Had just over a week back after my trip with Robyn. The weather was still rather pleasant, but the days were distinctly getting shorter. Compare the view from beside my home here now with that from earlier in the year!
I had my final trip to Stockholm on Sat 23 Aug. Spent a fairly quiet but pleasant Sun doing a bit of sightseeing round the island of Djurgården in the morning. I was lucky enough to catch a very colourful multi-cultural parade to the Skansen folk museum whilst there. The afternoon I spent just sitting in the sun and going swimming in the lake at Långholmen and at Rålambshov. I walked over the large bridge between the islands these were on, and admired the lovely view back toward the city centre. The weather was quite pleasant on Sun, though it changed into heavy rain on Mon! Sun evening I had a very pleasant evening with a Helen and Don, colleagues from SERC in Melb on exhange to Stockholm. We had dinner and then just chatted.
On Mon 25 Aug I visited Dan Sahlin at the Ericsson CS labs again. Had some very fruitfull discussions which have given me some more ideas to play with back here. On Tues I went to the 3rd Erlang Users Conference in Kista (north Stockholm). It was a small but very pleasant conference. I gave a talk on my work called Towards an Even Safer Erlang, which appears to have been well received. I was happy with it (especially as I have no problems with getting up and talking ... in contrast to some of the others there!). I flew back Tues evening, arriving home just after midnight, with just enough time for a flying change of luggage and a bit of sleep!
On Wed 27 Aug I headed down to the port bright and early, to meet Jim and Margaret Lowe (friends from the Scottish Country dance group in Canberra). They were doing the full coastal trip (and having a great time), and were on their way back south on the MS NordNorge - the latest ship in the fleet. Very swish it was too. We spent about an hour or so just walking round parts of town before returning to the ship. I was joining them for the day, catching the Hurtigruten down to Ålesund, departing Trondheim at 10am.
We had a very pleasant cruise. The weather fined up nicely, and we spent much of the time sitting in the sun on the rear deck. I enjoyed the run out of Trondheim fjord, as I'd never seen it in daylight before (I sailed the hurtigruten from Bergen to Trondheim on my first trip here in '91, but it arrives at 6am, so was asleep for the trip into Trondheim itself). There were some very pleasant views. We then continued down the coast stopping in Kristiansund at 5pm, then on to Molde just after 9pm. We were entertained there by a band playing on the dock - and most enjoyable they were to - probably the local community band. Sailed out of Molde with the sun setting behind the islands (pictured), and on round to Ålesund at midnight. I said farewell to the Lowe's and went hunting for the youth hostel and a bed to collapse in!
On Thurs I ended up doing a bus-boat-bus tour to Geiranger Fjord. It was very beautiful with some marvellous scenery, and I was very glad I went. Started on a bus heading west for an hour or so. Then caught a short ferry trip over to Aursnes (pictured), and continued south. There were some lovely views of rugged high mountains, still with a bit of snow, as we headed down the Sykkylven valley. Then up and over to Stranda, and on to Hellesylt. This is at the end of Sunnylvs Fjord, just after the point where Geiranger Fjord separates. The road in is quite spectacular, as the fjord has very steep sides. It punches though a tunnel from the next valley over, and then clings to the side as it drops through a series of tunnels and cuttings down to the town, with soem spectacular views down to the fjord, and into Geiranger fjord..
After a brief stop, it was on to the ferry for the 1 hour trip along the length of Geiranger Fjord. The entire fjord is very narrow, with very high, steep walls. They pointed out several farms along the way, clinging to ledges high over the water, and only accessible via rope ladders (apparently very useful in times past when the tax collector came by!). Awesomely rugged terrain. There were many waterfalls pouring over the side. In particular they pointed out the "Seven Sisters", a many branched waterfall over a wide cliff (visibile in picture right). Opposite is another waterfall, with a rocky outcrop in the middle shaped something like a bottle. According to the legend the sisters refused all offers of marriage, so the suiter opposite turned to the bottle for comfort! Thence on to the villiage of Geiranger itself (pictured left). Very picturesque - tucked into the valley at the end of the fjord. I had about an hour there, and went for a short walk to look round. The stave church there was open, and inside was very pretty. Then it was on to a bus for the trip up the only permanently open road out of town. It zig zags up the side of a gully down into the fjord with something like a dozen or more switchbacks on the way up. We had a short break at the top - the view was spectacular - and I took the two photos shown here! Finally it was on to Eidsdal for the final ferry crossing, and thence a long bus trip back round to Ålesund. It really was a great trip, and the scenery was just awesome.
On Fri I spent a couple of hours exploring Ålesund doing a self guided tour. Its a really beautiful and different town to most in Norway, due to the unique "art nouveau" style used for the buildings in the restoration after the great fire in 1904. The fire destroyed virtually the entire town centre (wiping out 800 buildings, home to 10000 people!). In the aftermath, with relief including shipment of provisions and building materials from the whole of Europe, including from Emperor William II of Germany, the town was completely rebuilt in the then prevalent "Art Nouveau" style. This is characterised by intricate decorations, colourful facades and many turrets. It has been compared to scenes from a medieval fairytale book. All very picturesque.
After that I climbed the 418+ steps up to get a great view of the town from Fjellstua, the lookout point above the town. As well as a very good view of town, you could look out to the islands towards the sea, or in to the mountain ranges inland. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy and hazy, not good for photos, but lovely just to sit and contemplate.
After lunch I caught the bus on to Åndlesnes. That was another scenic trip (with lots of ups and downs!). The final run again was clinging to the side of a fjord, with near sheer cliffs beside. Then jumped straight onto the train for the spectacular trip up to Dombås. The line heads up a valley with sheer cliffs either side (one side being the home to the trolls :-). After climbing for quite a while it crosses a bridge and heads back down the valley (but still climbing) on the other side. Finally it does a complete loop inside the mountain through a tunnel to come back out heading the other way back up the valley (still climbing) in order to get enough height to climb out! Really spectacular! The rest of the trip was more "normal", merely a run through alpine terrain and thence down into the valley leading to Dombås. After a couple of hours there (wandered around, pretty enough though not spectacular) it was time to catch the evening train back to Trondheim (using up the last day of my rail pass on the very last day of validity!) In all, a most enjoyable trip. The only minor annoyance was that I was fighting off a cold on Wed-Thurs, ah well.
And regretfully, thats it for my travel plans within Norway. I am very pleased though with how much I've been able to see of the really beautiful country here.
After getting back I had a nice, quiet weekend. On Sun 31 Aug I went to a "Safari Dinner" with the Anglican church - that was very pleasant, with entree's in 1 house, dinner in another, and dessert at a 3rd. About 40 people participated, and I meet quite a few people I hadn't had a chance to talk to before, which was great.
Finally its back to work, and time to progress my projects somewhat further in the time thats remains here.