Posts Tagged With: outdoors

Oslo Pass, Holmenkollen Ski and Viking Ship Museum

We urgently need to charge our video camera before going anywhere! We hope to find an electricity socket at the tourist information near the train station and indeed, we are lucky! So we spend an hour here, reading through the various options of what to do in Oslo. Amazingly Oslo has 52 museums and since we already checked out the city on our bicycles yesterday, we are keen to check out some museums today. The big question is: To get the Oslo Pass or not to get the Oslo Pass?! The The 24hr Oslo Pass is 270NOK (57EUR or about $70) per person and will give you free entry to most museums, free parking in the city council car parks and free public transport, including the ferry to the museum island. Looking at it realistically, how many museums can you visit in 24 hours when the opening times are only between 11am and 6pm? We decide we want to visit at least 4 museums, ideally 6!

– Holmenkollen Ski Museum = 110 NOK (This requires a 15min journey with the subway)
– Viking ship Museum – 60 NOK
– Norwegian Folklore Museum – 100 NOK
– FRAM Museum – 80 NOK
– Kon Tiki Museum – 70 NOK
– Maritime Museum – 60 NOK

Should be do-able, shouldn’t it? We decide for the Oslo Pass and jump on the subway number 1 going to Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Ski Jump. We stamp the Oslo pass at the train station but later realise we did so in the wrong area. Oops. The subway soon becomes a normal train, as we exit the underground train network and now drive up higher and higher, soon overlooking all of Oslo and the fjords.
Of course the rain begins to pour down once we arrive at Holmenkollen but gladly we brought a rain jacket and a frog green rain poncho. Firstly we discover the ski simulator which takes you onto the ski jump and the downhill ski track, pretending to reach more than 100km/h. This is an extra 60NOK per person but we have to give it a try. Now, having done it, I guess it was ok but it’s difficult to really simulate ski jumping!
Now the ski museum: We enter, show our Oslo cards and are permitted in without any problems (even though there is supposed to be a start date and time on the Oslo pass but the space is still blank). So basically the 24hr valid time hasn’t started yet.
The museum exceeds all my expectations! I thought we may see some old skis from the 50ies and a few photos of ski jumping but instead the museum’s story starts with Roald Amundsen’s journey to the south pole. One of his dogs is displayed here, stuffed obviously.

We get to see some of their equipment but mainly of course the skis and sleds. Just around the corner I find a man dressed in reindeer fur holding up his skis – 4000 years ago! This man belongs to the Sami culture. Original skis from 600AD or skis that are beautifully decorated with ornaments from the 1890’s are being displayed. Until about 1890, skiers only used one ski pole for breaking and balance and often the end would have another function. It could have been in the shape of a spear for hunting bears, a shovel or even a drinking cup.
There are stuffed animals like this very large elk and some of the photos are quite amusing; one showing two laughing women in their early 20th century dresses and on skis all covered in snow, another one showing a little 2 year old boy on his skis and with the question: Are Norwegians born with skis on?

Another highlight is the spectacular preview of the documentary film “Being There” made by producer Filip Christensen (Field Productions). It shows an amazing view (mostly from the helicopter) of the worlds best free skiers climbing and skiing down mountains in the fantastic Norwegian landscape. There are no words to describe this footage, you need to see it for yourself. As soon as we are getting wireless internet, we will download the full movie from iTunes. I also love the soundtrack!

From inside the museum you can take an elevator up to the top of the ski jump and get a 360 degree view over Oslo, fjords and forests. Very nice!
Eventually we are coming down to the souvenir store where Logan does not only pic up a Viking T-shirt and some Norway stickers, he also shows his love for Norway by trying on a I-glitterheart-Norway cap, as well as hugging the “little teddy bear” and the pretty troll girl.


Having spent 3 hours at the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, we are going back to the train station, finally stamping our Oslo Ticket properly.

Off to the Viking Ship Museum!

