Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The End is Nigh!

Our last 2 days dawned! Our own beds beckoned but it was still hard to think our wonderful trip was coming to an end. Wednesday again saw the Fab Four split into two. Keith and Kathy headed to Windsor Castle and they exclaimed afterwards, "that was well worth it" a statement regularly used on our holiday! Meryl and Glenn followed in Keith's footsteps and went to the War Cabinet Rooms and also enjoyed the Charles Dickens museum, the Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery. On Wednesday night our cousin and his wife who are presently living in Bonn arrived. It was great that we could finish our holiday spending time with Pete and Leigh.

Windsor Castle
On Thursday we thought we would make the most of every minute and walked all day. Rain meant some strategic time spent in the Museum of London which we all found most informative and the boys loved our young English guide! We then went to the Bank of England Museum before climbing 311 stairs to the top of The Monument for some great views. With our walking shoes on we strode to the Tower of London, walked over the Tower Bridge, past the Shakespeare Globe and all the way back home. We spent our last night feasting on delicious Indian food and talking!!

The Monument- built to remember the London Fires
View of the Tower Bridge from The Monument

Well home we come. We had the BEST HOLIDAY EVER and we are sure we will remember it for many years to come! We hope you have enjoyed reading the Blog. We certainly have enjoyed sharing all our amazing experiences and the fantastic sights we saw with all our family and friends.

Tired of London - Never!

On the back of Glenn and Meryl's toilet door is a poster which quotes Samuel Johnson saying 'When a Man is tired of London he is tired of life'.  Even after a long holiday we found we were not tired by London.  Indeed we were very excited to be there and we could even read the signs! We jumped on the tube and headed to Holland Park to revisit Meryl's haunts of 30 years ago. The Norwegian YWCA where she stayed looked the same and Meryl was so excited she knocked on the door and we had a little tour and saw the very room she slept in.

It is a great thrill for us colonials to wander around Buckingham Palace, St James Park, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben which we did within a couple hours of arriving, so much to see and so little time to do it.  We eventually returned to our unit in Islington after dark (which is saying something as it didn't get dark till pretty late in northern Europe).

On Monday we split up for the first time on our trip.  Meryl,  Glenn and Kathy went to Ditchling to see Meryl's great Uni friend David and his wife Yvonne. I (Kathy) thought Keith made a very poor choice after we were fed the most delicious duck roast and went on a lovely walk in the South Downs! It was lovely to catch up and Meryl, David and Yvonne did lots of reminiscing.  Keith went to Greenwich. I (Keith) saw the Maritime Museum and a variety of other places but the best was the Observatory which marks 0 meridian so you can stand in the western and eastern hemispheres.  It is very interesting.

On Tuesday we went to see the Changing of the Guard, met up with Emily Stein and had a lovely lunch in St James Park.  Keith then went to the Cabinet Wars rooms which are a fascinating insight into the operation of the Second World War by the British government.  Kathy and Emily walked to Trafalgar Square while Meryl and Glenn headed off to see their friends Johnny and Julie Marshall.  In the evening Kathy and Keith went to a performance of Mamma Mia the musical.  It was a brilliant performance by a high quality West End cast.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Biking and Boating with Bente.

Our last place to visit in Norway was Arendal to stay with Bente and her family. I also met Bente at the Norwegion Y 30 years ago. We had fabulous weather on the Friday and Roald (Bente's husband) owns a bike shop and found us all superb bikes. We rode onto an island near Arendal.

While we were on the bike ride Bente's brother Jostein and sister-in-law Bgorg came to pick us up and take us on their boat. It was lovely boating through the islands and we had a picnic dinner on a small rocky island which is a popular Norwegian pastime.

The next day Bente took us sightseeing around the Arendal town which is very pretty.

Afterwards Bente took us to the beach off the big island and we did a lovely walk in the bush and on the rocks.
Tusen Takk Bente, Roald, Andre and Malene for looking after us so well and giving us such a good time in Arendal.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Norway in Rain

We awoke to lots of rain in Bergen so a lovely leisurely start to the day with skyping family back home took most of the morning. We then put on rain gear and headed down into the historic part of Bergen. We went on a guided tour and discovered more about the Hanseatic League, Meryl remembered learning about them in school. We also found a room set up for the resistance in the war. A man told us all about what happened there and at the end told us one of the resistance group was his dad.
Bergen old town
Looking across the Bergen harbour

A quick flight then took us to Stavanger. Glenn had been excited for a long time about our walk to Pulpit Rock, this amazing flat rock sticking out over the fjord. Sadly due to the weather we couldn't walk there, far to slippery (not a cop out, people there told us it wouldn't be safe!) However all was not lost. We took a ferry along the Fjord and saw the famous rock. We sat with a couple from Guernsey and found it very interesting to hear about the island. We were thankful the rain stopped for a while and stood out on the deck and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. Stavanger has a museum about the Norway oil industry which we found interesting and is a really attractive town.

Pulpit Rock