Europe 2019

Ramblings on our trip to England, Scandinavia and Scotland

United Kingdom – Scotland and London

May 4 – 7:  London and Trip to Edinburgh and Scotland

Had a wonderful time in London.  Shari went to ChristianDior museum in the Victoria-Albert museum.  Dave and I went to an Arsenal football game   We had to buy new emergency glasses for Shari and also an emergency dentist appointment for Shari but that all ended well.  Had wonderful home-cooked meals and also took the train to Woking to visit Ann and Norman.  Norman doesn’t get around well on his own as he as water on the brain but his mind is sharp.  Then we were off on a train to Edinburgh.  Walked for many kilometres and saw the Edinburgh castle, Calton hill and enjoyed great meals.

Day 2 on the road to see Scotland:  Today started out rainy and stayed that way.  We made three major stops today – First was to rent a car – ended up with a BMW 2-door car with only 10 miles on it..  Obviously we were the first drivers.   Managed to cut pretty close to a few curbs but fortunately no accidents our first day.   Second stop was the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve.   It would have been great to shoot birds here but the wind was howling and the rain wouldn’t stop.  Neat place nonetheless and the coffee was warm.  Last stop was a tour of the Edradour distillery – the smallest non-micro distillery in UK, I believe and much of the process is managed manually.  Some interesting varieties but we decided not to make any purchases.

MAY9  Last Day at Pitlochry:  Today we walked quickly thru a nature reserve, then went to on a tour of Blair castle (owned by the Duke of Athole), traveled through the forest around Kinloch Rannock and ended up at the Queen’s view.  It had obviously snowed overnight as the mountain tops were all adorned with snow.  At Queen’s View I met another tourist who was flying his drone so I flew mine as well.  Great fun.  Aerial images are not yet in the gallery below.,

May 10:  Great Drive today into the Cairngorn National Park in which we stopped to visit a wildlife park.  Then we travelled up to Inverness, did a little shopping, and drove almost the entire way back to Spean Bridge (our B&B) on single lane roads where the locals dash about and I head for the nearest dirt rut to escape.  Exciting, what?

May 11, 12, 13:  Travels from Spean Bridge to Kyleakin (Isle of Skye) to Sligachan (Isle of Skye).   Due to some unfortunate hotel experiences, we had no internet last night and, since the hotel wasn’t working for us, we moved further into Isle of Skye (and closer to the Uig ferry terminal we need to reach tomorrow morning.  It has been 3 adventurous days.  On May 11, we visited the train at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, then the lower waterfall at Glen Nevis, we visited Mallaig (a fishing harbour where the steam train stops and turns around) and had supper at Roy Bridge’s lounge.  On May 12, we ended up at Kyleakin on the edge of Isle of Skye, after visiting Plockton, the Eilean Donan castle, Strathcarron and several Coos (Shari says the Scots refer to the long-haired bovines as such).  Today we toured the Isle of Skye visiting Cullin Hills, Portree, Old Man of Storr (crumbling basalt hills), the Quiraing in northern Skye, and the Fairy Pools.


May 14 – Ferry boat to Tarbert on Outer Hebrides;  After a hair-raising rush to make it to the ferry port at Uig (our initial GPS setting was wrong), we made it onto the ferry.  Today we concentrated on seeing the Isle of Harris after our boat landed around 11:00 am.  The seas were really calm and we chatted with several locals who said this was quite uncommon.  It was also warming up quite nicely so that was a relief too.  What good fortune!.   We looped around the roads of Harris looking for a Harris tweed weaver and finally met Rebecca at the southern end of the isle.  Don’t know what I’ll do with the material I bought but it’s definitely authentic.  Then we had to drive over 50 miles north to Stornoway to our hotel by the harbour.  Stornoway is quite large by island standards and not too shabby either but definitely feeling it when roads get congested.  The day was frequently spent waiting for cars, sheep and cows that blocked single lane roads and trying to capture ocean birds that didn’t cooperate.


Europe blog continued


Norway and signs of snow
Approaching Bergen after stopover in Oslo



Days 5,6 & 7.   To lose some weight I left my my laptop at Rebecca’s house and it appears it’s difficult to update a blog on an IPad in sequence so I’m starting a new blog.

Not sleeping as well as I’d like but still enjoying the trip.  On day 5 we decided to clean the house in preparation for the Trip to Norway.   In the evening Rebecca and Dave treated us to a broadway musical ‘Hamilton’.   It was fantastic. The next day we arose early to fly to Oslo and then Bergen.  I was surprised by how much snow we could see from the air.   However Bergen itself was dry, warm and inviting.   We boarded the Hurtigruten ship ‘Trollfjord’ last night and signed up for a few hikes during upcoming stops.   Some port stops are 15 minutes but others are up to 3 hours.