We get back to the city centre, pick up our bicycles and ride to the port. From there we catch the free (with the Oslo Pass) ferry to the museum island and walk up the road to the Viking Ship Museum. We only have about an hour until the museum closes.

The Viking Age lasted from about 800 – 1050AD. During this period the Norseman were the lords of the sea. They were excellent shipwrights and sailors. Their ships were fast, well built and suitable for long sea voyages which enabled them to go on journeys in most of the northern hemisphere. From Scandinavia the Vikings sailed west over the North Sea to the British Isles and then over the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland and North America. Some sailed south down the coast of Europe and entered the Mediterranean, while others sailed east down the great rivers of Russia to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
At the beginning of the Viking Age Norway consisted of a number of smaller chiefdoms, but was later gradually united under a single king. Viking society was divided into classes with great economic and social differences between them. The ships exhibited in the museum were built for members of the upper class. The farmers formed the backbone of the society; they were free men with the right to bear arms and to participate in meetings of the “ting”, or assembly. The slaves were the lowest rank in society; they were the property of their owners and had no legal rights. Many of them were foreigners who had been taken prisoner on a raid.
Since the Vikings came from Scandinavia, from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, they had to adopt to a great variation in their landscape, climate and agricultural conditions. In good farming country, crops and animal husbandry were the main means of livelihood, while in other parts people relied more on hunting and fishing which were profitable activities. Furs, bird down, and walrus ivory were highly prized commodities in the rest of Europe. Considerable quantities of iron were also produced in the Norwegian mountain hamlets and found a market both at home and abroad.
The Norsemen plundered churches, monasteries and even whole towns but plunder and conquest weren’t the only reasons why the Vikings took to the seas. Many of them journeyed abroad in order to trade, and others to find new country in which to settle. The Vikings were also merchants, selling their goods in towns and market places, and established trading colonies in Ireland and Russia. Many Norsemen settled down as farmers in the lands they had invaded, such as Iceland or Greenland and they were the first Europeans in North America.
In the Viking age it was customary to bury the dead in boats. In the ships exhibited here at the museum, the dead were placed in a burial chamber which was erected in the stern of the ship. They were buried with a good supply of food and drinks, horses and dogs, and both useful and decorative objects. When the ships were excavated, the graves were found to have been robbed and the jewellery, weapons, gold and silver were no longer there. The objects made of wood and cloth were well preserved, because the ships had been buried in blue clay and covered with stones, clay and turf.

Upon entry our view falls onto the huge and well preserved viking ship: The Oseberg Ship.
The Oseberg ship was found in a large burial mound on the Oseberg farm in Vestfold and excavated in 1904. The ship was built some time between 813-829 AD, but was later used as a grave ship for a woman of high rank who died in 834AD. The 22 meter long ship was built of oak and the number of oar holes indicate that the ship was rowed by a crew of 30 men.

The second Viking ship, the Gokstad Ship, was found in a large burial mound on the Gokstad farm in Vestfold and excavated in 1880. It was built around 890AD and later used as a grave ship for a Viking chieftain; the body lay in a grave chamber built of horizontal timber logs. This ship was 24m long with room for 32 oarsmen. It is the largest of the Viking ships on display and also the most robust. While the Oseberg ship was a luxury pleasure craft, the Gokstad was a sturdy and practical vessel, capable of sailing the high seas.

There’s also a third Viking ship in the museum, the Tune Ship. It was found on the Haugen-Hof in Ostfold and excavated in 1867. It was also built around 900AD but due to poor preservation conditions the grave gifts have not survived and the ship has has been severely damaged.

The skills of the Viking shipwrights were based on long and solid experience. They did not use plans or drawings but instead took measurements by eye. The sails were made of woollen cloth and it required almost as much work as the it did to build the ship. The Gokstad ship’s sail measured 110sqm. The origins of Norse ship-building can be traced back all the way to the 4th century BC. These traditions are still alive in Norway today.

