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Friday, July 06, 2018


Spent a lovely week on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Here's the view from where we sat in Kitty Hawk.
So much to do and so much to see and
so much delicious, fresh seafood.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Oslo--Wish We Had More Time Part I

The Regal Princess passing huddled homes along the coast
as we sail into Oslo, Norway

Our next stop is Oslo, and it is a wonderful drive through the city as our guide explains that much of Norway’s history involves learning how to deal with the extremely harsh climate. 

When Norway began to modernize, it looked to German design for insight, and we can see that influence along our route.  

However, as time passed and the Norwegians developed their own style, we can see the changes as Norway came into its own.
Colorful and attractive.  It was a pretty ride through the city.
The trouble with cruising as opposed to a land journey is there is limited time in each port, and we would have loved to spend more time in Norway.  Nevertheless, Princess’ “The Best of Oslo” tour was jam packed with goodies.

On this lovely Spring day, the highlight for me was the Vigeland Sculpture Park, an amazing collection of 212 bronze and granite sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland over a period of 30 years, depicting the life of man and set in the gorgeous natural setting of a park. 

The theme of the sculptures is the circle of life, and all stages are represented by single groups of sculptures, a wheel of life, fountains, and a monolith.  It is Norway’s most visited tourist attraction, and it does not disappoint.  Most of the sculptures are set along a long axis, and you just have to look at the WOW expressions on visitors’ faces to see how impressive the park is. I really enjoyed the family sculptures the most.  The joy in them was almost palpable.

We could have spent the day at Vigland, but our next stop was also amazing--the Cultural Museum of Norway.  I love this type of museum, particularly when they have some of the original buildings.  I recently posted on the cultural museum we visited and then joined here in North Carolina, Old Salem, and Rob and I have visited others that are memorable, particularly one in Ireland.  At any rate, this was quite an eye-opening experience.

Once again, Norway’s harsh climate made the number one challenge that of survival. Buildings were clustered, and animals were carefully sheltered in the severe winter months, often right with the family, Our guide explained that some misinterpret the living arrangements as primitive, but it was necessary. Animals must be kept alive. The sauna was important too, and in this museum, there is one built as it was in those early times. 

Houses were sturdy, close together, and the barns and animals were kept close by.

 The Norwegians also used grass on their rooves as an insulator as well as a sustainable fixture.  Once the roof was completed, the grass grew but was of a type that did not need cutting.  It also offered food for birds and climbing animals.  Our guide explains that a roof as we see demonstrated might last 50 years.  In fact, as we drive through Norway’s countryside, we see that these rooves are still in existence.  They’re quite beautiful.

This is actually a schoolhouse for the village.
Notice the grass roof.
There was a schoolhouse in the village as well. 

The most stunning building was the church.  No seats inside.  No windows.  Quite dark.  The building is beautiful.

A beautiful and impressive building.
It sits on the top of a hill and can be seen almost anywhere in the village.

Once again, I am going to post an Oslo Part II because the rest of the day was excitingly compelling and fascinating.  So much to share with you.

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Nighttime in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world,entertaining folks of all ages since 1843, was an absolute delight.  Located smack dab in the middle of the city, there are always bicycles lining the busy boulevard, locked haphazardly or not at all.  The city's tourist center is diagonally across the street, and there are restaurants everywhere.  

Inside Tivoli Gardens, which you can go as a season or day or partial day passholder including or excluding the rides themselves, are rides, restaurants, serpentine pathways that make the most of this relatively small area, and all kinds of seating to just enjoy the lake, the happy people or the atmosphere that somehow makes the entire setting a little magic.

To us, Tivoli Gardens was more like a comfortable, old-time amusement park with bumper cars and games alongside a loopy roller-coaster and some pretty awesome and fast whips.

We were a few days too early in the season to catch the regular fireworks show, but we were treated to a super, colorful, music accompanied laser light show that was delightful and original.  

We left after the light show, but the place was still filled with people.  It must be the place to spend weekend evenings if you want a good time.

Make sure you click on the video to get full-screen.  Don't miss the charm of this iconic park.

