Highway 1

July 6th, 2017 , 6:56

Otherwise known as the Trans-Canadian Hwy. Though we didn’t get on it until nearly past Vancouver, even though it starts in Victoria, we went up to Sidney and took the ferry across from there, rather than the ferry from further north on Vancouver Island. Got to the ferry too early, again, and so were put on the one an hour earlier, which was good! Also discovered a local artist, Sue Coleman, as one of the little shops was selling cards and prints. Lovely work.

Had breakfast on the ferry on our way over. Watched a whale watching rib head out – they headed across our stern and pulled up with people pointing, so I had a look and saw a bald eagle in a tree. Get across and am focusing on driving off the ferry when Joe says ‘oh, it’s a bald eagle sitting there!’ I missed it as he waited to point it out. He thought they’d put a fake one up on a lamppost the way it was sitting there, but nope, real eagle. Then as we were driving along we saw another one flying over head. There was another possible siting further into the mountains, but only the three confirmed.

Took 17 around Richmond until it hooked up with Hwy 1, then off to the Rockies. We stopped for petrol once we were well clear of Vancouver – and couldn’t figure out how to open the petrol cap! Took us ages to work out where the lever was (next to the driver’s seat, on the floor). Got that all sorted and back on the road. Beautiful scenery and interesting watching the trains go by far below us, then we’d work our way down to the river, and the trains were above us. Saw loads of ‘watch out for deer, elk, big horn sheep’ signs. The first sheep sign we passed I said ‘Oh, I’d love to see a big horn sheep! But probably no chance . . .  why are they stopping right in the middle of the . . .  oh look! Sheep! Right by the road! Nifty!’ Joe said the sign should say ‘beware of tourists stopping for animals!’ But the sheep were all we saw. Not a single elk. 

We got just outside of Kamloops and came to a complete stop. Eventually found out there was a pole down across the road. A policeman pulled up beside us, asked if we were local, and when I said ‘erm, no’ he said well to go back down that way toward Logan Lake and just follow the traffic! So Joe had already checked the maps and picked out a route, so off we went. Only there was no traffic to follow, so it was a good thing Joe found a route. It was a tiny little local road (pretty sure what the police meant us to take, but wasn’t sure how to tell us which one it was) with cattle grids and ‘watch for livestock next 5km’ signs every five kilometers. We figured the only sign they had was 5kms so they had to buy up a bunch and put them every 5kms! And, just like the wildlife signs, there was no sign at all of any livestock. Not a critter to be seen!

So we went something like an hour out of our way to get around a pole in the road and finally came to Salmon Arm after 8pm. By that time it was just slogging along – the scenery is still wonderful but we were getting a bit tired! Checked into the hotel and asked the best place within walking distance (I was tired of driving) and ended up at a ‘local pub’ which was nothing like any local pub we have at home! But it had very good food and very good service. Now to sleep, up tomorrow to carry on to Calgary!

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Museum day

July 5th, 2017 , 2:35

Slept in a bit today. Well, as much as we can sleep in as we’re still a bit jetlagged. So up around 7 (technically awake well before 7, but we were sleeping in damn it!) 

Headed out and walked around the coast a bit – past Fisherman’s Wharf and along past the Coast Guard station and then back onto the path. Saw lots out at sea, but no binoculars or telephoto lens so not sure what was out there that we saw! But it is another lovely sunshiny day. Then we headed up the Trans Canadian Hwy, starting at Mile 0 (yep, Joe took photos, having waited for the family that were posing at the sign in every possible configuration – “right now, just the boys . . . “) and stopping when we reached the Royal BC Museum

Had a coffee and light breakfast, then headed into the museum proper. And spent hours there. Only two floors but they have a lot on them! Well worth a visit. Stayed until our feet wore out completely, then headed further into downtown. Found a lovely little coffee/cafe place and had lunch. Then did some shopping, so I now have a new pair of walking sandals and a hat. 

We were tired so we finally took one of the harbour taxis back to the hotel – hooray! They are like little bathtub toys and I’ve been wanting to ride in one since I first saw it. So a lovely little puttputt across the harbour back to the hotel, where we got online and booked hotels for the rest of our time in Canada. Getting ready to have a light dinner, then pack for the drive to Salmon Arm tomorrow!

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The Galloping Goose

July 4th, 2017 , 2:47

The Galloping Goose is a 50km or so trail, from the Sooke potholes to Victoria (or vice versa). You can go about 5km further on to an old mining town, but nothing is left of the town and the car access ends at Sooke Potholes. So we were dropped off with two bikes and plenty of water at the potholes and left to make our way back to Victoria! We went with a company called Cycle Treks and they were very good and helpful!

We got ourselves sorted, had a look at the potholes (very nice, even though we didn’t go down to them – still too cold to swim!), then headed off onto the trail. The first 20km is really nice, very beautiful. Then it opens out a bit and goes into farm land. Then the last bit is houses and city outskirts. But a nice ride and easy enough! We saw more wildlife on the drive up though – deer were by the road. But we saw birds on the bike ride, though not sure what types! Photos will start to be up sometime soon. At one point in the ride, we were working out how to cross the road, got across and looked at each other and said ‘we’ve missed our chance to go through a Tim Hortons drive through on bikes!’ It was on the other side of the road and we weren’t turning around!