In the back wing of the museum we find the grave gifts and other objects such as wooden carts, wooden animal heads, sleds, “camping equipment” and more. Everything made from wood is decorated with wave, animal and plant ornaments.

At the end we also have a quick look at the souvenir shop of course, where they sell books and dvd’s about vikings, but also viking jewellery. Most of it is quite expensive but Logan get’s himself a silver ring with viking ornaments on it for only about 6 Euros.

Museum Day 1 is over, we continue tomorrow!

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Bergen to Jostedalsbreen National Park

After 2 days we are leaving Bergen but not without seeing the stave church (a wooden church built by the Vikings). There are 28 stave churches in the country but this one is going to be our first one. Unfortunately it is not original anymore but has been rebuilt.

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Driving along road 16, we pass the Tvinnefoss, a majestic and very impressive waterfall. It has been raining a lot last night so there is a vast amount of water coming down. At the tourist shop I then find a postcard of the waterfall in winter: completely frozen!!! Absolutely amazing.
We also buy some more lures to be able to go fishing in lakes as well. Before Gudvangen we spend the night at a lake but again Logan doesn’t catch any fish. This lake may actually be too far away from the fjords and only have smaller fish…?

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The next day we are driving through the world’s longest road tunnel. 24.5km of boring blackness? No, when you make it to quarter, half and three quarters of the tunnel, you will see a spectacularly lit up part of the tunnel, reminding me of an ice cave.

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After the tunnel we take a right turn to get to Borgund where one of Norway’s oldest and best preserved stave churches is located. On the way we drive past a former excavation site where Viking combs, jewelry, keys and other objects have been found when building a new road from Bergen to Oslo in 2009.

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Borgund Stave Church:

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Eventually we turn around, taking the historic route, and cross one of the many arms of the Sognefjord with the ferry, to get to Jostedalsbreen National Park, the place with the largest glacier on the European mainland.
One of the many glacier tongues is the Nigardsbreen glacier. The last part of the road is actually a toll road, we pay 30NOK and get there just in time before sunset. Unfortunately the sun is only still reaching the mountain peaks, not the glacier anymore but we still get to see the fascinating shades of blue in the ice. A raging current is coming out underneath the glacier, forming a lake.
The glacier was measured to move up to 1.5m downward per day, therefore it is not the safest place to be in. We take some footage and enjoy a few minutes of looking into the icy blue colours of the giant before we have to leave.

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Bergen and Hardangerfjord

After finally having caught the ferry, road 7 to Bergen leads us along the Hardangerfjord, with 180km Norway’s second longest fjord which is not only popular for its sheer beauty but also for the many fruit trees along the shores. We drive past many pretty villages before eventually arriving in Bergen.

Hardangerfjord

We spend the night at a car park near the port as parking is free from 8pm. In the morning we desperately look for a free car park around town but it seems that you have to pay everywhere. Suddenly we come across a car park in a street called Klosteret 6-17, very close to the centre. We can’t seem to find any signs nor a parking meter so just freely park up. We hear someone say that the car park may be for residents only but shouldn’t there be a sign then? We give this one a try anyway as there are also other cars, including one other mobile home, parked up with foreign number plates. (So far we have been standing here for 2 days and haven’t received a parking ticket – touch wood)

When leaving to explore the city, we realise how much our waste water pipe is actually leaking. Since we are parked on an angle, water is running down over the car park and into a gutter. Logan tries to fix it but instead a much larger volume of water bursts out before he can attach it back on. Oops, I guess we need to buy some sealant.

Parking in Bergen

In Bergen our first destination is the Floibanen (www.Floibanen.com) which takes us up a hill from which we get to see all of Bergen city including the surrounding fjords. The price one way up per person is 40NOK (4,50EUR or $6,50).


We choose to walk back down, a good decision as we come across a real troll forest!

Troll Forest Bergen

Back down in the city, we walk along the hanseatic Brygge which is part of the UNESCO world heritage sites. We are sitting down for lunch and a drink at one of the beer garden-type restaurants outside and enjoy the sunny summer weather overlooking the port.

