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The Continental Tripping 2011 Journal Norway #2
 
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Off to Norway for the second time this 2011

When I flew back from Norway recently the plane ticket was booked by The Husband's oil company, and I got a return ticket, evidently the cheapest option at the time.  I've seen this before on European flights, they sell seats on planes cheaper for a return than a single.  I think that's got to be a bad thing.  I imagined the airports tannoying...'last call for Marilyn, could Marilyn please go to gate whatever'.  Can't be a good thing for planes to go up with empty seats, seemed a shame not to use the return.

So on Wednesday 14th September 2011 it was off to Edinburger Airport once again.
 
  
  
 Leaving Scotland
  
The Parents drove me to Edinburger, mwaaahh, mwaahhh and in I went, easy.  It's very easy at Edinburger, nice little airport, can't go wrong.  I mention this because things got much harder a few hours later.  But in Edinburger, snoozeville...did a little shopping, strolled onto the plane.  Some oil industry guy was sat next to me, we chatted a bit.  This oil industry guy in airports thing is becoming a regular thing for me.  In my defence, I don't go looking for them, it's just that there are a lot of them on this particular route, Scotland to Amsterdam to Norway and vice versa.

This one wasn't as clued up as he should've been, making me think he was maybe just some Scottish bloke pretending to be oil.  He told me he was a frequent flyer and named loads of oil countries he'd been, but there were a couple things made me doubt him.  It all got a bit Miss Marple.

#1 when I raised my bottle of water purchased in an airport shop on the right side of customs, he questioned how come I'd been allowed to bring it on the plane.  Suspicious.

#2 when we got to Schipol he was lost.  Said he hadn't been there for years, he showed me the ticket for his next flight to Dubai, he was 10 mins late for boarding already, and I had to tell him to get going before he missed his flight.  Definite.

So this is my reason for being a bit wrong-footed myself at Schipol.
  
 
  
  
  Lost in Schipol
  
  I walked along after sending the charlatan on his merry way, he was of no use to me, and I immediately got confused and unfocused.  I'm not meant to help oil men around airports, they're s'posed to look after me.

The Husband was telling me that while I was en route and phoning him, he was speaking to one of his work colleague guys, explaining to him that I'd been making a habit of picking up oil men, the colleague responded...'John, that's how she got you'.  Funny guy.

I had planned to walk to the nearest Business Class Lounge and hold up a sign with The Husband's oil company name on, await one of them guys to respond to the sign, then I'd happily ask the lucky guy to treat me to free champagne and nibbles in Business Class before walking me to my gate.

But thanks to Mr Not-Familiar-With-Schipol I took a wrong turning and went down a flight of stairs.  Found myself in a queue, didn't seem right.  I spoke to a couple in the queue asking if I was in the right place for on-ward flights, they didn't know, so I went over to the Police desk.  I explicitly explained the details of my situation, and asked 'am I in the right place to catch an on-ward flight to Norway?'  Fecking Dutch Police twat told me 'yes, you must go through this check point'.  If he didn't understand Scottish he should've said.

I found myself in baggage.  Panic!  A KLM representative told me, 'no, you must return to the upstairs'.  Back upstairs I had to go through customs again.  I'd got The Husband on the phone by this time.

He tried to talk me through the next bit, but it's not easy in Schipol, very big, very busy, very confusing, I had to focus a lot, and we've already established, focusing is not my forte.

Some how or other I got in the right queue and went back through customs.  This time they searched my handbag and asked me loads of questions like I was a suspect type.  I wanted to tell this guy, look Edinburger didn't have an issue with this handbag and it's contents, but that would've confused the situation further.

Anyways, it certainly did help to pass the two hours between my flights.  I went immediately to my gate and only 5 minutes later I was through to board.
  

   
  Stavanger
   
  red with silver roof
The Husband was there waiting for me, mwaaahh.

Then I got my first look at the new Z4.

Very nice, she's so pretty in red.  Wearing the silver hard top from our old Z4, deciding bout the roof now, leave it silver or paint it red, maybe black?

I think red.
 
   
   
 
 
 
  Norway 
   
  I arrived in Norway on the Wednesday evening and had two days there before we sailed home.  We stayed at The Hummeren Hotel in Tananger again.  The room next door to my last one, balcony onto the waterfront again.

We had lunch at The Husband's work place on the Thursday and Friday.  And took a couple trips out in the new Z4 on his time off.mmmm Lefse

A particularly nice drive was on the 45, the road up to Byrkjedalstunet.  On the Byrkjedalstunet website it's described as 'The Summer Road being open', so I'm guessing it's pretty much usually closed in Winter.  We came back down the 503, which was lovely, but not quite as lovely as the 45.  The 45 has all these fallen rocks, looks like a mountain collapsed a few eons ago, huge lumps of rock, massive, monumental, giant stepping stones.  We didn't realise we were till after we did, but we played Spot The Biggest Fallen Rock and I think I remarked on it first, just a few nanoseconds before The Husband did.  Humungous.

