2018 August Norway with Noakai   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Norway”

Starring: Lari & Noakai

August 20 to 31, 2018

Each of my 5 grandchildren will get a special trip with Grandma Lari. I took Jensen to Japan 5 years ago, and this trip was for Noakai to Norway on a Gate1 tour. Madi and I have to find a date for our special trip together sometime next year-she is so busy!

Every time I go to Europe, I have an opportunity to stop and visit Yvette, Erik, Noakai and Marlowe before and after hopping over the Atlantic. I had fun with the family before and after Norway. I took Noey to sushi dinner and the play, “Getting the Band Together”-it was very funny! The Sunday before coming home, the family was busy, so I went to see Waitress, hoping to see Katherine McPhee, but she was no longer playing the lead… but it was a fun show. We enjoyed the Color Factory, an interactive colorful art experience fun for adults and kids!

Noey and I flew to Oslo via LHR on British Airlines. We had a welcome dinner and met our tour guide, Stephanie and the other 14 members of our tour group.

We had a city tour of Oslo on the first day. All of the people in our tour group were very nice, friendly and fun. We had lovely cool and sunny weather the entire trip except for one day in rainy Bergen.

 

The hotels we had before and after the cruise had gorgeous views!

We had a two-day bus tour from Oslo, overnight in Flam and to Bergen where we  boarded our Hurtigruten cruise ship.

Before the cruise, visited a very old Stave Church and went through the longest (25Km) tunnel in the world that has amazing technologies for physical and mental/emotional well-being for all drivers. The tunnel is divided into 4 sections with 3 blue zones between each section to give relief and mental awareness for drivers. The air is filtered and oxygen is pumped into the tunnel.

We visited a farm where we could enjoy the horses and sheep and a homemade lunch.

Stephanie Johannssen, our tour guide, taught us many things about Norway. Norway gets the warm gulfstream from Mexico so their waters never freeze in the winter. This enables Norwegians to farm more crops that would not survive in Sweden and Finland where the waters freeze. Norway, Denmark and Sweden are Scandinavian countries, and Finland and Iceland are Nordic countries with a totally different language. Denmark has a small landmass with 5 million people, and Norway is huge with 5.3 million people. Thus, Norway is uncrowded, quiet, with no traffic jams. Norway is a very wealthy country, with black gold-oil and fish from the sea. Yet, they are an honest and frugal people. They have high taxes on tobacco, alcohol and gas so they are very costly. The government gives incentives for people to purchase electric vehicles, so you see many Teslas and other EVs. Norwegians are also very close to nature to keep healthy.  People like to camp and spend time in the forests because all the forests including those on private property are open to public use. Trolls live in the forests and they guard the forest. Mountain trolls are giants that live in caves. Trolls would disappear in sunlight, so they only come out at night.

Stephanie told us the story of a little town called Fla in bear country where we had a pit stop. Fla was dying with decreasing population, until a billionaire named Olav Thon, #198 on Forbes list, took an interest in it. Thon decided to build a Bear Park to attract visitors. But there was no place to eat or sleep, so he tried to get McDonalds to open there, but they refused, so he built a McDonalds building. Then he built a Thon hotel and shopping center there. Now Fla is thriving with jobs and tourists.

We rode the Flam Railway up the mountain to Myrdal and back down to Flam, stopping twice at the Waterfall Kjosfossen where the Huldra, a singing forest temptress would lure men away.

In Bergen we boarded our Hurtigruten cruise ship, Nordlys, which means northern lights for our 6-day cruise up the coast of Norway to the Arctic Circle.

We sailed through so many awesome fjords with waterfalls, villages, and tiny farms clinging to the cliffs of the fjords. Our cabin was tiny and so was our bathroom, especially the shower! So I told Noey, whenever we have free time, we won’t stay in our cabin, but hang out in the lounges on different decks. Noey loved to sit and read in the Orion Lounge, which was on the top deck 7, with glass windows facing the front and sides to enjoy the views of the fjords. Most times friends from our tour group were there to hang out with.

 

 

You may wonder, why would anyone live high up in the cliffs above the fjords in the middle of nowhere? Well, they could be running away from the law or from diseases or taxes. Also, because the weather is temperate, from the Gulf Stream, they could farm crops.

