Days 14, 15, and 16 – Island, Fortress, Ferry

Day 14

I started the day off up bright and early. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to wander around places without very many other people, and the Akershus Fortress opened at 06:00 (No, I wasn’t there at that time, more like 08:00). So off I went. It really was empty! Of course, there’s always guards on duty, as it is a national fortress and castle, and I didn’t realize this until I turn around and see one standing back in the trees. They patrol around, so they can appear in places you were looking earlier and no one was there. Scared the shit out of me! They carry big guns too.

Anyways, gave some timer selfies a try. Most looked horrible, half shadows doesn’t do well for my camera at all.

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The fortress was interesting to wander around, but there’s not much in the way of information. I found it amusing to look up the side of the castle (which was closed on this day) and see the many different building materials.

It's easy to see 3 different types of stone here.
It’s easy to see 3 different types of stone here.

After this, I decided to check out one of the islands in the Oslo bay area. I went with Hovedøya, the one that the past day had the most people in line, and the sign with a two sentence description said it was a good recreation and beach area.

There was also a monastery ruin, which is part of where some of the different stones for the fortress came from.

Just free to wander around as you please
Just free to wander around as you please

Going over a hill on the path to the beach and I heard some weird noise, get to the top and see these lovelies staring back at me.

 

Apparently used for mowing that area
Apparently used for mowing that area

I wasn’t properly prepared though. Everyone else that went over was ready with lunch/snacks and beach gear. People were carrying foam mats, which made more sense when I saw that they would simply lay on the hard rocks. I grabbed a bench and did a little reading before ending up hungry and heading back. I took the ferry that made stops at some of the other islands, just to get a mini sight seeing trip out of it.

After grabbing lunch, I did a bit of shopping. I had a mission when I went to Norway to come home with some Comfy Balls Boxers, and so needed to find those. I heard of them through the Norwegian Curling Team, Team Ulsrud. They did a hilarious commercial for them, which I have to link even though I’m sure no one else will find it as funny as I did. Anyways, mission accomplished. No other shopping needed here where everything is so expensive.

My next task was finding some food for dinner and for my next days lunch, as I planned to go back to the beach, this time better prepared (including sunscreen). Grocery shopping in a country that speaks a different language will never be a simple task. Perhaps it would be less difficult if I wouldn’t end up sick if I ate the wrong things. So far, meat, cheese and crackers have been my go-to snack, once I found GF crackers.

Day 15

Pretty much the same activities as yesterday, just in the reverse order. That and the castle at the fortress was to be open, so I went back. I will never understand why displays which contain chronological information are presented out of order. Makes it rather difficult to follow. Oh well.

Turns out this castle ran into the same problem as most castles/churches/towns and burned down a few times. That’s part of the reason for the many materials. The other is that it went through many different uses over time and fixes/improvements were done and no one bothered to care what they were using to build the walls so long as they stood.

This is the fortress where Norway was overtaken by the Nazis in 1940 at the beginning of the German Occupation of Norway. Luckily, they managed to sink a ship which held off the Germans long enough to allow the King to escape.

Castle Pictures:

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Beach pictures:

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Then I went back to my hostel, grabbed my stuff, and headed to the boat I was taking to Copenhagen.

The boat was like a mini-cruise ship. I did some laundry quickly, grabbed dinner, wandered around, watched the scenery, and then was bored. So I went off to grab a drink. I ended up running into some ladies that were heading to Copenhagen for the day as a girls night/weekend trip. I ended up spending the rest of my evening with them, which was quite fun! The Thursday night trip must not be the party trip though, because pretty much all the bars and club were empty, and there was a lot of them.

Day 16

Off the boat with my clothes that apparently do not all dry in 12 hours (sad). The ferry terminal in Copenhagen is not quite in the city. They provide a bus that brings you to the city center, which being that my hostel was by the train station, I figured was good enough. Well, at least I got a lot of walking in. It’s always tough to find your way around a new city. Usually it takes me a couple times walking around, then I’ve totally got it, but that’s never when you’re also carrying all your things.

