Verona, Italy

Verona feels Italian!

We got to Bergamo, tried to figure out how to get to the train station, missing the train due to lack of understanding by seconds. And yes, you can buy tickets on the train it seems. Because we missed the train, we didnt get to Verona until dark. The whole direction, navigation thing is quite hard, especially when you rely on Google maps, and you got no visual references. We took a taxi 300 meters…

Verona Castle

Verona City

Next day we started fresh, got ourselves a Verona card, and got stuck into the Tocati Festival. We didnt understand what was going on, but it was fun and lively. Heaps of people in town, lots of activities and shenanigans going on. But get the Verona card, much better value!

Street gambling

One of the main highlights, besides the very nice factual cultural things, is the Romeo & Juliet museum. We went, we smooched, and we left. No lovers lost…

We did see some nice factual cultural things though, one of them beeing the monastery, it had catacombs, and stuff like that (Im not that into it), and a religious feeling I dont experience too often.

Indecent Exposure

Rest of the time in Verona, we spent eating icecream, they have a very good Gelato range and selection, drinking beer, and Louis Vuiton spotting. So many fakes!


Prague, Czech Republic

We went to Prague for the weekend, on the back of a canceled conference with non-refundable WizzAir tickets.

Vlad had told us about Prague, so we got a nice little hotel just out of the old town. It was good, without the traffic noise at night, and breakfast in the old potato cellar. Our driver kept calling Sara “madam”, and held nothing back when he raved about the beauty and intelligence of the Czech girls compares to the British. Not so much a stab at Sara, but an attempt to explain why there where so many British men in town!

Next morning we started exploring, first of to the bridge. It wasn’t hard to find, but you where constantly pushing through, trying to get past all the other tourists. There where so many that it was hard to see the bridge through the crowds. And this was out of season! At a certain spot on the bridge, there is a bronze plaque, that is meant to give good luck if you rub it. I got my go just after a greasy and grubby hand, no wonder the thing as smooth! The plaque itself depicts what I believe is the scene where the bishops gets tossed out the window of the castle, or some other noblemen are in trouble. What about that gives good luck, I don’t know.

We also had a look at the pissing statues next to the Kafka museum. Not very inspiring, and the John Lennon wall had been gratified over.

Next up, we met up with some of my colleagues that had stayed back after the conference, and we did a few tours with them. First we headed to the castle, but the queue was to long to get into the Cathedral, so it ended up being a quick stroll through. Then we had some lunch, in what was meant to be an authentic local restaurant. I have to say, the local food is not good, unless you are into fat and arteries. They also enforce a policy where “if you don’t reject it, you pay for it!” If you don’t want bread, send it back, since your bill just keeps growing with all the extra services. However, passive smoking comes for free at every restaurant, and no one is shy of lighting up!


Afterward, we bought a dodgy canal ride, where the tours where oversold, so we spent as much time waiting for the boat, as we did in the boat. Canals where not worth it.

It might be sounding like Czech is not great, but it is pretty. However the hoards of other tourist, and what felt like a profiteering mentality, made Prague itself, and especially the old town less appealing, compared to other places.

On our way back to the hotel, we stumbled upon something that seemed like a scaled down version of the Love Parade. All these people where driving through town with there vans decorated with slogans and with techno blaring from their generator powered music systems. The whole thing was covered by a heavy police presence, whom seemed ready to bash anyone of them who might consider causing trouble. They even had a police helicopter hoovering for about 5 hours covering this! When we headed out again a few hours later, we found that they had congregated at square nearby, still with the police in heavy presence with the ever so annoying helicopter. The police seemed drastically on edge for what looked like a pretty harmless group of free spirits. Later on our way back, the square was clean without a trace of the vans.

Now it’s time for another gripe, and that is the Prague cityguide for the iPhone by LonelyPlanet. Throughout the day, I had attempted to use it, but with poor results. The map wouldn’t tell me where I was, and if it did, it was rearly the correct location. I had to enable dataroaming to get the app to work in the first place, which it wasn’t meant to do either. We went looking for a particular restaurant, that it turned out hadn’t existed for quite a while, and it took a lot of walking due to misaligned maps. In short, don’t buy it, pick up the book instead! The current iPhone implementation is not worthy.

Next morning we where of to the castle again, this time early to make sure we got into the church, but then it turned out it didn’t open for a few hours, so we explored the WWI history instead.

