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Last Day in Europe

Spending time eating and family

sunny 75 °F

We had to be at the Belgium airport by 8am Sunday to return the car and pick up another for just 2 days. We were able to arrive right at 8am after sleeping in a rest stop just north of the airport.

Our next car did not have GPS and was quite a bit smaller so we were squished and on our own to get around.

We’d planned to go to Pascaline’s house for Sunday but then found out that they would not be home so we had until 4pm on our own. The Brussels square was a perfect place to spend the day.

We found our way to the square in Brussels after lots of detours. We parked and walked to the square, by then were really hungry. We happened upon what we call “restaurant row”, streets full of little restaurants. We looked and I started negotiating. IMG_20140727_144808_179.jpg

Finally; a lunch of escargot, fillets of fish, chocolate mousse and wine. We sat and ate while we watched others doing what we had just done.
From lunch we went window shopping but couldn’t resist the meringues filled with and covered with cream then rolled in shredded chocolate, the cream filled truffles, and other goodies. Sampling as we went, we shared the treats in order to be able to eat more. After lots of tasting we went and had a cappuccino in the square, enjoying the square for one last time.

Monday we repacked, bought chocolate to bring home, enjoyed Pascaline’s patio again and most of all our Belgium family.IMG_20140728_174123_895.jpg

Alas it was over too soon. We drove to the airport, turned in the car and caught our flights home.

Of course this was the trip that kept on giving; Dale and Elias’ flight from Chicago to Houston was delayed and they couldn’t make it home. Because there was no crew to fly the plane to Houston, United gave us a night and meals on them. I surprised Dale and Elias at their gate and we had one more night on vacation.

Posted by Miss Chris 18:51 Archived in Belgium Tagged food travel driving friends europe eating brussels belguim Comments (0)

Copenhagen, the Last Of Scandinavia

sunny 85 °F

When we first arrive in a new city we either go to the tourist information center, if we have located it on a map, or we find people and ask directions. Copenhagen was no different.

It was evening when we arrived in Copenhagen and we wanted to find a campground. We stopped at the first convenient gas station and the young woman directed us to what she thought was a campground. I hesitated because she only referred to motorhomes so I wasn’t sure that she knew about tent camping.

A tow truck pulled up by us and I asked the tow driver what he knew about campgrounds; sure enough the campground we’d been told about was not for tents. He got back in his truck and wrote out the information to a real campground.

All campgrounds are not equal. The one just outside Copenhagen was not as nice as the others we’d been to. It wasn’t that it was dirty; there was no grass to pitch a tent on, only a strip of weeded stuff and everything had a charge attached. You need to cook? You pay for the time to use the cooktop. You want hot water to wash dishes? Pay for 2 minutes of hot water. Want to use the electricity for anything? Pay up or else. Then to add on, we had to pay for a Scandinavia camping card. Really? We have been camping all over Scandinavia without this and there has been no problem? What a waste of $20.

We had several things we wanted to see in Copenhagen, all free of charge; the opera house, The Royal Library and Nyhaven, a street by the harbor.
The opera house reportedly looks like the grille of a 1955 Buick and it actually does resemble the grille of a car.IMG_20140726_110234_193.jpg

The Royal Library consists of the library and a newer building called The Black Diamond. It is in the Black Diamond that the free exhibition is located which contains original works of Bach, some remains of a book from 600AD and works from Hans Christian Anderson. One book of interest is the History of the World from the 1400’s. Hum, wonder how that reads.

The exhibit is located in the center of the room, in a large circle. On the left wall are drawers in which we found original letters from various people including: Gandhi, Beethoven, Mozart and others. It was so amazing to see the letters up close, glass was covering most of the documents but one is only a fraction of an inch away.
It starting pouring rain as we got ready to walk to Nyhaven but as soon as the rain passed I ran down to take a photo. It is a complete tourist trap, the canal is full of small tour boats, full of people. Everywhere were people. A quick photo was all I needed and we were out of there.

Posted by Miss Chris 19:00 Archived in Denmark Tagged opera_house travel driving camping europe denmark copenhagen outdoors royal_library Comments (0)

Orebro, the Most Romantic Castle

sunny 90 °F

Next stop Sweden; we’d hoped to make both Orebro and Stockholm but alas…. Time was not on our side. Too much time was taken in the journey and not an emphasis on the destination. We chopped out Stockholm; I’m sure it is a great place to visit but there you have it.

We nearly made it to Orebro when we found a campground and stopped for the night. We were all hungry and it seemed like good timing.

The campground is located on a lake, tent camping is along the lake with motorhomes behind the tents. We found a site and also found a table located at the lake side that was empty.

We had our dinner and watched a beautiful sunset.IMG_20140723_215916_095.jpgIMG_20140723_224115_041.jpg

I woke up at 2:30am and it was light already, the sun wasn’t up but there was enough light to read a newspaper.

We drove into Orebro late morning as it takes us forever to get out and about. We went straight to the castle and signed up for a tour. The history is interesting: King Karl was no angel, that’s for sure. He would walk around the city with a stick with a silver ball on top. If he deemed that someone was not doing right then he’d give them a good swat. I thought I should get something like that to knock people upside the head!

It was really hot, probably in the 90’s, so the tour thru the castle was a welcome relief. IMG_20140724_111214_713.jpg

From the castle we walked out to the side streets and found a food court, buying cheese and sausages. Then had lunch with a little white wine.
From lunch we walked along the river to a little village, Wadkoping, which has actually been relocated to preserve the buildings. Buildings are from the 1700’s, and open for looking at your own pace. Doors are small and walls uninsulated. Some interior walls still have the decorations from so long ago. Some houses are furnished others buildings empty.

