Monday, July 31, 2006


so i did finally get to norway. it took 2 trains and a bus then the commuter train to get to drammen a town about 20km from oslo where i was going to stay for a little while. i had finished reading my book and my pen died at one of the train stations so to pass the time i pulled out my cd player and listened to canadian bands: bare naked ladies, les cowboys fringants and paul piche. it was amazing how i felt that i was back home as the train was going trhought the country side in norway. the landscape was very similar to what i have seen at home. it was beautiful.
on the friday, i went to see the museum where the woman i was staying with works. there is some amazing glasswork there and folkart from norway. it was really interesting to see and was a change from all the other art i have seen elsewhere in europe. in the evening we sat outside and enjoyed the weather, unusually warm for this time of year in norway. it was really interesting to hear all these stories about when my mom lived in norway. it's funny how depending on who i am visiting and when they knew my family, they find i look either more like my mother or more like my grandmother. in norway, i was the more recent version of what my mother looked like when she lived there.
the next day i went to the cottage of some other friends. it is on some islands on the oslo fjord and the weather there is usually much better than on the shores of the fjord. that would explain why the norwegian king has his summer cottage near by. we swam and went kayaking and then drove down to verdens ende 'the end of the world' to go swimming. it was amazing! it really looks like you are at the end of the world and all that is in front of you is water. the shoreline is huge rocks worn down during the last iceage and they sort of plunge into the water, click here. you climb over the rocks to get to the area where you want to swim and then jump off a cliff to get inot the water. you also how to climb out of the water afterwards as there is no shore. unfotunately i didn't bring my camera along so no photos from me for this one. the water and air temperature were the best that i have had on the entire trip.
in the evening as i was being shown the garden, i discovered saskatoon bushes full of fruit. now anyone from the prairies knows how good saskatoons are. they are small berries similar to blueberries and they grow in trees and bushes. the only reason they were in this garden in norway was b/c the flowers are nice. now there is another reason for the bushes to be there. (if anyone at mcgill wants to try some, the bushes at the top of the grassy knoll are saskatoons, but i think that the berries are ripe at the beginning of july).
the next day was a boat ride where we saw the king's cottage, a rather modest place compared to the places the queen of england can stay. we went swimming again and then went back to drammen. another evening of enjoying the weather. the next morning was my last in norway. it was pouring rain! so we drove up to the spiral tunnel, the first of its kind in the world, to the top of a moutain to see some of the museum that was up there and to see the view, although not much to see b/c of the mist. i then headed into oslo to see the munch museum. munch is a famous painter from norway most famous for 'the scream'. i discovered more saskatoon bushes near the entrance to the metro station, but the berries were a bit dried out. then off to the airport and a long wait there before a short flight to copenhagen. so now i am back in denmark for 18 days.
norway was great and next time i will definitely spend more time there. 3 and a half days was not enough!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

denmark, loving it but trying to leave it

so my time in denmark so far has been great. i have seen a lot of ppl i hadn't seen in at least 10 yrs, actually most everyone although some family members had last seen me when i was 2 yrs old. not that i remember. the food has been great and the weather too. only one morning of rain. that is impressive for the country b/c it tends to rain a lot.
i've been swimming a lot, on different beaches all over the main island in denmark. they have all been completely different. some have a lot of waves, others had seaweed, some had jellyfish (the harmless kind, although it's a bit weird when you swim and your hand hits one of them) and another beach had crabs, rather large one about the size of a hand (legs included). and i've seen a few museums, some of them are actually free which is nice considering that everything in denmark is so expensive! and of course, i went to see the little mermaid, very nice but seems to me that it is a lot more touristy than i remember. ppl climb all over the rock she is sitting on and her feet have been touched so much that the colour is now that of new copper rather than the aged green colour.
right now i'm at the main train station in copenhagen. i am trying to get to oslo. i was staying in the north of zealand (the main island) yesterday morning and took 3 commuter trains into town. there was a problem with a tunnel so the trains would stop and then you had to wait for another train to get to the main station. so i got here with 10 minutes to spare. i rushed to the platform to catch the train and then waited. i asked an info person about the train and she told me that it had changed platforms. so i rushed to the new platform. and waited. the train never came (that's my story and i'm sticking to it). when i went to the main info place and asked about the train, she said that it had gone but she had no idea what track it had left from b/c the computer only showed the trains that were about to leave.
(side story: 10 yrs ago, my mom and brother were on a train to this same station. my brother got off but my mom didn't have time to get the bikes off the train so she continued to the next station. when she managed to get back to the main station, no one could help her find my 10 yr old brother who was on a platform somewhere b/c they had no idea what track the train had gone by on. eventually he was found, but you would think they would have some way of knowing these things.)
so having no way of getting to oslo that day. i headed back into town and went to see a distant relative to see if i could stay at her place( i met here for the first time last week). luckily she was home and there was no problem. so i had good food and relaxed last night and today will get to norway. it's interesting how initally i though i would have too much time in norway and would get bored. instead i think i will spend too little time there. all the more reason to go back in the future :)
so moral of the story always have a backup way of getting to where you want to go. and always have food with you. if you aren't where you want to be at least you will have a full stomach! so i will go and wait for the train now. next update at some point in the future.

