Seydisfjordur and Isafjordur, Iceland

The town of Seydisfjordur is nestled in the fjord bearing the same name. Pre-pandemic it attracted 1.3 visitors with its beautiful waterfalls, and scenery. For industry it has fishing, an aluminum plant, and computer companies with data centers as electricity is cheap. There are pipes under the road to keep them snow and ice free as snow can be found till early summer, which begins mid-July. The area is 99% green energy with no dependence on fossil fuels.

All red lights are hearts.

Soil erosion is a problem for this area, and they are investigating how to plant, and grow trees which will survive in the area. In the 1100’s, all but 2% of the tree population was destroyed, and since that time it has been challenging to regrow. Lupines, a beautiful flowering invasive plant border all roads.

Lupines come in a variety of colors and grow with minimal needs. Here they are next to the base of a waterfall.

There is no wildlife in Iceland, another interesting fact.

Isafjordur, Iceland

This small town of 2000 gave a 5 star tour. Our female tour guide, was a local student from Spain who was studying marine life at the local college. Much of the services for the people of Iceland are free including education, health care, and a myriad of other items. They pay 43% taxes, however, for what they receive they are well taken care of, and in speaking with several residents there were no complaints. The Spanish tour guide while missing the sun, and warmth of Spain was happy living in a place where her apartment rent is subsidized, and requires no key as crime is virtually non-existent.

If only one could get used to the cold as on the first day of summer it was approximately 30 degrees.

The first stop was a fishing village from a former era.

Note the grassy roof on these fishing huts. This is prevalent throughout Norway and Iceland.

The interiors of the fishing huts.

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Another view.

The actual dress of a fisherman in this era.

Next: A Church Visit – here an Icelandic songstress sang songs of her homeland. Icelandic people love music.

Local Lutheran Church

The final stop of the tour, a museum showing a typical fisherman’s home in the 1950’s, along with a movie showing fishing in the 1900’s. What courage those fisherman had.


And will close with one more phenomenal shot of Iceland.

Hope you’ve enjoyed taking the tour with me…

Norway: Mount Stranda and Alesund

Started the bus tour riding through Norway’s Sunmore Alps. The area held spectacular views and crossing waters on massive ferries was intriguing. This is commonplace for Norwegians as is traveling through mountain tunnels. The longest tunnel in Norway is almost 25 miles long!

Often on my travels I enjoy conversing with locals. As Norwegians are bilingual, I had a wonderful opportunity on the ferry ride. Met a man with an ev, (electric vehicle), and learned much from our conversation. Though Norwegians tend to be reserved I had found the right topic as Norwegians are interested in the environment.

Sadly, the gondola ride up Mount Stranda was closed, however, the bus ride alone was well worth the trip. Avalanche is a common occurrence in Norway, and there was much rain on the mountain prior to our visit.

On the tour we had a fascinating guide who was a former factory worker from Michigan. He and his bride had recently relocated to Norway. While new to the country he knew much, and it was a delight to have this American sharing a wealth of Norwegian information.

View of Alesund from mountain

Norway was once a very poor country, and in the 1800’s one third of the population migrated to America, (mainly Minnesota), due to famine. After World War II much money was pumped into the economy, and with the discovery of oil in the 1970’s, the fortunes, and economics of the Country was transformed. While the Country’s wealth comes mainly from oil, Norwegian’s are vested in going green in their energy plans.

Views of the City of Alesund from the mountaintop.

The Norwegian Star

Stave Church and Edvard Greig’s Summer Home

This lovely reproduction church has both Pagan and Christian themes. It was initially built by Vikings without nails, and the reproduction is without nails as well.. Stave Churches were common in northwest Europe, however, these wooden structures succumb easily to the elements and fire. This reconstruction is one of the few remaining throughout Norway.

The Interior

Edward Grieg Summer Home

Grieg was a Norweigan pianist and composer of the romantic era. Both he and his wife were musicians traveling the world in the late 19th century performing. His music is known to be emotional in nature and he is best known for his composition, Peer Gynt. – view the gardens and hear Grieg’s music.

The gardens and setting of the home are flawless. Grieg composed from a small red hut lakeside on the home’s property. The touraine was rugged surrounding the home but views and gardens worth the hike. He is buried in a rock wall on the property. There is also a performing studio on the grounds, and as I walked the grounds piano music filled the air.

What a delightful visit!