So I dropped my stuff off at my hostel (too early for check-in) and headed to the tourist information, then the store to grab lunch, and then to a park to grab a spot in the shade.

This is where I learn how to get around the city. After lunch I spent some time looking through the materials I picked up and at the map and planned all the things I wanted to see, and came up with a plan of attack.

After everything was all decided, I headed back to the hostel and got settled. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to just do nothing at the hostel, so I decided to check out Nyhavn (pronounced like na-haown, I’ll never really figure it out though). It was packed as it was happy hour/dinner time on a Friday, so I grabbed some ice cream (yes, for dinner) and grabbed a seat on the side of the canal to watch the world go by.

IMG_3285kobenhavn

This happens to be where the most commonly seen picture of Copenhagen was taken. Looks just like it too.

I gave up after not too long and hopped the bus back home. I am learning that two showers a day will probably be the norm for me this trip, especially if it’s going to stay in the 30’s (90’s for us Americans – I had to learn Celsius or I sound crazy).


Day 14

Steps: 22,875

Floors: 35

Day 15

Steps: 20,260

Floors: 87 (lots of stairs on that ferry boat!)

Day 16

Steps: 18,485

Floors: 23

 

Days 9 and 10 – Sognefjord, Bøyabreen Glacier, and more Bergen

Day 8

We took the Sognefjord Tour, which starts in Bergen and travels from the ocean side in on the Sognefjord. This is the same fjord which has a small inland end at Flåm. We took an express boat from Bergen, which also functions as a ferry, but only for people and stuff, no cars or anything like that. It stops at a lot of towns, but not all of them. Riding in this boat is, as my mom describes it “like being in your living room.” It is an extremely smooth ride and there’s plenty of space. But really, you’re flying through the water. No idea how fast they actually go, but it’s quick.

We spent around 4 hours on this boat, to get off at Balestrand, to get immediately onto another, smaller, boat. This boat took us to Fjærland, which is the town closest to the glacier. We jumped onto a bus that was waiting, and had a brief stop at the glacier museum, before heading out to the glacier. I thought they were joking when they said the glacier was close to town, but it’s no more than a 15 minute drive.

IMG_3224

As you can see, it’s quite a pretty place. The glacier seen here is the Bøyabreen Glacier, which is part of the largest glacier on the European continent, the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. The Bøyabreen Glacier used to extend a lot farther than it does today (even 200 years ago it was essentially in the town). There are so many cool things that I learned about glaciers at the museum that I want to share, but that’s a lot of brain dump and I’m sure not interesting to anyone else. If it is, you’ll just have to make a Norway trip.

We then repeated the sequence to get there, in reverse, to get home. Sadly, we didn’t get to spend any time in any of the towns we stopped in.

Day 9

We spent our final day in Bergen wandering around and looking at the museums we didn’t get to on the previous day in town.

This included a new Fisheries Museum, which was interesting, but could have had SO much more information. Fishing has been and still is a HUGE part of Norway’s economy and I know there’s more information out there than the tiny bit in the museum. The cool part though was that the museum was in an old fish warehouse, similar to the Hanseatic League museum.

Then we went to the Maritime Museum. This had a lot of cool information about ships from the viking age to the modern. However, it was under construction and therefore lacking a lot of information, particularly in English. This could be great to see in a couple years when it is back up and running like normal.

We made it over to the Leprosy Museum for our final stop of the day. This museum is in what used to be the Hospital. This hospital was built specifically to house lepers, when that’s what happened to people. The hospital used to be in the boonies, but is now located right in the city center area. Interesting to see, but didn’t end up covering a whole lot that I didn’t know from the book Moloka’i which I read a bit back. See the link for more info.

After that, it was time for some laundry. I was lucky enough that our Airbnb host agreed to let me do a load of laundry. However, in my poor planning, I did not do this early enough. I forget that Europe seems to not use dryers at all. So not all my clothes were dry by morning. Oops. Lesson learned.


