Monday 4th August.
Yesterday we spent resting; reading; having fun translating my Norsk knitting pattern into some kind of English so I could begin to make it - a little bag which will be washed in hot water to felt it down. We managed ‘cast on 82 stitches in double yarn onto a size 5 circular needle; knit 25 centimetres’. So we’ll see what’s next after that!
Need I mention that the views are beyond spectacular? That the boat is pretty luxurious, the cabin is a poem of clever storage space; the ‘coffee-deal’ excellent value; the food generous beyond all need; the staff hyper-friendly and all apparently fluent in 5 languages? No? Well I won’t. But it’s pretty DAMN FINE.
Our cabin is about the size of an Australian single bedroom, not large. But the two beds fit very well; one along the wall, one under the window. I have the window bed, so I can kneel up at strange hours of the night and day to watch the world passing me by. The night we sailed, we woke at about 2 am when the ship docked at ?, and we watched an artist at work - a fellow driving a forklift, who was managing very deftly and at very high speed, to move pallets containing what looked like wrapped up bales of hay. He loaded about 3 dozen of them into the boat in what seemed like 10 minutes.
The motion of the boat is very gentle, sometimes a slight rocking up and down (from stem to stern). The only time I’ve felt any side-to-side movement was early this morning, when I was watching the dawn (yeah, spectacular) and we were in open sea. The boat has stabilisers, so the motion was very gentle. Very easy to go back to sleep rocking, nothing unpleasant. And speaking of which, neither of us appears to be suffering any sea-sickness. I am tending to the tired and headachy in the evening, but that is hardly abnormal. Last night I was unable to finish dinner (maybe, maybe a touch of motion?), but the application of a little white pill on top of the usual little pink pill, and an early night, seemed to fix me up orright.
I had a very happy day in general. Started me knitting, absconded from all responsibilities, tried not to eat buckets of dessert, inspectigated the ‘arcade’ (ship-priced everything, about 15% on top of what I am able to establish as possibly near normal retail price). I seem to have lost my only heavy jumper (sad face, it is my Canberra Inter-Varsity Choral Festival polar fleece, carefully monogrammed by my very own self with my initials, to personalise it from the other 199 identical black jumpers. I think I lost/left it in Bergen, but enquiries to the hotel haven’t had any result. It is possible that the first day we were there, when I was so ill and we changed rooms, that I left it behind on a shelf. I’ll email them later (when I get Netting not just writing) and see.. meantime I am going to need a heavy jumper- M has carefully packed all levels of warmsk from bathers to heavy wool overcoat, but I was not so concerned. I knew one heavy jumper and a few things underneath would do me. Cos I am always so bloody hot! I *do* have a puffy vest thing, which over a skivvy is pretty warm. But we are assured that by the time we get to Kirkenes it will only be 7 or 8 degrees, so I think I’ll have to invest in something. So far my fancy draws me towards a genuine Norwegian wool jumper, complete with reindeer pattern. We’ll see. The souvenir shop in ?, where we stopped for 45 minutes yesterday at 6pm, sells the jumpers for 20% less than the ship shop. So maybe tomorrow, at ?, when we have a couple of hours to wander about onshore, I will find an amazing bargain buy somewhere, and get the price down from around $A350 to more like $A200 or less.
Meantime, today we sailed into Trondheim at 8am, and M and I took a tour to the cathedral and a museum of ancient musical instruments. The cathedral tour was excellent, the guides (all multilingual, like everyone who isn’t a first English speaker) gave a very clear overview of the history and descriptions of the works of art, fixtures and the meanings of the religious iconography. I enjoyed it very much, although it was a small disappointment to be told that the organ (one of two in the church) was played twice each day, and neither time coincided with our tour. Dang. (put in who wrote for this organ and the connection to Bach)
The museum of ancient instruments was a complete delight. A young, extremely tall and thin music student called “Yona-ton” (Jonathon) took us around, explaining the history of the development of the instruments, particularly the piano and strings, and played quite a few of them for us to hear. Some of the strange violin-based instruments would only be useful for strangling dogs, in my view. There were fascinating tiny ‘traveling’ pianos, mute pieces for practice, folding pianos for the instrumentalist to take to the grand houses, so that the residents could have music brought to them for merry-making. All types of versions of pianos were on display - even one made with the piano strings strung vertically, which made it look a bit like a huge vertical violin. He also showed us a couple of very old organs, from the 1700s, and demonstrated some gewgaws, like a toilet-roll holder which plays a little set of bells (adorned with music-printed toilet paper!), and some door chimes, which are small balls of ceramic which swing against strings when the door is moved. A gentle announcement that mother is near!