Bergen, Norway

What a charming town which I enjoyed despite heavy rains. This City has rain 200-240 days a year! End result is lovely flowers, but navigating with this weather was a challenge. The City’s open market was a fun visit with restaurants, and shops selling various foods such as fish, moose, honey, and the like. The vendors offered free samples – nice touch – and were friendly, and hospitable.

Adjacent to the open market were reasonable souvenir shops where I found small items to fit in my suitcase at reasonable prices. ? end of the year sale? Found potholders for $1.25, small change purses stating BERGEN for $5, and an embossed shirt stating Bergen for the same price. Tourists from the ship were stocking up on winter jackets, gloves, and beanies at great prices along with rain gear. Good they did as Iceland was coming… Later.

I really took this picture – isn’t it great?

Tour boats lined this area, and here I was able to access some free wifi. WiFi is challenging on a cruise, and expensive but local restaurants, convenient stores, and churches may offer this in the town. You can also ask at the local tourist office, and police are a good resource.

Another Bergen Area

Verizon welcomed me daily at each country, and twice I hit the button in error causing an extra $20 fee. They charge $10 a day, and when you rarely get calls, or texts, no need. Tried to contact Verizon but this service is imbedded in “the plan.” so the bill increased to $165 this month, thus prompting return to Mint, Ryan Reynold’s phone company. They were phenomenal but 3 years ago had no connection in the West Virginia mountains so had to change. Things have changed since, and am returning to Ryan or Mint for $240/12 months, and I am off topic… Sorry folks.

Leaving Bergen – Views from the ship upon departure.

Break From Tours: The Officers Speak

What a fascinating meeting! Learned much about ship operations from those running the place..

The meeting began with a video showing what was done during the Pandemic to spruce up the ship. New menu items were developed with much polishing, and ship cleaning conducted.

Then the Officers arrived and here’s some of the fun facts learned:

  • Staff numbers; 500 food and beverage members, 150 housekeepers, 63 engine staffers
  • Officers work 10 weeks on/10 weeks off
  • Crew Members share accommodations, but future ships will now have private rooms with shared loos.
  • Fifteen trucks replace supplies for cruises with 114,000 # vegetables, 22,500 # flour, 44,000 # beef, 21,000 # chicken, 10,500# pork, 25,600# fish, 93,000 eggs, 1352 gallons of ice cream, 1600 cases beer, for a 13 day cruise. WOW we eat much.
  • The Ship produces its own water with 158,000 gallons used in 24 hours. Hey, maybe they need to teach California how to do that??
  • There are 1700 sinks on the Ship, with 1500 showers, and between 8-30,000 gallons of water are used per hour.
  • Ship was currently at half capacity but future voyages are picking up! Good to hear..
A little commercial – no kick backs received.


Lerwick Shetland Islands

Lerwick is the northern part of the Shetland Islands. There are 100 Shetland Islands with 16 inhabited. The Vikings established this area, and later the islands were annexed to Scotland.

Shetland ponies are from this area.

Currently this area is being developed with a wind farm of 103 turbines as it is the windiest part of Scotland. While controversial this energy will replace their dwindling oil industry, and supply England with clean energy.

The Shetland Bus

World War II Memorial

Being 220 miles from Norway the Shetlands played a vital role in World War II. Known as the Shetland Bus, they were a clandestine special operation of small fishing boats linking German occupied Norway to the Shetlands. They brought 400 tons of weaponry, explosives, and other supplies under the cover of night in winter to the troops. 210 missions were carried out. This statute is a memorial to those courageous individuals who served, and were lost.

Scalloway Castle

This 420 year old Castle is being reconstructed using original methods from this bygone era. It was built for the notorious Patrick Steward, Earl of Orkney, and Lord of Shetland. Patrick was related to Mary Queen of Scots, and imprisoned for using forced labor to construct the Castle. While imprisoned he orchestrated an uprising which failed, and was beheaded. Quite a story for this property… Having gone through varied usages as a residence, prison, and courthouse, it was given to the State in 1908.


What beautiful scenery in this portion of Scotland. Our tour guide was recruiting for folks to move here as jobs are plentiful with the windfarm, and other businesses on the horizon. Any takers?? Summer temperatures range 60-70 with the gulf stream, and winters 15-20. Sadly, most on the tour were from the sunbelt..

