Boring, drizzly day waiting until time for the flight. Will 6:50 ever come? Finally on full flight (overbooked by 31!), but an aisle seat so I slept quite a bit -- 6 hours or so. Poor Mary had a sick kid behind her -- they actually made an "is there a doctor in the house?" announcement -- so she got very little sleep. Otherwise quiet into Copenhagen. Airport looks a lot like Gatwick. Easy bus to center city, then maybe 2 blocks to hotel. At concierge's suggestion, we took the city tour after an hour of strolling the main shopping drag. Tour hit canals, changing of the guard (snore), little mermaid (more snores), and a gorgeous church: Grundtvig's church. Modern Gothic built by 6 people in 19 years. Or so the story goes. Simple fine and superb. Met a Philip Carberry on the tour. Pleasant. Fairbanks, Alaska. Lunch at the train terminal then crash for a few hours. Met Philip at 7 then fabulous, well lubricated closing night for Tivoli, right down to fireworks at midnight. After closing (!) strolled down mall to Ny Haven -- the neighborhood a bit tougher after midnight -- then back to collapse.
Fun, quirky day. Slept late (can't imagine why, after 3 kirs + 2 carafes of wine + jet lag) Straggled out to the Town Hall square to write postcards and scoff down a greasy burger for lunch. On to the bus for the Hamlet trip. First to Fredericksborg (Castle) a warm brick pile done in mostly baroque and ornate. On then to Elsinore which was (interior) far more to my taste -- white plaster walls, wood floors, and beams, and tapestries. Back via cutesy fishing villages, past Isak Dinesen's home to city center. We strolled around the canals, parliament building and bourse. For entertainment we hit The Big Chill with Danish subtitles. Superb. Dinner with much port at Copenhagen Corner on the square, then back to stumble over, of all things, Missing. on late night tube. La plus ca change...
Mary wanted to do a brewery today (over my memories of Guinness!) so we found a bus to the Tuborg plant and had a marvelous tour courtesy of "Uncle Peter" an Australian cum tour guide who had a tongue- in-cheek charm that made the tour. Rush back to catch airport bus and a bite at the airport. Quick flight amused by Lars Polyester - - salesmen are the same all over. Bus to the City then LONG hike over railroad bridges to the hotel. Stockholm doesn't have the charm of Copenhagen, at least on first glimpse. We explored the Old Town and dined there which was grand. Weird people around. We seemed to attract more unwanted attention than elsewhere. Tomorrow will be fun, but my guess is that one day here will be dandy. One sidelight - got stopped by young man near subway: "Haven't I seen you somewhere?" Went through the whole bit, then, "But why did you come HERE? Why didn't you go to Italy?"
Did Stockholm. Took subway over to main city. Trains very nice -- Parisian -- but stations odd. Some decorated like caves. Walked all along the waterfront to Wasa Museum. Fabulous. Warship sank 1628; raised 1961. Absolutely stunning. Lunch there, then played in Skansen, Swedish Sturbridge village and zoo. Life/leg saving ferry ride back, then explored the Old Town. Great dinner in the Old Town at a place with a folk singer. Straight out of Harvard Square. All songs in English of course. The crowd was a bit young, not too bad, but all blonde. Hard to stomach!! Footnote: meat seems to be served raw to bloody as a rule. Mary's had over-rare reindeer and elk, while I got a bloody lamb. One country that doesn't insist on cooking meat to death and they go to the other extreme!!
Off to the Grand Hotel at some ungodly hour to meet the tour by 8:30. Rain. Group seems 1/2 Brazilian, 1/2 uh, mature, American. Should be pleasant enough; no one has lit it yet, but I'll hope for surprises. Guide is OK and Spanish by way of Denmark. First to Grippsholm Castle (rain stops). The old portions were fabulous -- 16th C -- warm wood, simple folk paintings right on the walls, clear paned windows, and bleached wood floors: every room a different pattern. Later rooms left me cold, but that's par for the course. With sun out, red brick on the lake looked warm and autumn welcoming. In gray cold, I don't know.
