Thursday, October 23, 2014

Norway - Tromso

My plan to visit Norway was to see the Northern Lights, so we flew from Oslo to Tromso, above the Arctic Circle. We didn't see the information counter when we arrived at Tromso airport, but we saw the Airport Express Coach counter. The fare was NOK70 per person (city bus is cheaper a little bit or take a taxi if more than 2 persons), the Express Coach will stop in front of your hotel. 

飛到 Arctic 的範圍北部城市Tromso,到了hotel,老板問了我是那裡人,我說原本是馬來西亞,她說有8位馬來西正人住了一星期,最后一天即在上星期六晚終於看到北極光。我真高興。
The hotel's owner showed us her beautiful Northern Lights pictures which she took the week before. 

We walked around the city, this is the town's library.

The Art Museum of Northern Norway.  Elephants with different types of faucets for heads.

We went to Prestvannet lake around 5.30 pm and had a walk round the lake. It was cold and had a little rain, 8.30 pm we gave up waiting for the Aurora.
The next day, we chatted with the hotel's owner again, and she said the chances to see the Aurora are best between 10 pm - 2 am. Good to know.

We got information at the tourist center, then bought a one day Tromskortet (NOK70), good for public transport within Troms county and decided let them book the Hurtigruten coastal cruise without cabin (NOK616 per person) for us to Svolvaer, 1.30 am - 6 pm. (If by bus, the fare is NOK620, 10 am - 8 pm). The staff gave us a link about the Aurora chart, and Steve found another useful link after that one.

We took bus to the mainland to see the Arctic Cathedral. 

Then took the cable car to see the view of Tromso from the mountaintop, the fare is NOK130 per person.

"The upper station is located at Storsteinen (English: The big rock), a mountain ledge about 420 m (1,378 ft) above sea-level. "

"The four minute trip to the upper station is a popular destination in itself, offering visitors a commanding view of the city and the surrounding islands and fjords from an outdoor viewing deck."

Then we took the bus back to the island to the Science Centre of Northern Norway.

And beside it, the Botanic Garden, which seemed to be mostly rock samples.

My view of Norwegians, they are healthy. The food mostly seems healthy, and we saw many people walking dogs, jogging, and cycling, even late at night. We were told by people in two different places, it's very safe. Living in safety is very important, and they seem very proud of it.
Most of them didn't simply talk/chat with strangers or tourists, unless you asked a question. They answered what you asked and made the conversation as short as possible, with no side talk.
When we were waiting for a bus, there was a boy with a lady (must be his mom), I asked the boy: "Do you learn English in school?" He said yes... And he continued telling us the places he had been... The lady said to him: "You talk too much."
Seems like this is their family education: don't talk too much.

We went out 9 pm, we took bus to Telegrafbukta beach.
Most of the pictures came out black, but MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! We got back to the hotel about 12:30am, after spending several hours alone, on a cold beach with a strong wind. It was worth it!

我們去較暗的地方要看北極光,半夜十二點,還看到有三人一起走狗,噢不,是walking dog。是的,居住的很完全,真是他們值得驕傲的地方。

 The next day, we walked around the city again. This is Polaria - "Its striking design represents ice floes that have been pressed up on land by the rough seas of the Arctic." 

 M/S Polstjerna - Seal hunting vessel museum. 

Tromso Gallery Of Contemporary Art.

Perspektivet Museum.

The Polar Museum.
Mostly we went in the attractions with free entry only, and seeing the outsides of the buildings for those with price.  We didn't know about the City Passes, available in many cities, that include admission to attractions.