Day 8

Steps: 7093 (lots of boat sitting)

Floors: 17

Day 9

Steps: 16,670

Floors: 40

Packing for my Europe Trip

Let me start by saying this is going to be a long post. There’s lots of fun stuff in here (at least to me, so sorry for everyone else who doesn’t think packing is fun). I’m heading to Europe in 3 days, and I’ll be gone for 66 days. My itinerary was detailed previously here.

I decided I should pack a couple days before I leave, to make sure everything actually fits. I’m a very classic “well, maybe I need this” type packer. Usually this isn’t a problem because I’m packing in a carry on for a weekend. This time, I’m packing in a carry on for 2 months. This is something I’ve never done before.

To get started, I read lots and lots of blogs that I found from pinterest. I’m wishing now that I’d actually pinned a couple of them along the way instead of just looking so I could direct you to much better lists than mine. When I was reading, I thought people were crazy for being able to pack in 30L bags; now that I’m done, I realize if I wasn’t diabetic, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Everything

I’m using an Ospry Porter 46 as my main bag. My coworker offered to loan me one, and once I saw it, I knew I had to have one. The upside is the newer bag I bought (2015 version) has an awesome space for laptops and other small bits in the front that previous versions were missing. It took me many many stores to find someone that had this bag in stock, so I’m sure I’ll see many other on my trip.

My shoulder bag/purse is a North Face bag that I found at Marshalls. I saw it and was in love. No idea what it is any more. I’ve been using this as my purse for the past couple months at home and am pretty sure it will serve me well on my trip. The purple insulin cooling thing will be going into my carry on (it functions best with air circulation).

Now on to what I’ve managed to fit into these bags. It will be interesting to see what I come back with in comparison to what I’m packing now, so I want to be sure to document what I’ve packed.

Let’s start with the easy things. This is my travel outfit. Going with the “wear your largest items” idea.

Travel Clothes

  • Sweatshirt (An oldie but goodie, won’t be too sad if it goes missing)
  • Maxi dress
  • Scarf (it’s solid grey on the reverse side)
  • Tennis Shoes (I hope to run while I’m gone and was told by enough people I need to bring them for walking around, we will see about that as I go)
  • A set of underthings

Purse

Lots of good things in this bag. I wanted to call it a carry-on, but everything is a carry on this trip. Some things have numbers, the others are too obvious to need them. Roughly listed left to right, top to bottom.

  • Book (From a little free library near me, to be returned to one abroad. Or some other book exchange.)
  • Headphones (yes, they are giant. I figure worth it for good sound and noise cancelling-ish.)
  • The small bag packed previously with back up diabetes supplies (1)
  • Meter with extra lancets (2)
  • Lip Balm (3)
  • Padlock (3) (I’m also locking my bag, but that’s too flimsy for a communal locker space)
  • Honey Stinger (3) (delicious fast acting sugar that’s easy to carry)
  • Mini Moleskin books (4) (for on the go notes, handing things to people, etc.)
  • Camera
  • Wallet (this one isn’t coming with me, but one will be)
  • Moleskin journal (with pre-trip notes, also intended to be used as a trip journal)
  • Item 5
    • Pens
    • Eyeliner
    • Mascara (those two items are it for make-up for me)
    • Mini mag light flashlight (I’ve heard I’ll need this, it’s small so I may as well bring it)
    • Body Glide (never know when you’ll need it, nice to have on hand)
  • A small coin purse (6) (I use this for money in places that use a lot of coins – pretty much everywhere but the US).
  • A shopping bag (7)
  • Baby wipes (8) (Good for showers without a shower, cleaning up messes… lots of things)
  • Sun Glasses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Travel Wallet
    • Passport
    • EuRail Pass
    • Hostel International Membership Card

This makes for a pretty full bag, but that’s okay.

Now moving on to the main bag. This is what’s in the outside pockets, one at the top and the front pockets.