Then, in due time for the church opening, we lined up, and sure enough, yet another sidling couple tried to join the queue. Same shit, different place, but Sara couldn’t contain herself any longer and snapped at them and told them where their spot in the queue was.


The cathedral was nice, but we got through rather quickly. Main highlight was the stained glass windows. By this stage it was time to head towards the airport, and we only just made the shuttle with help from the hotel. We managed to miss the clockwork every time though.

WizzAir took us home, with yet another example of terrible Norwegian queue culture. I have never before seen such sneaking, pushing and elbowing as trying to board that plane, but there are a few other contenders where fellow countrymen has participated.

So in summary, Prague was nice, but I wouldn’t rush back. Other places would be better, or maybe the Czech countryside.

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Tallinn, Estonia

In December, we where in Helsinki, just across from Tallinn. It seems Finns like going to Tallinn, so the Estonians encourage them. I got hold of one of these encouragements, filled it in, and a few weeks later, got an email telling me that I had won a trip to Tallinn! By this stage I only vaguely recalled having done it, and I had never won anything on the internet, so I was a bit skeptical. I don’t know anyone else who has won anything on the internet, but hey, what are you gonna do when someone tells you have won hotel for 2 nights, flights and a Tallinn care pack consisting of Tallinn cards and guidebooks. Grab the price!!

Evelin got in touch, we got the date settled, and of we went!

We figured we catch the bus into town, and that was our first impression of Tallinn. Loved it! Tallinn, just like Finland, has a language that makes no sense what so ever, so looking for directions is like playing Picture Match. Talking to the busdriver was even worse. We found our hotel, and we felt we stepped up a notch! Nordic Hotel Forum had booked us in on the top floor, right next to the swimming pool. We had a nice view, and a very fancy see-through showerwall.

We had taken the morning flight into town, so Friday, we were ready to hit town! We had a lot of fun doing the Bicycle tour in Berlin, so we looked for similar things in Tallinn, and found EstAdventures. We had planned to do the View with a Brew tour, but in retrospect we interpreted the “departs every day” bit a tad to literally. Figures it makes sense to call first, but I was to stingy, so we got stood up. I was a bit annoyed about this, as I had hoped to get a nice little overview of the town, so we could explore more on Saturday and Sunday.

In any case, we went exploring around the Old Town.

New & Old
New and Old Tallinn

We walked and walked, and we finally ended up at Olde Hansa in the middle of the Old Town.


It was a very interesting dinner…. I got myself the wild boar, but before that, the whole restaurant got to taste pepper spray. Everyone where coughing, and we couldn’t figure out why. Turned out some twat had been playing with pepper spray outside, and the breeze took it inside. It was just bizarre to watch the whole restaurant cough! The boar and the honey beer was good though!

Next day, we headed back to the Soprus building, to try the “Legends of Tallinn” walk this time. One thing we figured out pretty fast, was that Tallinn is also a party town. Both with an upside and a downside. Outside Soprus we first had to step over a sleeping reveler, before joining our guide. Turned out, it was only us who had made the effort to turn up, so we had our guide Maria all to ourselves!

She took us around and explained the sights, where we should come back to, and what was worthwhile and what we should pass up on. We had a great time, and again really enjoyed this more personal approach.

Town Wall
Town wall


All the benefits of development
All the benefits of development, mobile phone tours and bag snatchers, along with some Norwegian profanity

On our hotel, we had a very nice little pool. Sara loved it! I did too…. It had all these little buttons in the pool, that would start the waterfall, the jetstream or the boubleblower. I liked the jetstream, as well as the spa. I finally got Sara to try the steambath, but that was a failure. She hated it, and went back into the pool instead. At the end of it all, we could just lounge and enjoy the view.

View from the pool
View from the pool

For dinner, Sara had spotted a place earlier on the tour, so we went there. It was the Elevant. We ordered the Vegetarian Thali with Mango Lassi. It was massive! We literally rolled out of the place. Couldn’t eat anything else, not even icecream!

It turned out, that this particular weekend, it was Old Town Days. It was also Pentacost, but in Norway that is on Friday. Since it was Old Town days, it was a ton of stuff happening, with concerts and performances in the square. We ended the day with a quiet beer watching the show. Just to help digest the food of course!

