England and Scandinavia, 1997

ENGLAND, NORWAY, DENMARK AND SWEDEN

May 6

Well this started out bad British Airways is 2:30 hours late. Did get to see mom and dad,needed pictures of loren and crew. Mom & Dad picked me up at work. Got the pictures. Tried to get some rest before dinner with Berni. Dinner at 94th aero squadron.Nervous about delay. Did not eat all my dinner.Berni took me to flyaway.Got to talk to ER on phone.Berni called him.I had managed to forget to get hotel data from Wendy for Oslo so had Berni call her. Then I called Berni from BA lounge to get data. Lounge is nice but no TV.Radio works. Sounds like Lakers were robbed and Dodgers blew it.Will be interesting with no sports for 3 1/2 weeks.Stomach still a problem skipped breakfast. Planes neat so is upper deck on 747.

May 7

Made up some time landed at 5:10 PM Heathrow is a big place. 20 min bus ride between terminals.Lights go red yellow green. Gives you a jump start.Bus was 15 min late. Met a guy from Boston who works for AA. The AA guy was very informative. Sat next to him on bus. Loves's Norway but says it's very expensive.Wish people would stop saying that. $35 for a meal he quotes.Hope that ATM card works over there.Got to Bath at 9:15. Map was a good investment.Quite hilly,map is not topo. Locals sort of know the names of the streets. They do take pity on the Yanks. Streets are not well signed and ER's right the same street changes it's name in random spots.Glad I brought a sweater. Will need lots of layers temp is cool.Long twilight still sort of light at 9:30 PM. Found #14 Raby but no one is home.Finally saw a postit which said go to #12 Raby for the key. Owner had gone to dinner and left key at #12. Got in just ahead of owners return.Neat place room at top of gizillion stairs. Share bathroom with 2 other rooms. Got showered and shaved, New razor works fine. First safety razor in 25 years. Left the Norelco at home weight and 250 V. Starting to feel human again. Took 2 Ex PM and crashed at 10:30 PM.

May 8

Woke up at 4:30 with a headache good sign must mean I'm starting to relax, must be getting 5000 miles from MISR. 6 hours sleep a good start. Gets light at 5 AM around here. Showered and got stuff organized.Neat little room. Bath looks like a photographers dream. May not have enough film. AA guy said buy it in UK (cheaper). Caught up on log. Talked to Gyn may be Mrs. Guy significant other.He's dying of brain cancer (3 months to live) Says he's come to grips with it seem calm to me.Breakfast is at 8 AM so I have some time. Gyn told me about a canal walk.Turns out Bath has these canals. They were commercial 150 years ago but now are for recreation. Lots of locks because Bath is very hilly. Boats are long and thin. Neat pictures I hope. Had breakfast with a young die maker and machinist from Ohio. Also a Aussy couple. Great breakfast scrambled eggs on toast cereal and fruit. Walked down to the center of Bath for the walking tour. Starts at the pump house,takes 2 hours.Great sights. Place has a lot of tourists. The place has good signs for the different places and the walking tour gives you a good feel for the city. Tour leader is a retired banker from London. Also did the Roman Bath museum,costume museum ( Wen & Berni would love it),Crescent museum ( elegant living in 1777) and the museum of industry. Got my BritRAIL pass activated. Got a better train connection at the train station (internet is not perfect). Got some Bayburn apples at a fruit shop. $1.70 a lb. Got caught in some rain on the way back to #14 Raby. Took a afternoon nap then off to dinner. Italian at the Cafe Martini. Smelled good was good. Someone drove by and asked for directions. Actually knew this one so told them were to go (go figure).Did post a SAE for the ceremony of the keys. Hope I get a ticket.Off to york in the morning at 8 AM.

May 9

Slept well no headache this morning. Had breakfast with Gyn. Left him with a IO postcard. Hiked down to the train station and caught the 8:04. Trains on time. Transfer to the York train at Bristol Temple. York train is running a little late. Sunny morning car is no smoking. Country side is very green, The news is talking about a water shortage, hard to imagine. Train is about 10 minutes late into York. Took a taxi to 23 St. Mary's. Very nice place. Young couple run the place ( younger than me) Still vertical integration lots of stairs. Hit the city about 2 PM. and did the Nation rail museum,York Minster (huge church) and the Castle Museum. A little much. Had dinner at Russell's ( A carver, carved buffet style very good). Place was recommended by B&B. Have my own bathroom so took a bath and set down to watch british TV. Lots of US shows 3 week old ER , friends that kind of stuff. Fire alarm went off at 9:30 PM. First thought it was a false alarm but people smelled smoke coming from the kitchen, Got dressed and grabbed important stuff and went outside, FD showed up and broke down door to kitchen (owners were out) and rescued big dog and put out something on stove. 1 hour of excitement I could have done without. Met lots of americans in street. Got to sleep around 11 PM.

