A trip to the worlds’ end, Tjøme in Vestfold Norway

Unfortunatly travling is taking a back seat in our lives right now. My studies and the upcomming wedding are taking pretty much all our time and money. But will come back stronger later in the year.

Today we went to Tjøme, Vestfold, to walk some of the dogs in a different route than our regular one. It’s about a 2 hour drive from our home. It was a nice walk in the spring weather with just about the right temperature for both dogs still in winter coats and humans still in winter mode. About 10C.

There is a resturant at the site with a wonderful view (similar to the featured image of this post). There is a guest harbour for hobby boats and a bathing are for guests as well. Being in April bathing is not an option and most boats are still not on the sea after winter storage. The resturant is off limits for dogs.

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The puppy Beringia at 8 months old felt it was a good time to give me a facial wash.

Bergen Aquarium, western Norway

The Bergen Aquarium opened the 27th of August 1960 and at that  point it was the largest and most modern Aquarium in Northern Europe.  Since then it has been updated a few times and new collections added. Today it has more than 60 aquariums and sports more than 300 species. It’s main focus is still on the sea life along Norway’s coast. It does have a tropical section as well. And more recently it has added a reptile collection, a spider display and they do have som mammals and birds too. The birds, more specificly the penguins, was one of the main reasons we went for a visit as Truls really wanted to see the penguins. Bergen Aquarium has had penguins since the 1970’s. One of the first ones was the Southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes crestatus) Rocky who arrived in 1974 and lived to be 29 years and 4 months old and with this was the oldest penguin in captivity.

The Bergen aquarium has a mission statement: “to spread knowledge about sea life and to give the visitors a representative view of Norwegian marine fauna and an instructive introduction to the animal life in the ocean with the purpose to increase the knowledge about animal life  in the ocean as well as induce interest and understanding of the foundations for Norwegian fishing, hunting and aquaculture”

Going through the main entrance the first thing that greats us are pengiuns! The species of penguin that reside at the aquarium today are Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua). The Gentoos are easilly recognised by the white stripe extending across the top of its head as a bonnet and the bright orange-red bill. They will grow up to 51-90 cm in height and is the third largest spieces after the two giants; emperor and king penguin.  In the wild they  have their main breeding colonies in the sub-Antartic on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Island.  They eat mainly crustaceans, krill being one of the main sources, as well as fish and squid.  They are a near threatened species due to a rapid decline in some key populations.

We also meet sealions who put on a show,  and a Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) called Selma outside. Selma had just become a lone seal as her mate Vitus earlier in 2015.


Inside we first encounter a pond with starfish, sand crabs and other shoreline animals. These we could pick up and explore. We then entered the section of the Norwegian waters before wandring into the tropical sections of the aquariums.

 

The reptile section and spider display was news for me. I have visited the Aquarium a few times in the past, but this section had the biggest change since my last visit. I really like reptiles and find them fascinating. We are not allowed to keep any reptile or amphibians as pets in Norway, which is fine by me as it leaves some temptations out of reach.

 

Last, we of course needed to bring something back from our trip to Bergen. Our choice was a stuffend animal. A Harbour seal, and we call ours Selma as well. We do love stuffed animals too, not only live ones. We see no reason to grow out of them.

Selma

Rainy Bergen, western Norway

Bergen, the “western capital” of Norway. Founded by Olav Kyrre (1050 – 1093) in 1070, and at that point the name was Bjørgvin. Bjørgvin is from Norse and means “the green field among the mountains”. Olav Kyrre was the son of Harald Hardråde (Hardrada in English). He was in his father’s army when he went to England, but didn’t participate in the battle at Stamford bridge in 1066. When Olav came back to Norway he was instated as a king together with his elder brother by two years, Magnus. Magnus died already in 1069 and Olav became the only king. Probably at this time he got his name “Kyrre” which means “the peaceful”. Under Olav’s ruling the kingdom of Norway had a peaceful time, so his name fits him well.

Bergen is the “rainy capital” of Norway as well sporting an yearly average precipitation of 2 250 mm. It’s not the wettest place in Norway, but it is the best known town for it’s rainy days.  And I guess we managed to hit a couple of those rainy days on our trip to Bergen.

Driving from our home to Bergen takes about 7 hours over through valleys and over mountain passes around 380km of Norwgian curvy roads. It makes for slow going and some great views. Mountains, fjords, waterfalls and… long tunnels. Rather boring those tunnels.  We went to Bergen from the 10th to the 12th of April 2015

 

We wanted to go to the top of the mountain Ulriken, the tallest of the 7 mountains surrounding Bergen with an altitude of 642m. It it was rather windy, and rainy day and  the aerial tramway to the top didn’t go. We figuered out we rather go for a hike with the dogs part of the way to the top. We wouldn’t see much from the top anyway. But at least we got some exercise going uphill and then downhill.

