is the highest point in Stavanger…. Is where all the communications towers are.

All roofs seem to be corrugated metal or clay tile.

There is a 32% tax on income plus alcohol is also taxed. Alcohol is not to be sold on weekends or after 7pm during week.

A troll outside a store in the downtown area.

Beautiful artificial lake in the middle of the city was built 120 years ago but is now just kept filled by the 220 days of rain/year.

I am not sure what this sculpture high above the downtown shore area is supposed to signify but let’s just call it “art”.
One of the “cock-eyed” houses in the historic area. There were around 120 preserved homes (and being lived in) here.
Steep, steep incline from shore up into the historic Stavanger

The population of Norway is 5.5 million but there are 7 million Norwegians in US. Everyone gets the same salary with wages being approx. $16 /hour. I don’t how they can live on that when a burger and fries at one of the seaside eateries cost 325 kroners or $48 CAD. Ouch!

Orkney Islands-South Island Panoramic-Aug. 14/22

I’m not sure how much panorama we will see today. It is very foggy.. but the sunny is trying real hard to come through. Founded by Vikings… around 1000AD. Kirkwall translated was “church on the bay” in Norwegian. Population pre-pandemic was 22,000 but could be more now because a good number of people if they had to social distance, felt this was a good place to do it where there were so few people.

At the beginning of the war the citizens of the area scuttled 4 ships in harbour to narrow the entrance of the harbour during war but one spot it was near impossible to secure so in one attack in August 1939, the Germans manage to get through killing 835 boys of out 1200 that were on a training naval ship. They were just 14-18 years old. Since then they have built 4 barriers (causeway) across the entrances made of huge cement blocks. If you cross a causeway when it is stormy you may not get home cuz they sometimes close it if the waves come across.

One of the 4 causeway crossings in the fog

Our first stop is at the Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war. When the British returned to the otherwise uninhabited island to dismantle the prison after the war, they were so “gob-smacked” at the chapel that they could not destroy it.

The water temperature as well as air temperature is 12-13C in the summer.

The inhabitants have to try to cram everything in between May and September. The cruise ship industry is trying been trying to extend the season. They celebrate with an agricultural county fair in the middle of August …..which seems to coincide with the beginning of winter.

Agriculturally, beef cattle plus sheep are big…. Not grain.

We stopped at a village called St Margaret’s Hope….. a pretty little place on the water with well kept homes and gardens. It is our 2nd stop. The gardens had plants much as we have at home in Victoria.

Blacksmith museum in St. Margaret’s Hope
On the shore at St. Margaret’s Hope
Seen on someone’s property post .. in St. Margaret’s Hope

Scapa Flow… the home of British navy … our 3rd stop for which we cannot see a thing because of the fog.

The people feel closer to Norway so refer themselves as Orkney Islanders or Orkadians, not British or Scottish.

Pre-pandemic unemployment was between only 1-2% probably because in times past people knew that if they didn’t work they didn’t eat. Keys are left in doors and cars cuz they is no crime and if you need to borrow something, we’ll go ahead….. and everyone looks out for each other. Ferries run between Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Shetland. There is an airport here but there probably will be no flights today because of the weather.

Land reclamation has made the cathedral and earls palace in Kirkwall (which was originally at the shoreline) now in middle of town.

After our tour we took the shuttle into town. We checked out the cathedral built in 1150AD as well as the bishop’s and earl’s palaces…. built shortly after the cathedral. When we were going to exit the cathedral, a huge bagpipe band played on the church steps. That was followed by a parade of horses that of course, left their piles of poop all along the route.

St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney
The Bishop’s palace of Kirkwall
Check out the booties on this pooch. He had the booties made special after having had surgery.
Horse parade in Kirkwall near the cathedral
Miniature ponies in the parade

Finally by the time we returned to the ship, the skies cleared somewhat and we had to remove jackets. It was too hot.

Torshavn & Faroe Islands Aug. 13/22

Our tour today is of Eysturoy Island

It looks like a better day today…. No rain, wind, waves, the sun is trying to shine and the temperature is 11C & going to 13….. Whoohoo!

Torshavn means Viking harbour. They have had a baby boom this last year with 767 born….. pretty big considering the population is only 53,ooo.