Sunday was going to be our big museum day, but since we had misunderstood this whole Pentacost thing, nothing was open. Instead, we lounged the parks, watched more of the show, and just chilled.

Tiny cake house
Tiny cake house

Nice parks
Nice parks

We wanted to get some value out of our Tallinn cards, and went on one of those sightseeing buses. I actually fell asleep with the headset. Not too exiting.

We then headed for the airport again, met with the drunk Brits going home from their stag party, and relaxed. Tallinn was great, we had a lot of fun, and loved the hotel! The pool was so nice to dip in both at the end and the start of the day.

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San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, Italy

This was our first trip to southern Europe, and it was all that I expected it to be! Bit like Port Kembla… 🙂

Pete and Kobe, or was it just Kobe, organised the trip, found the hotel and provided a rough itinerary. This was also the first time we tried TripIt, and it was great! No more endless forwards trying to sort things out, but rather Skype and a central repository.

Anyways, we flew in to Trapani, and picked up our Fiat 500c, and headed for San Vito Lo Capo. I had a discussion with Pete earlier regarding directions, and I had said I thought I should get a GPS, but listened to his advice and didn’t get one. Then at Trapani, Hertz had decided to not include any maps anymore, but they where kind enough to give us a 1:4 000 000 map, and instructions to “keep to the left”. After some run arounds, we got on the right track and found the hotel.

Fiat 500c

Somehow Pete, Kobe, Mark and Debbie, in their 2 bedroom apartment, had exactly the same apartment as us right across the hall! Lucky for us, it turned out that our visit coincided with the 1st International Kite festival, hosted by the council. It was so nice, to sit in the sun, lounge by the pool, gaze at the kites and sip beer.

We headed out to town, for a restaurant that was meant to be very good. Ristorante profumi di couscus. It was very good, and €300 later we were very full! Pete had the squid and all his dessert.


Next morning we headed towards Corleone, Godfather country. The drive was very nice, lots of winding roads, and the first thing that greeted us where some hideous swiss style highrises. Not much like the movie though, but we got the compulsory tourist shot:

Corleone mafia

Next up was a restaurant that I read about in the SAS inflight magazine on some other trip. There was some disagreement between Tomtom, Google maps and the signage/directions. After doubling over a couple of times, we found the place. In the end, TomTom and the directions where more accurate than Google Maps.

Antica Stazione di Ficuzza had a wedding on, but they gave us some champagne and coffee, and after a short wait, we got the second floor to ourselves. We had no idea what we where doing, but got the set menu. It seemed like we where the only non-italians there, and it was such a nice and relaxed mood. Our waiter kept the food coming and it turned out we had quite a meal ahead of us. We didnt quite know what would happen, but we ate too much of the entree. Lots of food, warm weather, we should have had a nap!


After that meal, we decided to head back to the hotel, and go for a dip with a few beers. We were there out of season, so it was nice and quiet. We ruined it tough by playing Marco Polo.


It took us a while, but we ventured out for a small supper. We ended up at a pizza place, and Mark ordered a Calzone with Pepperoni as extras. It turned out that wasn’t all that straight forward. Pepperoni in Italian means capsicum, and that’s what Mark got. Although when he complained, they just brought it back with more capsicum. We finally figured out that Peperoni in English is Salami Picante in Italian. In the end he got what he wanted:

Salami Picante

Next day we split up, as the others where staying longer and wanted to see Cefalu as well. We stayed behind, and headed to Erice first.

Erice Old man in Erice

It is a beautiful town/fortress/castle on top of a hill, overlooking everything. The drive up is long and winding, and we just beat the touristbusses.

Next on our little loop track was the Segasta temple ruins, it didnt take us long to wrap that one up before we headed to Castellammare del Golfo.

Segasta temple

Castellammare del Golfo from above

From the harbour

We then headed back for more Gellato, and a peek at the kites.


Kites again

While we had our gellato , we figured we would have a look at the show. This old fellow squeezed past, and walked down the beach. It turned out he was Ray Bethell, and he did this 3 kite show that was awesome! They where spinning around, chasing each other, whipping about and creating quite a impression!

As the sun set, the kiters packed up and people headed home. We went for a walk up the hill to get a view of the city, and also spotted some very familiar fencing work!



Sicily was great, sunny and nice. We loved it there, and this is a place we would want to see more of!

