Saturday, October 13, 2018

Akershus Fortress, Oslo, Norway

Akershus Fortree from the Deck of the Cruse Ship
 Our departure from Oslo was going to be late, which gave Ray and me some time to explore Akerhaus Fortress.  We could easily walk there because our ship docked right beside the fortress.  There is no entry fee to visit the fortress, but we did pay about five dollars to visit the Resistance Museum which was one of the buildings inside the fortress.  The museum closed at 4:00, which gave us time to see most of the exhibits, but we could have spent a lot more time there.  There were other buildings in the fortress that we will have to visit our next time we are in Oslo.

The Akerhaus Fortress has a 700 year old history.  It was built as protection from a Swedish earl who attacked it in 1363.  The attack was unsuccessful, and Akerhaus Fortress became a stronghold in Oslo.  I lost count on how many times the castle has been besieged, but in those many times, it was never conquered by a foreign country.  It did did surrender without combat to Nazi Germany and was under Nazi control from 1940-1945.  The Germans used it as a military headquarters, prison and and also a place of execution.  There were many who resisted and at the end of the war, a memorial was built to honor them and later this amazing Norwegian Resistance Museum was built.  I am glad we chose this museum to visit.  It was sad, in many parts, but that sadness made me realize the importance of resistance, and how difficult it can be.

This is the memorial for those in the resistance.

I am going to show you a picture of the part of Akerhaus that we saw.  The one with the toilet paper was the most difficult for me to grasp.  The human spirit in such dire times and such horrible conditions was a large part of the success the end of the war.

This is the toilet paper that was the diary of Petter Moen.  He would prick letters in the toilet and stuff the sheets of toilet paper in a ventilating shaft.  I found this heart wrenching as I pictured the difficulty he must have had punching holes to form letters, to form words.  He did not know if this diary would ever be found, and yet he documented what life was like as a prisoner of the Gestapo.  He never lived to know that his story is now part of our history.

Toilet Paper Diary

               Here is a closer view of the toilet paper.  The letters and words are easier to see.

These are rifles with bayonets that the Nazi's used while occupying Norway.   There is a letter stuck onto one bayonet that we think the resisters put there as protest for what the letter says.  There was a sign that said the rifles were put together in the shape of a swastika, but neither one of us could see the shape.

                                            Here is the note.  I translated it the best I could.

Translation:  (I did translate a lot of this on my own, but I do thank, Google Translate to make my words make sense.)

The Reich's government asks the Royal Norwegian government to immediately take the following measures.
     1.)  Call on the government to the people and the Wehrmacht to refrain from any resistance against the German troops in the occupation of the country.
     2.)  Order to the Norwegian Wehrmacht to (?? This is where the bayonet goes through the letter.)  with the incoming troops and to make the necessary arrangements for loyal cooperation to German commanders.  The Norwegian troops are left in possession of their weapons as far as their behavior allows.
           As a sign of the willingness to cooperate, the white flags of the parliament are to be shown next to the national flag on the military installations to approaching German troops.

We did not have time to visit the former living quarters of one of the Royal family (Princess Margaret of Denmark lived there in 1363 when she married Haakon the Sixth.).  There was also a church that we did not get to visit.  This is why I hope we make it back to Oslo.  There was so much in this one fortress that we would like to see.

This is one of the gates in the fortress.

This walk through a small tunnel took us to another part of the fortress.

This is a small tower and a cannon.
I don't know if these are the original cannons, but they looked cool and had pock marks on them from what I think are battle scars.

Damage from bullets or shrapnel.

This is damage from bullets or shrapnel.
His Majesty the King's Guard is responsible for guarding the fortress.
It was night time when our ship sailed to our next destination.  Akershus Fortress was a beautiful sight.  It seemed to glow in the night.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Hoppin' Oslo

The first port on our Baltic cruise was Oslo, Norway.  I had visited Oslo one other time when I was a teenager and the Chapel Choir from Monroe Street United Methodist Church toured Scandinavia. What I remember most about that Oslo trip is that I got lost.  I had left my guitar in the hotel, went back to get it for rehearsal at the church where we were performing that evening.  I won't go into the whole story about how I got lost and what happened, but I finally found my way to the church.  Actually, I think (at a later time) that might make a good blog entry.