First Port: Iverness: Dunrobin Castle and Gardens

This Castle with its 189 rooms, gardens, and falconry display, was a phenomenal visit. With parts dating back to 1275, it stands as one of Scotland’s great homes, and the largest in the highlands. Owned by William, Earl of Sutherland, is was used during the summer months.

Here are some of the lovely interiors….

The Gardens..

The Falconry

The Falconry Display

There are two Falconry Shows daily at 11:30 and 2:30.

What a different visit. The Castle is open April-October daily from 10-5. It is 50 miles north of Inverness and can be accessed from train. For further information

It’s not to be missed.

The Royal Yacht Britannia

What an amazing tour… Definitely a must see..

This was Queen Elizabeth’s floating palace for 44 years. It was known as her favorite place to be with her family. When she disembarked in 1977, all clocks were set to the time of her departure, and remain set to that time.

She has never returned.

The ship has a fudge shop, Tea Room, and gift shop for shopping pleasure as you certainly will want a remembrance from this visit.

Let’s start our visit.

The Britannia was commissioned in 1953, and traveled over a million miles till her 1997 decommissioning. Forty five staff traveled with the queen along with innumerable crew.

The Mechanics of the Ship..

Where the crew lived..

Where the crew bathed..

The Laundry Room

Officers Rooms, Kitchen, and Dining Areas

The Lounge
The Hospital/Infirmary Area

The Royal Family Area

The Queen’s Office. Her briefing information was flown to her daily.

The State Dining Room – here she entertained heads of state and celebrities. From Frank Sinatra to Liz Taylor to Bill Clinton to Nelson Mandela, according to the pamphlet information. William and Harry spent summer holidays here. It is also the honeymoon vessel to three failed marriages -Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Charles. However, the ship is available for parties and other events.

The visit is well worth the cost. Plan on at least 2 hours and have a treat at the Royal Deck Tea Shop.

You never know who you might meet.

Cruise Entertainment

Cruising provides much entertainment at bars and other ship locations. Walking through the ship one is never at a loss for music. But perhaps my favorite entertainment is the nightly shows, usually two per evening of the same performance, in the main ballroom. Here guests can relax with a cocktail to a 45 minute show of dancers, singers, magic, comedy, or juggling acts.

Take a peek..

This 60 something Irishman was a hoot relaying his life in Ireland growing up in a family of 11. While now living in Florida with a wife of German descent he had the audience rolling in the aisles with his common sense, clean humor.

What fun! Jon combined comedy with juggling. British humor is my favorite and this young gentlemen certainly can perform. He also is a teacher of juggling and world renowned. Great shows.

Always marvel at how these folks can twist and turn.

This performance by the cruise ship dancers/singers brought tears to my eyes recalling the Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick collaboration. While the cruise staff performances stellar nothing can compare to that night at Saratoga Performing Arts where Burt and Dionne performed together. He on the piano accompanying her as she sang over 20 songs.

The poster says it all. Unusual magic and contortion acts from this married couple.

Another magical night by the cruise ship performers. Music from the 70’s, 80’s, and beyond…

AND, last but not least… This man began his life as an English bus driver always wanting a career in the performing arts. His dream came true when he was picked during an open call for Lion King.

What an astounding voice.

Always a sure bet at the evening performances.


Bath is a Unesco World History site known for its Roman Baths. The Roman Baths began upon the discovery of the areas hot springs. Romans who visited would drink 2 bottles daily of the medicinal waters known to have 43 minerals in them. It is the only hot springs in Europe and was discovered and unearthed in the late 19th century. Since then the Baths have been restored and waters continue to flow as does tourists anxious to visit this ancient city where great Roman rulers walked.

The Museum gives an excellent presentation of the era surrounded by the 2000 year old ruins. Some pictures starting with the entrance to the Baths.

Museum Entrance

Water flowed to the Baths through these rocks.
And the waters continue to flow with over 1 million liters daily at 46 celsius Translation 260,000 gallons 114 fahrenheit


The Jane Austen Museum

Bath is also known for a famous resident, Jane Austen who lived here for 5 years. There is a museum dedicated to her in Bath and annually a Jane Austen Festival. Jane received her only marriage proposal while residing in Bath from a wealthy but somewhat uninteresting Harris Bigg-Wither. While she accepted the proposal the following day she withdrew her acceptance.

The home where Jane lived while in Bath and for those enthusiasts note the To Let sign. It’s available.

Bath has much charm with its many shops, and restaurants. If looking for a unique stop outside of London, consider Bath.