Nearby are the Bergenhus Fortress, the Mariakirke (church), shops, fish markets and also tourist market stalls. Eventually we get to the city centre and to the lake Lille Lungegardsvannet and this beautiful flower pavilion. Some students seem to have their graduation today and we keep seeing themed groups of young people running around in the streets, cheering and dancing everywhere.

Bergen

 

 

I also finally register my Telenor SIM card, only to find out afterwards that Telenor has changed prices and I’m strongly being recommended not to use internet with this sim card, as it is too expensive. What a waste of money, don’t buy Telenor! I stick with my German Vodafone sim and the 2EUR for 25MB packages per day for the rest of our trip.

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Norway, Viking Roadside Assistance (ADAC) and Norwegian Customs asking for drugs

As we still need to wait a few hours for the ferry to take us from Hirtshals in Danmark to Kristiansand in Norway, we both decide to go for a run – individually though, as I could never keep up with Logan’s speed and distance. While Logan is running towards the town of Hirtshals, I’m running along the beach in the other direction. The weather is cool, windy and sometimes rainy; probably quite good for a run! Soon I’m forced to turn around as there is a small river (or creek) separating the beach. It is too wide to jump, so I’m turning around, running back towards the van. Just as I arrive, Logan also returns from his run and decides to go for a refreshing swim in the Baltic Sea. A few people stare, it is probably rather uncommon for a person to go swimming in this kind of weather.

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It is then soon time to drive over to the ferry terminal. We are one of the first to arrive and one of the last to go on the ferry – of course. Once on the Fjordline Express ferry we get comfortable in the “comfort seats” in the top level and soon daze into a shallow sleep as it’s already past 11:30pm.

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The ferry ride only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. There were two children on board who would also cry for those two hours and 15 minutes – non-stop!! How very exhausting for everyone on board, also for the toddler himself to cry for over two hours without a break, wow!
I’m glad once we get back to the van and am looking forward to falling asleep very soon… But of course the appearance of our flower-decorated van, the peace sign hanging from the mirror and Logan’s deadlocks lead to the customs officers stopping us to get our van sniffed through by a dog! I was already highly amused about how the cliché of someone with dreadlocks got us into this situation but the creme dela creme was the the question of the officer: You smoke? Marijuana? Cannabis? Logan laughed and responded: Don’t let the hair fool you, I’m not even smoking cigarettes! The disbelief in the officer’s face expression was priceless!

Finally we are able to pull up in one of Kristiansand’s side streets and get some rest.

In the morning we have our first experience with grocery shopping in Norway. All we need is some water but a 5liter bottle of water is over 7€!!! All we end up buying are 4 bottles of bubbly water and instead of still water in a bottle we use the next opportunity at a shell station to top up water and also refill all our water bottles from a tap/hose supplied.

And there is our next problem: When we want to refill diesel, the petrol cap won’t open! No matter how hard we try, it won’t open but instead just makes a clicking noise. We have to call the German road ride assistance (ADAC) who then send us the Norwegian road side assistance “Viking”. It really pays to be a member! After the nice assistant doesn’t seem to have any luck with our petrol cap either, we are being taken to a mechanic who then breaks the lock in the cap. This service didn’t cost us a cent. The only little problem now is that we can’t lock the cap anymore and it isn’t as tight as it should be, so hopefully there won’t be any dirt or sand falling inside the tank until I can replace the cap.

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Finally, by 2pm we are on the road westwards. It has been raining all day today but our first impression of Norway is still a very good one. There are a lot of lakes and fjords everywhere along the south! First we stop at the south cape and take a few snapshots of the lighthouse, before moving on.