Friday, July 14, 2006


berlin was great. i was only there for a day and a half as a transition city but it was a good place to be.

in front of the brandenburg gates was a giant soccer ball that you could go into. there were interactive things inside but all in german so i didn't understand how it worked. and on the other side a giant screen so you could see the games. the place had a wonderful atmosphere and i finally got football fever.

it seems that a lot of cities enjoy decorated fiber glass animals

this is the reichstag. across from it was the fan fest. there was a fan stadium, a mini stadium, where you could watch the game on a large screen. i saw the portugal-netherlands game with an australian and some germans guy from the hostel. the atmosphere was great! hence the fever.

a closer view of the dome above the reichstag. you can walk up to the top and get a beautiful view of the city and it's free! and you can go up at night and look at the stars.

vienna and prague

the only good photo form vienna is the one from the danube. i didn't do much here other than walk to the river one day, see the da vinci code, see one museum and eat pastries. the rest of the time was spent trying to organize the hostels and trains for the next two weeks. that can get a bit frustrating when the tourist seaon starts. why would anyone what to visit europe?

prague was great, cheap beer and beautiful architecture. you walk along a street and almost every building looks completely different, so here is an example, the details are painted onto the building.

prague castle with the church in the middle. the castle complexe is apparently the largest in the world and it was huge. you can walk around all day and not see everything! and the view from the church tower was great. the stairs going up were of the spiral type. to go up you were on the inside of the spiral, on the narrow part of the steps and to go down against the wall on the wider part. it was just over 300 steps but probably one of the hardest climbs so far. the eiffel tower was easier!

rome continued

some more photos from rome.

view from the top of st peters, it's over 500 steps to the top, well worth it

swiss guards

proof that you can see good hockey even in italy

the pope is the white spot in the middle

inside the vatican museum, every day we tried to go in but it was either closed or the line up too long so i finally got in on the last morning i was there. the sistine chapel totally worth the 2 hour wait!

me and my luggage leaving rome for vienna, and i did not do any shopping!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

more of italy

some more italian photos, mostly from rome.

fontana di trevi where you throw a coin over your shoulder to ensure your safe return to rome

castello san angelo, beautiful view of rome from the top of the castle

these are the doors to st peters basilica, you can see the light coming in the windows. none of the photos from inside give justice to the place but i might post some later.

anyone want to guess what this is?

Italian photos

next are some photos from italy, i will try and get some from the time in between, but that may have to wait a little while. and i'm in denmark now. i was as excited to take the trian from hamburg to denmark as to take the plane from montreal to europe!

this is cinque terre, 5 villages on the sea that look like they were put on a cliff and are hanging there for dear life.

you can walk between them on beautiful paths, which i did and the view is wonderful.

italians love their scooters, during rush hour men and women wearing armani and D&G clothing ride through town on them

a traditional pose at the leaning tower of pisa

the tower and church

More scotland

for some reason not all the photos from scotland would show up so here are two more.

this is clock work orange, the subway in glasgow as you can see it is orange and the ppl standing in the wagon are not giants, the roof is really low!

st andrews cathedral

Photos Scotland

as promised here are some photos. i can't post all of them as there are over a thousand so far and the cd's of some of them have already been sent home, so no pays basque, lyon or torino. but i think the selection represents what i have seen so far.