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Shaolhaven river – Bendy River To Not Bendy MKII (B.R.T.N.B)

This was our first time back in Oz for almost 11 months, and Dan had organised an outing with some of our friends. It was me and Sara, Dan and Amy, Moosh and Nat, Steve and Allycia, Allison, Alex and Elena, so quite a group!

This was going to be Bendy River To Not Bendy MKII (B.R.T.N.B)!

So, to make this happen, Dan had booked a houseboat on the Shaolhaven river!

Houseboat at night

Just getting started

We got there just too late to take the boat out, so spent the first night at the mooring, drinking and fishing. Next day, Mark came down and showed us the ropes, before we headed up stream. The drive down took us by the Berry donut van, and some backcountry driving behind Nowra. It was a bit suspect…

Capt Allison and Navigator Amy
Captain Allison and the trusty gossip navigator Amy

Fishing gone wrong
Fishing gone wrong

More goss
More goss

The ride up took us to some nice spots, with lots of waterskiiers zooming past. The houseboat didnt go all that fast, as it is not really designed for speed. It had some big Mercury engines, that revved well!

When we got to the whitepointers, it was time for a bit of a ropeswing!

Elegant jump
Elegant jump

Painfull jump
Painfull jump

High jump
High jump

We spent quite a few hours here, also trying out the kayak surfing and the donut drowning.

Dad and his boys
Dad and his boys

Kayak stalkers
Kayak stalkers

There where a number of designated parkingspots for us up the river, and we sailed on to the top one, where we had a great BBQ! The girls cooked up an excellent meal, while Moosh delivered the meat.


It was just such a pleasant ride up the river with a swim there, and a splash here. Then a little bit of Kayak or talking the tinnie out. You had all your friends around you, and we just sat around talking shit all day. Steve and Allycia had been the last to arrive, and got the loungeroom fold out. This meant they where last to bed, and unfortunately fell pray to some deviant story sharing between Dan and myself. I think it gave them nightmares!

Next day, we repeated the routine, and travelled downstream for more swimming and kayaking. Weather had been great on Saturday, but was a bit more shady on Sunday. In any case, it was a great weekend!

After sneaking back into port, cleaning and packing up, we said our goodbyes, and took of down the coast again towards Bombala. It was a bit sad, as it felt like we had just dumped back into our slots, then had to move on and forwards with the return to Norway in mind.

The whole houseboat thing cost $1700AUD between the 11 of us.

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Ho Chi Minh City

We had organised Saras visa just in time, and got the electronic variety. When you got to the airport, there was a bizarre queue system, that Sara had to go through. It consisted of placing your passport on the customs window, and waiting for your pick, for when you had to cram your stuff through a hole. You would get something back, and had to fill another form out, then repeat the process. They would then take your passport, and you had to wait until someone held it back up again, and everyone would try and guess who it belonged to until you claimed it. Some unofficial travel agents where running around helping you, if you paid. There where a few returned citizens, and for them this process was very stressful. A women with a baby broke down in tears when she couldn’t figure out what was happening and thought she was rejected. The tears unleashed the most efficient bureacruacy I have ever seen, with her passport almost instantainously stamped with approval and returned, before she was escorted on the double to the next queue.

I was exempt from having a visa being Norwegian, a privilege only shared with Swedes, but still I have never felt so scrutinized by any customs official! Almost like being back in the army standing infront of your commanding officer getting a correction.

Through the paperwork, we went into the first trap we could find. How much should a taxi ride to the hostel be? Hmm?? $20USD? In Vietnam? Yeah? It was embarrassing, but we did just that…. To make it worse, we didn’t have enough dollars, or dongs, and had to renegotiate with an annoyed boss, who had pawned us of onto a driver that didnt understand a word we where saying.

In any case, the ride to the hostel was bad, although not as bad as the ride back. I had to close my eyes several times as I was certain we would hit that scooter, or that scooter, or that scooter. We didnt, and I dont know how.

We went to the Luan Vu Guesthouse, right in the backpackers district. It was clean and quite ok! One of the reasons I picked this place was because it had free WiFi. It is incredibly handy to use the iPhone and be able to browse your stuff, and reply to emails, although why should you on holiday?

We spent that day walking around the neighborhood, trying to get used to the spatial and spacial laws so frequently ignored by the million or so scooters that seemed all to be constantly roaming our neighborhood. Crossing the road was like playing frogger!