May 10

Slept well very nice bathroom. Took full advantage. Tried english breakfast. Fried eggs on toast with fried tomato's and mushrooms. Lots of OJ toast cereal and fruit. Good breakfast. Had scouted out easy way to train station and knew I could walk it in 15 minuets. Wanted to take a walking tour of York at 10:15 Am. tour was supposed to be around 2 hours. would leave time for a quick walk through Yorkshire museum. Well we had a very interesting but voluminous tour guide. I left tour at 1:15 PM need to catch a 1:55 train. Tour was very good and got a lot of detail about York and York minster. Turned out the guide was also a Minster tour guide as well. Roman and Norman and Tudor walls and buildings. Our friend Henry Wallace was not mentioned. Maybe he did not like the Scots. Got to train station with 10 minuets to spare. Great Victorian station. Starting to rain again that's 2 of the 4 days in UK. I suspect that will be about the average for the whole trip. Ride to Newcastle was uneventful. Waiting in line for bus to boat crowd is about half english and half Norsk. Would have guessed mostly Norsk. Nice waiting area for ship inside out of rain. A bimodal crowd one peak at around 20 and one at around 65. Will have to mention to Brent I saw real english football fans going to Wembly on morning station check out. Sea is fairly calm. Motion is like a train. Salmon and salad dinner for around $25. Talked to a Scot next to me in the restaurant who works in Stavanger for Phillips Petroleum. Said no tip was necessary and he seemed to be right. You know how the Scots are about money. Glad I brought the Sweater for different reason. Makes me look a little more dressed up. Lots of sports jackets and ties. This is like a cruise for the Norsk. Cheesy casino and showroom entertainment. Went up to check it out and some norwegian guy starts to snaker Norsk at me. Must look like a native, Still one of the bigger natives. Turned out he was a retired merchant seaman. Had been to LA and liked it. Talked to a Newcastle couple who wanted directions on where to smoke. Boy did they have the wrong guy. Again the Norsk couple's english was much easier to understand than the Newcastle couple. Heading off to bed don't have much use for smoky Casino.

May 11

Slept well lost 1 hour to Norway time zone. Cabin has nice shower with adjustable height shower head. Even shaved not bad. Rocking still feels like a train. I suspect I will be up earlier than most. Party looked like it was just getting started when I went to bed. Restaurant does not open till 8 AM. Went out on deck to get some fresh air and ran into 3 18 year old norsk boys drinking spiced vodka and smoking. They had a nice buzz on ( 7 AM God) We talked for a while. LA was the magic word. They wanted to know my opinion on american slang, they wanted to know who many people I had seen killed (good to see LA has such a great rep) They rented a Van and driver to go from Kristiansand to Stavanger. Norway has strict drunk driving laws. They lived in Kristiansand. Two were plumbers apprentices. Never did find out what the other one did. Told me to stay away from "Greenland" street in Oslo where the toughs hang out. They told me to keep my money next to my soul and grabed their crotch when I look confused. Interesting thing to call it. Had a big breakfast. First time to see the Norsk eating breakfast. fish,bread,cold cuts,cheese,salad. Decided to stick with cereal, eggs,bacon,bread and lots of OJ. Got a morning nap. Starting to catch up on my sleep.Got to stavanger at 2:25. Caught Taxi to train station.Need to take a number to see agent. Just about figured it out when a girl in the military showed me how. Military must get a break on the trains. Lots of them on board.Some of them were giving their girl friends long goodbyes. So far english is working well.Sorry to see graffiti is spreading to Norway. Tile roofs on all the houses so far. Beautiful country side. Train left on time 3:35 PM. Two young girls (18-20) students sat across from me. Knew they were students because the conductor asked for their ID. Got to be a special rate for students. One was very Norsk one was very oriental. The oriental one was studying Kongnitiv Phikologi (spelling is close) chatting away in Norsk. Norway is not homogeneous. See a lot of dark hair along with the blond and red heads. The ride to Kristiansand is spectacular. If the Oslo Bergen Flam Myrdal are better they must be amazing. Some very long tunnels. Found the Hotel Sjoglott in Kristiansand. Great place Rick is kicking some serious butt. Young lady at desk is very helpful. Sent me to the hotel Norge for dinner. Mystery fish think it was trout. Very good. Walked around Kristiansand until 10 PM still light. Talked about USA with girl at hotel till 11 PM. Turns out her mother is english. She wanted to know all about USA. Great kid.