This trip was a busy one.  We (Linda, Ray and I) hopped on a "Hop On Hop Off" bus to take us to some of the key places.  We should have taken the advice of some of the reviews about doing this.  The loop was a long one and we got a later start than we intended.  We were given ear buds to use with a recording of all of the places we passed, or where we stopped.  The recording was off a couple of stops, so when we wanted to get off stop 7 to see "The Scream" we realized that it was really stop 5.  We would have no time to go through the loop and then get back in time.  So, we just stayed on the bus and listened to the recording telling us about places we had already passed.

Edward Munch created four versions in paint and pastels of The Scream.  One is in the National Gallery and another is in the Munch Museum.  We we did not get to go to either.

The Scream by Edward Munch.

Another reason we did not get off the bus, was because the traffic patterns were changed a bit because it was also the 50th Wedding Anniversary of the King and Queen.  They were celebrating and some of the roads were closed.  We did not get to see them either, but here is a picture.

King Harald and Queen Sonja

We got to see a lot of the city from the bus and this is a great mode of transportation while visiting cities that have such buses.  It was our fault that we did not start earlier and that we did not have a good plan for the day.  I do not fault the Hop On, Hop Off bus for that.  I do wish that their recording numbers matched the stops.  Here are a few places we did see.

University Aula

Norwegian Capital, Parliament 

Since this was our first port, we did not have our timing down yet.  We probably could have taken the bus for another loop, but we worried about being left in Oslo,when the ship left.  It wasn't until we got back, that we realized that the ship was leaving late, like 11:00 at night.  Oh well, Linda was having major pain from the sciatica (and the bus was bouncy which aggravated the sciatica) and my leg was still bothering me, so walking around and standing in lines at museums, would have slowed any healing we had hoped to have and been quite painful.

                                                     Here are a couple more pictures.

Grand Hotel

And, of course,  A McDonald's 

When we boarded the ship, Ray and I explored the decks.  We had been on this same ship on a different cruise.  While standing on the ship's deck, I was fascinated by this fortress that was right next to our ship.  We could see inside, from our view and noticed that it was opened for people to tour.  Ray and I disembarked the ship again, crossed the street and took the steps into the fortress.  The next blog post will be about this amazing fortress.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


Finally, we landed at Copenhagen!  It was pouring rain, but at least we did not have to walk on the tarmac to get into the airport.  We were tired and hungry and just wanted to get our luggage and get to The Hotel Copenhagen.  Linda's friend, Roberta, happened to be visiting at the same time and we were able to get reservations at the same place so we could visit before she headed to Berlin the next morning and we to our cruise.

If I have any suggestions for the airport in Copenhagen, it is to have just a tad bit better signage; like maybe when the route to baggage claim took us through what looked like a store.  Arrows on the floor would have been a great help.  We found baggage claim with only one wrong turn and felt quite satisfied with ourselves.  I pulled our suitcase from the carousel as Ray grabbed Linda's suitcase. Our poor suitcase looked like it had been crying, or sitting out in the rain waiting for the other luggage.  It was soaked.  We realized that Linda's suitcase had a broken wheel when it fell with a loud bang onto Linda's toe.

Broken Wheel on Linda's Suitcase 

We were determined not to let the broken suitcase hinder us, even though as we walked to the taxi line, the suitcase tried to maneuver itself knocking into other travelers and nearly missing a number of display cases.  Our taxi ride to the hotel was uneventful and we were quite relieved to get to The Hotel Copenhagen.