We found a spot by an intersection, where we could eat, drink beer and watch crazy traffic. It was also fun watching our food cross the road from the kitchen on the other side. 🙂


Anyways, next day we where on our first tour to the Meekong delta. It had all the token souvenir stops, and smooth guides.

Rice paper rolls
Rice paper rolls factory

Ricecandy factory
Ricecandy factory

Aerials, parkinglots and frontyards
Aerials, parkinglots and frontyards

Bikeride, whats better than 15 slug tourists riding around the countryside?

River escorts
River escorts

RIver scruff
River scruff

The day was great, the food was good, and the company cheerful! We met a 2 guys who where working in South Korea, one of them had studied and worked in Wollongong and knew the same people I used to work with at the Faculty of Education! South Korea sounded like an acquired taste though. The tours where dime a dozen, and easily obtainable. All where different but same same.

Next day we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. These where Viet Cong hideouts during the Vietnam war. It was very interesting, and the guide offered a healthy jibe on the Americans expense! On the gunrange I gave the AK47 a go. I was expecting proper hearing protection though, but was only offered a set of walkman headsets, with no earmuffs… Yeah, it was loud. The gun was ok though, but the targets were busted, so no idea how I went.

I can fit in the tunnel!
I can fit in the tunnel!

I could feel this 200m tunnel in my thighs for 3 days!

This was a bigger group, with airhead aussies (the father tried to give some historic foundation to his kids, but they just reasoned that the imperial power was bad), big butted Americans (who got picked on the whole tour, both by the guide and the other tourists) and the Japanese. The heat and the lack of air condition on the bus sort of strained the mood a bit too. However, the guide was quite a character, and talked for the whole trip. His stories where great though, and he was very good at generating sympathy for the Vietnamese!

Our last day, we went to the War Museum and the Presidential Palace. The War Museum was displaying a lot of hardship and atrocities, putting most of the blame on the French and the Americans. The place was crawling with kids on school excursion though, and they had a lot questions and loved interacting with tourists!

Precidental Palace was Ok, but seemingly hadnt been in use for a long time.

First lady and her Bell
First lady and her Bell

Then, we where due to head to Oz, only pending the ride to the airport…

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Hong Kong

We came from Oslo by Helsinki, and was greeted by a pleasant little sign on the conveyor belt, saying “Mr. Hetland, please contact information”. Then some guy popped up, directed us to where we had to go, and with a smile information informed us our other bag was still in Helsinki. For whatever reason, they could only fit 1 of our bags on the plane. Too bad it was Saras bag that couldn’t fit…

We got on the superfast train to Kowloon station, where Christine had told us to get of. Then onto the bus to Harbour Plaza. We were staying with Christoffer and Christine, who had very kindly taken us in on our stopover.

We arrived on a Sunday morning, and since it was a good day, Christine and Christoffer took us out for a hike on the islands.


We cought the ferry out to Kam Lo Hom, and walked from there past the power station to Picnic Bay. It was a very nice walk, that ended in a seafood & beer feast in Picnic Bay, before catching the ferry back. All the restaurants had all kinds of different seafood still swimming in their aquariums. Eat what you pick!

Picnic Bay

Since Sara didn’t have any clothes, other than the 1 or 2 garments she had packed “just in case”, but hadn’t really bothered to put any effort into, we now had to go shopping. We had heard all about how great shopping in Hong Kong was, but it wasn’t that easy! Ended up buying not very much interesting for our FinnAir lost luggage allowance. Very disappointing, and very smelly for Sara! 🙂

Next day was CBD day, we went to town with Christine, and walked all over the place. But not before Saras luggage turned up. We caught the escalator, checked out the herbs, looked at the fish, ate the dumplings and attempted some more shopping. It wasn’t that busy, but fascinating how the whole town operated on 2 levels, low level for cars, and upper level for pedestrians.


That night, Christine had organised some sushi grade Tuna. It was delicious! Our stay was great, and just long enough for the highlights I think.

It was our last night, before heading to Ho Chi Minh early the next morning. We sneaked out in the morning, and finally got to see the skyline! It had been foggy the whole time we had been there, so we didnt get to see it until we were standing there waiting for the bus.


