Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Bergen, Norway 5/2017

Bergen, solo trip begins. May 13 -19, 2017. Left John in Iceland for a day and then he flew home to Tampa.
Stayed in an AirBnB in the heart of the Fish Market right where I wanted to be. I was next to St. Mary's church (1130, oldest building in Bergen). The owner had written that there was a bar across the alley from my place and it could be loud on the weekend - understatement. That alley was loud every night with extreme drunks, bums and drug addicts. Luckily they were the gentle Norwegians and the owner said I had nothing to worry about. I had them perched on my front doorstep at all hours of the day and night. I had to open the door slowly and push gently because people were sitting there and I'd say "excuse me" and they would move. It was crazy. Drug deals out the back door right at the entrance to the church, 5-8 folks doing deals, loaded. Just unreal. Quite an experience. The morning I left it was raining and as I went out the door there was a little pool of blood on the steps and another drop. Heaven knows what happened the night before right there, a drunken fight I guess.
The Fish Market was amazing. Seafood that was gigantic and luscious. I've been around lots of fish markets, but nothing like this. I had a few wonderful meals My favorite was fresh salmon that was the best I had ever tasted. Food and everything you can imagine was extremely expensive. The monster crabs could have almost kept me in the city. I had a nice crab dinner when I arrived and made a new friend at the restaurant. A student in Bergen who was from Taiwan. Nice gal.
I hadn't planned it but lucked out and was in Bergen on Constitution Day, May 17th. It is sort of like our 4th of July, but no fireworks. The town filled to max capacity with people from all over the area with the majority wearing their native dress, and if not they were dressed up in suits and nice dresses. A fancy day. The clothes were so well made, elegant and each region has their own style. Outfits were embellished with handmade jewelry of silver and even some gold. I later talked to a man in Oslo and he said he was considering buying an outfit and he told me it could can cost anywhere from $12,000 and up. I figured they were expensive, but I had no idea!!!!!!!!!
My reason to visit Bergen was to see the fjords. I didn't want to take a week long fjord trip after having just spent 15 days on a ship so I enjoyed my day trip going up the fjord on a boat and seeing the beautiful scenery and waterfalls. The day was very foggy and it only cleared as we were returning to the city. Best part was making a new friend who I had a happy day with and I made dinner for us. Jasmine is originally from India, but goes to school in Pennsylvania. She had been spending time in Europe for the summer. A terrific person.
Not a favorite city, but I'm sure there is a lot that I did not see. People told me I'd love this place more than Oslo, but that was not the case and I probably didn't need 7 days in Bergen. When I left Bergen I took the train to Olso on a ride that some consider one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. The ride was pretty and it was fun seeing the raging rivers and snow.
Random photos.  I saw in one week here a fraction of Bergen.  This was only the Fish Harbor area.  A very fun city, especially during celebration week.

So fun to be there on Norway's Constitution Day
What a celebration.  Half of country was there

Parade went on for about two hours

 Very green along train route

Down at harbor

In the harbor

 Train Bergen to Oslo
Said to be one of the most
beautiful trips in the world

Train side scenery

Street where my Airbnb was

New friend I met on - boat ride 
through Fjord - couchsurfer from PA

Nice uphill walk to over look the city

Saturday, March 10, 2018

London and Pet Sitting in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. June 2017

Pet sat a cute cat in Sevenoaks and got to see some countryside......the best being lavender fields. They were not in full bloom as I was there June 1st, but I could still see the lavender hue in the rows. Wonderful. Did lots of walking since I was sort of in the middle of nowhere (good lesson) and I spent a fortune on cabs a few times. It is too bad that I won't drive in opposite side countries because I could see so much more, but I just think alone it would be too dangerous and I don't want to kill any people. Just one second to forget you need to be on the other side.............................
Overall, not much to say. I arrived and departed from London (spending one night by the train station). London for some reason just looked almost too huge to me. I do hope to come back some day and see the museums, and historical places. The only sightseeing I did there was in the St. Pancras train station and I loved every minute of it. I spend several hours walking around inside and taking lots of photos. It is a fascinating place full of life.
Pet sitter snacks

Very interesting fence

Lavender fields just about to bloom

A little more purple color here

Happy with lavender

Such beautiful countryside

Lavender lemon cake
I see, smell, eat and wear it

Little patio at my B&B
Out in the middle of nowhere

Backyard where I pet sat 

Auto pet door, opened with cat's collar code
so no strange critters could come in

Maisey, independent cat

Ice cubes in a bag.  I'd never
seen these before.

Trash bags with all these instructions!!!!

Probably the worst meal I ever ate in my life -- healthwise,
all pork, fat back, crackling.  So good, so bad.

Fair Trade Coffee - my kind of place


Nice home cooked meal.  See my book and
under glass table my great traveling shoes.

Day trip to Royal Turnbridge Wells

Old church is now a coffee shop and theater

My favorite photo - 4 Welsh ladies visiting on tour bus.  I asked
how long they had been friends and they laughed, all their lives.

These signs on the street may seem funny,
but they really are helpful.  So easy to forget and
look the wrong way.

American chain fast food - every where

Saw this Peri Peri many times.  It is a sauce and
must be very popular over in England

Had a lovely lunch at Cote Brasserie, a French restaurant
Not a fan of English food, except maybe fish & chips

A fantastic art gallery in Turnbridge, Castle Galleries, featured art
by famous people and most of it was great.  Dylan, Peter Smith,
Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones - super interesting and fun to see


Cats always love to sleep on my suitcase

Now we are to my favorite place.  St. Pancras Train Station.  I adored spending several hours here, sounds crazy, but what a treat.

My hero, he saved this train station from demolition!!!!!!

Lovely lady I kept seeing in the station.  We finally met more face to face
and we visited.  She was going to visit her son in Paris.  She gave me
a candy bar.  I asked to take her photo and she said, why?  I told
her she was lovely and very interesting.  I love this picture.

Amazingly excellent art in the station.

A 29 1/2 foot tall bronze statue of an intimate pose by the world renowned
sculptor Paul Day. Known commonly as 'The Lovers' statue.

So happy in this train station

Market place outside station where
you could buy amazing food.

Did I stop here?  Does Paris have an Eiffel Tower?

Cannoli (not one)  and beautiful cherries

The public piano - music floated throughout

So a short time in England, even shorter in London.  Hopefully I can get back and see the city.  There is so much to see there.  I think anyone visiting London should put St. Pancras on a top 10 list of "to see" places.

........and I took the train right out of this station, went down and through the chunnel and landed in my beloved Gare du Nord.................Paris.  Check back..........................................