What do I say about The Hotel Copenhagen?   It was clean.  It was like an upscale hostel.  We shared a bathroom and shower with other people on our floor.  I know a lot of hotels in Europe are like this, but we always make sure we have private bathrooms.  But, this was for just a night and it was really no big deal.  We were happy with a clean bed after the nightmare of our flight. Fake News!! Extra Toe Territory

The Hotel Copenhagen is on the right where the red is.  The streets are narrow because it is in the older part of the city.  In fact it was a great location to walk to places .

This is a better picture of the Hotel Copenhagen

The rooms are small and the elevator was small.  The bathroom and  the shower were in separate rooms and both of those rooms were roomy and clean.  Everything was clean.  The only negative I would have for this hotel is that it is not a good place for people with mobility problems.  There were too many small unmarked steps in unexpected places.  A big plus was that there was free WiFi that worked well.

Ray is walking into the elevator.  Once the door is closed and a floor is picked, and accordion like door shuts.  Watch out or it will pinch you!

Sign on door telling us the limit was four people. Ray commented that it must be a special elevator if gods use it too.
Our room did have a sink and towels.

This was our small room.  The beds were nicely made when we arrived.  As you can see, small but clean.

Here is a video of Ray getting (well almost) caught in the elevator door.

If you could not open the video, you can see it on YouTube at this link Ray and hidden accordion elevator door

One of the best perks of staying at the Hotel Copenhagen was the little bakery at the corner.   I had been waiting to get some good Danish pastry and this place was superb.  We had breakfast there and also bought some pastry to take with us on the ship.

Morell's Bakery

We had a nice visit with Roberta at a Japanese restaurant, Hatoba Islands, a few (well  more than a few) blocks away.  It was pouring rain at times but we were able to get there between the rain bursts.

Inside the Hatoba Islands Restaurant

 I was glad that Linda and Roberta had some time to catch up on news. We sat and chatted after dinner. It had rained most of the time we were eating and when it stopped Ray took a stroll to take some pictures.  I liked this one with the rainbow.

 We took a taxi back to the hotel because Linda's sciatica had flared up from being so cramped on the plane, and my knee( that I had wrenched a few days before we left) was reminding me that it needed to rest.  We knew that we would be returning to Copenhagen after the cruise, so we spent a quiet evening and got some welcomed sleep.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Ray and I and Linda are finally on our trip to Sweden by way of a cruise from Copenhagen to St. Petersburg.  After our cruise we will travel to Sweden for a few days to hopefully, find more information about our ancestors.

I will start with our flight to Copenhagen.  Every trip has a few surprises and ours began with one.  We flew Icelandair to Copenhagen from O'Hare, Chicago.  We were so  lucky to have Becky drive us there so that we did not have to take the shuttle.  Feeling quite smug about the ease of being let off at the correct door and getting our boarding passes, we leisurely walked to our gate.  We had enough time to have dinner and looked forward to napping on the plane since it was going to be a long over night flight; six hours to Reykjavik, Iceland and then a couple more hours to Copenhagen.

We boarded the plane. It was small, three seats on each side of one aisle. They gave us a bottle of water. We found our seats (all three together), each with a blanket and piece of foam with a flimsy, gauze-like pillow case. We had one carry on that Ray put above and then he slipped into the window seat.  I was next, picking up the blanket and pillow, and then Linda sat in the aisle seat.  I had made sure to get us seats with extra leg room because Linda has inherited the Haworth hip and leg ailment and needs to stand up and walk more than I.

I first realized that there might be a problem when my back pack would not fit under the seat in front of me.  Hmmmmm.... I have never had this problem on other flights I have taken, even when there are only two seats on one side that have a smaller space.  I realized that there was some sort of bar hanging down which blocked my back pack.  Ray and Linda had space under their seats.  I managed to turn it sideways and squash it in so that half of it was under the seat, and yet, half was sticking out.  I was waiting for the flight attendant to tell me that it could not be sticking out, but no one seemed to care.

