Sunday 5 PM, just before departure from a grey and windy Oslo. The Opera House in the background.
Checking in, the first thing I did was to enquire about the possibility of upgrading my inside cabin to an outward one. I like having the luxury of being able to look out the window. Since the ship was not full, the check-in agent offered me a 4-bed outward cabin for NOK 349 (USD 58) roundtrip. Not bad, after all, I hadn't paid anything for the ticket. A good start to my journey, I thought.
Making it cosy with some fashion magazines, drinks, fresh fruit and dry roasted peanuts
Plenty of space for the clothes and other stuff...
...even for toilet rolls, should one feel the need to hang up more than one!
Having put all my stuff in the cabin it was time for exploring the ship. On top of it, there's a huge outside sundeck which I guess is wonderful in the summer when it's nice and warm, but at this time of the year it doesn't look or feel very inviting. It took about 5 minutes outside in the wind before my fingers felt like frozen sausages, but at least I managed to hit the shutter a few times when departing from Oslo Harbour:
The centre of the harbour with the City Hall to the right
Vippetangen. This quay is not only the departure point for ferries to Denmark, but also for all the ferries going out to the little islands in the Oslo Fjord in the summer. The last time I was here it was June, 30 degrees C and queues of eager beach goers all the way back to the road. Not quite as busy at the end of February.
Even the king prefers to leave his ship in dock. The royal yacht left, Oslo Harbour Authority building centre.
So what's there to do onboard, apart from satisfying one's appetite in one of the numerous restaurants? Well, one can:
...go for an around and around and around swim in the tiny pool or fight your way into the jacuzzi...
...or philosophize over cruise ship interior designers' taste in colors...
...or check out the duty free stores (where I have to admit I did spend a not insignificant amount of time)...
...or go to the movies (I saw all of Valentine's Day (yawn) on the way out, and half of Sherlock Holmes (double yawn) coming back)
Having stuffed myself with a three course meal on the first evening, I took a look around at the night time activities, of which there are several options to choose from:
High party factor in the most popular waterhole onboard
Hey,hey, hey...what have we got here? A wine bar with a huge selection of wines...
...and a sommelier who did a very good job at selling the bar in as a tempting place to kill a couple of hours.
Did I fall for his sales pitch? Indeed I did!
Arriving in Denmark at 9.30AM the next morning, I hopped on the free shuttle bus from the ferry terminal to Kongens Nytorv, right in the heart of downtown Copenhagen. From there, it was a 10 minutes ride by metro to my chosen destination for the day, the fairly new and large shopping mall Fields.
Ah...the promised land!
Meeting my cousin for lunch (this place is supposedly a healty fast food alternative - great sandwiches!)
While some of the lesser shopping maniacs from the ferry undoubtedly spent time sightseeing in the city, I spent a few hours sightseeing in the many stores in Field's. I had intended to buy shoes. While I found some great boots at half price, I was disappointed in the selection of shoes suitable for wearing in the transition time between winter and spring. The stores were full of sandals, open toe wedges and stillettos of all kinds. They look gorgeous, but unless one wants to constantly walk around with cold and wet feet, they will simply not cut it for Oslo in March and probably parts of April, too. And then I'm off to the US, so I might as well get my spring and summer shoes there. Alas, this trip's expenses were not as harmful to my bank account as feared.
Having a couple of hours left before having to return to the ferry, I jumped on the metro back to the city centre again. The metro in Copenhagen is quite new, it's only four years since it was opened. It's fast with frequent departures, simple and cheap to use, and fully automated - that means there are no drivers!
Passengers have an unobstructed view from the front. Feels a little weird not having a driver up there...
The most famous shopping street and area in Copenhagen is Ströget and it's surroundings. It starts around the corner of a wellknown landmark in the city, the luxury hotel D'Angleterre at Kongens Nytorv.
The start of what can turn out to be a dangerous challenge to one's wallet...
I stayed well clear of any of these...
The weather in Copenhagen was terrible! It was around zero (Celcius), only snowing lightly but the wind was blowing at gale's force. Apparently, it's been a huge storm over the weekend further south in Europe, and it was probably arriving in Denmark around the time I was there. That caused me to cut short my walk along Ströget and seek refuge in the famous department store Magasin du Nord instead.
Now that truly is a mecca for shoppers, whether one's looking for designer items in general:
or something catering to more special interests:
How about a 12 kilo (26.4 pounds) chocolate Easter egg?
Leaving the department store, I stopped outside to marvel about something typically Danish:
Parking lot: Not a car in sight!
Returning home, the atmosphere onboard was quite calm. The strong winds caused the sea to be fairly rough, and seeing so few people out and about (like, for instance, I was the only one in the cinema), I'd venture to guess many chose to stay in their cabins and call it a night early. After finishing my duty free shopping, I opted for making myself very comfy in the wine bar:
Waking up a couple of hours before arrival in Oslo gave me just enough time to have another go at enjoying the harbour view from the sun deck. But this morning, the sun had taken over for Sunday's grey fog:
The voyage is coming to an end with the Oslo Fjord mostly behind us
Passing the Dyna Fyr, a landmark familiar to all regularly enjoying Oslo by sea. In the summer this lighthouse can be rented for parties like weddings and such.
Oslo Harbour ahead - far more inviting when the sun's out!
And finally, arriving home with my loot:
Two pairs of leather boots, Sally Hansen Miracle cure for dry nails, Dior's newly released Extase mascara and goodies enough to last me past Easter. Oh yeah..and, ever the practical gal, I got these, too:
Arch support - will come in handy for busy feet running around New York! :)