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We make it to a place before Flekkefjord where we try our luck fishing again.
We haven’t caught a single fish during all of our Europe trip, I wonder whether that is going to change today! While we are sitting patienly for 3 hours, trying all sorts of bait like fake fish, bread and sausage, “our fish” like to nibble but never bite; while the guy next to us is pulling one fish out after the other. Within 30min he’s got 4 fish and leaves. We keep on trying for a long time but eventually give up as the rain and especially mosquitos become unbearable. Soup for dinner tonight and we’re still smiling of course. But maybe we should consult a fishing expert before our next fishing adventure!

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U-Boat 995 of Laboe

Having left Hamburg this morning, we are heading towards Kiel. My great grandfather left from Kiel on the WWI ship SMS König Albert and I always wanted to come here. Big cruise liners like the Colour Line are departing from here towards Norway and other destinations. Kiel is a pretty city but since we had some rain today, I don’t think the photos do the city any justice.

Here just one photo of a cruise liner in the port:

There is a U-Boat, the 995, in Laboe which I heard about and wanted to visit. It was part of the German Kriegsmarine and in service around Norway.

  

The inside:                                                                                 Beds:

  

  

There was only one usable toilet on board but only until 25m below sea level. Not sure what happened when they went under 25m?!

  

Logan squeezing through the narrow doors, and the radio room:

    

Too many wheels to turn?!

  

  

The front torpedo:

  

Near Laboe we are able to find a big car park right near the sea, which will be our camp site for tonight, and we get to see the beautiful summer sunset:

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Leaving for Norway: First stop Hamburg

It’s finally time to drive north to Norway as we’re in the middle of the European summer. Temperatures vary between 16 and 35 degrees (lately it’s been extremely hot) but since we are optimists, that’s all “good weather” for us. The Globetrotter got a little make-over: One of the back tyres had a 40cm long bubble which wasn’t visible to us but it caused both front tyres to go completely bold. So both front tyres had to be renewed and the back tyre was replaced by the spare. We also had the waste water pipe welded back on again, as we accidentally ripped it half way off again in France, oops.
Organised as we are we book the ferry from Denmark to Norway on the day of our departure, realising that it’s booked out for the next 5 days. Fortunately we are not in a big hurry and still have to cover 800km to the port anyway.

We stock up on food and drinks, as Norway is supposed to be very expensive. Two trolleys full of can food, rice, pasta, soups, veggies in glasses, porridge, cereal and even a box of beer and other beverages should last us 4 weeks without major shopping in Norway.
Last but not least we fill up the diesel tank and then finally find ourselves on the road towards Hamburg.

Click to enlarge:

 

Four hours later we get into a traffic jam just before Hamburg and decide to get off the highway to drive into Hamburg. After driving through what we thought was the city centre of Hamburg, something just doesn’t seem quite right. I remember Hamburg to be very different, when suddenly I realise we are in Harburg!!! We have a good laugh and keep on going to Hamburg which is only about 10min away.
First Logan got the impression that Hamburg is an industrial city and wasn’t all too impressed but I knew the city had a very nice centre. After crossing dozens of bridges over the Elbe (The river that also flows through Dresden and Magdeburg), the Alster and Canals, we finally get to the Alster lake in the middle of the city and Logan’s immersion drastically changes.

There are many people out and about, sitting in the parks, running around the lakes or going for a walk. We find ourselves a car park at the water’s edge for the night and enjoy watching a thunderstorm rolling in. The coolish air is more than welcome but even at night the air temperature doesn’t go below 21 degrees.

The Alster lake …and because it’s in fashion to wear colourful pants this summer, here the traffic light model: red, yellow and green.

   

  

In the morning we have to get up at 7:30 as the car park is reserved for tour buses from 8am. We drive a little closer towards the town hall and find ourselves another car park at the Binnen-Alster, where we have breakfast and then explore the city along the lake, the town hall and some shopping streets.

