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Entries about mountains

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...
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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
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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!
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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...
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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...
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and had a beer in the sun in the front garden.
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Posted by aboo10 14:13 Archived in Norway Tagged landscapes mountains buildings children history norway ecotourism family_travel midnightsunrun Comments (2)

Mont Saint Michel

Reporting from Düsseldorf

overcast 22 °C
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We left Bordeaux, not too early, but with a decent drive ahead of us, and a pin dropped on the GPS to take us to Mont Saint Michel. Our GPS has taken us on some magical mystery tours every now and again, with some odd route choices, and today, despite being a fairly significant landmark on the French coast, our search only came up with Rue de Mont Saint Michel, and delivered us about 40 km away from the actual site. Nevertheless, once we arrived there, we knew we were on the right track, and so continued on our way, following the signs to the Abbey, and finally we spotted it in the distance.

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The parking lot for this busy tourist attraction is about 3 km from the causeway, but they do offer a free shuttle bus there and back. We had a moment worrying about what the tide might be doing, and whether that would affect us from visiting, but fortunately it was out, and they are also constructing a bridge to make sure it is always accessible.

I was impressed. The Abbey on the island seems to rise up from nowhere, and the walkways inside are steep, and closely packed with shops and people. You can just walk into the town, through the gates at the base of the island and wend your way up to the Abbey. There are a huge number of steps, and they are uneven and worn down through the effects of time and volume of use. The structure of the church is unusual, to compensate for being built on the top of a peak. The crypts were constructed first with the support of the church above to consider. The stained glass windows, the arches, altar, buttresses and the cloister were all beautiful, and looking through the windows over the beach, I felt the power in its isolation and unapproachability, could imagine that it was an ideal place for reflection.

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I was not very impressed at the price of ice cream though!

Posted by aboo10 02:13 Archived in France Tagged mountains beaches churches buildings children family_travel Comments (0)

Yangshuo

Reporting from Guilin

17 °C
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Yangshuo was everything I anticipated and more!! We were up and at it on our first full day. Primed with a full breakfast, we set off to go rafting. Rafting sounds far more adventurous than our trip was, but it couldn't have been more enjoyable!!  Getting on the raft was the first challenge as they were all moored together and we had to negotiate walking across all the rafts to ours. I was with Didi and my guide just scooped him up and bounced across and deposited him on our raft. We were on 10 pieces of bamboo skillfully tied together and sat in deck chairs while our guide used a long pole to propel us downstream. every so often we would come to a concrete weir where we would drop over to the next level, a little like rapids!!  Along the way there were loads of photographers taking happy snaps and then selling prints on moored rafts kitted out with full computer paraphernalia, powered with an extension cord dropped into the water and I presume plugged in somewhere on the bank! The scenery was stunning. The karst peaks and mountain ranges were more beautiful than I'd imagined and the mists and soft, muted colours blended beautifully. It had been suggested that we do this trip early in the day to avoid the hordes of tourists traveling during the Qing Ming festival.

Arriving at our destination we wandered around a little market and watched the rafts being hoisted onto tractors to be driven back upstream.  We started walking home and then the kids were starting to tire, so jumped in a tuk tuk to take us home to Moon Hill Scenic Village.

After trying to get some local lunch and being told there was about a two hour wait, we headed back up to our hotel restaurant for some dumplings. 
That evening we went to the highly recommended Liu Sanjie Impressions light show. Which was amazing! The stage was about a kilometre deep and was part of the river and surrounded by more karst peaks. The number of performers was enormous and each scene seemed to outdo the one before!

The next morning we joined forces with an American family of 6, who reversed our numbers by being 2 adults to 4 children, hired a van and went to visit an old Ming fishing village called Xing Ping- best known for being very close to the actual site of the picture on the back of the 20RMB note. It included a long boat trip along the Li River and meandered through farmland, past fishermen (some with cormorants) and of course more karst peaks and cliffs. 
After a pizza dinner we were early to bed for our last night in the gorgeous Yangshuo Village Inn.

Our last morning we headed down to the Dragon Cave. Randomly we would have been charged 108RMB at the gate, but a woman on a bike told me she could get us in for 60. How? Why? Sometimes better not to question these china deals... But her price worked and our tickets let us in and onto a boat before going through various well lit caves to look at stalactites and stalagmites and reflections in still water pools. There were a number of short boat trips and lots of stairs and walking too. Along the way I made up a story about the cave being the home of a Chinese princess to keep Jie Jie entertained!!

After the cave we caught another tuk tuk home, packed up and checked out. Loaded ourselves into a van to take us to Guilin. 

What a wonderful time we had in Yangshuo!!

Posted by aboo10 05:11 Archived in China Tagged landscapes mountains family_travel Comments (2)

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