Sunday, July 29, 2018

Europe 2018...Days 14 & 15: Copenhagen, Denmark

We caught our early morning flight and were so excited about our next stop:  Copenhagen!  We had a nice evening there on our way to Norway and were looking forward to an entire day there.  Plus, the forecast was for a beautiful day, complete with sunshine!  

We arrived around 10:30 am and took the train back to the main station and walked the half a mile to our hotel.  We dropped off our bags with a mission to get to the Nyhavn area, which is the beautiful area with the colorful buildings and beautiful boats.  Right away we realized that a lot of Copenhagen is under construction, but it did not ruin our walk to Nyhavn.

Beautiful Copenhagen

Nyhavn is a beautiful area

We were starving, so we found a place to stop for lunch and drinks.  We had a great time just sitting in the sunshine and watching people walk around.  

Our lunchtime view

We enjoyed our spot in Nyhavn for quite some time before we got up to walk around and find some ice cream.  This has to be the longest we have been in Europe without having an ice cream cone!

Loving Copenhagen and that we are wearing short sleeves!

We left Nyhavn and wandered around the city.  We stumbled upon one of the main shopping areas, which had beautiful buildings and fountains all around.

There were many shopping options in Copenhagen

The Danes love their bikes

We continued to wander around the city stopping for drinks when we felt the need to.  We walked all over Copenhagen and deemed it to be one of our favorite cities.  We found a place for dinner and then stumbled upon a park where people were playing kick ball, enjoying drinks, and eating food.  We stopped and enjoyed a few cocktails of our own.

Enjoying my Aperol Spritz in the park

To finish off our night, we stopped off at the brewery where we spent our first evening in Copenhagen.  

Ken ending his time in Copenhagen at the same place it began two weeks early.

The next day we woke up and started the long journey back to Kansas City, where we almost missed our flight thanks to customs in Toronto.  

The long haul home

Even though our weather was less than ideal, we had an amazing trip together.  We got to see a part of the world we have wanted to see for a while.  Denmark and Norway will hold a special place in my heart.  Until next time Europe!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Europe 2018...Day 13: Henningsvaer...

We woke up on Monday and prepared to leave to leave Sakrisoy.  We planned four nights in Lofoten, but the last night was to be right next to the Narvik airport.  We discussed the options of what we wanted to do and decided on seeing the village of Henningsvaer.

There is a hike in this area that we thought about doing for .2 seconds, and after reading that there is no defined path we decided to skip it.  I mean, the other trails had been a disaster with a define path, can you imagine???

We stopped off at the Co-op for pastries before hitting the road to Henningsvaer.  It was, of course, a cloudy day and I really wish we could have viewed Henningsvaer in the sun.  Oh well, it seems as though the cloudiness is Norway's thing.

We arrived to Henningsvaer and had a little difficulty locating a parking space, but we finally found one.  We parked and it was pretty cold.  I started wearing Ken's jacket full time at this point.  I was over it.

We wandered around and decided on a cafe for snacks.  We were going to order a sandwich, but all of the pastries looked delicious and that was what everyone else was order.  With that, we had coffee and pastries and it was delicious!  Ken had a cinnamon roll and I had this delicious brownie/oreo/cheesecake bar.  I was in heaven for sure.

After our snack, we walked around and shopped a bit.

Henningsvaer, Norway

I had so much fun with him in the Lofoten Islands!

We ended up stopping at a coffee shop and buying our neighbor, Katelyn, some coffee.  She has been trying a lot of different coffee beans and we thought that was the perfect gift for her.  

The tiny building in the middle with the red roof is where we bought the coffee for Katelyn. We showed her this picture and where Henningsvaer is on a map.  

Henningsvaer was very charming.

After we left Henningsvaer, we finished our drive to the Narvik airport.  On the way Ken realized he never touched the Norwegian Sea.  With that, we found a place to stop for him to touch the water.  We are kind of dorky, but I love it.