Outer Pockets

Left Picture:

  • Swim Suit (1) (packed on the outside because stop number one is the Blue Lagoon)
  • Computer (2) (a light ultra book)
  • Empty Envelopes (3) (to keep all the things I want to keep from places I visit)
  • Grid it organizer (4)
    • Fitbit charger
    • Travel power charger and travel power thingy
    • iPhone charger cable
    • Camera charger
    • Wall connector (this one is from Apple, with changeable connectors that I’ve had for a while. Everything uses USB power, so I’m only bringing this one wall charger)
    • Computer charger
    • Plug converter (you can’t see this because it’s grey, it’s only for my computer charger)
  • Printed prescriptions (5)
  • Printed copies of the celiac cards I talked about here (6)
  • My toiletry bag (7)
  • Randoms (8)
    • Deoderant
    • Comb
    • Pepto container (with pepto and ibuprofen inside)
    • Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss
    • Stick sunscreen

And on the right is the contents of the toiletry bag (a small sea to summit bag).

  • Bandaids of many sizes (1)
  • Q-tips (2)
  • Mirror and rubber band (2) (rubber band for using the hanging hook with things that are too-big for it to fit on – which is almost every thing)
  • Nail things and razor (3)
  • Moleskin (4) (can you tell I’m worried about blisters?)
  • Antiperspirant (5)
  • Other Drugs (6)
    • Decongestant
    • Antihistamine
    • Imodium
    • (All things I hope to not need)
  • Shampoo and Conditioner (7)
  • Bag and Ziploc for liquids and TSA (8)
  • Other liquids (9) (All GoToobs – can someone explain why the orange one is bigger than the rest when they say the same size?)
    • Face lotion (orange)
    • Face wash (clear)
    • All purpose soap (green) (for laundry)

And finally, what I’ve got in the main part of the bag. Most things are packed inside packing cubes, but there are a few pockets on the inside of the bag as well.

Main Pocket

  • Blue ebags – previously packed diabetes supplies
  • Shoes:
    • Flip flops for showers
    • Black Toms
    • Birkenstock Sandals
  • Rain Jacket (1)
  • Travel Towel (1)
  • PJs (2) (consisting mainly of work out clothes for quick drying)
  • Sink Stopper (3)
  • Elastic clothes line (3)
  • Flip Belt (4) (for running and perhaps hiding things under my clothes)
  • Pink Medium ebag packing cube (I thought I would be using multiple of these, oh was I wrong)
    • 1 pair jeans
    • 1 pair leggings
    • 1 pair shorts
    • 1 knee length black skirt
    • 1 black tank dress
    • 1 bright pink tank dress (need to have something other than black!)
    • Extra bra
  • Grey small packing cubes
    • A
      • 8 underwear (wayyyyy too many to most light packing people, I know)
      • 4 pairs socks (also probably too many, but most are cotton and will be slow to dry)
      • Work out clothes
        • 1 t-shirt
        • 1 pair capris
        • 1 sports bra
        • 1 headband
    • B
      • 2 tank tops (1 cotton, 1 tech fabric)
      • 1 t-shirt (cotton)
      • 1 extra bag for dirty clothes
      • (this bag isn’t full, space for fun things I buy on my trip!)
    • C
      • 2 long sleeves (1 cotton, 1 smartwool)
      • 2 3/4 sleeves (1 cotton, 1 tech fabric)
      • 2 t-shirts (1 cotton, 1 tech fabric)

I’ve got a mix of tech fabrics and cotton because I wasn’t going to buy all new things, and don’t want to look like I’m totally walking around in exercise clothes. We will see what I think about this as I go.

I layered all the things into my bag, and took pictures to show you in case you don’t believe this would all fit in the bag!

PackingEuro2015

Diabetes things took up a lot of space. It will be interesting to me to see if I replace all the things I use on the way with new purchases. I’ve got a couple items in my bag that I don’t intend to keep for the entire trip (they are on the end of life and will get tossed most likely… too used for anyone else to ever want).

I am sure everyone will be able to identify everything I’ve packed pretty quickly and will probably recognize the new items I pick up :).

I’ll toss up links to some of the items I bought specifically for this trip as I determine if I actually like them. No point in sending you to “my favorite item” unless it’s actually my favorite! For things not bought for this trip, chances of me finding a link are probably zero so I hope no one is lusting after them.

Whew! I’m impressed if you made it all the way here!