Stephanie told us a marvelous story about one such family that lived on a tiny farm way up high on the cliff of a fjord. Stephanie was so intrigued by the story that she went up to the house of Lady Bloomberg herself. She said it took 48 switchbacks to walk up the cliff to the Bloomberg farmhouse, where she met descendants of Lady Bloomberg who were not hospitable. Lady Bloomberg’s husband died and she raised 10 children by herself, farming the little farm high up the cliff. It was a hard life, but she lived a long time. Such stories give you a flavor of the people of Norway.

Cruising the fjords, we made many stops at small villages and some small cities. When we stopped for the day, the cruise ship offered many tours. The first tour I did with Noakai was to go on a forest hike in Trondheim.

Noey went on 2 more hiking tours with Sharon and Wenshing Lee, while I stayed back to walk around the different towns.

 

 

We crossed the Arctic Circle at 7:18:12 am. We went to the ceremony for crossing the arctic circle, where they christen you by putting ice cubes down your back. Noey ran away when they asked us to participate, so one night at dinner, one of the crew snuck up behind him and put ice down his back.

We took a tour to the North Cape, and got to visit a Sami native with his reindeer. The Sami people are nomads that follow the reindeer herds across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The term Laplanders is considered derogatory. The North Cape (Nordkapp) is where the road from Europe ends.

For our last dinner on the ship, they had a buffet with lots of fresh seafood, like crab claws, shrimp, king crab legs, and reindeer stew. They even had salmon sashimi, which Noey devoured! He was so happy to have sushi! The next morning we disembarked in Kirkenes and boarded a plane for Oslo. We stayed in a lovely old hotel up near the ski jump with gorgeous views of the Oslo fjord. We enjoyed a farewell dinner and sang a Peanut Butter song and cheered for Stephanie, before hugging our goodbyes to our tour group members. We had all bonded on this trip, so it was sad to say goodbye to everyone. Early the next morning, we transferred to the airport for our flight home to JFK via Helsinki, Finland.

Noakai’s Top 10:

10) The Bloomberg farm. Learning about the Bloomberg farm is so interesting, that I think I’ll remember it for probably my life. I love that Stephanie was able too share this with us.

9) The tunnels. Especially the longest road tunnel in the world with the cool Leigh caves, but also the tons of other tunnels. I also really liked the tunnel with the roundabout intersection inside of it.

8) The reindeer. I have never seen a reindeer before Norway, and they are very beautiful and very small, I thought they were really cool.

7) The completely real trolls. I liked the way Stephanie explained them to us, and, even though Yvette doesn’t like them, I do, and think it’s funny that they are so deeply embedded in Norwegian culture.

6) The ski museum. Although the stair hike was tedious, the museum itself was probably my favorite museum of all. I liked the simulator, and the museum itself was both interesting and fun.

5) The one that you’ve been waiting for: the food! The food in Norway was amazing and I loved it especially because there isn’t a lot of Norwegian food in America. It was second only to Japanese food. (Sorry, you can’t beat Japanese food, at least for me)

4) The fjords. The beautiful fjords, which also prevented the boat from rocking and making me seasick, made the trip both longer and more enjoyable.

3) The hiking. I loved the hiking in Norway because, for not as much work as you do in America, you get a better view. Also, I liked the exercise and fresh air.

2) The Orion lounge, for obvious reasons

1) The people. Everyone in our group, including Stephanie was awesome and funny, and also the Norwegians themselves, little though they were, were nice, welcoming, funny and very trusting.

Lari’s Top 10:

(On previous trips, I had already done/seen Vigeland Park, Flam Railway ride, Bergen and Sognefjord. So these are not on this list although they are wonderful.)

10) The cool, sunny weather

9) The story of Fla village, saved by Olav Thon

8) The story of Lady Bloomberg living on a small farm high up on the cliff of a fjord

7) Crossing the Arctic Circle and visiting North Cape

6) The Laerdal tunnel with all its high tech amenities

5) Farm visit with horses, sheep and delicious lunch with raspberry drink

4) The friendly and fun tour group members

3) Stephanie Johannssen, our tour guide extraordinaire! Her knowledge, her efficient organization of our group, and her interesting stories, made this a rewarding and educational trip

2) The many gorgeous views of Norway’s fjords, mountains, and waterfalls

1) Spending quality time with Noakai, forming life-long happy memories with him

Posted September 7, 2018 by lariyasui in Europe

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