 

 

Back at the Globetrotter, I navigate Logan towards the Kiez, Hamburg’s famous club, gambling and red light district. On the Reeperbahn, as the street is called, we indeed still find the evidence of the previous night: Young men sleeping off their hangover on the streets, some even still drinking! Sex shops and lap dance bars as far as the eye can see; even along the smaller side streets.
Since it doesn’t look as exciting during the day, here an idea of how it looks like at night:

Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city and has a population of 1.8 million people. What I find more impressive even is: Hamburg has about 2500 bridges! That is about 5 times as many as Venice; an unbelievable number!

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Hiking on the Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites


“Francy, get out the van and look at this! You won’t believe it!” I hear Logan saying in the morning. I open the door and see a snow line in the trees only about 100m above us. Oh, so I guess there will be fresh snow on the Seiser Alm then?! Looks like our walk will rather be a short one today anyway after Logan ran up there yesterday and I’m still fighting off my light headache.

The Seiser Alm, or in Italian: Alpe di Siusi, is Europe’s highest alpine pasture at 1680 – 2350m above sea level. It is very big at about 57km² and surrounded by mountains like the Schlern and the Langkofelgruppe (long-peak-group).

The Schlern:


We drive up the serpentine mountain road to Compatsch, the only village where cars are still allowed on the Alm and discover that much of the snow is already melting due to the warm sun. Looking at the tourist map, we realize there are literally hundreds of different routes to choose from, some of them particularly designed for hiking, some for cycling and some for running. We choose a 1-2hour round trip and start our easy walk:

The Langkofelgruppe with Logan looking at the Plattkofel (flat-peak) 2969m:

 

 

Within 10 minutes we lost the orange track we wanted to follow and find ourselves getting further and further away from the van. What started off as a slow walk turns into a hike, then a power hike, up and down hills and soon steep up towards the Langkofelgruppe. After 5(!!!) hours of hiking I’m suddenly being screamed at. I have no idea what it is or where it’s coming from and start screaming myself. Then I see it! A groundhog! I’m so excited, I can hardly get a word out to explain Logan what I see. A very confident ground hog is standing up right in front of me, trying to scare me off. We slowly get closer and sit down on a rock. After a few seconds we see another one, and another one, and another one… The whole groundhog family is coming out from it’s den to check us out too. I really love watching animals, especially in the wild. We stay for a while, watching them play, feed and ring the shrill alarm whistle another time, when a large bird flies past.

Finally we arrive at the Plattkofel hut. My feet are wet from the melting snow and I’m exhausted from the long hike. We are looking forward to a drink and some warm food in the hut when soon it dawns on us: The hut is closed. We already expected it as we haven’t seen any hikers for a long time and there were no tracks in the snow either.

Plattkofel (flat peak)                                                                            See the ground hog?

 

So instead of sitting down for a nice warm lunch, we get out our emergency cookies and some water and sit down in the grass. A black bird joins us, being quite pushy about getting his share of our lunch.

Plattkofel hut                                                                Black bird and Plattkofel in the background

 

The tracks up the Plattkofel weren’t open yet due to the snow and quite frankly we didn’t feel like hiking/climbing any higher. We had a long way back to our van and didn’t want to arrive back in Compatsch after dark.
Fortunately going down works out to be quite fast, especially slipping and sliding down the melting snow.

Soon we arrive in a valley and realize that we need to walk back up again. There are no buses going, so we have no choice but to keep going!

 

Here you can see the Plattkofel (the snowy flat peak on the right), the mountain we walked down all the way into the valley and then back up to where I took this photo. Only about 20min to Compatsch (and our van) from here!

The sun is standing low when we see the first houses of Compatsch. It has been 7.5 hours since we left for the walk.
Absolutely exhausted but happy about this amazing hike, we fall into the door of our camper van and have a decent portion of Spaghetti to fill up our hungry bellies.

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Dolomites, Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)


After a nutritious breakfast…

… we leave beautiful Villanders to drive further into the Dolomites, hoping to start a 5 day trek.

Here’s a photo of where about the Dolomites are (the lower white end in Northern Italy).