Custom Maps and Where I’m Going

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here. That’s because I’ve been busy doing all sorts of other things online and not online. A lot of those things have been trip planning activities, thankfully. One of the most fun/makes it seem like I’m really leaving/useful activities has been putting everything I want to do and see onto maps. I found this awesome tutorial on Pinterest and it is super amazing. I just wanted everyone to be able to check it out, so I’m linking it here. Obviously I have no stake in posting this here other than hoping you’ll love it as much as I do.

 

Source: How to Create a Custom Travel Map with Google Maps {New Google My Maps Tutorial} | Kevin & Amanda | Food & Travel Blog

I haven’t nosed around the rest of the blog too much yet, as once I got into map making, I got a tad carried away.

On that note, if anyone has suggestions of things I need/must/really should do in the following cities, leave me a comment! I’m still looking for more ideas.

  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Bruges, Belgium
  • Paris, France (this one might already be packed enough with activities)
  • Lyon, France
  • The south of France (Nice is where I’m thinking of staying)
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Lisbon, Portugal

I’m also up for day trips from the cities listed to awesome places near by! This gives you a rough idea of where I’ll be heading and all the fun places I’ll be updating you about over the next couple months.

I would love any restaurant suggestions as I really don’t trust a ton out of travel books as restaurants change so quickly and lots of my books were a couple years old.

The start to an amazing trip

So I’ve bought the plane tickets, and my EURail pass came in the mail last week. I guess I really am taking this trip.

The most noticeable thing that would tell someone I am taking a backpacking trip through Europe is that I have ordered an INSANE number of different packs and packing accessories. I believe I’ve ordered 3 different bags, and been loaned one by a coworker. I currently have 3 in my room, having returned one knowing it was way too large to actually carry around with me.

I’ve been debating how much space I really need. The biggest struggle is I’m not willing to give up all my awesome diabetes things while I’m gone. I packed up what I will need for the time I’m gone, and man does it take a lot of space. The upside is I’m guaranteed to have more space as the trip progresses! I packed these supplies up on April 7th, and will be using only supplies from those bags until June 7th, to see how many of them I actually use, and what a reasonable number of extras will be.

So far it’s the bags, and some packing cubes (which I haven’t used before), a new shirt, a new skirt, new all black toms (perfect travel shoes), a travel lock, a holder for all my electronics, a new day bag/purse (which I’m also currently using as my purse). I’m trying to make sure the things I bring are things I’ve already broken in and really do like, but are well enough made to stand up to two months of continuous use. We will see how many more things I end up getting before I go. I luckily already have a lot of really good travel things, just not ones designed for packing lightly.

Up next on my to-do list is picking hotels in Reykjavik and Bergen and book some tours in both places. In fact, that’s what I was supposed to be doing now, instead of updating this lovely blog. Oops.

Roller Coaster!

Baby Rollercoaster
Baby Rollercoaster

It certainly was nice to see this shortly after breakfast this morning (that second little hill in there). I definitely guessed wrong about the insulin:food:exercise ratio last night and it showed. I was of course hungry after training, and ate a part healthy post work out snack, and a part treat. It probably didn’t help that I ended up low during training. I thought I got the insulin right to cover all of the carbs, so I set a temp basal as I went to sleep. WRONG. My pump woke me up because I was above target (yes, I have my high limit set quite high right now). Ah well, life will go on.

And on it went. I apparently decided that I didn’t really need to change my infusion set this morning, nor did I need to bring extra insulin with me to work (I don’t usually carry any, work is close). So I ran out of insulin near the end of the day. Did you know that there’s probably 20 units left after your pump says empty? At least that’s true for mine. I should probably stop relying on that so much though. Running it all the way dry is definitely not a good idea.

I hope everyone had a good Saint Patrick’s day. I’m not one to hugely celebrate (I save that for other things, like this weekend at the Duluth House of Hearts curling fundraiser, more on that later). My boyfriend and I decided that a Costco trip on St. Patty’s day is a good choice. We’re hoping that everyone else is out celebrating and the place will be empty. Who doesn’t love a good Costco date night?? Even the Bachelor went on one this season. If only I could find those blow up balls and some kids to push us around.