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When we left Australia in March 08, we bought a “Around the World” ticket. It is what is says, and we had picked 3 continents, South America, Europe and Asia, in order to get us to Oslo. On each continent, we got 4 jumps. Since we had already spent a jump going from London to Oslo, and we needed one going from Oslo to Helsinki on exit, we needed to pick a spot. We were on the OneWorld alliance, and from Oslo, we could only pick between London and Helsinki…

So we picked Helsinki for a weekender. I had to work in Stockholm that day, so Sara traveled first, then I caught up and found her grocery shopping…

Now, we did no research for this trip, except print out the top 10 from TripAdvisor. As it turned out, we had chosen to travel on the weekend of the Finnish National Day… This is an extract from Wikipedia that sort of sums up the experience:

During the early decades of independence, Independence Day was a very solemn occasion marked by patriotic speeches and special Church services.

This is making it sound very depressing, but it wasn’t that bad!!!

Kobe had booked us into the Hotel Helsinki Strand. They had an excellent sauna section up the top! Got some steam happening up there with Pete, but the girls wouldn’t be convinced.

Saturday we started doing the tours, and it took a while before we realised why everything where shut, yeah, national day! Being used to the Norwegian variety, and even the Australian, I had expected more.

First up on our itinerary was the Cathedral. It looked nice, we took some shots, and moved on.


The Cathedral is on the Senate square. Have a look at this page, and its just like being there….

Then, we where down by the water.


From there, we headed up to one of the other main activities, the rock church. It is a Church in a rock.

Rock Church

We were getting pretty cold by this stage, just like this pooch.


On the way back we stopped at the Kiasma. This was actually one of the highlights! The museum was good and entertaining! And warm! It got Pete excited!


During the evening, we chilled in the hotellounge, checking out all the celebrities and officials staying at our hotel as they departed for the presidents reception in their ballgowns and tuxes. Some very pretty people! But it wasnt quite the party for the common man.

Sunday we headed out to Soumenlinna.


Its and old sea fortress, and the ride was cold! Because it was so cold, we were practically running around the island in order to make sure we got on the next ferry. Somehow we managed to loose Pete, at least so we assumed. As it turned out, he was actually ahead of us. Kobe nearly freezed her fingers of trying to operate the iPhone with no gloves, so she could call him to see where he was. Those touchscreens cant handle the cold, and neither can your hands!


Coming back, all the shops were open, and we finally got to check out the Finnish design in the shops. They had some good stuff, and I ended up buying 2 reflectors.

And with that, the trip had come to an end, and we headed back to Norway and the snow.

And yeah, I filled in a survey, that turned out to be a great thing a few months later!

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Berlin was our first weekender while in Norway, we traveled there in mid November, just in time for the tail end of autumn. Got some cheap flights with SAS to Tegel airport, which is very close to town. Kobe had organised a hotel for us in the western part of town. It was a funky place with great beds and an excellent breakfast buffet. Sara loves those!

Anyways, we had not done our fair share of planning, but Pete & Kobe had. Natasha & Mark came too, so we where all set for some touring! Our first stop on our way into town was an old church, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche. Its a church bombed during WWII, and left like that as a reminder.


Pete had his new camera, and was firing like there was no tomorrow!

Petes new enhancement

Next stop was the Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. We walked around the concrete tombs for a while, a very sobering place!

Stiftung Denkmal

We also went inside the museum, and studied the exhibitions.

After that, we strolled over to the Brandenburger Tor. It was funny, because its a place I have always heard about, but never seen. Amazing though how long its been around for! Then it was on to the Reichtag building. The queue was very long, so we figured we would come back later. You only get let in in limited groups, and go through a securitycheck like you do at the airport. Takes a while!

Next up was Checkpoint Charlie. We walked there and found a nice restaurant on the way. We also stumbled over the Segway tours. I’m a bit skeptical to those, haven’t tried one, but it seems like the tour is more for the sake of the Segway, rather than the tour. We also stumbled upon the Ampelmannshop, much to Natashas delight. The Ampelmann is some kind of cult symbol, and apparently visible all around the old East Germany on the pedestrian crossings.

