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Comprising Spagus (derived from Asparagus), or Cam. Previously rural banker and farmer that has decided to ditch his tie and gumboots in exchange for a backpack and shaved head. Partnered with Shroom (derived from Mushroom), or Cat. Formally a country/city/country girl that has left behind the world of policy consulting and has ditched her high heels for some comfortable (yet stylish) footwear to support a wee bit of globetrotting through 2010 and 2011. We hope you enjoy following the travels of SpaguShroom through Europe, North America and South America!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kristiansand, Oslo, Stavanger, Alesund (June 1 - June 4)

Firstly I must introduce the Artemis. The smallest of the P&O fleet (although she looked big to me!) which means she can visit a range of ports compared to the larger ships. The child-free Artemis holds approximately 800 people and is 26 years old, on this particular cruise the average age was 70.

After a full day at sea which consisted of eating, pampering from the Spa (thanks to my lovely sister), eating, napping and more eating, it was exciting to set foot in Norway at our first port Kristiansand. Kristiansand or the ‘Pearl of the South’, is a lovely town, where many Norwegians keep a holiday home to enjoy the warmer southern temperatures. By escorting on a tour to an open air museum I was able to gain a glimpse of how life may have been over two hundred years ago, with the recreation of a village and farm houses.

Our next port was Oslo, the capital of Norway. With clear blue skies and a lovely warm sun on our skin, Helen and I took the opportunity to stroll through this absolutely stunning city. The buildings throughout the city combine neoclassical architecture, with modern constructions and traditional Norwegian timber houses these seem to complement and contrast perfectly.
The city had a very relaxed yet vibrant feel and we made the most with ice-cream and people watching on the waterfront. This is most definitely one of the prettiest cities I have ever visited.

Our third port was Stavanger, another cute town with tiny cobbled alleyways and brightly painted shop fronts, not to mention some interesting shop names including ‘Shit’ and ‘You look gorgeous but whats with your hair?’ hair salon-anything to crack Hel and I up. The day was grey and chilly so we warmed up with coffees and chocolate.

In the afternoon I was fortunate to escort on the Lysefjord and Pulpit rock tour. We boarded a boat and travelled along Lysefjord which provided breathtaking scenery of sheer cliff faces (formed 10,000 years ago), waterfalls and even fed some local goats that were chilling on the rocks. We saw the famous mighty rock, Pulpit, which stands 604 metres above the sea. Most make the two hour climb to the top-but for obvious reasons we cruised along below-which was nice. On our return we stopped at a riverside restaurant for traditional Norwegian waffles with jam and cream and much needed steaming hot coffee.

Working our way northwards along the west coast of Norway the next port was Alesund. Here I escorted on a walking tour of the town which was destroyed by fire in 1904 and is therefore host to a mixture of gothic, neo classical and art nouveau architecture. A small climb to a grassey knoll provided an excellent view over the town on this gorgeous sparkly day (photo). The sail away was the most spectacular yet, cruising through the snowy alps I managed to find a sheltered spot on top deck to enjoy the magnificent and peaceful views (and then fell asleep).

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