Bergen at sundown from the ship
Bergen at sundown


Day 8.   Might have added a day – it’s possible this is only day 7.   Regardless We (all 4 of us) are on the Trollfjord and today’s major stop was Alesund.  It’s the first major stop after Bergen which we left at midnight last night.  We joined the Expedition crew and 6 of us with 2 guides hiked up to the summit of a hilltop overlooking the harbour and town of 25000.  Actually the town is spread over several islands also.  It was a strenuous hike for me.   Definitely not as smooth as I once was

Norway fjord
A mite breezy


Ålesund from top of our mountain climb
Wind blown atop the hill
Deciding who will jump first

.Staying pretty despite the gusty winds

Staying pretty despite the wind


Day 9.   After yesterday’s hike my legs are really feeling it but I managed to walk around Trondheim today – twice.   Woke up at 6:00 and as everyone was asleep I headed out to see the city.  It’s the second or third largest in the country and was once the capital.  Came back for breakfast and all 4 of us walked the town again.  A very sleepy town on Easter Sunday

Trondheim early morning
Shari and her Troll friend
Studying the Nidarros castle
Buildings on stilts

Bridge to ‘old Trondheim’

Bridge to ‘old’ Trondheim
Lonely 20 metre lighthouse once inhabited
At sea north of Trondheim

.Lonely 20 metre lighthouse once inhabited

stokksundet – a 48 metre wide passagewaykm


Day 10 I guess and going quickly.    Today we leave the ship but not until 7:00 pm Norway time.   So we had s bus excursion to a set of rapids and whirlpools that are advertised as spectacular.   To be honest in the driving rain it was difficult to get excited.   I did get up early and caught this early morning shot sometime around 5:00 am




Day 11, 12,13

dont know why but text disappears and photos move around.  Very difficult to manage on my ipad.   It’s April 24 and we are still on the islands of Lofoten and enjoying the long arctic days, balmy weather, great vistas and wonderful food.   We move to Senja just up the coast a ways tomorrow.   So here are a few images from our last few day

DAY 14.   Last full day on Lofoten.  Tomorrow we make a long drive and ferry to Senja

Day 15   Our Last Day on Senja    Tomorrow we leave beautiful surroundings in our cottage by the sea surrounded by reindeer and sea birds   Today we drove almost the entire island and it’s spectacular mountains hundreds of metres high reaching straight up from the fjords are amazing.   unfortunately., we leave Rebecca and Dave somewhat stranded   Due to SAS pilot strike, the two have to stay an extra day in Tromso and fly back a day late to London

Day 15, 16.  Travel from Senja to Narvik by bus and then train to Lulea Sweden

Made multiple stops on the bus as Dave And Rebecca dropped us off in clear sunshine nea4 Olsborg Norway to catch a bus to Narvik   Arriving around 2:30 we walked the streets of this very tired city of Narvik   We noticed a ski lift still operating immediately behind the city    Later that night our guesthouse filled up with skiers   We caught a 10:52 train out of Narvik the next morning and were surprised by the number of stops at ski lodges   We arrived at Lulea Sweden at 6:00 pm and walked to our hotel less than 1 km away again in bright sun   A much nicer city than Narvik, we splurged on a great meal on the Main Street


Day 17    Made it to Finland – Kemi to be precise   I always wanted to visit Finland but I know nothing about the country nor do I have any reason for choosing Kemi as a stopover place   But we arrived, after taking 2 short bus rides from Lulea and had time for a long hike through a very quiet town and a leisurely meal   The highlight was sitting at an outside wharf cafe while a large Finn group took turns singing karaoke style.   The rest of the old timers like us all waltzed, or did the 2-step  tomorrow will be an early start as we have a 5 hour train ride south from here

Singing karaoke
Old tired ship held fast in the ice
Beautiful church

Last 2 days in Scandinavia.  Our last 2 days were a touch wet and rather cool.  Still we head fun.  We sat in first class coach which for most of the  trip from Kemi to Tampere was our coach alone.  When we arrived we walked to a hotel/hostel which was full of young people.   It was May 1st and the whole city was full of young and old wearing white caps and multi-pants.   Some wore strange costumes as well.   It was a national holiday and, as we found out, the hats were for graduation from high school and the pants were for college entrance.    We went for a walk to find the new grads being dunked in the local river from large cranes.   Today we did the city walk again but I believe most of the city was hung over as it was a much more somber city for sure

so now, after visiting the Moomin museum in honour of Tove Aaaaa, we sit at the tiny Tampere airport   We arrived early somewhat paranoid that SAS would cancel our flight due to a pilot strike

First Day Back In London:   So with rain threatening all day it was time for Shari and I to do the mundane tasks of travelers   We did laundry,  waited for a dentist to see Shari about an infected, cracked molar and rushed to catch the train southwest to Woking    Ann and Norman Penty met us and drove us to a local pub where they insisted on buying us lunch.  Great beer, fish and chips and then repeat the trip back to London.    A great day but not exciting

BLOG TO BE CONTINUED:   Now that we are BACK IN UK, please see Scotland blog.


Europe 2019

This Blog covers London, Norway, Finland, Scotland travels in 2019

Day 1&2:  Got quickly put to work in the back yard by Dave clearing rubble for their new storage cabin.  Went to church and watched the Masters at a pub to see Tiger win.  Good to finally get recovered from jet lag.


London walk

Day 3  A short trip to Camden Town Market.   Today took a long boat cruise from Little Venice to Camden return.  Since the school kids were out, this was a very busy place.  Got a chance to speak to one of the operators so learned a little history of olden days use of the hundreds of miles of lochs and waterways throughout southern England.

The waterways are relatively clean and occupied by hundreds of boats, birds, fish and people walking alongside each part of the canals.
72 foot long boat
Camden lanterns









DAY 4:  Trip to British Museum;  Today we had to stay behind to let the workers in who are building a small castle in the back of Rebecca’s garden.  As they worked, I kept busy trying to assemble a table which we then used to organize our suitcases and knapsacks.  When David arrived home we took the ‘Tube’ and walked through Carnaby street to the museum.  We then took the tube home arriving just as it started to rain.   In all, it was a good day.

Assyrian sphinx
British Museum entrance
British Museum skylight