A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about landscapes

For the First Time in Forever...

Reporting from Bergen

sunny 14 °C
View Midnight Sun Run on aboo10's travel map.

Now, if you have an eight year old daughter, like we do, you would know that the title of this blog post comes from the Disney movie, Frozen.

So for the first time in forever, we are the furthest north we have ever been - we are 60 degrees north, and this is much further north than Harbin, China which was only 45 degrees north, almost level with Paris! We are even further north than the top of the United Kingdom!

But also for the first time in forever, Disney, when making Frozen, which is a computer generated movie, set what is otherwise a generic fairy tale (based on The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Anderson) in Norway. The developers visited Norway and drew inspiration for many parts of the movie from genuine Norwegian towns, costumes and forests.

When we were in the Historical Museum in Oslo, we came across a model of a Stave Church, which was not too far off the route we were heading along to get to Bergen... so we thought we'd stop by to have a look... And in the first time in forever, the Borgund Stave Church we visited was the inspiration for the castle in Arendelle...
For the first time in forever, we drove along through the stunning fjords, which were also inspiration in the movie, and at one point, Elsa freezes them all! And saw snow capped mountains

For the first time in forever, we drove through the world's longest tunnel - the Laerdel Tunnel - 24.51km long. It has 3 caves hollowed out along its length to give drivers a break from the claustrophobic feel of the tunnel, and you are allowed to stop in them! We didn't, but they are illuminated with blue lights and also give something to look forward to!

For the first time in forever, we got to Bergen, which is a UNESCO Listed Heritage Site, and was originally one of the Hanseatic Trading Ports, and so like in the movie becoming trading partners would have been desirable. The wharf area of Bryggen (where we had lunch and dinner!) is just gorgeous, with brightly coloured timber buildings, just like the township of Arendelle...

For the first time in forever, the whole family went on a hike! We got the venicular railway up to a view point to see a stunning view of Bergen, and then we started following a nature trail, complete with trolls, and streams and then realised that we could walk back to our AirBNB apartment... so we did...
and had a beer in the sun in the front garden.

Posted by aboo10 14:13 Archived in Norway Tagged landscapes mountains buildings children history norway ecotourism family_travel midnightsunrun Comments (2)


Reporting from Düsseldorf

sunny 15 °C
View Tulips and Easter! on aboo10's travel map.

I've had some difficulty uploading photos over the last few months, which has contributed to the interruption to usual services, or black and white screenings (ie no pictures!). Fortunately though the upload system seems to be up and running again (or could be due to upgrade on my laptop)... so my photos are here, and for nothing more beautiful than our recent trip to Keukenhof.

Keukenhof has been open to the public showcasing displays of spring flowering bulbs since 1950! It is near a town called Lisse in the Netherlands. We were on spring /Easter break from school and our trip was a driving holiday, heading first for 2 nights in another nearby town called Leiden, and then across to the UK for Easter.

Last year, about the same time we visited the Shanghai Flowerport, and when I shared photos people wondered if I was already living in Germany! It was stunning, but comparatively to Keukenhof, was so manufactured, and really a little out of place. Keukenhof was the business. The displays were gorgeous, the greenhouses lovely, and wandering around the gardens so relaxing, and lovely. And perfectly positioned in the Netherlands.

Anyway, pictures will speak louder than words. (More are in my photo album.)


We had a great day, loved climbing up the windmill, playing in the adventure park, eating Dutch delicacies, listening to music performances, and admiring the tulips... and the other flowers, and loving the natural beauty of it all!!

Posted by aboo10 14:48 Archived in Netherlands Tagged landscapes children flowers family_travel Comments (2)

A Great Wall

Reporting from Jinqiao

sunny -8 °C
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So about 6am, I stirred when someone was trying to enter our hotel room, phew - it was just Mike, fresh off the redeye flight from Bangkok, freezing after enjoying a week of 30 degree days only to plummet to -10 degrees getting off the plane in Beijing. I'm not sure enjoying Bangkok was quite the right word, as he had been looking for a new job and subject to a number of interviews from schools all around the world! Fortunately he arrived with a job offer in hand, from a school in Düsseldorf. So lots to chat about!!

We went down for a quick breakfast when the kids woke up, and then back up to the room to rug up for our trip out of Beijing to the Great Wall of China. Yes, The Great Wall of China. The driver was waiting for us at 9am, and we started out to the country, interesting as not far out of Beijing there were quite a lot of snow drifts. Walking around Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City yesterday, there was lots of snow which had turned to ice piles around trees and in shady corners, but clearly hadn't snowed for some time.

Finally we got to the Wall, at the Mutianyu section. We parked the car, and bought our tickets for the chirlift up, and then had the option of either coming down on the chairlift or riding down on a toboggan chute ride. As per usual in China, there were a number of stalls selling dongxi - souvenir stuff like T-shirts, plates, terracotta warriors, certificates stating 'I've climbed the Great Wall' and lots of dried fruit and nuts. We weren't quite in the purchasing state of mind as we hadn't yet made it to the top anyway, so apart from a cursory look we headed straight to the chairlift.