Next, what do we do with the blanket and pillow?  It was warm in the cabin and there was no need for a blanket. It was about then, that I realized that there was no space to put them.  Poor Ray ended up using my pillow as part of an arm rest, and we each just held the blankets.  I began feeling guilty as I was the one who got the plane tickets and assured Linda and Ray that I had only heard good things about Icelandair and that it was the shortest flight with a short lay over.  I had assumed that there would be more room since it was an international flight, and since we got seats that had extra legroom.  As you can see from the picture, there was not much legroom, but the sign behind my head assured me that there was.

This was the legroom for Ray on our flight from Reykjavik.  His pack would not go under the seat,

This was my legroom the whole two flights.

This was our seat, and my toes did not feel like they had extra territory.

I have been on many international flights and this was the worst one I have ever flown.  (That counts the time we flew to Paris and the air conditioning broke and I had sweat dripping down my back.)  We saw the flight attendant only a few times, once to check our seat belts, another to offer us a drink (but having a full bottle of water, with no place to store it, we decided it best to not get another drink), and then the last time we saw a flight attendant was at the end of the flight when we were offered a half a glass of orange juice.  I know we could have called an attendant, but usually during a flight we see them walking the aisle checking on people.  It was like they disappeared until the flight was almost to Reykjavik.

Linda and I pried ourselves out of our seats a few times to walk, but it took so much effort to move all of our stuff. Poor Ray was the receiver of the blankets and jackets.  We could barely see his head peaking over the top of our stuff.

When we landed in Reykjavik we went through customs with little problem.  We just needed to orient ourselves and follow the signs.  We then went to our next gate and waited a short time to board the next flight which would only be a little over two hours long.  We boarded a shuttle and boarded the plane in the pouring rain.  We were almost the last to board because there had been no announcement in the airport telling us that the plane was boarding.  There was no system, like having certain rows load first.  Everyone just became part of a long line that snaked at least 40 yards (I was going to say three football fields, but Ray said that was too much of an exaggeration). We finally crammed ourselves into our seats and were ready to get to Copenhagen.

Of course, we were hungry, too.  There had been no time to catch a snack at the Reykjavik airport, and there had been no snacks (not even pretzels) on the long overseas flight.  We decided to buy a snack.  Linda and I got Pringles and each a different kind of candy bar.  Ray got hummus and crackers.  We had wanted to go for something healthier like Ray, but we had already seen someone's hummus and it did not look good.  You be the judge. ( Oh how I was missing Sidon's Hummus and Pita.)

The hummus had no flavor and was dry, but Ray ate it anyway.  The amount of hummus would fill about half a shot glass.

Here is my candy bar.  In the picture it looked like it was dark chocolate surrounded by milk chocolate.  When I opened it, I realized that I should have remembered that one of  Iceland's treats is chocolate covered black licorice.  You can see from the picture that I did nibble the licorice.  I really tried to be open minded about it, especially since I was really hungry.  But I just couldn't eat it.  Ray usually eats what I don't like, but this time he passed.

I will stop here, because this is getting long.  Please, know that the rest of our trip has not been a disaster, but the first day, on Icelandair, we were hoping it was not a sign of things to come.

Copenhagen:  Our first stop will be next.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Overwhelming Aromas of Shopping

I found this picture on line.  It kind of give the feeling of how fast I was
walking.  Well, not that fast.  :-)
Yesterday I experienced something that I am sure a few of you have experienced as well.  It all started at the produce department at the grocery store.  I had picked out my organic, onions, broccoli and tomatoes and was heading down the bakery aisle to see if there might be some interesting bread.  The bakery department is located next to the fish area.  I never go to the end of the aisle there because the smell of fish is disgusting.

 I take a stroll down the wine aisle and notice a woman zipping toward me.  As she passed me, I caught a whiff of a quite an unpleasant odor.  The miasma of a fresh fart filled the wine aisle.  No wonder she was walking at such a brisk pace.  I bet she let one go not far from me and did not realize that the stench was following her.  Moving quickly toward the next aisle I could not help but visualize the vaporous aura following her.  It looked like minuscule brown droplets swirling around her.