On to Reijmyre for lunch and a disappointing glass blowing factory. Non-exciting but scenic ride on Gota Canal to Soperkopping. Walk round canal, then fine dinner with Portland couple and Nancy and mother from Pittsburgh. Core group of tour I think.
Dull day touring which only left more energy for the evening. Stopped in the rain at a cathedral in Linkopping then in their reconstructed Old Town. Otherwise mostly driving to Gothenberg. Weather was depressing so Mary and I headed for the sauna. Little did we realize that we would be liberating it from years of oppression! We signed in, then, with men scurrying for bathing suits at the sound of our voices, we were told by a Norwegian that he'd taken saunas here for 30 years and NEVER any women. It was heavenly though so we stuck it out for almost two hours. Having the cool pool to plunge into makes all the difference. On then to dinner in the Harlequin Bar, after which we were adopted by a sexy singer and her friends (ever-shifting.) We sat with this crew until 2:30, longer than I ever would have planned, but loads of fun. Later notes: Never have I seen so many absolutely beautiful people, male and female, as in that bar that evening. Stunning blondes all over; one smashing and interested black dancer from Africa; each more attractive than the next.
Exhausted all day but that was a small price to pay for enjoyable evening. Stopped at Tanumshede for primitive rock carvings, then lunch. Fabulous fish stew. Sun came out for rest of drive to Oslo. At Holmenkollen, gorgeous hotel just down from ski jump. Climbed both (jumps). Dinner with the Brazil and Argentina crew. We expected a bore, but it got to be a lot of fun. English, Spanish and Portuguese and no one spoke all three. Some dancing at the disco, then to bed. Tomorrow starts at the ungodly hour of 8am. Later note: Main topic for dinner discussion was impact of Reagan's foreign and economic policies on South American life. In three languages?
Dreary morning of driving; another fabulous smorgasbord for lunch. Stop at Geilo -to see outside of stave church. Afternoon cleared while we went through high plateau -- barren, rocky, low foliage. Stop at gorgeous waterfall before nerve-wracking drive down narrow chasm road. God bless Leif! (driver) Overnight at Lofthus in dumpy hotel. Mary and I did sauna and swim (beautiful view!) which revived us for a lovely dinner with the Johnsons. Very disappointed that promised flight seeing over fjords didn't work out. What a pity!
Nice ferry across fjord. Scenery unbelievable. Sick making drive on narrow roads (waterfall stop) to Bergen. I love this town!! Quick lunch with Johnsons -- pizza -- before city tour past Hansa houses, Trollhaugen. Dinner at nice student pub-like place over main square. Farewell to tour .
DID Bergen. Bought tickets to Oslo, then local bus to stave church at Fantoft. Closed. ARGH! Setting right out of Kristin Lavransdatter. Back to Hanseatic Museum and district. Lunch at Bryggesoften before funicular up mountain and finally snooping around Old City. Charming city. Dinner same as lunch.
AM shopping all over Bergen. Stocked up on picnic goodies and Rodvin (the all-Scandinavia term for red wine), then took train (ooh! better than Amtrak!) to Oslo. Fabulous scenery, much of it retracing our steps of the bus tour. Then cab to hotel. At one point a tram rounding a corner almost clipped the front of the cab. The driver slammed into reverse to avoid. No impact, but the guy behind came barging up breathing fire (after a cop car had disappeared from the scene.) What an arrival!
Out in good time for tram to Vigeland Park. Some sculpture: moving, all impressive, but a lot grotesque. Very mixed feelings. Outwitted the buses and were able to get direct bus out to the Folk Museum. Fun: Norwegian Sturbridge Village. Stave church and restaurant closed for season. Saw lots of exteriors, even from the 1300's. Once more straight out of Kristin Lavransdatter Walked to Viking Museum -- fabulous -- and Maritime museum featuring the Ra and Kon Tiki Finally found an open restaurant then ran into our tour crew at Kon Tiki. Why would anyone sail across oceans on a raft or in a papyrus boat?? "Because it's there" doesn't seem like an adequate explanation. Back to hotel for "overhaul." Mary even tried to lighten her hair although the change was very slight. Dinner at La Mer. Very pleasant send off for our last night in Scandinavia.
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