May 12

Well best laid plans. Got up at 5 AM showered and went out to explore more of Kristiansand. Found out that the thing I thought was a concert hall is a old fort used as a concert hall.Seems that there are a lot of these classical music festivals all over Norway in the spring.Very scenic little town. Showed up at the Color Line office at 6:30 AM. Thought I was buying a ticket for the 8:15 Ferry which arrives at Hirtshalls at 12:45 PM. Turns out that ship does not run on monday. Next one is at 11 AM arrives at 1:35 PM. Train I was planning on leaves at 1:44 PM (19 minuets yikes) Should be interesting.Had a leisurely breakfast took a nap (new travel alarm is great).One last stroll through Kristiansand and off to the boat. Got up to the gate and the guy tells me I bought my ticket to early and I need a seat assignment. Went back down stairs and every thing start to slow down.10 minuets before departure and all the girls behind the desk go into the back room very reassuring. Got the pass hike on board. Boat leave 10 minutes late. Hope they make it up. Fast ship more like a airplane, Airplane seats only crew allowed on deck. Ship is hauling "A". Well we stayed 10 minuets late(actually 12) NO passport control, must be if your good enough for Norway your OK in denmark. They said train stop is easy to find. It was it's at the end of the boat ramp.Made the connection in Hjoring by 2 minuets same in Aulborg. Turns out this is not the internet route but was suggested by conductor. Turns out I end up on a premium train 20 Kr extra (no big) was almost all reserved. Train was more sophisticated than Norsk trains. Little reserved light from to over each seat. Conductor knew I was not a naive because I was setting in reserved seat for further down the line. I got on his right side when I corrected a change mistake. He mistook my 20 Kr note for 100 Kr note. Turns out 20 Kr is out of circulation. He used his hand held terminal to reserve me a seat in first class for no extra charge. Only free seat he could find. Very Posh. Setting across from a Lady who looks like Audry Henry. Not to surprising. Kobenhavn is a island. They load the train on a ferry and away we go. Everyone gets off. A Danish businessmen invites me along in Danish. I got the right genes but no language skills. Bought a French hot dog and a Pepsi( Pepsi comes in a large thick glass no plastic cup) for 43.75 Kr. Overpriced but won't get into Kobenhavn until 8:51 PM. This may be dinner and I need some more wacky change to deal with. This stuff has holes in the middle. Took the taxi to 19 willdergade. This place is the most unique of the lodgings so far (also the cheapest 200 Kr , $32 per night).More vertical integration up 3 flights (narrow stairs!).

May 13

Owner is a teacher and very busy with finals this week ( middle school end at 16 and these test determine whether you go to High school-trade or college). Lots of pressure. Took the bus back to train station and got reservations for that night train to Oslo(YES!). Was sweating this one because I had no place to sleep that night. Also tried the ATM work great! Off to see Kobenhavn.Great city , very attractive people , girls in mini skirts on bicycles great idea! Most of them are in pretty good shape. They smoke to much. Walked down to the Royal Palace. Did the ruins underneath.Did the Palace tour. Tour guide was at least 65. Tour in english. Guy had a very dry sense of humor ( Victor Borga like). Then did the canal tour. Great young guide. She could give the tour in danish,french,german and english depending on who was on the boat. We ended up with about 60 middle aged german women. We got the tour in german and english.Actually remember some german. Had to work to find this restaurant Rick Steve's recommended , Riz Raz. It was worth it very good veggi stuff and a big pitcher of water, glass with lots of ice and lemon wedge. ER you would love it all you can eat for 49 Kr. Only drawback is No NO smoking section. Very warm and sunny day (best so far). came back to #19 and took a nap for a hour or so. Then went out to check out Stroget a shopping street , great for people watching. Just relaxed and watched the city until around 9:00 PM. The danes were having a open air party on one of the canals, Guys were bringing in cases of beer. Every one walking around with open bottles. One pair of guys had too much. Looked like house painters ( paint on coveralls ). The smaller one was falling down drunk the other one was my size and in better shape (much better) and a mean drunk. Tried to punch out a guy who complained about their behavior. Saw that they had hooked up with the police about a hour later in a different part of town. Plan to do Rosenborg castle, National museum and Tivoli tomorrow, Been listening to danish radio while writing this quite a trip.

May 14

Happy birthday ER. Looks like pay back weather wise. Sky is spiting at 8 AM. Got some croissants and OJ (appelsen) at the local bakery and had breakfast at #19. Stalled till 8:30 AM then took the bus to train station to get a locker for my gear. Hi tech job with a paper card with a magnetic strip. Strolled over to the Nation museum, Neat pre-viking stuff. Then did the Carlsberg museum. S'load of Chezan and La Trec. Lunch at Riz Raz again then over to Rosenborg castle to see the crown jewels.Subway back to Tivoli( raining). Tivoli reminds me of a up scale clean watermelon festival. Might be better without the rain, Lots of people still.Nice free concert. Classical music by kids. Some kind of competition. Interested in seeing what the train to Oslo is like.

