Cruising the Fjords — it’s a wonderful world
My Way by Ursula Feist
For seniors, a cruise is an easy way to travel. No need to get up between 5 and 6 am to pull the luggage out. Instead, enjoy the comfort of sleeping in the same made-up bed every night. I have been on many organized tours, but by now, I no longer have the urge to climb in and out of buses trying to keep up with a guide.
I’ve just returned from a cruise through the Fjords of the Midnight Sun, something I have been aching to do for a while. The North Cape is located on the island of Mageroya in Norway and is considered the northernmost point of Europe, the “top of the world”. Although “the top of the world” is currently accredited to the North Pole, the ownership is being hotly disputed by Russia, Canada and Norway. Whoever owns it, it ’s a unique experience to marvel at the Midnight Sun. It never sets nor rises! I couldn’t help thinking of the famous Robert Service poem , The Cremation of Sam McGee: “There are strange things done, by the Midnight Sun/by the men who moil for gold... ”
The craggy shores of Norway, the massive mountains rising straight out of the sea – some snow-capped – and the hundreds of powerful waterfalls are spectacular; the narrow fjords, the color of the water ever-changing from emerald green to heavy inky black, is amazing. At sea, armed with a blanket, a book and a cup of coffee, I found it relaxing to watch and listen to the slapping of the waves, dozing off now and then and feeling on top of the world. I saw many seniors jogging on the promenade deck or working out in the exercise rooms, attending lectures or playing bridge. Yet, there was a couple – not terribly old – whom I saw fast asleep during a noisy show, fast asleep during an interesting lecture and whom I saw in the lobby of their fancy Stockholm hotel fast asleep! I hope they enjoyed their vacation and got something out of it.
In Stockholm I immersed myself in the history of the Vikings who, in 3,000 BCE, pitched their tents in what is now Sweden. It ’s also the birthplace of Greta Garbo. I learned about trolls, discovered the horse is the Swedish national symbol, walked the narrow streets in the old town and climbed innumerable stairs of the huge Royal Palace.
I love Copenhagen – it’s a delightful city with beautiful people. I spent a day walking in the manicured gardens of Rosenborg Castle but could not resist a wicked piece of cake accompanied by an evil iced coffee topped with whipping cream in its small garden restaurant. The Castle seemed rather dark, but then King Christian IV was not exactly a jolly fellow. However, he loved music and had a hole drilled into the ceiling of the large cellar so that he could listen to his court musicians at any time. He was a king with family problems (like so many royals we have read about.) If you look for a danish in Denmark, forget it. However, their cheeses, breads, smoked salmon and herring are a worthwhile alternative. It takes a lot of discipline to keep out of boutiques and souvenir shops in both Copenhagen and Stockholm – it’s almost too expensive to breathe in these cities.
Whenever the ship left a port and the gorgeous Norwegian Captain maneuvered miraculously out of narrow fjords, we were treated to Louis Armstrong ’s Wonderful World which got me all choked up – what a wonderful world it is! Let’s keep it that way, it begs to be preserved – it is much too precious to destroy!