Having followed Fjord Norway's suggested route to Voss, we all wondered just why this place is the 'adventure capital' of Norway.... well yesterday's indoor sky diving at Voss Vind was a great introduction but today at Voss Active just took it to a whole new level... Voss Active are a great company judging by today and you've got trust the people who suspend your kids 30ft in the air!
With Bergen still sweltering under the continuing spell of good weather, the International Festival Bergen got off to a brilliant start with an array of talent - with music and theatre for everyone..
Both girls have been amazed at the site of real naval personnel around Bergen alongside the size of the fish in the fish market, whilst we have enjoyed the beautiful timber clad buildings and the sheer outdoor nature of this city and it's inhabitants. But having seen the amazing street artist in Rome last year, we were early impressed with the artist in the pictures below. Spray paints, chalks and paint... it all went on with equal measure and the end products were sensational!
With the weather so good, it seemed a shame not to enjoy it and the surrounds of our great campsite in Bratlands, so an afternoon of family down time beckoned.... walking, fun on the trampoline, a chance to connect with old friends via FaceTime (great campsite wifi) and some much needed reading/research time for the journey ahead...
But we're all ready now to move on with our journey around Norway, so Voss beckons next for some family rafting adventures and some high ropes action (a challenge we hope for both girls, as this adventure is all about challenging ourselves where we can). Then onto Flam and the equally amazing Flamsbana railway that winds its way around and through one of Norway's highest mountain on a 20km stretch reaching 1:18 gradients... should give us some great photo opportunities!! (even voted Lonely Planets Best Railway Journey in the World (2014))
Compelling views!!!! Great Staff on hand from bus to the top of the mountain!!! Well priced!!
We'd certainly visit again!!! The quality of the views was utterly magnificent and hopefully the photography does them some justice (I'll leave you to the judge of that! - see below))
The Ulriken Cable Car clearly enjoys the most spectacular views in Bergen, as it sits high above the skyline overlooking not only Bergen, but all the fjords south towards Stavanger. The breath taking scenery is matched by the highland nature/hikes at the top, and also the amazing playground and zip wire (not working today otherwise we'd have been on it!!!)
The scenery certainly has both Welsh and Scottish feelings about it, with the heather and small lochs/fjords/lakes around the top of the mountain (still partially in snow, reminding us of the 6months of harsh weather they have had to endure)... yet today was a stand out, even for Bergen's standards, it peaked at just over 26 degrees today... baking hot sun and not a cloud in the sky... perfect visibility to see the sights from the top of one of the 7 hills that surround Bergen (in this case Bergen's highest mountain - Mount Ulriken)
The saying' all sorrow will leave you at the mountain top' is strangely true, it had a calming influence that wafted across the many people enjoying the views at the top... sadly it didn't pass onto the girls who literally ran onto the newly built wooden playground to have fun...
This continued after we decided that it was rude not to enjoy this wonderful setting as we set off for a few hours of hiking across the top of Mount Ulriken.. through glades of heather with crystal clear lakes, and over snow covered crags... it was brilliant!! (no other words needed)
Bergen has made quite an impression on all of us...
Starting with the superbly efficient public transport from our campsite in Bratlands (Bus - 90, then Tram at Nesttun into centre), which was a perfect start on what was a baking hot day for Bergen - untypical by all accounts but very welcome!
Having viewed the beautiful garden in front of the main square in Bergen near Grieg's statue (Byparken)... we headed into town as both girls have a certain fondness for brass bands (their Godmother's doing...) and a chance to see the Queen of Norway welcomed into the city centre!!! An amazing opportunity to make it a memorable day for both girls as they saw young children of similar ages performing for their queen... a seed has been sewn, they will be wanting lessons on our return to the UK!
So after this brilliant start, we ventured towards the fish market but before we had covered 200m, we found ourselves in the thick of the opening of the Bergen International Festival - a 2 week extravaganza of art/music and culture - just brilliant and a great gear shift from the normal adventure seeking that we do! Aptly focused on a 'festival across barriers' - something to ponder!
After a stunning start to Denmark in Ribes, we approached the rest of the journey with trepidation... would it match the fantastic first impression of Denmark and Jutland. With Copenhagen planned for the return leg from Sweden, could the lesser known parts of Denmark match the expectations...
Well it's safe to say that they not only matched, but exceeded the expectations!!!
With our surname clearly linked to the Viking God of Storm Weather (Thor, son of son of Odin and Fyorgyn, the earth goddess)... we really wanted to take the chance to find out about our possible ancestors... and where better than Ribe's acclaimed Viking Museum - Museet Ribes Vikinger It's free parking on a Sunday (and 3hrs midweek) was a bonus and gave us a chance to sample the delights of the recent supermarket shop! Stuffed full of pastries, thick Danish bread&cheese we were ready to enjoy the museum.
Venlo is well worth a visit, but it pales in comparison with the fantastic aire in Schleswig (Germany).... Schleswig is a beautiful, coastal town in the northeastern part of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It takes its name from the inlet of the Baltic sea at the end of which it sits, and "vik" or "vig" which means bay in Old Norse and Danish.
Sadly the fully serviced uber central aire was full.... space for 45 vans too!!!! Phew!! Busy, busy, busy!!