May 15

Well the adventure continues. There are about 27 berths in one car. 3 per little room. Our room was full. Top berth a Norsk social worker about 30 years old, me in the middle and a ex seaman now look driver ( train engineer) about my age and size. We got along well. Lots of germans on the train. Some would only speak german which PO'd the young norsk guy. My speaking english did not seem to bother him , I think he did not like germans. Customs came through the car at 6 AM with a drug sniffing dog. Again the young guy complained about the abruptness of the custom cop. I thought he was one of the nicer cops I had met professionally. Different expectations in different countries. Train got to Oslo S (name of train stations, S stands for center Norsk has no C in alphabet) on time. Stashed my stuff at the train station. Found the SAS Radison, right next to Oslo S. Check in time is 1 PM but a room may open up earlier. Talked to the concierge about Wendy's SAS flight. SAS bus to airport and met Wendy (YEH!). They did have a NO Smoking room (YEH!). Checked in and went looking for rolls and OJ. Found some. Then took walk to Royal Palace and saw King and Queen show up (Bonus). Then back to Oslo S to get my stuff and back to room to blarch and shower. Tried to find a laundry or laundromat no success even with TI non-help. Gave up and gave laundry to housekeeping hope my tee shirts don't come back fitting Wendy. Off for a little shopping post cards and such , early dinner fish in a french kinda way ( Norsk know fish ) and walk around Oslo everyone's in outdoor cafe's drinking beer and smoking. Oslo is confusing to get around in without a map. 900 year old city laid out on goat paths I think. Wendy crashed at 8 PM and me at 10 PM. Ready for a quite day , Wen because of flight and me because of trying to keep up with Rick Steve's.

May 16

Slept well I 7 hours and Wen 8. Interesting sun sculpture on building across street. Will try for picture. I can't believe I left by 28 mm at home (stupid). Will try to get a lot in today because Oslo will close down tomorrow for independence celebration. We hammered this place. City hall at 9:15 (great place very interesting art) , met a old guy on docks smoking Cig and riding bike ( see a lot of that here ) recited poetry to us ( higher class of street people here) Rode a little ferry over to Bygdoy to see folk museum ( Stav church) and viking ship museum ( neat ) then back to Oslo to take T-ban (subway) to Vigeland sculptures in Frogner park (Very very neat) then back to T-ban by tram and up to Frognersteren and a nice walk down to the Holenkollen ( you can not believe how steep this thing is unless you see it in person NUTS!!). Then back to the T-ban and Hotel. My clothes are back , my T shirts fit, It was expensive but worth it, A shower for both and nap for Wen and off to the T-ban for dinner. A veggi place with NO smoking ( great food and clean air) loved it. T-ban back home got train reservations to Stockholm and back called Nils the younger , bath and bed.

May 17

Big party day some clouds but sun in and out. OK the parade is pretty wacky. Band slug of kids repeat 95 times for 2 1/2 hours. March them up the street and past the palace to wave at the King,Queen,prince and princess. Dress up in your best clothes to watch the parade (I was way under dressed as were most tourists ). Start drinking beer around noon if your under 30. We came back to hotel I took a nap and Wen finished a book. Then we went our separate ways to do different things. Wendy to find a room for 5/28 in Oslo and me to get the rest of our train reservations and rooms so I can call Nils and let him know when we will arrive in Bergen. I had more luck than wen. Got all the reservations and rooms in Lillihammer. Wen had no luck. We grabbed Rick Steve's and Brecka literature and hit the town. Even with a map hard to find these places. All the reasonable priced ones were full, Wen was getting depressed. Last reasonable place close to Oslo S had one room (BINGO!). We saw a small riot kids drinking I think. Police have this place screwed down tight. As we trudged around Oslo we kept seeing a 10 year old kid in a jester hat. Must of seen him 6 times (twilight zone stuff) , then dinner became a problem. The original choice had changed the phone # and took a call to hotel operator to figure that one out. Turned out they had no space were full because of 17th of may thing. Well I wanted to go to the veggi place again but Wen said no so we got out Rick Steve's again and found this place called the Sjakk Matt Cafe. Great place no smoking section. Seat your self. After setting for 10 minutes young couple next to us told us you order at bar and they bring food to you. Turns out kids were from Austin Texas. Great young couple. Swapped Norsk observations with them. Walked back to Hotel still a lot of young people swilling beer. Bathed and tried to get ready for 9 AM departure to Stockholm. Water is green in Oslo??

May 18

Nether Wen or I slept well. Breakfast and said goodbye to the Radison. Caught train out of Oslo S at 9:03 AM. talked to a nice young couple from wisconsin. She was a EE that works for toilet paper company. Vacation then work for her. She's checking out some TP maker the Swed's make. Taiwanese mother and daughter across from us on train. Train was not full . The power of Booze solved the full train problem as the reservation clerk predicted. One chunk of the track is being worked on so they bussed us for 30 miles. Conductor said work should be done monday so should not effect return trip tuesday night. Bus brake defeats advantage of sleeper. Stockholm is beautiful. 20 C warm especially when carrying luggage 6 blocks. The Bently is very nice. Rick is our man. Garbed some sandwiches from train station market and ate them by a canal. Guy in boat started talking swedish to me. Told him I was american and waved. Looked like rum and coke was powering boat. We walked over to city hall and walked along boat way. It got cooler so we packed it in at 7:00 PM. Will try to sack out at 10 PM. Looks like road work outside window at 6 AM.

