Now retired and living in downtown Toronto, I have to decide every day where I take my coffee. A few days ago, I was at that covered-by-glass street where tourists could visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. A chandelier made with green plastic bottles (huge, as wide as the street) was hanging from the ceiling at one end of the street. I took a picture quickly because the workers took it down after exposure for a few weeks; my picture was taken when that piece of art was halfway down. I liked it.
Looking the other way on the street.
In the piazza, the Salvador Dali expo is still running.
And I always like what that piazza looks like where my coffee waits for me at Tim Hortons.
The ship's last stop in Norway was Alesund. With around 67,000 inhabitants, it is presented as one of the loveliest cities in the Scandinavian country. The surroundings are breathtaking.
The architecture is what we already knew a Nordic city looked like, and it was clean.
I compared the city center with well-known cities in Romania (I am Romanian-born), Cluj or Brașov, but the comparison clearly favors the two Romanian cities.
Cluj (whom I know very well) also has its architecture, which is very interesting and more varied, and in addition, it has a vibe that you feel at every step, boiling with life. There was silence in Alesund, and as I had already gotten used to, there were (almost) only people from the boat on the streets.
The picture below is of a pub (restaurant/bar).
I did not see beggars on the streets, and I was impressed with that, but… at one point, two people tried to get out of that bar, so drunk that they struggled for 5 minutes to get to the street, but the door had a loud thud and slammed them every time they tried. Their legs were getting soft, and they had to step back. The taxi waiting for them left, and they returned, possibly for another round of whiskey.
Since unstable weather was announced, we did not venture outside the city on foot or on any trip.
The only attraction I saw was some stairs to get to a building somewhere on the hill, otherwise closed. The fun was that you could see the city's surroundings from the terrace.
We gave up because the rain caught us just as we put our foot on the first step.
I haven't seen Oslo. Maybe there's something more interesting there... I think it's worth a trip to Norway for those who like nature. It is beautiful and fresh. The fjords seen from the ship are spectacular.
Conclusion: I enjoyed the trip to Norway, but I am not sure I would go again. Well, maybe to visit Svalbard.
The second stop on our Norway cruise was Isafjordur, at the end of another fjord. The town has around 2,600 inhabitants.
It has two churches. The most visited was at the town’s end.
I saw very few locals, and I think that when there are no tourists, it seems like a town that always sleeps.
We did our way of visiting places - on foot, taking in the surroundings, but we could not go very far because it was rainy. We returned to the ship, wet, after 2 hours of walking.
We had better days…
Our vacation in May 2023 included a cruise trip to Norway and Iceland.
We started in Southampton, UK.
The first stop was a small settlement, Olden, with about 500 inhabitants, at the end of the Olden fjord, where the sea advances more than 100 km inland.
Nature’s freshness was overwhelming. We wandered on the trails along the fjord. We could pay on the boat for some trips by bus, but we always trusted our feet more, and it was better outside than inside a bus.
A paid trip was to a glacier and others to some waterfalls.
We saw plenty anyway.
After about 3 hour walk, we returned to our boat.
Our trip to Europe in May this year, 2023, started in London. We heard so much about London that it was a must-go. We visited all continents. We enjoyed cities and nature around the globe but never the UK. Was it to be a disappointment, a blast, or something in between? I’m not too fond of those articles pushing readers to read it all for the conclusion, I will start with it. We liked London very much, both me and my wife.
Our hotel was near Paddington train station. We are Canadians of Romanian origin (actually, we have both citizenship), and I heard about occasions where beggars from Romania are a problem on the streets. How would people react to hearing us speaking Romanian? But as far as we could see, we were treated for what we were, with no preconception about the culture we might represent. It started with the hotel personnel being amicable, and all the places we visited were the same. And I must confess that I felt shame seeing people speaking Romanian on the streets wrapped in sleeping bags. Something needs to be done in all countries to fix this situation for beggars of all flavors.
We are big fans of walking to know better the places we visit. We may have something between 10 to 20 km per day. And from Paddington, we could reach on foot most of the places we had on our list.
The first evening we crossed Hyde Park and saw the giant crown.
London is so well documented that my article could be obsolete. So, I will mention what we liked the most.
History is at every corner, and it is number one (no surprise here), with palaces, museums, cathedrals, and parks. Our little surprise was that the street where Kensington Palace is - is under strict surveillance. Half of the castle is a museum(we visited), and Prince William and his family use the other half. But just across the palace, we noticed the Romanian Embassy (some trust here).
2. The Sky Garden.
On the last two floors (34 and 35), is, what else?, a garden.
We could see London from above.
3. Free museums.
They are on the podium because of the idea, offering a glimpse into famous works of the best-known paintings of all time, like Picasso, Modigliani, and others. I hope I will not be judged too harshly, but I was not impressed with those glorious paintings. And I was shocked by a canvas (considered exceptional painting) - some horizontal lines of different colors (bah). But I applaud with all my heart the initiative.
Notable mention: the city as a settlement.
Kilometers after kilometers in all directions we walked, there were impressive buildings with nice architecture, well maintained and clean. The architecture respected a certain pattern but was still not dull since the differences in buildings’ lines fit the idea of a well-crafted megalopolitan.
Our last stop in London trip was a good-looking restaurant, where the two pretty waiters working there were, uhhhhh, Romanians.
Should I mention something that was bothering me? Because of so many tourists, you have to book everything well in advance. So it was with our tickets for the Sky Garden (for free, but you still need the booking) and cathedrals, most of which we saw only from outside.
Conclusion (again): we enjoyed the London trip very much.