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Me, from the hike up towards Ulriken

After this exercise food was on the program. We parked our car at Bystasjonen, a meeting point for busses, the train to Bergen and with good parking space for cars. The walk from Bygarasjen to down town Bergen meant we walked by Lille lungegårdsvann, one of the sites to see in Bergen. Today “Smålungeren” as the people from Bergen call it, looks like an artificial pond. However it was originally a part of one of the fjords surrounding Bergen called Puddefjorden.

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Lille Lungegårdsvann, stilly rainy. And Truls feels rather cold.

 

We went for walk down Bryggen with Bergen’s most iconic houses (see top photo). Wooden buildings from 1702. They are on the UNESCO world heritage site list.
Then, finally food! Nothing too fancy, a pizza from Peppe’s – one of the pizza chains in Norway. And the one at least I like the best. Being out of the rain and able to dry  up a bit as well as getting warm wasn’t too bad either.

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Pizza!

 

The following morning we were met by this: Hail! Lots of it!

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Hail!

 

This day we also visited the Aquarium in Bergen. More about that visit in another blogpost.

Then it was time to turn our noses around and go back home.  We started out in rain. Went up the hills and curvy roads and met up with heavy snow and wind accross the highest mountain pass. Not the best driving weather. Getting on “the right side of the mountains”. Which means east of the mountains were we live, the weather changed character completly and it was both warmer and a late afternoon sun. This is quite typical of Norway’s weather. Most of the winds and rain comes accross the Atlantic and hit the west coast of Norway. The mountains reaching more than 1000 metres above sea level stoppes the rainfilled clouds and winds passing to the east. Making for a dryer weather in the eastern parts of Norway.

Gotland, Sweden

In 2014 we went to Gotland. This is a rather large Island off the east coast of Sweden in the Baltic sea. We only stayed from the 30th of August to the 1st of September. This is after the main turist season and the camping grounds we stayed at was pretty much empty except for other dog people like ourselves. Perfect when you travel with a bunch of dogs!

We stayed at Kneippbyn resort. Most of it was closed down as the Summer season ended the weekend before, but we enjoyed our stay just as much.

The nature of Gotland was pretty different to what we are used to around our home. It is made up of sedimentary rocks going back to the Silurian age (443 mya to 416 mya) Going for short hikes  in the near by area gave us a really nice view of this part of the Island.

Gotland is reknown for it’s history. From the Viking age to the Hanseatic area Gotland has a lot of history. Visby, the “capital” of Gotland was an important, perhaps the most important, Hanseatic city in the Baltic sea.

We went for a visit to Visby, without the dogs, as well. Being on the island we wanted to see this historic and charming little town. It is one of the best preserved Mideaval towns in Scandinavia and is on the Unesco World Heritiage list. The Visby city wall, the church ruins of Drotten, St.Katarina and St.Lars were visited. All built during the Hanseatic area in the 1200s (13th century).

The city wall is 11 M high and is 3,44km long (originally 3,6km). It was built in two stages and was finished in 1288.  Originally it had 29 large and 17 small towers. Today 27 of the large towers and 9 of the small towers remains. This city wall is a major reason why Visby ended up as a  Unesco world heritiage site.

Drotten was built around 1240 and was the church of the Hanseats (Germans). “Drott” is a word from Norse meaning “owner of a thrall”. In other context drott could mean fürst or king, and the wife of the drott is the drottning. Drottning (Swedish) or dronning in Norwegian is the word still used for queen in Scandinavia.

St. Katarina ruin was started around 1233 and was originally built by the fransiscan order. The construction carried on untill the middle of the 1300s.

St. Lars ruin was finshed in the early 1200s (1210-1220), but the eldest parts might be from the 1100s. This chuch has some ortodox traits and it seems like the arcitecht might have been influenced by Russian churches, it is highly unlikely it was a Russian church.  St. Lars has it’s name after St. Laurentsius who died as a martyr.

 

The main reason for going this exact weekend was the Gotland Dog Show. We showed Freke and Fjellbris. Both got high praises from the judge. Freke became best of breed and Fjellbris best of opposite sex. A sucsessful trip in that regard as well.

 

I am sure we will be back for another visit to Gotland some time. Most likely with the dogs tagging along. However it is not certain if it will be at the time of the Gotland Dog show or not. The show was very nice, but not necessary for another visit. Next time we will stay a bit longer though.

Our first vaccation – part III: Norway

 

Part III:  Norway

from the 4th of Augut to the 7th of August

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Welcome to Norway!

 

After our visit to Nordens Ark we drove back home to Norway. We didn’t make any stops between the border and the summerhouse of my parents. My parents had taken care of our keeper puppies and an unsold brother for the duration of our vaccation and we couldn’t wait to see them again.

Having picked up the puppies we drove home, picked up the adults and had a few relaxing days. We also went back down the the summer house for a bit of swimming in the fjord and being social with my parents, sister and nephew.