As I am walking down the next aisle, I see her again.  She is coming right at me.  We pass again and again I smell the reeking stench of flatulence.  Why is she doing this?  Maybe she can not help it.  Maybe she has a medical condition. I have convinced myself that this poor woman is not well, and that I was too quick to judge.  I decided to skip a few aisles though, so that our paths would not cross.  This woman must have had the same thoughts because she met me at the pasta aisle.  I managed to smile and nod as I held my breath.

I skipped a couple more aisles.  My focus was getting away from this woman and I had forgotten what other items I needed to buy.  When we met again in the cereal aisle, I began to wonder if I was being stalked by her.  Every time I tried a new route, she would be in there, always with the fart smell.  It became so bad that even when she was not near me, I could detect her gaseous emissions.  The best solution for me was to go through check out and leave.  She was no where to be seen but I knew she was near. The odor was still wafting past me.

Out the door, fresh air! Free at last! Free at last!  The most disconcerting part to me was the feeling of being followed.  Even when I could not see her I could smell her presence.  Was this just a big joke for her?  I got to my car and headed home.  My imagination was getting the best of me because I could still smell her noxious gasses.  I knew she had not followed me home, but the odor just clung to me.

And then I wondered??  Maybe it was not her!  Maybe the odor was not someone breaking wind in the grocery store aisles.  Maybe it is ME!  I did a smell check and came out okay.  Later that day, opening the refrigerator for some water, I was hit with the worse fart smell ever.  Was it something that I bought?  Had my grocery cart carried something that reeked of someone letting one rip that I had blamed on some poor woman who happened to pass me in the aisle?  I did the sniff test and found the culprit.  The broccoli almost knocked me over, even in its plastic container.  Just one small piece of broccoli was spoiled, but created such a horrid odor.  The borccoli was sent to the porch while I cleaned the rest of the refrigerator shelves because I swore the odor had found a home inside.

The lesson I learned from this is to not automatically think someone else has caused a problem when it could very well be me....or my broccoli.  At least I have a fresh, clean refrigerator and the broccoli has found its new home outside in the garbage bin.

Here is the broccoli in its new home.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

In Memoriam of Our Fur Family Members

It has been a bad five months for pets in our family.  In fact, it has been a sucky year.  Anyone who has had a pet and watched it die, knows how horrid and gut wrenching it is.  Pets are our family.  They give us unconditional love.  They listen and don't tell.  They are happy to see you arrive home.  Well, sometimes cats like to be aloof, but those of you who have cats, know that their ways of showing love is a bit different than dogs.  Of course, if you have a pet, I am not telling you anything you don't know.

Ari and Sarah
It started at the beginning of March.  Linda's brother-in-law (I think of him as mine, too.  We are a close and blended family.) lost his cat Sarah.  I met Sarah a number of times because Sarah and her brother, Ari, (a golden lab) would travel across the country with Danny.  He lives in Eugene with most of his family in Ohio.  Sarah was a visiting cat in Birmingham that Danny got permission to adopt.  When they stopped by my sister's, Sarah was the perfect guest (as well as Ari) and played well with Linda's kitty, Amelia.  We miss Sarah.

At the end of March little Poppy died.  Poppy was a sweet Puggle, half pug and half beagle.  It was Thanksgiving 2004 that Poppy joined our family.  I had found someone who bred puggles and told Maggie.  The puppy would be ready for a home when we celebrated Thanksgiving.  This was Maggie's first dog and oh how she loved Poppy.  Poppy got twice as much love after Maggie married Mike.  They took Poppy everywhere, camping, hiking and bike riding.  Linda had gotten Poppy a small cart to attach to a bicycle and so she was able to enjoy being with Maggie and Mike while they rode the bike trails.  The one thing Poppy did not like was the opossum that wanted to take residence in their yard.  Maggie would always have to check to see if the opossum was in the yard before letting Poppy out.  We miss you, Poppy.