May 19

We both slept well even though when I got up at 4:30 to go to bathroom it was light enough to do brain surgery. They need thicker curtains on this place. We have 2 days in stockholm so we will go a little slower than the banzai Oslo 1 day burnout. We had breakfast and then set out to see the Vasa , a ship that sunk 10 minuets into her maiden voyage. It a swedish holiday ( 50 days after easter??) No road work thank god. We walked down Dorttingsgatan a pedestrian shopping street. Lots of people out. We walked down through Gamla Stan old town lots of neat shops and caught the ferry to the Vasa. Long lines for ferry and lots of kids. Vasa was built in 1628. Turns out Baltic is not to salty so good for wood. Boat was pretty much intact. Sunk because of bad design. Re-floated in 1960's have been restoring it ever since. Very neat. We also went to a folk museum called Skansen. Family day kids everywhere. Rick gives it his highest rating Wen and I did not agree with him on this one. There was some neat stuff,very good glass blowing demo,old machine shop circa 1880 old farm house and stuff. Rode old trolley back and walked back to Bently. Asked owner where to eat and he suggested Rolf Kok (kitchen). We had just walked by it and it looked good. We ordered Bruschetta (very good) Wendy went from the light menu and ordered Caesar salad with bacon. I had salmon with koskos stuffed peppers (very good). Wen's salad showed up with at least 3/4 of a pound of high quality bacon (12 strips), She did get the dressing on the side (HA!). They do love there meat in scandinavia. We had blueberry sorbet for desert(very good but purple teeth). A very good meal comparable to a good restaurant in SOCAL.

May 20

Up at 6 AM shower convince Wen to pack her big bag. I hauled it and my duffel down to train station and stuffed in locker 25 Kr while she's showering. Tried the ATM at TS but won't accept card with raised letters. Found a red one on way back that worked. First problem with a ATM in general they are working great. Wen's doing well this morning. We're trying to get to city hall for 10 AM tour. Tour is great with lots of stuff about the Nobel prize. Went to palace to see changing of the guard. Wen says it's much more accessible than the London show. Interesting but kinda sloppy marchers. Lots of stuff to see in Place including crown jewels. Had late lunch and 2 hour boat tour. Beautiful city. Then shopped Gamla Stan. It was getting cold and a wind was rising so reading inside shops while Wen shopped was just fine. There is a wacky store in Gamla Stan the sells southwest stuff Kachina dolls and crystals and stuff. We started looking for a restaurant, both of the one on Ricks list were being remodeled (bummer) and the one recommended by the bently we could not find. Was getting very cold so dinner was apple muffin and water at train station. Stockholm is the first time we have seem pan handlers. May be gypsies or eastern europeans. Plan to read and write till 11:30 PM departure and stay warm.

May 21

We are in a single norwegian sleeping car hooked to a swedish train going to Gottenborg which will be cut out and hooked to a Norsk train in early morning going to Oslo. Wen got to see what the Bergen to Oslo night train will be like. She likes the top bunk (go figure?) Conductor woke us up at 6 AM. Only 6 hours sleep. Made the Lillehammer train with no trouble. Train did run 10 minutes late so the early choice back which gives us 1 hour lay over is Oslo headed towards Bergen instead of 10 minutes is the right one. Snowed !! on and off all the way to Lillehammer! Rented a car and got checked in showered and went down to see ice ring ( no Ice antique show this weekend and cheesy carnival),did see egg (no big) and rode downhill and toboggan simulator made by Hughes (very neat). Checked out the folk museum location and had late lunch early dinner. First real food since tuna sandwich in Stockholm.Did snack Wen a couple of times or she would not survive. Then went driving up E6 since weather had turned nice in the afternoon. Very scenic. Found another Stav Church in Ringbu. In use a active church not in a museum. Wen's sacking out at 8:30 I hope to make 10.

May 22

Breakfast was cereal and rolls and OJ skipped the fish and cold cuts. Looked a little for a laundromat for Wen. No luck. Off to Maihaugen the last and best of the folk museums. They were supposed to have a 11 AM english tour but were short tour guides so called that tour off. Turns out there is a large indoor part as well. Norway from 10000 BC to present.Even had the fishy smell of old Bergen and smell of dentists office. Great detail. Special exhibit on Norway in the 1970's looked a lot like USA in 70's. By the way those 70's platform high heels are way back with the young ladies in scandinavia. Not a lot about Viking rape and plunder (nothing actually). Tour at 1 PM was great. Astrid our guide even added the Stav church when Wen asked to see it. Very informative. Dropped Wen off to shop Lillehammer while I finished my book. Picked her up at 4:10 PM. Then one final look for the laundromat. found it but only open from 9 AM to 3 PM. Guess Wen will have to wait to Bergen. Hi Nils where's your washer and dryer (HA). Cloudy and rainy all day in Lillehammer glad we did the scenic thing yesterday. Had dinner at the Lundegarden. I had more fish while Wen had the Elk very good Wen loves this place.Then a little run down E6 south valley very scenic but north is better. Norway map from pasadena very helpful. Back to hotel for early bed 5 AM alarm in morning.

