Monday, 19 September 2016

Experience: No(r)way!? Part 1 - Color Fantasy

Now I've finally come to the point where I can write down one of my absolute highlights of this year so far - my first trip to Norway to visit Sverre, from the 21st of April until the 2nd of May. It was a rather unusual one for me as prior to the trip I didn't know anything except my arrival and departure dates and times, and what to pack. Sverre was the one doing the plans for my stay and he was very keen on keeping it all a secret, so I had no idea what to expect and didn't really fully believe anything was happening at all until I sat on the plane.

The arrival day and the day afterwards were nice and peaceful; we spent some time walking around beautiful Fredrikstad and attended a birthday party.

Fredrikstad river ferries
A large bulker being loaded in the port
View up the river Glomma from Isegran island
As you may see from the green buoy, the current is quite heavy in river Glomma.
The beautiful moats around Old Fredrikstad
Unfortunately my best efforts did not lead to a name to credit this beautiful aerial to. But it is not mine.
As you may see from this aerial, the moats make a nice half star shape around the Old Town. The small green patch on the other side of the river is Isegran, and the modern city center lies to the right of the s-shaped tributary (Vesterelven).

 After the birthday party Sverre told me to pack up and said that we were going on a Color Fantasy cruise to Kiel the next day. It was quite a pleasant surprise, because just a week before, while Sverre was on Color Magic, I had jokingly asked him to take me on the Color Fantasy, oblivious to the fact that he had already booked us by then.

And so it was, the following day we took a train to Oslo and walked around and did some sightseeing, until it was time to head to the Color Line terminal for the 14:00 departure.

The Parliament building (Stortinget)
Oslo City Hall
Akershus fortress
View of Tjuvholmen, with Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art on the left

View towards the center from Aker Brygge
Some of the best residences in Oslo are located here

Quite a few lovely views and nice architecture, still in Aker Brygge
Norwegian Royal Yacht
Color Fantasy seen as we approached the terminal
The Color Fantasy, built in 2004, is the world's largest cruiseferry (cruise ship with a cardeck), a title she shares with her 2007-built sister, the Color Magic. And of the ferries I've sailed, she does indeed have the most cruise ship-like look and feel.

Our 4-star Promenade cabin 9-409
Entrance to Oceanic à la Carte
View of Oslo as we sailed out
Mandatory Funnel
The first afternoon on board was spent mostly watching the Oslofjord as we passed, either from outside or the Observation Lounge. After meeting (and of course photographing) the Stena Saga, we headed down to the Show Lounge for.. well, the show.

Stena Saga coming
Stena Saga here
Stena Saga going
A view of Promenade Cafe, where we stopped for a quick ice cream

And after the show, we had a nice filling dinner in Oceanic à la Carte.

The next morning we arrived in Kiel, just to see that most places were closed, because it was a Sunday. We didn't have all that much time either, due to the departure being at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, again. But nonetheless, it was just enough time for a nice walk.

Stena Germanica in Kiel, with our Color Fantasy outside the picture on the right.

Color Fantasy in Kiel
A sleeping swan
Triple trouble
Stena Germanica and Color Fantasy
A passing pigeon... and train
We made it back on the ship just in time for the departure. After watching the departure we had a lunch at the Sports & Burger bar and after that we had just enough time to go for a fun swim and splash in Aqualand. The latter definitely had the look and feel of a cruise ship waterpark, with a real waterslide and river in addition to the usual jacuzzis and kiddie pools. Unfortunately, I didn't take a single picture inside.

Promenade from above
After the swim it was just the right time to go outside and watch as we passed under the Great Belt bridge.

We were not the only ones who came outside to take photos.

The rest of the evening on board was spent in the Observation Lounge, having a nice dinner in the Buffet and then Sverre sent me gambling in hopes that I have better luck than he does. Alas, I didn't.

My favourite part of that particular Buffet
.. and the 2nd favourite!
In addition to finally getting to eat some lobsters, I got to tease Sverre, who is not a big fan of lobsters, by shelling these two particularly slowly and demonstratively and really making sure to express how delicious I find them - which they actually were, so I didn't need to pretend. It was also then that the guy on the right got the nickname Mr. Clicky.

After disembarking the next morning, I was back to having no clue what was coming up next. We were just walking somewhere, and Sverre was being secretive. My own guess would've led us either back to Fredrikstad or to a hotel in Oslo, and the latter seemed most likely. Additionally, as I sometimes do, I was entertaining myself by trying to think up some really unlikely scenarios, for example, what if we were actually going to the airport and flying somewhere? I had no other option than to be patient and see, and neither do you, because I'll write about what happened then in the next post.

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