Ken running down to touch the sea

I love this video

We arrived to our hotel and drove to the gas station for dinner.  Yes, they cook up delicious burgers at gas stations in Norway.  Honestly, it was the only place to eat within an hour of our hotel.  I have to say it was one of the best meals of the trip.  It was a delicious burger.  We had an early morning flight the next day to Copenhagen, so we enjoyed some wine and went to bed.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Europe 2018...Day 12: Nesland...

We woke up on Sunday to sunshine!  We were so excited that we hopped out of bed around 0630 and jumped in the car.  We wanted to make sure to get some pictures while we had the sunshine.

The Lofoten Islands is beautiful no matter what, but the sunshine really shows off of the beauty of this area.  Our first stop was the beautiful beach where we had visited the other day.  It really looked wonderful with the sun out!

I cannot believe this water and sand is in Norway.

Such a beautiful coastline

We loved the beach and water against the mountains

Absolutely stunning

If only that water was not just barely above freezing

We left the beach to drive to A to see it in the sunshine.  The views we saw along the way were beautiful.

Beautiful A.

We had a great time wandering around A.

I would like it if my view was this everyday.  By the way, this was officially the tip of the Lofoten Islands.  Amazing to be that far away from home.

I love the red fishermen huts

Early morning in A.

After leaving A, we drove to Reine.  It is pronounced Rye-Nuh, which I cannot say without squinting my eye.  I am in the process of learning German, so I instantly want to pronounce it as Rhine, but alas it is Rye-Nuh.  
Beautiful Reine.  Reine is thought to be the most beautiful village of all in the Lofoten Islands.  

The red huts are called rorbuers.  

Reine truly did look like a post card

We wandered around Reine in search of coffee.  Sadly, the cafes do not open until 11:00.  I have never heard of such a thing.  Coffeeless, we made our way back to our hotel for a little breakfast and coffee.  With the sun out, we decided to eat breakfast outside.

After breakfast I went for a quick run.  I wanted to see Hamnoy with the sun out one more time.

Hamnoy looking as darling as ever.

After my run, we were trying to decide what to do for the day.  Our hotel suggested we take a ferry and do a hike from there.  We had plans to do that, but wanted to drive to Nesland first.  We were a little bummed we missed Nesland the day before so we wanted to check it out.  

On our way the ambulance stopped us so that life flight could take off.  The ICU nurse in me was rather intrigued.

We drove to Nesland and stopped at the Lofoten Nesland Guesthouse for coffee.  We were greeted by a charming Norwegian lady named Lil-Anita.  She owns and runs the guesthouse and actually sat down and had coffee with us.  We chatted about all kinds of things and learned that she is an artist that studied in Canterbury England and that her great, great grandfather built the house we were in.  

She was such a delight to talk to.  While we were chatting with her, Ken and I decided to skip the ferry and just hang out in Nesland for the day.  We did not want to cut our conversation with Lil-Anita short.  She did share with us that Americans are few and far between as far as visiting Nesland goes and that Europeans always speak of how difficult the hiking is in Norway.  I was relieved to hear it was not just us.  :)

We said our goodbyes to Lil-Anita and wandered around Nesland.  Our plan was to "hike" down the gravel round quite a bit and stop for a picnic before turning back.  We were armed with lunch and wine and excited to finally be able to enjoy a glass of wine while out on a hike, even if it was down a gravel road.

Adorable Nesland

Having a wonderful time around Nesland

Seeing mama sheep with her babies was definitely a highlight for me!

This may have made my entire day

All but one of them looked at me.  I call that a win.

Our lunch spot.  The wind picked up, the sun went away, and it cold chilly.  We enjoyed our wine and our time by the water.

Enjoying our hike for the day

The rugged coastline that we saw the entire time we were in Lofoten

Adorable place in Nesland

The white house in the center is where we had coffee with Lil-Anita.  It was such a great part of our trip.

One of my favorite parts of the day.  The reason you do not hear me on the video is that I was unable to breath or talk because I was laughing so hard!  We have fun with the silliest things.

We were both glad that we decided to skip the ferry and stay in Nesland.  We had a wonderful day together.  We ended the day with dinner and a little shopping around Sakrisoy.  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Europe 2018...Day 11: Nusfjord...