We walked back to the castle square, saw the church where Jean Bapististe Bernadotte was chosen to be king. The church is a simple church next to the many grand churches we’ve seen.

We went back to the campground for another dinner by the lake.

So now it was time to head south, back to Brussels. This would be about a 14 hour drive with a stop in Copenhagen.
We had to drive thru Orebro so we made one last lunch at the food court, bought ice then started driving south.

Posted by Miss Chris 19:46 Archived in Swaziland Tagged food walking travel sweden castle tour europe orebro Comments (0)

Oslo and Roald Amundsen

overcast 95 °F

I awoke at 3:30am to sunlight, not bright sun, but it wasn’t dark at all.

Finally washers and dryers, several of them! We all had clean clothes before leaving for the day of sightseeing.

Our 1st, and it turns out only stop, was to the Fram Museum. http://www.frammuseum.no/ This museum houses the boat that Roald Amundsen took to the South Pole for his expedition. If any of you remember the Masterpiece Theater program on this, several years ago, you will remember the race between Scott and Amundsen. This museum has the boat and the boat is open for viewing. Most of the boat can be touched and walked on, bedrooms are closed with a window for viewing and there are personal artifacts in the bedrooms. The engine room is open for viewing thru a window from the floor above. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/ice/peopleevents/pandeAMEX87.html

In the program the Fram seemed so small but in person it seemed larger, but then of course it is viewed from the bottom. Next to a large cruise ship it is quite small.IMG_20140722_145340_234.jpg

The museum is interactive with displays testing skills that would be needed as a member of the Fram. I’m afraid we would have been eaten by the Polar bears.

What surprised us was how the Fram was built in its day, to survive the stresses of being trapped in the ice. When one views the inside construction close up the beams are massive and beautiful solid wood. The ship was truly a work of art and engineering.

We were also surprised on just how many exploration trips the Frann was involved in. We were impressed with how versatile each crew member was, how educated and really brilliant each was.

After 5 hours we hadn’t finished looking at all of the exhibits, but it was nearly 6pm and we were getting quite hungry. It was time to get to the market for dinner. We decided that once we are back home we will watch the Masterpiece program again.

We actually made it to the food court (for lack of a better term), a place where there are lots of fresh food stalls: fish, meat, cheese, and found what we needed for dinner. As we could not find any ice in Oslo we were buying food items fresh as needed.

We moved our camp over to a site that opened up which had a table. We were feeling pretty smug, when we sat up our camp stove and started our pasta. IMG_20140722_105902_421.jpg

Watch out for that perfect spot! A big black cloud started over and soon there were a few drops of rain. We laughed and thought that we could weather this one. The Europeans kept walking on to the lake nearby, we kept cooking and setting up our table. Then the rains hit, heavy rain and winds blowing everything everywhere. Dale and Elias ran for the tarp while I scrambled to gather up all of the items on the table.

We sat with our uncooked dinner items in the tent/tarp waiting out the storm. Finally it passed and the sun was shining but the air had cooled off. It was probably 95F and humid earlier, now maybe in the 80’s.

We cooked our dinner, ate and went off to bed. Too much excitement for one day.

Posted by Miss Chris 07:10 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo boat travel camping europe norway eating roald_amundsen Comments (0)

Norway Glacier

And the perfect picnic spot

overcast 70 °F

So now a turn to the East, to Oslo, but first a stop in the Hardanger National Park.

Before we left home Elias saw Hardanger on the map and we thought that it would be a great place to visit. When we got into the area of Hardanger we stopped at the tourist office where it was recommend that we visit the Folgefonn glacier.

After a short ferry ride we were on the fjord, in the town of Jondal.

The road up to Folgefonn is very narrow (like room for 1 car) and steep at times. Much of the road just drops off into the abyss. After the tree line there is mostly tundra covered with green plants and there are lakes of all sizes everywhere. IMG_20140719_193209_691.jpg

The road to the glacier actually leads to a small ski resort, where people can ski all summer on the glacier. The snow/ice was being groomed while we
At the glacier the winds were picking up and it was really cold, maybe 30F. We looked, walked a bit and then drove back down to warmer grounds.
We found a campground just outside the town of Jondal, where we camped. The campground is located on the grounds of a working farm with sites set up where some of the farm land was before. All around are fields with some sort of undetermined crop and a lake at the end. Near the campsites are the tractors and implements, and a cow barn. We woke up to mooing and the sound of cow bells.

Another day of driving to Hardangervidda, but checked out waterfalls all the way while driving down the road of one fjord and up the road on the other side. I think we have seen every waterfall possible, one spot having 12 that we could see.

After we’d passed up a couple of campgrounds and we started thinking we really should stop of the night, we still had dinner to make. It was after all, after 9pm. Of course there were no campgrounds for miles, so we stopped at a rest turnout that had tables overlooking a beautiful valley. We got our dinner makings and went down to the table area finding one with a beautiful view. We set up the camp stove and started our dinner when throngs of misquotes came over, swarming us. (I felt a little like the Bernstein Bears story of the perfect picnic spot).

Dale and Elias ran back to the car to set it up for the night and I moved quickly with dinner. We couldn’t sit down to eat, had to stand and keep moving.
Elias and I laughed hard later thinking of the sight we must have made to the passer-byers; him running fast back and forth to get away from the mosquitoes and me waving my hand(s) wildly in the air.

Posted by Miss Chris 05:34 Archived in Norway Tagged nature hiking driving glacier europe norway Comments (0)

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