Posts Tagged With: transportation

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 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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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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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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Ancient European Forests and the Art of finding Petrol Stations in Italy

We just woke up to the sound of birds and the wind blowing through the trees… and a big bull (!) standing in front of our van.

Image

The forest is inviting us for a pleasant stroll, or in Logan’s terms: a power hike into the woods. I discover many unique ancient trees, beautiful flowers in yellow, purple and white and also red berries. I’m taking my time to film and gaze at everything while Logan is impatiently waiting 50 meters in front of me.

After an hours walk, we decide to backtrack where we came from, as we have no idea where the path will be leading us. Back on the road, we are heading south towards Bari and then Monopoli. Finding a petrol station in Italy is not easy! If you assume that petrol stations are on the highway: Not in Italy! Every so often you will find a sign saying: 350m petrol station. You ask yourself: 350m TO the petrol station or to the exit to the petrol station. The next exit, maybe 200m from the sign, hasn’t got any other sign. Can’t be this exit then, right? And then you see it from the distance. Well exit missed. Surely we can take the next exit and drive back? No, that’s not possible because you can get off the highway but not back on. Meanwhile you waste the last drops of your petrol. Half an hour later we finally find a petrol station and are being waved right back out of it. “Closed” even though the sign says: “open”. A few hundred meters later we finally find an open petrol station and fill up our thirsty Globetrotter. Just before Monopoli we find a nice spot with a cliff down to the sea and an inlet. After Logan went for a run, he jumped into the refreshing (freezing!) cold water. Unfortunately we have run out of water and also need to do our dishes in the sea. That made for a salty aftertaste. Oh well.

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Manfredonia and Gargano NP

 

We are getting our push bikes ready to discover Manfredonia today. First we are riding along the (polluted – for Australian standards) beach and then head into the city. The cliffs in the background look interesting to us and we are planning on driving up there after some sightseeing in Manfred.

 

Most of the city’s buildings are white and joint to each other with balconies. The streets are small but since it’s Sunday, everyone is out on the streets and walking into the cathedral.

 

We are riding back to our van and then make our way to the Gargano National Park (the home of Gargamel – I’m kidding!). To get there we have to drive very high up over the

cliff and mountains on which Monte Sant’ Angelo is situated. The views are impressive but we keep going further inland, into the National Park, where we find ourselves a beautiful little spot in the ancient forest, covered with a green canopy.

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