We woke up on Saturday, ready to take on the day.  We were starting to develop a complex about the hiking in Norway, recognizing that it is much different than hiking in our beloved Switzerland.  I know I may have previous complained about the lack of switchbacks in Switzerland, however, I will take that any day over some of the hiking trails in Norway.

I went for a quick run around Lofoten before we decided to head out on our hike from Nusfjord to Nesland.  I had read about this hike and it sounded wonderful.  It would be an out and back hike, which will come into play later.

We drove to Nujfjord and found that it was a pretty busy village.  There is a small fee to enter the village since it is a fishing museum, however, if you are hiking there is no need to pay an entry fee.  It was, of course, raining.  Why wouldn't be?

On the trail from Nusfjord to Nesland

Of all the people in the world to hike with, I would choose him every time.  

The started of muddy.  So muddy that I was jumping and leap frogging.  It was one of the messiest trails I have ever experienced.  

Lots of leap frogging happened on the trail

We basically dodged mud for a long period of time.  We were right along the coast, so we had beautiful views during the hike.

Beautiful views on the hike from Nusfjord to Nesland

We reached an area where we saw a ladder that climbed up a significant climb.  In case you are new around here, I am extremely afraid of heights as of a few years ago.  (See hike in Italy.)  I believe it corresponds with me being in a trauma ICU.  There is just something about being aware of the bad things that can happen that makes me nervous in certain situations.  Ken finds my new fear of heights to be a little entertaining.  In the past year he is learned that it is a real fear and tries to be encouraging versus irritated.

Yeah, I was not excited about that ladder.

I took a few deep breaths and agreed to climb the ladder first.  There may have been a moment where I started singing the 7 dwarfs song Whistle While You Work.  Moving on....

Clearly I lived from climbing up the ladder.  

Despite the mud to start, we were having so fun on this hike.

Please notice that I stated that we WERE having so much fun on this hike.  Yeah, true to form, Norway threw us a curve ball.  You see, this hike was rated a family friendly hike and easy.  When selecting this hike, I wondered what could go wrong?  There was a point when I started to mention to Ken that I hoped we could get a cab from Nesland back to our car in Nusfjord instead of hiking in the swamp on the way back.  

Well, the horrible strech came about a mile from Nesland.  We reached a stretch where the boulder maneuvers were so large that my little legs could not handle it.  I have no idea how a child, that I would assume would be my size or smaller, could handle this.  It reached a point where I told Ken someone was going to get a broken femur and we decided to turn around.  That seems to be a theme in hiking in Norway.

We turned around and quite honestly all I could think about was having to go down that stupid ladder.  Fortunately, there were some Germans in front of us and a German lady stood at the bottom of the ladder and calmly talked me through the hike down while Ken was at the top.  God bless this woman because my palms were sweating.  

I survived the climb down and knew the worst part was over, I would just have to deal with the mud. To be honest, I really do not enjoy mud all the much, but at least it is not terrifying.

Even if we turned around, we were having fun on the trail

Even if I had to hike through mud, I love him for bringing me to Norway

A true life photo of us

Ken found me a beautiful flower on the hike back to Nusfjord

We arrived back to Nusfjord, walked around for a moment and decided to head back to the car.  The parking lot was packed with tour buses and we could not wait to head out of there.  

We left Nusfjord to drive to the village of A.  Yes, just A.  This village has the shortest name of any place in the world.  On the way there, we stopped off at a beach for a few pictures.  

A Lofoten Island beach

I can only imagine how beautiful this is with sunshine

We continued on to A and wandered around a bit and decided to have a little snack and drink at a restaurant.  Many US dollars later, we found ourselves watching some fishermen clean their fish.  

Checking out A.

We drove back to our guest house and talked with a Norwegian couple from Trondheim.  They told us how special Lofoten is and that this was their first time to visit.  They were surprised to hear that we were Americans and were glad to hear we were visiting the Lofoten Islands.  We had a little dinner, watched a little Netflix and went to sleep.  It was not the day full of sunshine we were hoping for, but it was a great day of vacation in a beautiful part of the world.  