And our Camping spot with beautiful views over the Dolomites…

On our discovery route, we drive through Kastelruth (or Castelrotto) and get to enjoy fantastic views at the Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm). Kastelruth is a lovely Tyrollean village with mural art on the buildings. During winter this is a snow resort town and during summer the gateway to an adventure land full of activities like mountain climbing, hiking, running or cycling.

  

Driving up to the Seiser Alm, an amazing plateau, we have to discover that there is no way we can possibly spend the night here. Cars are only allowed to a certain point and there is only one car park which is monitored by rangers regularly. We return to the village “Seis” at the bottom of the Seiser Alm and try to gather some information on possible hiking trails for the next days. Here we find out that the refuge huts are still closed and that there is still snow in the higher parts of the hiking trails. Our planned 5-Day walking track will not happen but we are still quite happy to go for a day-trek tomorrow.

For today we decide to just go for a walk from our campsite in Seis to a lake we found on the map.
It is a rather cool but sunny day (with clouds) and I’m struggling with a light headache caused by the cold winds, so I end up wearing a beanie.
We first walk through dense forest and just when I’m reminded of my childhood stories of witches and dwarfs, I discover a large rock in the middle of the woods with a sign telling a myth about a pastor who was once killed here by witches. Soon after, we come to an open alpine pasture with dozens of cows and bulls roaming freely. The cow bells are ringing everywhere and one cow curiously walks right up to me, smelling me and my hand. I think I have never been so close and vulnerable to a cow before but even though we were both slightly afraid of each other, I felt very close to this lovely creature. The soft nose touched my hand and the big eyes looked at me with curiosity. I think I really fell in love with cows and I’m glad that these ones here have such a wonderful live. They all were very active, running around, jumping and moo-ing loudly.

Not far and we arrive at a lake surrounded by forest. We walk around it once and then return to Seis via a different route.

  

     

  

This different route leads us past a restaurant and we can’t resist but follow our noses…

    

So after having filled our stomachs with Schnitzel and fries, Logan got stylish for his run.
Here, a photo of the 2012 sport’s outfit:

Logan actually ended up running all the way up to the Seiser Alm and back, he’s just that crazy guy from Down Under who can’t get enough!

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Climbing Vesuvius and Busking in Naples

Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano about 9km east of Naples and a short distance to the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland that has erupted within the last hundred years. Climbing a volcano that has destroyed and buried the Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum AD79 is very special but the fact that Vesuvius is also rated one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world, makes it a little more exciting.

 
Vesuvius has erupted many times since AD79, the last time being in 1944. On occasion, eruptions from Vesuvius have been so large that the whole of Southern Europe has been blanketed by ash; in 472 and 1631 Vesuvian ash fell on Constantinople (Istanul), over 1,200km away. Today there are more than 3,000,000 people living nearby, which makes it the most densely populated volcanic region in the world. The volcano is being monitored by the Osservatorio Vesuvio in Naples and the government’s evacuation plan assumes between two weeks and 20 days’ notice of an eruption. The evacuation of 600,000 people by trains, ferries, cars and buses is planned to take about seven days.

So after paying 5 Euros for parking and an additional 8 Euros per person entrance to the Volcano, we are allowed to start our walk and even receive a walking stick – borrowed of course.
While we are walking up the volcano as one of the first 30 visitors, we look down on the many bus loads full of people arriving. Hundreds of people are lining up at the ticket office during the day, large groups following us.

Franzi on top of the Vesuvius Crater Logan at the crater

 

The views from the volcano down to Naples and the bay are spectacular. Also the view into the crater is fascinating. Even though Vesuvius is not currently erupting, we see steam rising up from the inside. A group of students from America is lined up at the rim and shouting into the crater. The sound travels around the inner wall and comes back to us in a circular movement seconds later. This is so cool, we have to try it ourselves. It even works when you call out into the crater on your own, but as loud as you can! You are allowed to walk around the top for about ¾ of the rim but then have to walk the same way back. There is even a small coffee shop and tourist shops up the top.

