Europe

ABBAInstead of having approximately 12 light hours in which to explore Stockholm we were now reduced to about half of that due to the amount of time wasted having to travel on 2 buses and 2 trains instead of the one direct train. It was very disappointing but we decided that there was nothing we could do but make the best of the day we had in front of us, especially as the daylight hours were limited.

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Trondheim was to be a one night stop over before travelling by air to Tromsø, nicknamed the ‘Paris of the North’ in the 19th Century by visitors who were impressed by the very sophistication of the city. We were really excited at the idea of going there as it is considered one of the best places from which to see the Northern Lights. Just another 24 hours and we will be there. But first we needed to see what Trondheim had to offer.

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North SeaSo now it was time to go to sea. We had to board our Hurtigruten Ferry by 20:30 for departure at 22:00. Most of the sailing between ports would be at night so we would not see very much in the way of scenery or even just have a chance to watch the water. We had also been told that as we were travelling over Christmas Day, we would spend an extra night in the port of Ålesund. 

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Other old Bergen buildingsFrom 15th to 20th Centuries!After a good night’s sleep we went downstairs for breakfast which was, on a scale of 1-10, about a 6 and then set off to explore Bergen. In the past few months we had been watching a snippet about Bergen which was shown a number of times on the DSTV Travel Channel and a couple of things in particular stood out for us. These included the Gingerbread City created each December by the children of Bergen, Bryggen which is an area on the wharf with 14th Century wooden commersial buildings which are built on some ancient excavations and the Museum of Edvard GrieFung and his statue which has pride of place in the City centre.

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Time to move on - to day we will travel from Oslo on the Norwegian East Coast to Bergen on the West via the other highlight of our Aurora Safari Tour, Norway in a Nutshell. It was to be a long day with various forms of travel using train, bus and boat. Due to this we were advised to arrange with the hotel to have our luggage taken to our Bergen Hotel by a courier to save us having to move the luggage from train to bus to boat a few times. Although this was an added cost, about which we had been advised, it was well worthwhile. 

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We arrived in Oslo expecting to see everything covered in snow but the locals were expressing their disappointment at the lack thereof. There were some patches on higher ground, keeping the temperature down, but nothing within the city.

                                                                                                                             Polar Fram MuseumPolar Fram Museum

Entrance to Kon tiki MuseumEntrance to Kon tiki Museum. Note the Norwegian words for Entrance and Exit

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We had just 2 days of our holiday left (6 days more of the 30-day blog challenge) and today we really looked forward to seeing the renowned Nürburgring. One of the highlights was the opportunity to be driven around the circuit by an experienced driver. I was not too sure that it was something I would do for, as much as I enjoy watching F1 racing, I don’t think that I could be driven at such speed.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we had been advised to catch a train from Andernach at 11:00, change trains at Remagen in 3mins and then take a bus the final few kms. After wandering around Andernach itself for a couple of hours we went to catch the train. It was about a 20mins train ride to Remagen so we set off with confidence but we should have known better. At the approach to Remagen Station the train had to stop on a level crossing for 5 minutes! Guess what? That meant that we did not manage to make our connection. German trains do not wait.

This meant that we were stuck in Remagen until after 4pm when the next train which will stop at both Remagen and Andernach would arrive. So we put on our ‘let’s see what the town offers’ minds and decided to make the best of the situation and were very glad we did. Remagen turned out to be very interesting.

sculpturesculpture of a childAs we entered the town there was a small square with some lovely sculptures of children and ‘fairies’. They were so beautifully done and made such a lovely entrance to the town. Further on there was a beautiful statue of the Madonna and also a plaque commemorating St Martin, Patron Saint of Remagen.

As we walked further into the town we discovered a welcoming town or market square. Shops, a library and a post office were set out around the square. From there we walked down a steep street which took us to the bank of the Rhine River. To the left we found the Tourist Office and found a lot of information on Remagen itself. As with Andernach it played an important part in the 2nd World War.

 

Bridge at Remagen 2Towers of the Bridge at RemagenIn March 1945 the Ludedorff Bridge, or Bridge at Remagen, was one of only 2 bridges across the Rhine still intact. The Americans captured the bridge and succeeded in getting 25 000 troops and equipment into the towns of Remagen and Andernach. 10 days after its capture the Germans, who had tried numerous times, were finally successful in blowing up the bridge killing 18 US engineers. The bridge was never rebuilt but the 2 towers on the western side have now been developed into a museum about the history of the bridge.

From the Tourist Office we walked in the opposite direction to look at the remains of the bridge but we did not go into the museum. We took a break to eat our late lunch while watching the river traffic. This was something of which I do not feel I could tire.

We returned to Andernach on the 4pm train sorry that we had not seen the race track but very happy to have discovered a town which was new to us. As I have said all along, travel is all about fun and seeing new things.

The following day was to be our last before leaving for home in the evening. We caught the train to Frankfurt and left our luggage at the station while we took a tour of the city. First we visited the outdoor science museum of the University of Frankfurt. It is a most amazing set up with fossils, plants and examples of extinct animals on the central island of the street with explanations on what each is.

Trevor in Frankfurt outside the Stock ExchangeTrevor in Frankfurt outside the Stock Exchange

 

From there we made our way to the city centre and to the German Dax Bourse with its 2 sculptures of a Bull and a Bear. These are the symbols of a Stock Exchange. At the end of the day we returned to the station to make our way to the airport to catch the plane back to South Africa. An absolutely wonderful holiday and we learnt so much.

 

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Today we move out of Switzerland and back into Germany for the last few days of our holiday. We had planned to see just one more racing track – the Nürburgring. To get there we took the train from Basel back to Koblenz in Germany and then a short trip to Andernach where we would stay the night as this was a convenient place from which to get to the track.

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About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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