Once back in Victoria we returned the bikes and went and got dinner. Now crashed in the room!

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Happy Hangover Day!

July 3rd, 2017 , 1:49

There is a theme of watching fireworks from the hotel deck this year. Last night decided we couldn’t see the fireworks from our room, so headed downstairs and out onto the deck where we could watch the fireworks – and yes, they were over the harbour. In keeping with the theme!

Headed for bed after the fireworks. Up too early again, but slowly shedding the jetlag.  Had breakfast at the hotel, a very nice start to the day overlooking the harbour in the sunshine. Not really whale watching weather – bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky (usually when we’re whale watching it’s raining and cold, or even horizontal snow in the dark!) – but we were off for the boat. Really nice trip and we were out for four hours. We saw lots of birds, including pidgeon guillamot, gulls, arctic tern, and a bald eagle. We also saw seals. And orcas and a humpback whale! Got to see the fluke several times. A really nice time out.

Once back we headed off to the bike hire place to check all was sorted for tomorrow’s ride. Then had a walk around the shopping area of Victoria. We’ll have dinner at the restaurant at the hotel and then rest up for our cycle ride tomorrow.

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Happy Birthday Canada!

July 2nd, 2017 , 5:55

So 150 years! 

We woke up far too early. And are tired far too early. Jet lag. Ugh. So awake, so got up and got sorted. Had some coffee. Checked out the hotel breakfast which wasn’t much – cereal or toast. So we had more coffee and OJ and did what every is suppose to do their first morning in Canada and headed for Tim Hortons.

We had the proper coffee rather than the stuff from the post and it wasn’t bad. But we did confuse the poor kid behind the counter. Have no idea how we didn’t order properly, but we didn’t. Three doughnuts (I think Joe wanted to try each one, but restrained himself) and two coffees. And still far too early, barely half past 8 when we finished and we weren’t to get the car until 10. But we went ahead and got back to the hotel, resorted our bags, and headed out anyway.

Getting the car was no problem and straight to the ferry terminal where we were over 2 hours early for our ferry, so they very nicely put us on the 11am ferry. The terminal was packed as was the ferry, but a really lovely journey between the islands. And we have beautiful weather. A bit cold for me though Joe is comfortable.

The roads down to Victoria were busy as well but we were expecting that. And of course roads were closed in Victoria for the celebrations. I was worried the road out hotel is on was closed, but it wasn’t and we managed to find it even with the detours – so the car is now parked for probably the remainder of our stay! 

Then out to see Fisherman’s Wharf – a neat collection of colourful house boats with food and shops – and most importantly the company we’re doing our whale watching tour with tomorrow. So we are all set up for that tomorrow morning. We then walked into town and the hoards of people celebrating – most of the entertainment seemed to be ending, though there are fireworks later tonight. Having braved the crowds we took the coast walk back to the hotel and joined the bbq they were having on the deck. Then back to the room for a nap, which ended up  lasting a few hours. Jet lag. We’re up and waiting for the fireworks, though may just see what we see from our room.

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Oh Canada!

July 1st, 2017 , 0:52

So stayed at Gatwick airport last night, up early to head into the terminal and to our WestJet flight to Vancouver. I booked the holiday ages ago, but only just realised that tomorrow Canada celebrates it’s 150th birthday. So this should be interesting . . . 

Had breakfast at Jamie’s Italian, which was very nice. A short stroll around the terminal, then to the gate. We were actually flying posh class this time –  WestJet doesn’t have business or first, just plus, which has larger seats. We figured a 10 hour flight needed more comfort, so splashed out. So boarding and we get to go on the first round, board the flight and get handed a small Canada flag pin, round the corner and each seat has a paper Canadian flag or 150 Years multi coloured maple leaf flag on the seat back. Ok. Get seated and get handed a sparkling wine and OJ. Ok. Everyone gets on and settled and the announcements start – the first announcement was about Canada day and celebrating 150 years so the government had them hand out the pins and flags. Then a rousing patriotic speech about Canada. Ok. We were also told to ask for whatever we wanted – so I asked them to make the flight shorter please. The flight was long, but we got to see Greenland. And then Canada which looked a bit like Greenland. Lots of snow, glaciers, and icebergs in strikingly blue water.

As we neared Vancouver, watching the Rockies out the window, we get the announcement about the couple who are returning to Canada after living in the UK for over 30 years and how wonder it was they were returning on the 150th birthday. Ok. Then one of the flight attendants sang ‘Oh Canada’ and we were all to wave our flags and say ‘happy birthday Canada’. Ok. But we’d already packed our flags, so. It was an interesting flight. And it was actually early! So they do actually get what you want!

