We went to Norway for a week on a cruise, which was absolutely awesome. While I was away I did do a bit of writing (thanks to my nice new keyboard that, with a bit of jiggery pokery, plugs into my phone) so I wanted to run through some of the highlights and interesting bits.
On the way down to Southampton we stopped at a service station, and went and grabbed a Starbucks coffee. As virtually the entire worlds population has been in a Starbucks at one point or another, I'll assume that you're aware that they sell snacks, which are named, and so for simplicity Starbucks puts up a little sign next to the snack so that people know what to order (i.e. "Can I have a Venti Mocha Frappucino and a Cinnamon Swirl please?"). One of the signs caught my attention:
Thank goodness they told me. I am extremely bad at identifying fruit, I do admit.
Yes, they put a "banana" sign next to the bananas. I was disappointed to see that there was no "coffee cup" sign next to the stack of coffee cups, and indeed I had to use entirely my own judgement as to what was a chair and what was a table.
The ship we sailed on was the P&O Cruise Ship Azura, which is one of P&O's bigger ships and has tons of facilities.
|View from the ship, somewhere near Southampton.|
The first full day was a day at sea as we headed for Norway, we started off with a lovely breakfast delivered to our cabin, and then we ventured out to experience a number of the many talks and events taking place on board. Basically at any time during the day there is at least three or four different events of some sort going on for you to take part in (if you want).
While my wife went to learn how to work a digital camera, I went to a session on Acupuncture. I've had acupuncture once, quite a few years ago when I was in a hotel on the outskirts of Dublin and decided to drink my way into the city centre. I don't know if you're familiar with Dublin, but there are quite a few pubs in Dublin, and by the time I got into the centre I had experienced quite a few of them, making an experiment in Chinese medicine seem like a good idea. At any rate, the session onboard was interesting and gave some good insights into Chinese medicine as a whole.
After that we met up and went to a raffle in the gym, (which we didn't win) but got to hear about all of the treatments available onboard. the treatments do sound great although I think you need to be prepared to spend money if you do want them.
After the raffle we stayed in the gym for a talk on toxins and detoxifying your body. Now, I must admit that I had to take this one with a pinch of salt - at one point they started talking about the "bus of success", where the word BUS is a three letter acronym for something healthy - apparently "B" stands for "belief" and not a swear word as first came to mind. The talk covered the importance of cleansing your liver as the organ responsible for filtering impurities (yes, good, fully agree with that), and mentioned an interesting point about how that you wouldn't eat sun cream, yet by spreading it on the skin it is then absorbed through the skin and basically ends up in your bloodstream as if you had eaten it (not that you should take this as a reason not to use sun block). I did note however that one of the approaches recommended to handle the detoxification of your body was to book various spa treatments that happened to be available onboard.
That said, I did end up having one treatment myself, namely a hair cut, and they did do a good job.
On the second day of the cruise we visited Stavanger, one of Norway's cities. It was wet and a bit cold and awesome - we got a CitySightseeing hop-on hop-off bus that took us round the city (and came with free wifi - after an entire 36 or so hours without an internet connection, my phone froze in delight as all of its many apps swallowed updates and data) which told us a lot about the city and about Norway in general.
|Stavanger. Well, a bit of it anyway.|
|Trolls are very popular in Norway. So are moose, but I don't have a photo of one of them.|
Compared to the UK things are expensive in Norway, but salaries are comparatively higher to take account of this. I didn't realise that Norway traditionally was quite a poor country, but in the last century they found significant oil reserves and that has generated prosperity for them.
Part 2 to follow!