Mar. 22nd, 2009

notyourmonkey: (if I held my breath)
Holy crap. Norway is beautiful. I say this already having rhapsodized yesterday about the middle/western half of the country, but the coastline? All the islands? It’s *captivating.* Really, Really Old Guy from last night said he liked it because it reminded him of Scotland, so I don’t know if it’s due to his suggestion or if it really *does,* but the shape of the mountains remind me of what little I’ve seen of Scotland.

My sleep was a bit shabby last night, probably due both to growing accustomed to the ship and because I left my blinds open. I was so terribly worried about there not being any daylight, but, duh, I am traveling right at/after the spring equinox. The twee little guide they provide even has a chart of average sun-above-horizon (I hesitate to say daylight - clouds are apparently a way of life around here) hours through the year for various ports of call, and looks like it’s almost exactly twelve, except for when it’s more.

They said we were at the end of the season, so I’m a bit nervous about missing it, but I am positively *desperate* to see the aurora borealis. We have two days above the Arctic Circle! Please oh please!

Anyhoo. Daylight. Lots of it. Starting at six thirty this morning. I dozed on and off from then until eight thirty, when I finally bestirred myself to move the six whole inches (uh, quite literally) to the couch, where I read about today. A little after nine, I shuffled off to breakfast, where again I sat at a table of six by myself. (This sort of trip by single occupancy is certainly not for the faint of heart about such things. I imagine it will be rather quiet, but I’m perfectly okay with that. (Ask me again next Friday.) I have my books; I have the most amazing view; I’ll talk to people when I get home. And at our assigned dinner table. Or something. This may be just the vacation this introvert needs.)

I’ve only ever been on one cruise ship before, and it was huge and in calm waters. These waters are pretty damn calm, too (I, uh, think? They seem so?), but this boat (for as big as it is) is comparatively much smaller, and you feel much, much more movement. Not jarringly so or nauseatingly so, just, you know. More. We’re headed mostly north-ish while the waves run in west to east (ish), and the movement of the ship is like riding a very, very (very) slow canter. The dining room was at a gentle angle for much of breakfast.

Speaking of which: herring + mustard + cream sauce != breakfast food. My deepest respect, etc. to the Norwegian cultural traditions, but this particular culinary adventurer will be saving her experiments for later hours of the day. I had another lovely, mysterious roll (v. crusty, maybe rye, had little seeds on it), lots of apple slices, some amazingly fresh pineapple, corn flakes, and swiss cheese. Ooooh, and more tea in my little tea-any-time mug. They have a quite nice selection.

Interesting side note: of the handful of couples I’ve seen under the age of forty-five, they seem to be almost exclusively composed of a very tall man (6ft+) and a very short woman (well, shorter than me at 5’4”). I am gently amused.

So I lounged in the dining room, right at the juncture of windows on the aft starbord side, the mainland side (incidentally also the side of my cabin - yay Grace The Booking Agent once more!), and it was lovely. I wandered through the various panoramic lounges, and it was lovely. I went to the aft seventh level deck (from where I watched us depart last night) to watch us dock in Torvik, and it was lovely. Only a little brisk, and one day I *will* remember my coat. I may also take a cue from a group of ladies up there, in that they bundle up a bit, grab a blanket, and stretch out on lounge chairs out there. It’s not warm or sunny, but I find I like it far better than the lounging on my last cruise.

[Side note for the version not releasable to the family: I think I’ve had a change of heart about my big bang. I’ve been reading far too much Georgette Heyer and not watching near enough Michael Phelps.]

It’s an hour to Alesund, and I’m quandrying over what to do about food. Dinner poses to be quite the, ah, experience (yet another kind of fish in mustard and cream), so I definitely want to eat lunch, but I finished breakfast, like, twenty minutes ago. Lunch is from 11:45 - 14:30, but we’re in port from 12:00 - 15:00. Do I grab an early lunch, even while full, or do I grab something in town? I have to go see my art nouveau buildings!

Ooooh. The sun is shining.
notyourmonkey: (if I held my breath)
Molde. What can I say? There was some sort of conference/camp/people wearing matching clothing in town, and it was sleeting. We only had forty-five minutes, and truth be told I only dashed off to try and find a grocery/liquor store. (NB - it is all well and good to buy the v. nice bottle of wine at a v. v. nice price at the duty free store, but if one does not have a wine opener to accompany said bottle, it becomes a tragic paperweight instead.)

There’s a main drag/high street about two feet off the boat ship (must remember - ship ship ship. not boat.), and I wandered it about ten minutes in each direction. Shockingly, it was mostly a lot of closed stores and people in blue and white scarves running up and down. There was a v. interestingly-shaped church that I managed to snap a few pictures of, but that was about it. No grocery store, at least not one that was open, so I trudged back through the sleet - did I mention the sleet? because it was sleeting - to the little convenience store right at the dock and loaded up on everything but my silly corkscrew. (Namely, those mysterious cheez doodly things and some cashews, because for as lovely as the frites were in the little cafe, they were egregiously expensive, and I don’t want to have to pay twenty bucks for a quick snack if I miss lunch because I’m off making friends climbing mountains during regular lunch hours.

Also, I need to learn the word for “sparkling” in Norwegian. I wanted to buy some bubbly water that was not five dollars for a third of a liter, but I was defeated by the language. Oh, sure, I got the various flavored waters (definitely a raspberry, probably an orange, maybe a…pear? that one was a bit obscure), but nobody seemed to be illustrating tiny, happy bubbles.

We have to sanitize our hands every time we come on board, and I’m fairly convinced that it’s just pure rubbing alcohol in a squeeze bottle.

(As for my post-Alesund, pre-Molde activities, I dried off, bought myself a lanyard, made another cup of tea, and had a plate of surprisingly good fries with cajun-y spices in the cafe. I then toddled back to my cabin, intending to change shoes and meander over to one of the viewing lounges, but instead I sat down to take my boots off, folded slowly sideways, and napped for about an hour. Woke up just before they announced the arrival in Molde, and off I trooped.)

And did I mention the sleet?

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