Anyways, there is a replica Checkpoint Charlie there now, Its actually Checkpoint C, with the Charlie coming from the phonetic Charlie for C. They also got some portraits of a Russian and American soldier, didn’t quite get the significance of them, but they where seemingly serving border guards. Next up was the Mauer Museum. It is a kind museum of creative citizens, and what they did to cross the Berlin wall. Most made it, but some didn’t. In any case they had some pretty wacky ideas some of them. From there, we headed to the Topography of terror. Its a open air exhibition of what the SS did during the WWII, with some pretty harrowing stories too

This first day was really all about the WWII and the Cold War. I think its pretty incomprehensible the atrocities performed of the governments at the time, and the scale of it. I think its easy to reflect on it now though, and condemn it since we have dealt with it through history. It was something that had a direct impact on all my grandparents, so I have always heard about it, and seen the pictures. Currently there are still conflicts going on in the world, but now the scale is smaller, and they are internal conflicts, so its easier to ignore it. We shouldn’t.

Ok, Ill get back onto the trip. Then, at the end of the day, it was back to the Reichtag for the nightscape view before dinner and beer.

Sunday Kobe had organized a Fat Bike Tour. The tour took us around to different sights, some we had seen the day before. Some were new.

2-man east German guard towers. 2 in case 1 decided they bolt.

Phat chicks on Fat bikes

Phat chicks on Fat bikes 2
Phat chicks on Fat bikes

Halfway stop on the tour was a forest cafe in one of the parks, where we had lots of nice beer. On the way back, Petes bladder was starting to feel the pressure. Every stop along the way just became more and more agonizing for him after we left the forest.

Museum Island
Museum Island, the second last agonizing stop for Pete

He made it back though, but only just….

East germany TV tower
East Germany TV tower

We had intended to go up in the tower, but it was expensive, and the queue was long.

At the very end here, I want to include some links regarding the fall of the Berlin wall. First, read this article about Günter Schabowski, then watch this video where he stuffs up, and this one with all the happy people!

Ok, I think that’s it! Berlin was great, very interesting place! I think the history overshadows the city a bit when you come there as a tourist. I wouldn’t mind going back, and seeing the more contemporary side of it one day.

Apologies for the somewhat distracted storytelling, but since its been a while now since we where there, some of the thoughts have matured a bit, and some are a bit vaguer, hence why I’m trying to get up to speed with all these stories now before its too late.

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Farfar was turning 85, and had invited the family out for a Colorline cruise to Kiel! According to the Schleswig-Holsteiners, its Germany’s no 1 holiday destination!

This is a bit of a concept, and it goes both ways. Germans and Norwegians, both take advantage of this ferry to go for daytrips to either Oslo or Kiel. The idea is that the boat is kind of a floating partyship, you can dine, drink and party. And shop taxfree…. It tends to get a bit boganish, but I have to say, its more upmarket now than what it used to be.

We had only just taken over our new flat, and we weren’t completely organised, but managed to get down to the dock, with some clothes, were we all hooked up and took off!

We went down on the Friday, had an easy afternoon with all the cousins playing in the pool. Total we where 28 people. I think we where the whole family less about 6 people who couldn’t make it. Anyways, most of the family was there, and we got to have a great time together!

Kiel itself was nice, it had a conveniently located shopping mall within walking distance from the ferry, and suitable trolley ramps. It had kind of an older part of the city, and the modern city center. We went and got ourselves Bratwurst and Pretzels, and were pretty happy with that!

We got to celebrate Farfar proper on Saturday night, with an excellent dinner! The crew where compensating bit since they stuffed up the booking the night before though, but so they should. Later, we all went up into the loungebar after the dinner and the show. It was fun to watch the youngest cousins, 2 and 4 I think, where the 4 year old was trying to look after the 2 year old. It was not a love-love relationship!

Kristoffer had brought his DSLR, with empty memory cards. Some of our younger cousins loved it, and where very happy when they got to borrow it, albeit a bit haphazardly. I think they managed to shoot some 300 shots in less than a few minutes.

Another young cousin was so impressed with the pianoplayer, that he went and donated all the money his dad just gave him to by drinks with. Biggest tip of the night! We ended the night in the arcade, taking turns to trash the uncles in racing. They just cant drive… I think the best driver of the night was another young cousin, only about halfway to being old enough to get his license.

Good thing then, was that the beds weren’t too far away!

I forgot to pay attention to it going down, but coming up we sailed past Drøbak and Oscarsborg.



All in all, an excellent trip! And very relaxing weekender. Sort of feels you never leave Oslo, but then at some stage wake up, step off into Germany, before suddenly being back in Oslo again.

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