It was beautiful. The scenery was gorgeous and we could see the wall snaking around the mountainside as we climbed higher and higher. Then suddenly, we were there, the wall was within reach. As is always the way, we took dozens of photos and looked around right at the top of the chairlift, but really we needed to climb a flight of stairs and there we were, on top of a very fine wall. There were patches of ice and crusty old snow wedged into the edges between the pathway and the battlements, and also in some shady sections of the wall. We started out to try and reach one of the distant watch towers, but quickly realised with all the uneven steps and ups and downs it was really a bit too hard and far. What was also amazing was the distinct lack of crowds, I'm not in any way saying we were the only ones there, but we had space and were able to roam at our own pace.


The weather couldn't have been more perfect, we had a clear blue sky, the sun was shining, and despite the extreme pollution in Beijing on that day, it was clean and fresh out at Mutianyu. We were up there for almost 2 hours, just taking our time, admiring the view, and climbing up one watchtower. We were fortunate as well to be the only ones on the top for a few minutes, so with our trusty self timer, we took a group photo of just us!!


Then when we had done what we could, and were ready to get out of the cold, we rode the toboggan down, I went with Jie Jie and Mike took Didi down. It was good fun, and we got some speed up. We looked at the dongxi and bought a few little souvenirs, and then found our driver and went to the Schoolhouse for lunch. I was a bit disappointed with this highly acclaimed cafe, as I expected homestyle Chinese cooking, but it was western food, and posh cafe at that - you know, goats cheese tartlet type food. After lunch we got back into the car to head back to Beijing, and all fell asleep for a good section of the drive.

What struck us when we got back into Beijing was the lack of visibility... the pollution levels had gone off the charts, you could feel the grit in your eyes and mouth and it was filthy. Going into a shopping centre, the grit came too, shop assistants were wearing masks, street lights reflected in an aura of the particles in the air, my cough worsened immediately, and my hands felt dirty.

But we felt we had conquered something great for the day, and were glad to be back in our hotel and relaxing for the night!

Posted by aboo10 22:01 Archived in China Tagged landscapes children family_travel great_wall_of_china Comments (1)

My Son

Reporting from Ho Chi Minh CIty

sunny 30 °C
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Primarily our trip to Vietnam was for a beach holiday, but as I already said we thought we should visit the main cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well, and while we were at it thought we should see something near HoiAn that was historical and cultural. So we arranged for a trip to My Son Holyland- a religious centre from the 4th to 13th centuries before lapsing into ruins. It was discovered in the 1890s by French archeologists, and there were about 70 temples in the valley. Unfortunately during the Vietnam War the most impressive remains were destroyed completely by bombing.

We were up early for a big breakfast and to meet our driver at 7.30, to beat some of the heat of the day. The drive from our resort was a bit over an hour, and we were dropped off at the bottom of a trail to head up to the ruins.


Then when we got to the top, the first thing we saw was a huge empty structure with chairs, a few electric fans and a stage. After a quick refreshing drink of water, the kids took to the stage and Didi in particular took to posing his arms similar to photos on the walls of traditional dancers. We realised there would be a show on in 15 mins and decided to stay exactly where we were in the front row of the seats. Didi and Jie Jie continued to dance around on the stage and then suddenly disappeared behind the curtain... and befriended one of the dancers in the show. When the show started she even waved secretly to them! There were four acts, which were apparently traditional from the original inhabitants of the My Son area.


After the show we walked over to the first group of ruins, the groups of ruins here are imaginatively labelled with just a letter A-K. The first group, and the ones with the 'best' ruins are the BCD Group. The ruins in this area were temples and towers in this Holy City, with the oldest part being the main sanctuary built in the 4th Century. Largely the temples were made of brick, but also with some large stones for supporting structures, it all looks quite romantic as now many of the ruins are covered in vegetation.


In this section as well there are two decent sized halls, which have withstood the ravages of time and now are galleries housing some of the best preserved pieces of Cham sculpture from the region. The Cham Empire was in place in Central Vietnam from the 2nd Century until its downfall in 1832, and most of what remains from the ancient kingdom is the art and architecture, which was most impressive between the 8th and 10th Centuries.

It was very hot while we were here, and there was little respite from the sun, and the kids found it quite tiring and heavy going. Mike and I probably could have stayed there for a bit longer, but the kids were exhausted, and even after a rest stop, and meanders around the ruins, I think they felt that once they had been inside one of the ruins, the rest were all the same. But we kept on and visited most of the groups, but kept moving, and alternately piggy backed the kids. But it was definitely a relief when we gave up our dreams of being Indiana Jones or Lara Croft and returned to the comfort of the air conditioned car and headed back to our resort.

The only thing that scared us was the warning in the guide book to stick to the paths as the area had been mined during the Vietnam War! The My Son ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it was a stunning adventure for us, and made us all the more keen to visit somewhere like Angkor Wat in the future. There is a lot of restoration and rebuilding work being undertaken at the moment, and the preservation of this historic site is important for future visitors.

Posted by aboo10 16:19 Archived in Vietnam Tagged landscapes buildings children temples ruins ecotourism family_travel Comments (0)

Photos and more to follow

Reporting from Jinqiao

View London Wedding & Spring Break - Yangshuo on aboo10's travel map.

Just to let you know, I have posted photos from our Guilin and Yangshuo holiday here on Travellerspoint...

Here are a couple of my favourites, such a beautiful spot in China:

I have a million photos from England and am still trying to work out which ones to upload, plus I need to write about our last week, and Mike's weekend trip to London for the wedding!

Have a look at my photo gallery and hope you enjoy them!!

Stay tuned!

Posted by aboo10 21:43 Archived in China Tagged landscapes london family_travel Comments (0)

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