May 23

Slept fitfully must be anticipation of early departure. Got up at 5 AM showered and shaved then woke up Wen. She did real well and was ready at 6:15 AM. Drove down to the station and dropped Wen and luggage off and returned car. Volvo was a neat car no AC but a snow sensor which was surprisingly accurate. Avis guy was not there but gas station guy took keys even though his english was limited. Train was 25 minutes late leaving Lillehammer real glad went for early option. Cloudy and drizzle all the way to Oslo. Got there at 10 AM. Wen went and changed her Swedish money for Norsk and I gave her 20 Kr for a Coke. Wanted to eat my sandwich the hotel made for us since we would be leaving before breakfast. Got on the Bergen train when it showed up 20 min before departure. Cool on platform. Big windows on train ready for the big scenic extravaganza. Engine broke 2 hours out of Oslo. lost 1 hour. Claim they will try to make it up. Another Stav church on the route. Hope Nils and Nils check with railroad. Lots of snow at myrdal (3 feet) about 100 cross country skiers got on train at Voss. Norway is a Civil engineers dream. Tons of tunnels, dams, bridges water everywhere . New suspension bridge being built 1/2 hour out of Bergen. They made up 40 minutes 20 minutes late into Bergen. Found Nils and Nils. We drove through Bergen and took the Ferry to Stord the island with the town Fitjar on it. The ferry is part of the highway between Stavanger and Bergen. Runs all night long. Nil's Hovland has a great house 200 feet from the ocean with a great view. We had a late dinner with Nils Hovland and Bregetta his wife and Nils Magne Skumsnes and Annetta his wife. Showed family pictures and JPL stuff. Berni's hand towels and truck were a big hit. Got to bed at 11:30 PM.

May 24

Breakfast at 8 AM. Pickled herring, hard boiled eggs, lefsa,salmon,scrambled eggs cold, cereal, milk and OJ. They were shocked I didn't drink coffee. Told them Wen and I together made one norwegian. I eat the fish she drinks the coffee. Beautiful day today in Fitjar as was yesterday in Bergen. Went for a drive to see "Hovland" very pretty place could see why the Norse though it was a holy place. Wen and I are trying to get laundry done so we can finish the trip with clean clothes. Had lunch broccoli soup , salmon , current drink , boiled potato's and ice cream cake and cookies. Bland but good. Then Nils said we should take a nap so we did. Then off to Nils Magne and Annetta's for dinner. They have 3 kids girls 7 and 5 and a boy 8 months Morten. Early dinner of sandwiches and a buttermilk pudding which I got the receipt for. A walk down to the ocean through the sheep pastures. Before dinner Wen and I sampled some smoked and dried herring. Fish jerky pretty good actually. Then after dinner and the walk another relative Magne picked us up for another dinner (yikes). More sandwiches and waffles and different bug juice, Arne Hovland Magne son Nils brother and family are up from Stavanger for Gunnar Hovland his brothers daughter's confirmation. A big deal in Norway. Lots of Family photos all day. Back to Nils around 11 PM grab laundry off line freeze dried still plenty of light. Fold and off to bed. Breakfast at 6:30 AM because of run into Bergen for Norway in a half shell tour.

May 25

The first ferry to Bergen is 8 AM so we have some time in Bergen. Nils takes us to a church in Farna it was built in 1228. We got to go inside very nice stained glass. Train left at 10:20 AM late into Myrdal and the japanese tourist got pushy and cutting in fount of people. They had cars reserved in obscure ways. Took a while to settle out.We ended up with a french tour group who were much better than the japanese. Train down stops several times to let you off for photo shots. Line built in late 30's now mostly a tourist line. 1 in 18 ruling grade 5.55 % . Boat ride was less hectic with about 70 % of capacity. Very spectacular scenery. Yosemite with a ocean. Aurland one of the places we thought about staying is nothing like I pictured it. Some very small sheep pastures must be tended by boat. There are seals sunning them selves on the side of the fjord. Met a aussie couple stationed in Oslo for 2 years. They doubled his salary and they are still pinching pennies. They say buying booze or medicine take a number and wait 3 hours.Boat trip ends in Gudvangen. Then take a bus up steepest road in europe. I believe it. Nils used to drive this road. He says optimum is down the road and up the train. Kinda glad I missed that. Rail pass saved us about $ 40 each on the norway in the nut shell tour. Nils met us at train station but train was just late enough for us to miss the 9 PM ferry. Sat and talked till 10 PM. Met Arno on the ferry another relative. Got home at 11 PM and Bregetta had a chicken salad waiting. We were hungry and ate the whole thing. Chicken,canned corn,celery,pineapple chunks,carrots with a sour cream and cucumber dressing. Very good.