After these three hours of deep culture, accompanied with a guide explaining what we were seeing as the bus took us through Trondheim, we are now sailing off, and I am writing while we wait for second service lunch. Another opportunity to overeat! It’s quite hard not to, even with the waiters serving last night (sometimes it’s buffet self serve, sometimes not, we haven’t cracked the code yet) there is so much extra all around - bread and butter, fizzy drinks, cheese boards, booze absolutely everywhere...not a banana to be seen, however.
This part of the trip brought to you in layers of Prada (all three yesterday - shower gel, lotion and purrfume), and Gucci today. Offset by fresh sea breeze, the eau de shaving foam on the man next to me at breakfast, and a very slight pong de seagull at the Trondheim wharf.
The huge lunch took its toll, and I had to assume the horizontal. We were a bit unsure about the whole ‘seating companion’ thing, and our table proves to be us and two pommy couples. One of the women, Louise, seemed a bit crusty, but that we think was because M inadvertently served out their mineral water to everyone, not knowing that they’d had to buy it - the one big criticism I have of this cruise regime is that they are incredibly stingy about all drinks. I spose I can understand why they sock you for alcohol coming AND going, but paying for water??? The only way you can get free water with a meal is to ask for tap water, and this is served slowly, in small quantities, and [we fee] somewhat grudgingly with it. Honestly. It’s WATER. It’s certainly very clever of the boat to filter its own water, not to mention making it sparkly, oo-er etc, but paying for it? I dunno. It’s not in a Perrier bottle or delivered in a cut crystal glass served by a tanned purser in tight shorts or anything...
Ahem. Anyway, as I said, huge lunch takes toll. B not feeling very nice somehow, so I go back to sleep. On waking I declare myself officially sick again (as to sinus I mean, the asthma is still firmly under steroid control tank de lawds and goddesses) and begin, sigh, the bloody old antibiotic/sinus wash regime. But doing this means I am taking control, which cheers me actually. I don’t like being at the mercy of things unless they are wearing whiskers and a fur coat.
By dinner time (late service at 8.30pm), we as a table of dining companions are much more relaxed, all admitting to a long afternoon of doing bugger-all. I think sleep was the number one activity, performed in various warm places - M saw one couple sacked out on the Observation Deck, and I saw Jane looking very drowsy over a cuppa in the ‘cafeteria’. I just went to bed, no pretending!... The dinner is three courses, gorgeous fresh salmon -actually fairly light food. The only thing I miss is having some salad included on the plate - the veggies are lovely, cooked in a light French style, so they are on the rich side, but not actually dowsed in cream and butter. But vere is ze krrunch I ask?
The rest of the evening I spend happily drinking neat gin on the rocks. One is not allowed to drink one’s own booze in ‘shared areas’, but there is no hesitation when I ask the barman for a container of ice to take away. We haven’t been able to buy any tonic, so I cautiously try neat gin. Very norce. Nom etc. Later, I hic a bit as I totter back upstairs for a midnight snack - Norwegian ‘Lefse’, which is a funny little folded flat cake, rather like a square pancake folded into three, which has been spread with caramel and a sprinkle of sugar. Nomnomnomnom...
Naturally this part of today brought to you by a hint of juniper berry, highlighted by caramel and a bit of giggling. G’night!
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