At Byrkjedalstunet we dropped in for some more of them lovely Lefse.  Bloody £2.50 each!  I wish these Norwegian Potato Flatbreads were available here in Scotland, I may have to try to make my own after finding the recipe at allrecipes.com.
 
    
   
 
 
 
   
  Going home - Stage 1 ferry from Stavanger (Norway) to Hirtshals (Denmark)  
   
  When The Husband finished work on Friday 16th September it was time to head home in the new Z4.  We arrived in good time at the Tananger Harbour, across the bay from The Hummeron Hotel.  To be told we didn't have a cabin.  This has never happened before.  Seems what they do is always over-book by 4 cabins, to cover for no-shows.  In the event of everyone showing up they offer you a chair, or a sleeperette as they like to call them.  Sleeperette my arse, it's a chair.  I do not sleep on a chair, not over-night anyway.  They also advertise to buy you a cabin, by announcing over the tannoy that they wish to purchase cabins at a highly inflated rate, and apparently they always get sellers.  This is how they got us a cabin, just as well, we were ready to create a scene, well, we were actually creating a scene, this is how we got the first cabin they bought, and complimentary dinners.  And Ruth and Hartm Gragert were richer by a few thousand Kroner. 
MS Bergensfjord
I'd even informed them that I have certain medical conditions that prevented me from spending the night in a public chair, don't worry, I haven't been struck down by something incurable and chronic, I was lying.

Once established as cabinees we went to the Restaurant Scandinavian Buffet for our free meals.



anything missing?The MS Bergensfjord offers a great all you can eat and drink buffet, yes drinks included, with wine on tap.  Was very nice.  We both enjoyed a healthy bit of salmon with steamed vegetables for a main then went crazy with the sweets.  Especially me, I had a little bit of nearly everything, petit cakes, ice cream, fresh pineapple, slithers of several cold desserts, a little spoon of a sweet sauce and sprinkles.

This is very much a booze cruise boat, after dinner we stopped off in the Vikingfjord Night Club, many a drunk person lurching around and one couple on the dance floor in front of the house band.  We took a stroll around the ship before bed, and dropped into the duty-free shop.  Oh my, it all went a bit London riots in Poundland, there were Halibro too.  People were frenzied with their tax-free shopping.

This is hilarious, in the cabin Fjordline are concerned for their customers comfort and provide Missing Item Report Cards.  The idea is if the customer notices something is missing from the cabin then they should indicate what's missing on the card and hand in to reception, which will allow them to replace the item for the next customer to enjoy.  Bloody hell, if a wall or my bed or the toilet is missing, I am going to tell them immediately so they can give me another cabin, never mind the next customer's comfort.  Booze cruise indeed.  One thing missing from our cabin that isn't a tick box on the card is the card, I took it with me.
    
                       
 
 
 
   
  Going home - Stage 2 Hirtshals (Denmark) to Esbjerg (Denmark)  
   
  Off the boat at early o'clock, 0700 hrs to be exact.  To the nearest service station for The Husband to fill up with coffee and a road map so I could trace our journey.  We drove down through Denmark looking for the scenic route and added in a trip down the west coast of the Ringkøbing Fjord.

The Ringkøbing Fjord road runs the length of the Holmsland Klit.  This isthmus (good word) looks like the east coast of Scotland, with holiday homes, surfing kite flyers, heath and sand dunes, but not a lot of the obvious, golf courses.  It looks like it should be made into a giant golf course, does Trump know about this?

It's difficult to find interesting stuff of any kind in Denmark.  Denmark is pretty flat, houses seem to be hunkering down, hiding, some with thatch roofs, it likes it's wind turbines and has kirkes, very plain churches standing taller than other buildings, stark.

I was struck by the missing pigs.  Not a pig to be seen, and what with Denmark being famous for bacon, hmmm, makes you wonder...or maybe that's just me. 

We couldn't find much in the way of eateries on the drive, what we did find was a little corner shop where The Husband enjoyed watching a pretty Danish blonde girl pushing a hotdog sausage wrapped in bacon into a bread roll, kind of like a hot dog but different, the bread is more like a baguette pouch with a round hole instead of a slit. 
Danish hot dog
I didn't take a pic of The Husband's sausage so a bit of Googling and a big thanks to Adam of Adster Productions for the use of his Danish hot dog photo.  Adam is Credential Systems Administrator for the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards and can be found at adster.net.  The Husband's lunch looked exactly like this, and it was rather tasty.

We arrived at Esbjerg with plenty time to look for something interesting.  It was Saturday afternoon, the town was quiet.  All of Denmark seemed unnaturally empty for a Saturday.  No pigs and very few people.

They do a nice line in public toilet cabins though. 
  the Z4 and some Danish toilet cabinsA fortunate turn on a road north of Esbjerg near the harbour led to something interesting.

The Danish sculptor, painter and printmaker, Svend Wiig Hansen (1922 - 1997) sculpture "Man Meets The Sea".