May 26

Rainy and windy this morning. Payback for all the neat weather. Slow paced day today. Slept in late , breakfast at 9 AM more fish for breakfast. Knute came by for a chat. Another relative. Wen and I also went shopping in Fitjar. Lunch was lamb soup. Very good. Nap then a tour of the island with Nils Magne. Saw the single strip airport. Then met Gunnar Hovland ( could be my psychic twin ) he loves planes ,marine engineer propulsion, designed and built his own 9 cylinder radial model airplane engine. Talked for 2 hours. Bored everyone silly. Then off to see big city on Stord Laksevag. Then to hospital to see Harold Hovland. Ulcer problem. Welding engineer. Broke out my Elmer Floyd knowledge and talked welding. Dinner was Rumegrad. Reduced sour cream with sugar flour and raisins added. Like eating hot ice cream pure fat but great. Off to Bergen in morning.

May 27

Up at 5:45 AM showered and shaved did not break anything while at Nils house proud of that. Woke up Wen. Breakfast at 6:45 AM. Stuck to cereal,lefsa,tomato ,eggs,bread and OJ.Said goodbye to Bregetta. Car ferry to Bergen. Nils dropped us off at train station. Said goodbye very nice man. Lockered bags and off to see Bergen. Great place open air fish market. Old wharf with plenty of shops. Did the Bygenns museum. Neat place but not Mihaugen. May be reaching Museum burn out. Rode funicular up mountain. Great view of Bergen. Lunch at neat place in wharf area no smoking section. Down to color line for room assignment. More shopping up to TS at 4 PM to get bags. Back to color line at 4:45 PM. Said goodbye to Wen been a great 11 days with her.Room is on deck one , bottom of ship. Got dinner reservation for 9 PM. Pepper steak for dinner. Showered and bed.

May 28

Noisy at bottom of ship, ride is about the same but lots of sea noise. Woke up at 1:30 AM took some EX PM and slept till 7 AM. Showered and shaved rougher this time. Breakfast buffet american breakfast NO fish lots of OJ. ER your only problem visiting Stord will be the food it's almost 180 out from what you eat. All fats and protein. Bread is the only thing you have in common. Not much to do so morning nap. Changed my Kr to # the boat even took my change (YOU HO!!) Down to # and $ getting down to the short strokes.Filipino lady boots you out of your cabin 2 hours before arrival to make up room for new passenger.Ship has 1 hour turn around in Newcastle. Missed that little feature by getting off early in Stavanger. Sat on deck with my stuff and watched england show up. Bus to Train station and train to Edinburgh. 1 1/2 hour train ride at about 100 miles per hour. Edinburgh is further north than I thought. Taxi to B&B. They suggested this place down the street 64 Dalkeith.Great food no smoking. Met Mike and Helen Cohen from N.J. USA. He's a literary agent. (Wen and Brent you should still write a book together).Very clear and warm took a late evening walk then to bed.

May 29

Well another Rick Steve power day in the offing. Met a wacky couple from arizona at breakfast. Old guy with pony tail. Said he was a B-17 crew member POW in germany and middle aged girlfriend , daughter , significant other?? Did not seem to like california. Good breakfast. Caught the bus and went to train station to book 8 AM train to london. Then did guide friday bus tour. next was 11 AM royal mile walking tour (very good). Then Edinburgh castle audio tour. Then back on the bus for Georgian House and back on the bus to the Robert Burns memorial. After that then a bus ride back to the B&B to rest my puppies. Bus back to down town to a Veggi restaurant (ER your right on this one). Finally a wacky ghost walk and bus ride back to B&B and a late night chat with a Aussi couple. He was a free lance writer doing research on tube (valve) amplifiers and vinyl records (Gary Baley is smiling somewhere) I informed him that I thought he was off base on this one but like all true believers he held to his guns. Fun to talk to. Off to bed at 10 PM.

May 30

Well up around 6 AM showered and shaved. No one up this early so breakfast will be orange and banana from fruit bowl. Train showed up 10 minutes late. Electric locomotive , very fast , train gets fuller as we go south. Looks like everyone in England is taking advantage of this hot weather and taking a holiday in London. Hot in car though the AC finally kicks in. They don't do AC well here. Don't need it much is my guess. Last day on my BRITRAIL pass. Only thing I have left is a plane ticket. Got to London at 12:44 PM on time. Found the hotel after riding the tube. All my MTA training is paying off. This is a subway system!! Pre paid my room with those pesky scottish pounds , used the ATM for the last time I hope (100 #). Got a rejection (polite) from the Ceremony of the Keys. Oh well gives me something to do next time. Back to the tube to the British Museum. You could spend weeks in this place. I gave it 2 hours. Saw Magna Carta, Rosetta Stone and more Egypt and Greek stuff and Mesopotamian stuff than you can imagine. A very neat reproduction of a Saxon Sword. Did recon in force of the Tower. Checked out Westminster Abbey. Met a aTm business student just starting some kind of european business study. He gave me the NBA update ( GO JAZZ). Big Ben struck 6 and it sounds just like the movies. It's early friday evening and tubes are very crowded almost as bad as Tokyo ( I always get on ). Rick recommended Jenny Lo's tea house. Very good some of the best chinese anywhere. Opinion may have been colored by my small breakfast and no lunch. Got some UOP students next to me tonight. May be interesting. Got salt marks all over my T shirt. Showered and feel much better. Will hit it hard in morning. Last full day. Half day on Sunday unless BA screws up again.