So we headed towards the coast and grabbed a prime spot on a 'wild camping' spot just on the outskirts of Schleswig!!!
Thankfully the lengthy drive allowed the girls a chance to experiment with yet another bakery blog... normally they are here on the girl's website... little bloggers in their own right!!!! but we thought this one could go here as the choccie muffins were that good!!!
Full recipes on their way soon... on their site!
Tomorrow sees us head to Denmark, can't wait!!!
After two heavy day of driving, it was brilliant to enjoy less time behind the wheel and more time with the kids... as regular readers will know, it was the very reason we decided to change our lifestyles and focus on them, so always good to keep that in focus!!!
Germany's fantastic road system finally ended as we drove into Denmark's gently undulating fields of crops... vast fields of yellow rape seed, wheat and barely... a beautiful start to Jutland!! One that didn't stop as we passed one after another small village with stunningly beautiful houses and gardens... all manicured and well kept! They clearly love their houses, but they seem to love family time too... we passed endless numbers of family bike rides on amazingly well laid out bike tracks that seem to adorn each roadside...
The beautifully reconstructed town of Ribe was of particular interest as we hoped to visit the Viking museum and see this restored village and how Denmark must have looked years ago... we were not disappointed and would place it in the same league as Talmont sur Gironde (a must if you are between Bordeaux and La Rochelle)
Aarhus was our eventual detention via the start of the Lake District at Skanderbourg... tomorrow sees us visit Viborg enroute to the ferry to Norway... but hopefully not until we have visited Limfjorden
Definitely a case of falling into bed tonight... well perhaps not falling, more clambering upwards into our drop down bed at the front of our Adria Matrix 670 SL whilst the kids sleep in the luxury of their twin room at the back of the bus!!!
It's been a hectic day to start this trip... leaving London early this morning and heading southwards to Dover... spot of retail shopping at the impressive tented village that is the Ashford McArthur Glen Outlet park... worth a visit enroute and we will use it to break up the journey on way back too (requests Catherine!!)
Really interesting few days as the girls have worked through the green energy, recycling and sustainability focus in this week's topic... quite often we're asked in conversation when discussing home schooling "Do you have a fully planned curriculum" or "What do you do to ensure you cover everything".
The beauty of the year in Europe has been the ability to create opportunities that would never have existed otherwise i.e the WW1 battlefields compared to Culloden Moor and its Scottish History or agriculture on a small scale (snail farming) to agriculture on a mass scale (Hampshire's arable farming visits near Romsey).
Whilst also ensuring we keep it topical and relevant to whatever is newsworthy at the time - Green Energy being one of those instances. The Scottish concerns over fracking/gas fields on Newsnight this week was discussed today. With both girls strident in their views of how best to protect the NE of Scotland (having visited Aberdeenshire in January).
Others can be more linked to good content such as the chance to watch the excellent Mary Beard - New Secrets Revealed on Pompeii. This coincided brilliantly with the girls recent visit to Pompeii and the great visuals / recreations added another level of detail onto those recorded in both girls memories.
Whilst the recent trip to the tulip fields of Haarlem, Holland were easily linked to the water cycle when planting these bulbs that we purchased at the time (in April) to ensure a splash of colour across their grandparents gardens later in the summer.
Whilst the likes of the French snail farm and visit to the Leonardo da Vinci museum in Florence led to the invention/creation of the bird feeders - an interesting take on recycling things whilst inventing new ways to use the 'old'.
So with a basic framework to try and follow, all faithfully recorded on the macbook ensuring a collection of ever growing scheme of works.... to be added on this site by June... we are throughly enjoying the opportunity to engage both girls in parts of the curriculum that both interest them practically but also have a relevance to our journey.
But before I conjure up a vision of education from yesteryear with the freedom that went with it, I should also add that the maths and english lessons are progressing equally well.. with both girls keen to complete their daily lessons especially if it gives them more time to learn how to make a dynamo torch, how to create a bird feeder from scratch, how to plant bulbs and create wildlife gardens....
Click below for full details on the Dynamo Torch and Bird Feeders. All blogged by both girls on their site.
After the recent success with the Stamford Treasure Hunt, we headed southwards on our way towards the ferry to start Leg 4 to Scandinavia...
But not before popping our heads into Pinner to enjoy this wonderful 'urban village' in north west London... It's a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the delightful Pinner Park with it's outdoor gym, Heath Robinson (the inventor) museum and its adventure playground....
Taking the time to sample the smoothies at ShakeTastic and visiting the French Market (one for the weekend as it finishes on the 16th May) on our walk around Pinner as we created our next Pinner Treasure Hunt!!
Click here to download our child friendly treasure hunt around Pinner
Enjoy joining us as we visit Stamford Lincolnshire to create our latest in the Treasure Hunt series with Jofli Bear.
Stamford has enjoyed its fair share of history, dating back to AD 61 when Boudica followed the infamous 9th Roman legion across the River Welland... a slightly more sedate market town now, it lays claim to any number of churches and some fine eateries/shopping... but peek beneath the surface and there's much more to Stamford than meets the eye.
Take up our treasure hunt and let us know how you got on, even do it with your own Jofli Bear and tweet us after you've finished!
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