The Vancouver airport is impressive – with a waterfall in the immigration hall. It was eerily quiet in the first corridors and it wasn’t until we got to immigration that we saw any other people – then there suddenly hundreds! Immigration was mostly painless and bags arrived fairly quickly. A bit of a wait for the airport shuttle but here we are. Tired but looking forward to celebrating Canada’s birthday tomorrow.

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2017

January 1st, 2017 , 16:15

So after arriving in Bergen we had a very nice dinner at Bryggeloftet & Stuene in Bryggen – very good food. We were sat in the window so had a good view out to watch the harbour and had a lovely meal.

The last day of 2016 we walked about in the rain. Joe wanted to do some shopping so we had a look around, but didn’t really do much. Back to the room to dress for dinner. We had made a reservation for dinner at the hotel before we left on the cruise, so headed down for a drink before dinner, then prosciutto at 7pm, then into dinner around 7:30. Four courses and it took until about 11:30, so a slow pace. It was really nice and the food was excellent. We then went out on the restaurant balcony over the harbour and watched the fireworks all over Bergen. They were going off on the hill on the other side – up past Bryggen – but the main display was just down the harbour from us and we had an excellent view. Then there was a display up on Mount Fløyen, then more down the harbour. We had a good half hour of really nice fireworks to see in 2017. Then to bed.

Today was lovely and sunny. We got up and had breakfast (a small breakfast as still full from dinner!) then went to the funicular railway to go up to the top of Mount Fløyen. There was snow and ice at the top, which you couldn’t see from the bottom! Joe got several shots of the town from the overlook and we had a good walk around. I saw a red squirrel! Then we walked back down taking our time and seeing everything. Sun going down now but we’ll probably have a quiet night in. Museums tomorrow!

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Is it raining yet?

December 30th, 2016 , 17:14

No, it’s actually dry! Cloudy and we had rain all the way down to Bergen (with small gaps that allowed Joe to get more photos). Finished packing this morning and took the bags out for collection on our way to breakfast. After breakfast, back to the cabin to check it over to make sure didn’t forget anything, grab our small bags and up to deck 7 to sit at the bow and watch the rain. And bounce. It was a bit rough. Top tip for travelling by ship: if you’re susceptible to seasickness or don’t know if you are, do NOT go to the highest part of the ship closest to the bow. If you have small children do NOT go to the highest part of the ship closest to the bow. The best place is as low as you can get, usually as low with windows (on Hurtigruten that was deck 4) and in the centre (on Hurtigruten the very handy lobby with seats!) So yeah, one man, two very small, very unhappy children and a whole group of adults fed up with him.

We got into Bergen about half an hour late, the winds were really slowing us down. But it cleared enough and there was enough light (YAY!) to actually see the scenery. And pretty sure I saw a sea eagle. YAY! So a nice day cruising south, with lunch. Then off the ship, onto the bus and off to the hotel. The bus took just as long as walking did. But got in quickly and got checked in and have a wonderful room with a view out over Bryggen!

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Nearly there

December 29th, 2016 , 21:54

Last full day onboard. Last night we had a stretch of ‘open water’, combined with strong wind and rain so a bouncy couple of hours. So not really enough sleep – but then with it being dark all the time, not enough sleep anyway!

Up early for Trondheim – quick breakfast, though not quite munching toast as hopping down the gangplank pulling on boots! We only had 9 people, plus the guide, on our tour in the pouring rain. I worried that it would be too similar to the bus tour we did on the way north, but it was a good compliment to the bus tour. We saw more of the old town, didn’t go into the cathedral, and walked on the other side of the river from the walk we did the first time. So very nice tour though we did get back to the boat sopping wet. Our stuff is still hung in the bathroom to dry.

The rest of the day was spent up in the deck 7 bar in the seats at the bow watching the rain. Read a bit, but mainly just watched rain. Last dinner onboard and now packing. We have wussed and got the bus transfer to the hotel as the weather will be wet in Bergen!

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Cruising

December 28th, 2016 , 20:40

Today was a cruising day –  no long stops and no excursions. We still got up rather early and had breakfast, then headed out to the bow to see the globe marking the arctic circle. Stepped out on deck to be hit by a wall of wind but managed to creep to the front then around the front and got blown to starboard! Managed to stay onboard – just. Braved the wind and rain to see the globe then headed up to deck 7 to see what the ceremony was only to find out we’d missed it. Apparently it was a really nice cod shaped spoon with ‘Arctic Circle Hurtigruten’ written on it. But you had to swallow a spoonful of cod liver oil to get it.

We have spent the day pretty much watching the horrible weather from the window as it’s not let up all day. Rain, sleet, hail, and strong wind. Joe got out at Brønnøysund for a walk about but said there wasn’t much there. He wandered up the street and back again in a gap in the rain. We sat in the bakery and had hot chocolate and I listened in on conversations. We sat in the bar and had drinks and watched the rain. Just that sort of day.

Dinner was one seating and we got handed a glass of sparkling wine when we went in and had to walk past the senior crew and staff to our tables – it was our farewell dinner. So a toast to everyone and a song from the crew with a very good meal.

We’re up very early tomorrow for a wet (the weather report says heavy rain all day – again) walk around Trondheim.

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