May 31

Hay fever acting up again , first noticed it in Edinburgh. Must mean LA's 1 1/2 months ahead of england. Street noise a little much but slept well. Had breakfast with a young woman from Seattle , her boyfriend is showing up on Sunday and there going to Ireland. Got the all day tube pass best deal in London. Off to the Tower of London. The Windsor family does have the best Jewels! They have a diamond the size of a large hens egg. Claim it's the largest in the world. I believe it. Took the Warders walking tour. Very interesting. Then off to Island Gardens by light rail. Pass works on that as well. Foot tunnel under the Thames to see the Cutty Sark. Neat I built a model of it when I was a kid. Then hike up to the Royal Observatory. Bought the combo ticket. Had to see the prime meridian and the first chronometer M4. Neat stuff. Then off to the other half of the combo the British maritime museum. Lots of great models and a whole section on Nelson ( Great stuff for us Hornblower fans). Back through the foot tunnel (about 1/3 mile walk) and off to Pickadilly to see about theater tickets. The seattle kid had suggested "The Inspector Calls" 1/2 price did not have any so went to box office and got one a regular price $35 no big. Then back to the room for some rest , had thought about the Imperial war museum but I was walked out. In the morning I had check out the locker situation at the train station and saw my first nitrate sniffer. They sniff the luggage before you can bring it in so nothing goes BOOM. Thank you IRA. They also have them at the Tower of London. Took another shower been taking 2 a day been hot and sweaty hiking this place. Dressed in slack and sports shirt , glad I brought them served me well through out the trip. Went back to the tea house for dinner wanted to check out other dishes. They have a cook book which I almost bought. Decided against it to much stuff to carry all ready. On the way to tube station someone asked me directions second time this has happened. Did not try to help them. This place is confusing. When I got to Lester square It took me 15 minutes to find the Theatre even though I had been there in the afternoon. Enjoyed the street scene without my camera. The thing gets in the way of really looking around.Play was good. Garrick theater is a great venue. Play had gotten 19 awards and was very PC set in 1912. Very dramatic I was expecting a more standard thriller. Seen as good at the Pasadena Playhouse. I think the LA theater may be underrated. No intermission so play was over at 10:15 . Tube was still crowded at 10:30 PM. Got home no problem.

June 1

GOING HOME DAY !! Breakfast british again. Had eggs scrambled. Early 7:30 no one to eat with. Some wacky american females were complaining about american trains. I felt like telling them if they voted for people who cared about trains they could have good trains but I kept my tongue. Stored my bags after they were sniffed. The smoked herring did not set off the sniffer. Got a on off ticket for the "Original London Bus Tour" . Took the tour bus to the British war room. Great place kept like it was when England was fighting germany in WWII. Got back on bus and rode entire tour with live guide. First bus was recorded in 8 languages. Live is much better. finished at 1:30 PM. Got my stuff back and took the tube to Heathrow. Met some yanks in the elevator. Went to service desk to get my boarding pass and they showed up. Let them cut in line because they were very late. They got there passes but were going to have to run to catch plane. Hope they made it. Young guys flying first class (go figure $$$) They had a express baggage X-ray line for us business class and 1st class passengers but there was still quite a line. As I stood in line some Arab family Father Mother and 2 teenage kids with BA representative went to front of line and right through $$$$$.Got to the Lounge and rehydrated with OJ and Coke and some cookies to get the blood sugar up. Plane was full going home no surprise and on time a surprise. Mom and Dad picked me up at the fly away and I was home by 9 PM. No problem with the smoked herring in customs. Gave it to dad as soon as I saw him.

Some observations on trip. Scandinavia is great , beautiful and expensive. The kids are smoking way to much especially in the big cities. Cities in order of beauty Stockholm , Bergen , Lillehammer , Kobenhavn , Oslo. Fitjar is a very small town. A lot like Fort Kent. The Norsk eat a incredible amount of fat and protein. You think Charmin and Strouds could make a fortune there because the towels and toilet paper suck. Bring your own wash rag if you want one. There are no drinking fountains in europe. As far as England goes Bath, Edinburgh, York, London. London's got a great tube system but it's so much like LA it does not feel like a vacation. Never spent much time in Newcastle. Rick Steve's guide book is very very good but add 10 minutes to any of his walking time estimates.