 

Click on the following picture and you’ll be able to move it around with the cursor to get a 360 degree view!

Adventurous as we are, we climb up some volcanic rock and look even deeper into the crater. People at the bottom stop, stare and point. But they always stare, so not sure what their reason is this time.

It is then time for us to move on to Naples.
I was told Naples is the real Italy. Not as touristy as Rome, it is supposed to be a nice Italian city.


In REALITY Naples is a hectic and crazy city with an accumulation of Italian freakazoids without driving skills. Somehow we are trying to find a car park in the congested and loud city but soon realise we need to get out of here. A man on a scooter tries to sell us an iPhone while driving. Even though we shake our heads he keeps harassing us, driving in front of us, turning backwards, then next to us, then again in front of us. We almost hit him accidently; what’s the matter with these Italians? Window washers catapult themselves at our campervan at traffic lights and mopeds outright cut in front of us. Beeping horns everywhere and constantly! Getting out of this chaos is difficult and very stressful, so stressful I ask Logan to please stop on the side of the road and figure out where we can go to escape this craziness. Eventually we make it to the marina at the outskirts of Naples. Still loud and hectic, we decide this is as far as we can go and still be able to ride into Naples via bicycle tomorrow. Since it’s a busy Saturday night, I convince Logan to go busking for the first time in his life. Along the esplanade we see many people busking, selling roses, mimicking and so on. Logan sets himself up across a restaurant and I can feel the eyes on us. It must be strange for people to see a white person with blonde dreadlocks busking on the street.

The African ‘fellas’ all come and say “hello”, “rastafari” or “Bob Marley”. They love him. It’s so funny to watch. During the first 5 minutes, Logan gets about 5 Euros, then it slows down for the next 55 minutes. In the end we walk back to our Campervan with 8 Euros and a laugh about the new experience.

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Locorotondo and the Trulli of Alberobello

Logan read about Locorotondo being one of the most picturesque towns in Southern Italy, so we were curious about this. On the way I did some more research and stumbled over a place called Alberobello said to have cone shaped houses, only a couple of kilometres from Locorotondo.

First we explore the lovely little town of Locorotondo and stroll through the small alleyways gazing at the pretty white houses. The view from the top of the town is fantastic and we get to see some of the cone shaped houses from here. They are called Trulli.

 

 

 

       

        

On the way to Alberobello these Trulli seem to get more and more. First of all we are following the camper sign to find a place to park and stay the night. Up on the hill we find a nice spot to camp and then ride down with the bicycles to the town district with the Trulli.

It’s the first time we see tourists in a while! There are actually a lot of Italian holidayers. And then I catch a glimpse of an old lady sitting outside of her Trullo.

 

The cone shaped dome is actually of oriental origin introduced into Puglia by tribes from Asia Minor. The word “Trullo” derives from the Greek word “tholos”, which refers to a circular dome-shaped construction. On the highest part of the face of the cone, very ancient Pagan and Christian symbols were painted in white chalk. Symbols with magic and proprietary powers, all pointing in the directon of the first deity: the sun.

 

The roundish head of the pinnacles is meant to represent the link with the solar sphere and it is more noticeable in older trulli.

Originally some people used to put drawings of the horoscopes of the people who lived in the house on the house itself so as to bring good luck. The pagan symbols represented animals and human motifs connected with superstition and used to be put on the cones for protection. Finally ornamental symbols had only a decorative role and alluded to persons or particular situations.

In 1926, the Monti Quarter, St. Anthony’s Church was built, according to the traditional local trullo building technique.

We walk down the labyrinth-like alleyways and get a lot of footage of the cute little houses.

I couldn’t resist but buy a small 1Euro Trullo for myself which is now attached to our camera bag. We are also offered some home made chocolate liquor and cookies, gosh are they tasty!!!

Back at the campsite we enjoy a nice warm shower, do some laundry and actually wash the van from the outside. It was about time!

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