Monday, July 16, 2018

Europe 2018...Day 10: The Lofoten Islands!

Friday was a day that we had been looking forward to for quite a long time.  We were so excited about getting to the Lofoten Islands!  We loved our time in Bergen and could have enjoyed more time there, but were so looking forward to seeing an area of the world that is so unique.

A map of Norway and the location of the Lofoten Islands.  We were way up there!

The Lofoten Islands are in Northern Norway and require quite a bit of travel to get to them.  You really have two options:

  1.  Get to Bodo by car or plane and take the ferry.
  2.  Fly to Narvik (EVE) and rent a car.  
We went with option 2 so that we could drive the length of the islands to see all of the towns along the way.  I went back and forth over what we should do for months, but ultimately flying from Bergen to Narvik and renting a car was our best option.  In the end, we were glad we did this.

We had a 0630 flight out of Bergen and we arrived to Narvik at 0900, rented our car and hit the road!  The drive from the Narvik airport to Sakrisoy where we were staying was about 4 hours.  It was a long 4 hours on windy roads.

The scenery on the drive definitely did not disappoint.

Beautiful scenery on the drive to Sakrisoy

One of the many tunnels we drove thru

Our drive was really kind of cloudy and a little rainy, which is kind of a bummer when you are wanting to see beautiful scenery.  We entered a tunnel and came out the other side of a mountain to sunshine!  We were also greeted with the beautiful village of Hamnoy, which we promptly stopped at to get some pictures.

The scenery in Hamnoy was unreal.  Unreal.  These are actually working fishing boats.

Hamnoy with blue skies, thank you weather Gods!

We both felt so unbelievably lucky to get to see such a beautiful area with the sun out!

Hamnoy is picture perfect from every angle.

It was such a pleasant surprise to come out of the tunnel and see Hamnoy

Hamnoy, Norway

I think it can be difficult to put things into perspective in pictures, so here is a little video view of Hamnoy.

We hopped back into the car and drove the mile across the bridge to Sakrisoy, the island where we were staying.  Sakrisoy was equally as beautiful as Hamnoy.

Sakrisoy, Norway.  We stayed in the white building in the middle of the pictures.  It was such a beautiful place.  Can you believe the water is in the Arctic Circle and not the Caribbean?

We dropped off our stuff and walked around a bit.  We were so grateful for sunshine, that we wanted to take advantage of it.  We crossed over the bridge on foot and got another pick of Hamnoy.

This is probably my favorite picture I took on the entire trip.  It looks fake to me, but it is real, so real.

Cod anyone?

Sakrisoy had that drying fish smell.  We figured we would get used to it, but we never really did.  I feel like the smell of fish gives you the full experience.

Beautiful Lofoten

While we were out and about the clouds rolled back in.  We went by the restaurant by our hotel and had a bite to eat.  Ken got a whale salad and a beer while I had a dessert and wine.  Our bill was around $70.  Yeah, Norway is expensive!  

We decided that since it never gets dark, that we would go for a hike late in the evening.  I had read about hiking to Kvalvika Beach and that the hike was pretty easy, so we set off to do that.  It was still pretty chilly, probably around 45 degrees so we were fairly bundled up.  

This hike was pretty muddy and a lot of moving around on bigger boulders.  We arrived to where we could see the beach and saw that storm clouds were rolling in.  We hiked down a little further, but decided to skip hiking down all the way to the beach.  I am glad we did because it started raining on us on the hike back.  Of course it did.

Kvalvika Beach.  Apparently when the sun is shining this is one of the most beautiful beached in Lofoten.

Just checking out beaches in the Arctic Circle

We had fun on our first little hike in Lofoten

After we got back to the car, we drove back to our hotel to settle in for the night.  It was still very much light out when I went to bed at 11:00 pm.  Ken on the other hand, stayed up way later than I did.  He went out and about and got a few videos.

The area around our hotel at midnight

Walking across the bridge after midnight

We had a great first day in Lofoten.  We were excited to get out and do another hike the next day!