Friday, June 15, 2018


These are the three sisters of Glencoe Valley
Does it remind you, somewhat, of Brigadoon?

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Copenhagen is a cosmopolitan city.  Everyone speaks English.  Most visitors do too although they are not all from English-speaking countries.  Signage is in English more than it is in Danish.  On the one hand, any English speaker can feel comfortable, but on the other hand, if you are trying to get a feel for all things Danish, you might have a tough time--especially when it comes to food, once a sure way to get a taste of another culture.

For advice, we head to the hotel concierge.  We are lucky that our concierge is honest with us even though his honesty brings sadness.  Most heartbreaking to me is the fact that Hans Christian Anderson is not the beloved figure in his native land that he is in the United States.  We do take a photo with him right outside the Town Hall, there is a ride for him in Tivoli Gardens, and the Little Mermaid watches over the harbor, but, alas, that is all except for a skipped something or other in the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.

Anyway,  the concierge tells us that trying to find traditional Danish food is tough.  He knows of only one restaurant, Axelborg Bodega.  This restaurant becomes our destination.  Danish food here we come, and Axelborg Bodega is just a short walk from our hotel, Raddison Blu.

It is still too chilly to sit outside, but the restaurant's interior is perfect.  Wood-paneled walls, heavy tables and chairs, and a wonderfully warm staff, who,despite the descriptive Danish/English menu, wants to help us make the right choices.

Axelborg Bodega is not very crowded, but judging that Danish is the language of choice and people are meeting each other in small groups, the other patrons did not appear to be tourists.  We are on the right track.

What is Danish cuisine?  It's heavy on pork, fish, and vegetables.  Rob, always more adventurous than I, orders two home-breaded filets of plaice served with a remoulade.  Little did he know until the platter arrived that there was a lot more--two kinds of shrimp, vegetables, and other pieces of fish.  It is essentially a fish sampler to which he gives two thumbs up.

I order roast pork with home pickled red cabbage (delish) and cucumber salad (delish) and rye bread.  When that arrives, there are scrumptious potatoes too.  There is enough pork to split three ways.  Incredibly ample serving.  Absolutely perfectly done, and the vegetables are exceptional.  The edges of the pork are crackling, but the interior is soft enough to forego using a knife.

And Danish beer, of course.

We leave Axelborg Bodega with renewed hopes for more exploration of Danish cuisine. 

The next day we are up and early to explore Copenhagen.  Breakfast in the hotel is delicious with a buffet offering all kinds of cheeses and fish, fruits, different yogurt combinations, eggs, etc.  There are quite a few Asian guests, and there are many offerings to satisfy that palate.  That is an unexpected treat.

We have a walking map and feel sure that when lunchtime comes, we will be able to find a second restaurant specializing in Danish cuisine.

We are so wrong!  The plazas are full of people picnicking on take-out acquired from one of the many shops along the plaza or sitting at outdoor tables eating hamburgers.  Hero sandwiches, salads, hamburgers and other fast foods familiar at home. As far as restaurants--if you are interested in Italian, Chinese, or Indian, your wish would be granted.  We pass an English pub, a Scottish pub, and several French restaurants.  Among the restaurants listed in our guide book, none in our area seems to specialize in native Danish cuisine.  We find it quite sad, and while we sit in one of the large plazas enjoying the spring weather with the other people, literally surrounded by eateries of all kinds, there isn't one that satisfies our quest.

Know what we do?

We walk back to Axelborg Bodega, stopping along the way to investigate other restaurants but coming up empty.  We enter Axelborg Bodega for a second, but different, delicious Danish food experience.  And it is just as good as the first.

This time I order smoked salmon served with home-baked bread, asparagus and a creamy, scrumptious herb sauce. It is a platter big enough for three, and every delicious bite is a reward for our return.

Rob, knowing it is now or never, tries a sampler--traditional open face sandwiches (smorrebord), chef's choice, each one presented beautifully and touching every tastebud in his mouth.

In no way do we feel we've missed anything by not going to another restaurant.  Each visit is unique and special on its merit.  My advice is that if you're looking for Danish cuisine in central Copenhagen, visit asap.