This was the sun setting over newfoundland on the way to europe.

ceilidh in st-andrews castle

this is the view fromthe cottage in kentyre, on the west coast of scotland

edinburgh a view from the castle, you can sort of see scot memorial and the national museum

and of course glasgow

the scottish bar in edinburgh where i drank glaswegian beer

finally a good photo of sheep! i think i have at least 40 of them

Monday, July 10, 2006

Quick update

so just a quick update to show that i am still alive. i hadn't realized how long it had been since i last updated. i am in cologne right now and am going to hamburg this afternoon before finally getting to denmark. i am so looking forward to that!
so since berlin, i've been to bruxelles where i saw grand place ( the main square, totally impressive, you would think that the city hall is a church it is so ornate!), the manneken pis ( the little peeing statue), a bunch of churches and the next day went out to tervuren, a suburb to see a museum about the belgian congo( the place has some dutch name that i can't remember). the museum was great and the gardens around it huge and the most exciting thing was to be able to see a squirrel! i hadn't seen any form of 'wildlife' in a long time and the only animals in the cities i's been to were pidgeons and sparrows.
after that it was off to granville, a small french town on the atlantic. since i hadn't been able to see mont st-michel the last time i was in the area, i would be able to make a day trip from granville. unfortunately, when i got to the tourist office, they told me that there was no way to get there on the weekend unless i took a taxi. the weekend trains and buses only started after july 5th and it was june 30th. so instead, i got tickets to go to sark. sark is part of the channel islands and the reason it is 'famous' is that there are no cars on the island. to get around you walk, bike, use a horse drawn carriage or a tractor. i was suppose to go there when i was in guernsey but the weather had decided otherwise. so for july first, my canada day celebration was to go to a commonwealth country and walk around an island with no cars. it was great! the views of the channel were great, the country side was also really nice. you could hear birds sing and there was fields and bushes and wild flowers. it was nice to be in the country for a bit. the island is run by the seigneur of sark. there is the seigneurie with beautiful gardens and a hedge maze and a pond and some really old buildings. so then it was the boat trip back to granville. england was playing against portigal and when england lost, you could hear the french rejoincing on the boat! france played that evening and it was crazy when they won. the churche bells rang and everyone was yelling 'on a gagne' until at least one in the morning.
the next day was sunday so everything was closed so i spent the day at the beach. it was great b/c i hadn't gone swimming for a month. the water was cool and the beach was quiet. and there was beautiful shells on the beach so i collected a few to add to the collection started on the beach in guernsey.
the next day it was off to paris. i stayed in the appartment of the son of a family friend. he was on holidays so i had the place to myself. it was great. i was able to cook! it's interesting to see what you miss when you get to do it again b/c you don't necessarily realize that you are missing it. so i cooked and watched tv and slept in late. in paris, i saw notre dame de paris and got a free private guided tour of the inside of the church (no one else had showed up for the visit even thought that place was full!), i saw versailles (the place is huge and beautiful), le louvre, l'arc de triomphe (climbed to the top), went up the towers of notre dame, saw la sainte chapelle (the walls are made of stain glass windows, so beautiful!), la conciergerie where marie-antoinette spent her last days, the eiffel tower (of course i walked to the second floor, it was only 700 steps and you can stop a lot along the way, probably the easiest climb so far), the pantheon (and also went to the top of the building. a bunch of famous frech ppl are buried there such as victor hugo and alexandre dumas but i was more impressed to see lagrange's tomb, i must be a scientist!), and a bunch of other places that i will try and describe when i have more time for the update.
my brain was happy to be in france b/c i could talk with ppl and not feel to isolated from the main population and not have to ask if they spoke english. and everywhere ppl understood me. in versailles though, b/c the place is so touristy, everyone would switch to english as soon as i opened my mouth. i told the first person who did that 'tu vas me parler en francais svp' (you will speak to me in french please). i have probably been speaking french longer than she has been alive! elsewhere after a few words, ppl realized where my accent was from and would just keep talking in french.
so this has been a bit more than a quick update. photos should be arriving soon as denmark is but a few days away. i am so looking forward to the food!