Four 9 meter high giant chalky white male figures  by Sædding Beach looking out towards Skallingen and the entrance to the harbour.

In 1994 Esbjerg celebrated it's 100th anniversary as an independent municipality and marked the occasion by commissioning the statue, which was officially unveiled on 28 October 1995.  The work was funded by the government of Esbjerg Kommune, the Kunstfond government and private sponsors.
  Man Meets The Sea
Surreal expressionless faces and stillness, they appear strong with the power to be destructive, with an aura of benevolent gods, robots or aliens,  reminiscent of ancient temples and worship.  The eyes have an Egyptian vibe.


Definitely worthy of being added to my Public Art Gallery.


After the bit of public art appreciation it was down to Esbjerg Harbour and boarding the DFDS Seaways MS Dana Sirena.  The same ferry which took me from Harwich to Esbjerg on my last Norway trip.
 
  
    

 
   
  Going home - Stage 3 Esbjerg (Denmark) to Harwich (Engerland)  
   
 

Z4 and MS Dana SirenaGoodbye Jutland.  With the Z4 safely tucked up for the night on the car deck of the MS Dana Sirena our cabin was waiting, quick dropping off of luggage and we went for dinner.  Last time on this boat we went à la carte in the Blue Riband, but enthusiastic about the all you can eat (and drink) buffet experience of the MS Bergensfjord we tried the 7 Seas Buffet.

 

Mmmmmm, a great meal, we went three courses, a mix of starters, we had little bits of lots of things, most of it seafood and a huge selection of breads.  Do be warned, when you are taken to your table there's a bottle of wine waiting for you.  I assumed it was included in the price, after my all you can drink, wine on tap, MS Bergensfjord experience it seemed logical.  But it isn't, a tenner's worth bottle of wine added approximately £30 to the bill.  It was a screw top, thankfully, it was lid back on and we took it with us when we left.  That bottle of 2010 Guy Saget Sancerre Selection Premiere Sauvignon Blanc from the Upper Loire saw the Starry Towers fridge let me tell you and I finished it off the next evening.  Here Guy himself (I think) waxes Frenchly lyrically about his wine.

 

Our main course was, erm, fish I think, I can't fully recall, I had to drink the wine, but I know it was tasty, and the sweet course was a mix of little bits of everything we fancied.  After the meal we took a wander to the Columbus Lounge.  I took my wine glass with me.

 

The Columbus has live music, if by 'live' you mean 'suicidal'.  The male singer with a touch of country and western and a hint of folk would appear to be there for the soul purpose of keeping the spirits low and sending everyone off to sleep, or over the edge in extreme cases.  He plays guitar and only does sad songs.  The woman in the news recently who had to be rescued from the North Sea, they said she 'fell' off a ferry.  I wouldn't be surprised to be told she'd spent her evening in the Columbus Lounge.  He's lost his edge, that's all I'm saying.

 

Of course it wasn't the MS Dana Sirena that Jeni Anderson fell from, unlucky to fall in, extremely lucky to be found and even more fortunate to be alive when they pulled her out, what an amazing survival story.  And all credit to the sailors and the accuracy of their turning manouvre.  She was apparently out for a ciggie after some drinks on the DFDS MS Princess Of Norway, she fell over as she was lighting her cigarette, and nearly died for a fag.  She'd be wise to consider an E-Ciggie and give up the evil weed.  I vapour all over ships.

 
    
   
 
 
 
 
  Going home - Stage 4 Harwich (Engerland) to Sunny D in Bonny Scotchland  
   
  OK Diner
Next day and the Zed was on the road again, heading home.  Takes about 8hrs from Harwich to Sunny D so a dinner stop was required.

We opted for the OK Diner at Bloody Oaks Services, northbound on the A1 near Tickencote, Stamford.  Oh my, the menu's full of delicious sounding options, quite tricky to nail it down to one choice.  We started with a bowl of the while-you-wait Chilli Twisted Fries.

We both went for hot triple sandwiches served with French Fries and Coleslaw, The Husband had the BLT and I had the OK Caesar Club.  Big meals, we managed about half the chips and about a quarter of the bread, then we were stuffed.  Friendly staff and a fun theme, we really enjoyed it.  All in, about £23 and that includes a free refill on the fizzy drinks.  In Norway, over £50.  Norway makes UK prices seem extremely reasonable.

Bloody Oaks is an intriguing place name, over to Google.  There was a bit of a to-do, part of the events that were the War of the Roses.  In 1470 Sir Robert Welles raised an army to face King Edwards army, we Scots had a bit of bother with him and his Dad too, not a pleasant family.  It didn't go well for Robert Welles.  At Tickencote Warren near the village of Empingham the king’s men and Sir Robert’s faced one another on the 12th of March. Long story short, he got offed, his men ran away and them that were caught were slaughtered in the nearby woods consequently named Bloody Oaks.  So there you go, wee history lesson for you.
 
    
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mmmm  mmmm