Waiting in the Rica Hotel lobby for the next phase of our journey - a 17 hour ferry ride to Svolvaer that starts at 1:30 a.m. Most places in town, other than restaurants & convenience stores closed at 5:00 p.m., so there isn't a lot to do, except wait.
We're hoping to see the lights again tonight from the ship, away from so much artificial light, and looking forward to some great scenery along the coast during the daylight part of the cruise.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Norway - Oslo

我原先是想在今年的生日去最快樂的國家~丹麥,後來又想多走瑞典和挪威,又後來因為 Steve 只有两星期假,所以我着重在看北極光,就只在挪威。
Norwegian Airline is a low cost airline, go to their website search the price once a week, and you might find a great price. No free meal or checked baggage. We regretted we didn't bring our earphones since the plane has individual screens with movie entertainment, we watched silent movies. (They sell earphones $3, and the movies do not have subtitles.)
The window glass on the 787 can be tuned from bright to dark electronically, instead of pull-down shades.  It's cool.

There is an information counter in Oslo airport, grab a city guide and a map.
We booked a hotel in center of Oslo (Oslo S).  Just take a NSB train (NOK90) from airport, it is cheaper than take Flytoget express train (NOK170 if you buy from a machine, the counter service charge is an additional NOK30). Both trains are fast, just about 2 mins different. It's 23 mins to reach Oslo S by NSB train.

It is recommend to buy a daily Ruter# pass (NOK90) for public transportation (bus, tram and metro) of 4 zones in Oslo, it can be bought in the Ruter# office or any similar like Narvesen (a 7/11-like store.) There is also an Oslo Pass available (NOK290), which we didn't learn about until too late, that includes public transportation and free or discounted admission to attractions.
So, by riding their good transport systems, we could go far to those attractions.

Like Vigelandsparken (Vigeland park) - "This unique sculpture park represents the life work of sculptor Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and forged iron."

Like Oslo Museum - Bymuseet.

Like Holmenkollen - a large ski jump built for the Winter Olympics in Oslo.  When there is no snow, they run a zip line from the top to bottom of the jump.

Like Ekebergparken - "The park contains numerous sculptures by classical masters and contemporary artists."

Like Vikingskipshuset (NOK60) - "The Viking Ship Museum houses the Gokstad Ship, the Oseberg Ship and the Tune Ship. The ships were discovered in three burial mounds along the Oslo fjord. The ships were buried more than 1,100 year ago to serve as vessels for their royal owners' final journey to the realm of the dead."

Like Frongnerseteren if you have time, there are hiking trails.

Like Nasjonalbiblioteket, the national library if you have time.

Some places we could walk around, like Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.

Like Besokssenteret Akershus Fortress visitor center.

Like Forsvarsmuseet, Armed Forces Museum.

Like Akershus Castle.

Like City Hall.

Like The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, with its unique roof.

Like Oslo Domkirke - "Oslo Cathedral was sanctified in 1697. Cruciform design - the pulpit, altar and organ with its acanthus carvings are all original."

 Like Filmens Hus, Film museum.

 Like National Theater.

Like Stortinget, the Parliament Building.

Who would like to make FAT crying?

In hotel's gym room.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What is real?

Flower thought that Wind is complaining and screaming.
In fact, Wind is happy and cheering.
Ground thought that Rain is sad and crying.
In fact, Rain is exercising and sweating.

People thought that Me is freedom and traveling.
In fact, Me is ignorant and sleepwalking.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race

We went to the Balloon Race at Forest Park yesterday. This is one of 250 giant cakes around town, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the city of St. Louis.

The first balloon (sponsored by FOX2, a local TV station) to take off is the "hare 兔子".  The other balloons in the race, the "hounds 獵狗", chase the hare.

After the balloon is unpacked, it is first partially inflated with cool air using large fans.

After the balloon is partially filled with cool air, they fire the propane burners to heat the air in the balloon to make it rise.



...and away!  

(An obscure reference to the 1967 song "Up, up, and away (in my beautiful balloon)", sung by The 5th Dimension)

The hounds start chasing the hare!

The race got started late this year, so some balloons inflated to show their sponsor's advertising, but did not take off.

 Usually, the Energizer Bunny balloon played the part of the hare in the race.  This year, it stayed on the ground and watched.

It's a funnel cake, topped with powdered sugar, sprinkled with bacon bits, then doused in maple syrup, more powdered sugar, and finally more maple syrup!