Talk about switch-backs

Oy at end of place names means island. Vik means bay or harbour. All trees that are here have been planted….. thanks to the British. Trees were planted during WW2 to hide military installations. There are several subsea tunnel networks… one with a roundabout… built in 2021… the only one in the world. 2002 was the year the original tunnel were first built. It is 170 meters below sea level. Built by Norway privately. 90% of economy is from fishing making it one of the highest per capital income countries in Europe. A young person can start working in a fish processing plant and make US$10,000in one week. .5 M for 4 months as a fish boat captain but there is an average 50% taxation rate….. starts at 40% up to 60% but then all needs are fully funded.

Waterfall (actually runoff)
Fish farms
Wind farm

Eysturoy Island, our destination is at end of the tunnel with the roundabout.

Strict regulations around fishing. It was the main reason they did not join European Union. They did not think the European Union was protective enough toward the fish stocks. Here there are 300+ days of rain year… 70% max renewable energy from wind and tidal. Very moderate temp… max 13.5C to a minimum of just below freezing. Close to 23 hours daylight in summer and the reverse for winter. 80% Lutheran, 20% Baptist. Rhubarb and potatoes only thing that will grow here. Faroe Islands made from volcanic ash dropped from Iceland so in layers that are quite visible. The vertical lines down sides of mountains are waterfalls from all the rain that falls. 882 meters is the highest mountains in Faroes.

Sheep travel in threes in case one gets hurt, one can stay with the injured while the third goes for help
Sod covered home in Gjogv
Sod covered (the only one in the world) prison that once was a military installation

Affiliated with Greenland and Denmark. First village we passed by is Funningur. Then Gjogv…..“Gorge” in English …sheep are kept in basement of the homes with the living area above and grass(sod) roofs for insulation. The sheep also provide heat from below. When you need to mow the grass on the roof, just take the sheep up there.

Gjogv….The Gorge
At the Gorge
Outside kitchen for cooking all their really stinky food.

Presently there are 800,000 pilot whales now in Faroe Islands. It is illegal to go searching for whales…. They are only killed if caught in fiord. No harpoons are used now.

Sounds like housing is about same price as Victoria. 40 sq. mtr appt $400,000 US. The Faroe islands are looking to purchase oil (the main source for heating)from Canada since Russian invasion…. Russia used to be trading partner.

The “Witch and Giant” … rocks off coast.

The Witch & the Giant
The witch
The Giant

The Danish tried to eliminate/ban the Faroese language. Kind of reminds us all of the attempt to eliminate aboriginal languages all over the world….. incl. Canada.

Only prison was once a military instillation …. Max prison population is 20. It is the only prison in world with sod roof.

Me in Gjogv… the name is on the sign.
Leaving Torshavn… sun peeking through the clouds

Akureyri-Aug. 11/22

There is a ski resort here in Akureyri with 2 chairlifts, that our guide works at during the winter. There are actually 7 ski resorts on

The black colour of the church shown is quite typical esp on older buildings. They are coated in tar in order to preserve them.

Iceland. Our guide was very entertaining supplying little bits of information which I am sharing with all of you.

All red (stop) lights are now hearts ♥️’s since the crash of 2008/9. They were trying to lift peoples spirits.

It’s 12C today and bright with no rain…. Yeah!.

25% more babies have been born this year because of COVID.

93% homes are heated with geothermal energy… the roads are heated as well so that the snow is melted. The temperature of the steam is 100 F or 40 C.

That is steam escaping (in the background) that is used to create the electric power used in most of the homes

2-3 times per month they have storms with winds of over 80 mph

They built a tunnel that is 7.5 Kms long. Most people especially tourists travel the old highway in the summer, not the tunnel cuz the views are better but the tunnel is used more in winter when there is lots of snow. Actually though, they had fresh snow just last week.

There are 2000 more sheep than people on Iceland.

The raise mostly dairy cattle here, not beef. The cheese that is made in Iceland is eaten along with jam. That’s strange for most of us.

There are no street lights on the highways so they have poles or sticks along the sides of the roads…… 1 stripe on right, 2 on left so can tell if you are still on the road.

No daylight til 10am in winter.

Iceland has a 3000 sq km glacier… biggest in Europe

Godafoss waterfall… waterfall of the gods

The average temperature is 16-20 C in summer…at 23C, businesses sent people home from work cuz it was too hot… lol!

Lake Myvatn

OMG there are lots of midges. They drive you crazy flying into your face and hair. But heh… they don’t bite!

Dimmuborgir is a 1700 sq kms in area…is a lava field of ”trolls”….lava columns. You can see the faces of the trolls.