Our first vaccation – part II: Sweden

Part II: Sweden

From the 2nd of August to the 4th of August

After crossing the Øresund bridge from Denmark we continued up the coast to Gothenborg.  Here we stayed at Elite Park Avenue Hotel. Situated in Gothenborg’s main street Avenyen. A wonderful hotel with excellent staff and rooms. The price was reasonable considering it is a four star hotel with prime location. We will most likely be back next time we visit Gothenborg. At least if we go without dogs.

Our plans for Gothenborg was relaxing and a visit to the amusement park  Liseberg.  That didn’t work out, as just before we reached Liseberg we came across a dinosaur! Both of us having had dinosaurs as an interest earlier in life, and still reading up on them from time to time it was bound to sidetrack us. We ended up at Universum instead of Liseberg.  Not at all a bad thing.

It was a rather huge place but we visited the flora and fauna part and of course the dinosaurs on  the rooftop.

They had one display of fish, birds,reptiles and amphibians from Scandinavia.  Another part had a rainforest environment,  they had a huge marine aquarium tank – and several small ones. A collection of serpents that I really enjoyed and of course the dinosaur display.  Animatronic ones. I guess they weren’t all that amazing, but as it kind of was a trip back to childhood we had great fun seeing them anyway.  Luckily several of the species had been uploaded since we were kids and gotten their feathers.

 

 

On our way back to the hotel,  we got the first rain during our vaccation.  And it really poured down. It was refreshing. Knowing we would be back at the hotel before long we made no attempt at staying dry, but enjoyed the pouring rain. Me rather a bit more than him though.

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Leaving Gothenborg we visited the zoo Nordens Ark (the Ark of the Nordic) before driving into Norway. This zoo primarly have northern species. Big areas for their animals and areas that are possible to rotate between animals to some extent, meaning that the animals get more stimulation than staying the exact same area all the time. I long wanted to visit this park as they have several species of cats I haven’t seen in life before. I wasn’t let down, and I loved the fact that the animals may hide themselves from view if they whish to.

 

Our first vaccation – part I: Denmark

In the Summer of 2014, more exact from the 25th of July to the 7th of August we went on our first vaccation together. This is a recapitulation in three parts.

Part I: Denmark

From the 25th of July to the 2nd of August

 

We started out taking the Fjordline ferry M/S Bergensfjord from Langesund – about 45 minutes drive from my home (at that point he didn’t live here yet) to Hirtshals in Denmark.

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Fjordline’s ferry M/S Bergensfjord

 

Our vaccation would be a road trip in Denmark and Sweden, with a couple of days at my familiy’s summer house in Norway before we had to return to our day to day life.

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The first part of our vaccation was spent in Denmark. starting out in the north, driving up to Skagen and to the outermost tip of Denmark, Grenen.Our first night was spent at a camping ground in a tent. We then had lunch in Skagen centrum, and spent some time on the beach.

 

In the afternoon we drove to Ørnereservatet. A fabulous place well worth a visit. We sure will return ourselves one day. It was fantastic to see the big birds of prey flying free in the Danish nature, as well as seeing the bond they clearly had with their humans.

 

We then continued on to Randers were we visited Randers Regnsov,  rainforest growing in domes.  Plants and animals were divided in South America,  Asia and Africa.  It’s a nice place to visit and you really get a bit of the same feeling as a real rainforest gives you.

Next stop was Himmelbjerget. Not the highest point in Denmark,  but the most famous high point. It’s elevation is a mere 147 meters. Not all that impressive when you’ve grown up with 1000 m mountains around you. However it does give you a good view of the surroundings as Denmark is a rather flat country even in it’s more hilly areas were Himmelbjerget is located. 

Crossing Lillebælt we arrived at Fyn island and went to the city of Odense.  The most memorable parts were the delicious steak we ate and meeting the Katta Lemurs  of Odense Zoo close up.

Next day we continued on across Storebælt to Skjælland island and down across the Falster island and arriving at Lolland island. Here we stayed in an apartment right outside Maribo for a night before visiting Knuthenborg Safaripark.

Knuthenborg Safaripark once was known as the medieval manor of Årsmarke. This was Denmark’s largest private estate.  It opened for a paying public already back in 1870, at that time displaying only exotic plants such as the rhododendrons which still grow in the park.  In 1950 it opened as a safaripark  as well, adding the first exotic animals in 1969. Today it is still a unique place to visit.You drive your own car through huge enclosures where the animals have the opportunity to get away from it all if they wish to. In several areas you may stop your car and go outside it for a closer look. Some of the animals will let you pet them, others won’t.

 

 

Our last stop in Denmark was the capital Copenhagen.  We stayed here for a few days. Took a boat sightseeing,  visited Tivoli, wandered about the city and last visited the aquarium den blå planet (the blue planet). We weren’t all that impressed by this, even if it is one of the largest aquariums in Europe.  Then we crossed the tunnel and Øresund bridge into Sweden.

 

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the Øresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden. Made famous by the detective series “the bridge”