Abby and Beau
In June, my nephew's dog, Beau, died.  Beau was a rescue dog and joined the family as an adult.  He was the protector of the family, especially my niece, Abby.  They were such good buddies.  I don't know how old Beau was, but my guess is that he was around 12 or 13.  He had a long and good life for an English Bulldog.  I think the pictures will show his attachment to Abby and the family. We miss you, Beau.


At the end of June, my great niece, BreAnn and her brothers, Lukas, Dalton and Ethan lost their dog Stewy.  I don't know how old Stewy was, but he was the family dog when she was still in school.  She found him on line and convinced her parents to buy him.  It was a great decision.  He brought lots of laughs and love to everyone.


To make a sad week even sadder, the cat, Pouncy, who lived where BreAnn worked, died.  Pouncy was one of those cats that a business loves having because he was friendly to everyone and people would always check in to visit Pouncy.  This is just too sad.  We miss you Stu and Pouncy.


In July, my nephew's other dog, Spike died. He was 12 years old.  Nathan and LeeAnne got Spike as a puppy.  My mother drove with them to someplace in Michigan to get him.  She always talked about how he was just a little ball with a cute face looking at her as they drove home.  Spike loved everyone and loved to greet us with a warm, wet (very wet) lick, preferably on the face.  I remember one Thanksgiving (our house was where we gathered for Thanksgiving) Beau found Rosie.  Rosie was the bear that Audrey had created at a visit to Build a Bear the day before.  Spike was having a great time tossing little Rosie into the air, catching her and then shaking her with his wet slobbery mouth.  Audrey was such a little girl then, and was was mortified.  Nathan managed to rescue Rosie and after a trip through the dryer, Rosie was fine.  Spike also drove to Pennsylvania with LeeAnne, to keep her company at her new job.  He made being separated from the family a little easier.  We miss you Spike.
Pretty Amelia

And then, last night, Linda sent me a text.  I was expecting it but did not want it to be true.  Her little grey princess kitty, Amelia, died.  Linda had planned to go to her Pike High School 50th reunion that day in Indianapolis.  She called me and said she could not go.  Amelia was not doing well.  I offered to come and stay with Amelia, but I knew from Linda's voice that nothing would get her to leave Amelia.  Amelia was old.  She was fragile.  We are not sure how old she was because she wandered into Linda and Geoff's life as an adult.  Geoff did not hate cats, but he was not a cat lover like Linda and I are.  Amelia walked into their yard as they were talking to their neighbors, George and Lynn.  George loved cats and tried to get Amelia to come to him.  I am sure you know where Amelia went...she went straight to Geoff.  Later, Geoff told Linda that he should put some food out for that little cat in case it was hungry.  And you know the rest of the story...Amelia found a loving home and became Geoff's buddy.  She was a great traveling kitty, too.  They would take her to the cottage, a five hour drive, and Amelia was the perfect traveler.  After Geoff died, Amelia spent a lot of time on her Princess Pillow which was a pillow on someone's lap.  Usually Linda had the Princess Pillow, but Amelia also like sitting on Nana's (Maxine) lap purring as mother brushed her grey fur.  We miss you, Amelia.

Despite all of the sadness, there is a positive.  In walks Felicitas.  (I love the name.)  Last month while my sister was visiting Nathan, a stray cat came to his yard.  When you see her picture you will understand why beautiful is an understatement.  Linda and Nathan put pictures on line for lost and found animals and also checked the neighborhood to see if anyone had lost a cat.  Nathan could not keep the cat because at that time both of their dogs were still living.  They were also in the process of moving, so another animal in the house would not work.  Linda said she would take Filly home until a permanent home was found for her.  No one could believe that this beautiful, friendly kitty would not have a home.  Linda took Filly to the vet to get checked and also check for a chip.  No luck.  But I think it was luck...or maybe it was the mystery of cats.  Filly found a new loving home and Amelia was able to die knowing that Linda would have another kitty to watch over her.  I have not met you yet, Filly, but I already love you.

Felicitas (Filly)