This the divide between the North American plate and the Eurasian plate.
A troll taking a selfie
North American Indian troll
A lot of the area looks like this

Sea campion… (pinky mauve and white flowers

Burgundy Cinquefoil

2010 eruption that disrupted air traffic caused problems because it erupted under a glacier that consequently caused steam and ash to form.

Next we went to the absolutely amazing boiling mud pots. Everywhere there is steam escaping from the earth but oh my goodness did it stink of sulphur.

Boiling mud pots. Door but it seems impossible to post videos. The colour is a strange colour…. Sort of looks like lead or zinc not brown as I would have expected.

Value added tax of Iceland is 24%… wow!

On our return to our ship we had a pit stop where there were a herd of Icelandic horses…. Beauties! Did you know that if a horse was taken off the island that they can never return. That’s to protect them from disease.

There are only few Muslims here in Iceland besides the predominate Lutherans and to a lesser degree Catholics. Our guide told it is a little difficult for the muslims when Ramadan is in the summer because they are only allowed to eat, drink and make love from sundown to sun-up. That only gives them about a half hour.

Tonight we cross the Arctic Circle.

August 9 &10th-Iceland

It’s another drizzly day here so we have not much desire to explore before heading to the pier. At the gas pumps in Reykjavik on the way to the ship, I noticed that price of gas was 336 ISK or CAD$3.31/L. I suppose that we shouldn’t complain.

This was such an easy well organized arrival onto the ship…. Oceania Insignia, the only one of the smaller ships that I have not been on. Since we last were on any of their ships they have totally redecorated and improved somethings aboard. They certainly have done a beautiful job.

As we headed off to the sea, things got rockier and rockier. It was really very difficult to walk after having dinner….. and all night long it was a rockin’

Today in Isafjourdur, our tour is to the bird island of Vigur, meaning the point of a spear because of its shape. The only inhabitants are a couple and their 6 year old son. She, who is British, is the first and only woman to have crossed Antarctica solo. On the island we apparently will see puffins, black guillemots, eiderdown ducks, arctic terns & oyster catchers. It is open to tourists and scientists that investigate bird life… one of the best places in the world to do so.

Walking with sticks held high to prevent being dive-bombed.

They harvest the down from the eiderdown ducks. It is so, so incredibly soft …. The weight of which is nothing. You’ve heard of featherweight…. well “that” weight is way more than nothing. I believe the gal told us that 80% of the world’s production is in Iceland but that they don’t produce anything like clothing, etc., from it…. that it is all sent out of the country to be made. How they harvest the down is, the harvesters when the momma duck leaves the nest for a short while, go and raid the nest of the down, replace it with straw and replace the eggs all within 30 seconds.

When we walked around the island we were given poles that you held up above your head so that the dive-bombing arctic terns didn’t attack your head. We saw lots of terns….. babies included. Also we saw lots of black guillemots but best of all were the puffins. Babies are called “pufflings”. When the adults leave on their migration, they leave the babies behind …. apparently because the babies are way to fat to fly. We would be close to the last group to see the adults before they leave. As the days get much shorter (around end of September) the babies will have lost enough weight to leave the nest to join the migration. Oh my goodness are they cute! I can only imagine the cuteness of the babies. Just before we were to return to our boat, several of us went to have another look and guess what…… there was one out of the water sitting on a rock (just about their entire life is lived in the water…and not really close enough to take good pictures). As the guide/shop cashier told us, they will get so many fish in their beaks, they will strutting their stuff, letting the others know how good they are at catching them…. like “look at me, look how good I am”!!!

“Look at me, look see what a good fisher I am!“

After our initial walk, we were invited to coffee and “Happy Marriage Cake”….(with whipped cream), something Iceland is famous for…. and to warm up. The cake is made with rhubarb jam…..from rhubarb that is grown in the garden on the island. That’s about all that can be grown here. God it’s cold….>10C.

The start of our trip to Reykjavik Aug.7/22

I got up this morning and opened my messages and emails as I always do. Our flight has been canceled….OMG but not really! They have replaced it with another that is to leave at the exact same time, just a different flight number. So why bother sending that notice out???

I drove my car to my travel buddy’s place where another friend picked us up to take us to the airport. After getting in the check-in line at the airport, J. realized that she forgot her purse with her passport, etc., at home. I called to tell C. and bless her, she came back to take J. back to pick it up.

Finally we both made it to the gate only to have the departure time change from 11:55 to 12:15. To 12:51 with us finally leaving the ground at 1:10pm. I so hope that we are able to make our connection to Reykjavik.

As with the flight leaving from Victoria to Toronto, the next one from Toronto to Reykjavik, Iceland, was delayed in leaving…several times. It finally left about and hour and half late. Our luggage arrived (thank goodness. It was one of my fears) and immigration and customs, a breeze.

Barren landscape of Iceland
Statues at the Reykjavik’s airport
Other “art” pieces seen at Reykjavik’s airport.

Originally I had searched for a tour that would take in some of the southwest area of the country…. An area that included the “Blue Lagoon”, the thermal pools, bubbling mud and the recently erupting volcano. All were in the area of 11+/- hours from the city. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to see any of that after getting to our hotel room around 1 pm. on the 8th.

The weather, by the way, was about 10-11 C. and drizzling with low clouds. The terrain is so barren covered with long-ago dried up lava….not pretty! There are no trees to be seen anywhere other than that which has been planted. After a short nap (oh my we were exhausted), we took a walk to see the famous Lutheran church “Hallgrimskirkja”as well as to find a restaurant that served traditional “Icelandic” meals.

The “church” is really a cathedral …..spectacular with an elevator that will take you to the top of the spire (we declined). I personally liked the typical Scandinavian lines….no ornate gold-covered stuff that you see in most of the world’s cathedrals or temples esp. those associated with the Catholic Church.

Looking up the street towards “the” church.
Leif Ericckson in front of the church

We found the recommended restaurant called the “Loki Cafe”. How appropriate! it was not what you would call a luxury upper-end fine dining establishment. I had lamb shank in a sauce with little new potatoes and root vegetables…..yum! Jeanette on the other hand was more adventuresome and went with the really tradition, mushy fish on black rye bread, dried cod that you dip in butter, smoked raw trout on rye, very thin lamb (smoked), etc., marinated shark and some kind of straight liquor that had a caraway flavour that you take after a bite of the shark. J said that the shark was not nice.

Cafe Loki where we had our traditional Icelandic dinner

The buildings are quite simple, with “pride” stripes painted on the pavement and elsewhere”. Below are a variety of scenes taken the first day

More later after we get on the ship.

More Malta… pictures plus..

In archaeological digs, they have found “smaller” prehistoric elephants and hippos in Malta so some believe Malta may have been connected to Europe at one time.

Not sure why … all kinds vacant abandon buildings around Golden Bay.

Beautiful arches!

Example of new buildings. …. mostly they are preserving all the old.

Every evening this old man spent some time fishing in the bay.

Notice the road coming down the hill as well as one going along the waterfront… crazy…. and they drive on the “wrong” side of the road. When turning the corner, Ron would very frequently say “you’ve got to be kidding”!

The church across the bay from where we stayed.

Pieta area

Valletta gates… entry into the capital. The one on the right is the original, the other is reconstructed!

Lots of agriculture on this side.

Prickly pear seen all over this island…. introduced from Mexico.

Big cotton growing country.

Churches in villages or small towns have 2 clocks….. the one on the right is the correct time, the one on the left is incorrect as to confuse the devil.

Fort. St Elmo, at the tip of the Valletta harbour(site believed to have been fortified since the Punic era…200 bc).

Ft. St. Elmo… entrance to Valletta harbour

The next step could be dangerous????

Local pastime… fishing from the dock….Valletta!

Local seagoing fish boat

Well worn!

Little boats quite willing to take you for a cruise around the harbour.

Well worn steps

We got off the bus at one of the fingers of this incredible harbour, where you can see oh so many sail boats and huge luxurious ocean going yachts and Ft. Angelo…. a fort that has survived sieges by the Ottoman Empire in 1565 and the other the Axis command in 1944.

More of these typical windows seen everywhere!

While sitting at a seaside eatery on opposite side of Valetta harbour, with umbrellas with the support off to one side set up to shade the customers. The granite support broke on one and the whole thing crashed down on the table but missing the two ladies sitting at it. Shocking!!!

Grapes are picked only from 5:30to 10… otherwise too hot.

Marsaxlokk is the lovely fishing village with bakery sweets and other tourist trinket markets….. is also a LNG and other container port.

There are six grottos for scuba diving incl. blue grotto.

There doesn’t seem to be any stray dogs and next to no livestock… odd!

The roads are very bad outside towns.

I left the next morning bound for London, Vancouver and home to Victoria for knee surgery. Ron, on the other hand was just starting his incredible journey…. heading east. Thanks for sharing!