Happy Birthday, Val!!!!
We were up at 7:00 this morning and watched as the ship sailed into Alesund, Norway from our balcony. Today we wanted to get out early as we have tickets to the hop-on hop-off bus and we expect it to be crowded. About 8:00 the captain announced that the ship was cleared and we could get off.
The pier where the ship was docked was right in town and the first stop of the bus was at the cruise terminal, so by 8:15 we were at the pickup point. As we got off the ship we were surprised to see another ship in port docked in front of us. It was about the same size as ours and was evidently a British cruise line. We were doubly glad we got up early as that means there will be even more tourists in town today.
We weren’t sure what time the first bus came and it turned out to be 9:00, but they started loading at 8:30 and we were the first ones on and chose seats on the upper level with a good view. We decided to do the entire loop first and then decide where we wanted to get off. It took about 80 minutes to do one loop and we got a feel for the town and surrounding area.
When we got back to the cruise terminal stop we were very glad we had gotten up early as the line was huge and there was not nearly enough room for everyone waiting to get on. There is a bus every 30 minutes so they would eventually get on. We stayed on the bus and waited for the first stop we wanted to get off at which was Aksla Viewpoint. It is a high point above the town with a beautiful view of the town itself as well as the surrounding harbors and islands. Alesund is made up of five islands and is mostly surrounded by water. We ran into Ken and Mary Beth at the top, but they had walked from the ship and taken the long stairway up, they are avid walkers and much hardier than we are. After admiring the view and taking many pictures, we waited for the next bus and then were off to our next stop.
Most of the stops we wanted to see were in Alesund itself so we decided to get off at one and just spend the rest of the day walking around. We got off at the Alesund Church and began exploring the town. The town and architecture are just what you would expect to find in Norway and although normal for the local inhabitants, it was very interesting to us. After a while of walking we got hungry and decided to find a place to eat. We chose a pub like place with tables on one of the channels that run through the town and ordered our lunch. We had a typical Norwegian meal of hamburgers; not exactly a sampling of local cuisine, but they sure sounded good to us. We had heard of how expensive things were in Norway, but we were pretty surprised to pay 474 kroners or $44 US.
|Perfect weather to be eating outside.|
|I had left some french fries on my plate and as soon as I stood up, a seagull swooped in to finish them off.|
After lunch, we continued our exploration of the town and started looking for a shop selling tourist things as I wanted an Alesund t-shirt, but unbelievably we couldn’t find one. Ordinarily we would applaud a town that didn’t clutter the area with cheap tourist shops, but I did want a t-shirt. ;-)
We were getting tired of walking and it was getting close to the all aboard time so we headed back to the ship. We did meet somebody on the way back who said they had finally found a tourist type shop, but they didn’t have any t-shirts that had Norway or Alesund on them. They probably existed somewhere, but we didn’t find them. It felt good to get back and relax a bit.
Besides today being our first day in Norway, this day is special in another way; it is Val’s birthday. As we were relaxing in the room I heard a sound I thought was a knock so I opened the door and there was a bunch of birthday balloons attached to the door. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and it was Melvin, one of the Neptune Lounge concierges with a card and a box of chocolates for Val. I had arranged with Melvin for a celebration at dinner for Val so he had taken it a step further; very nice, thank you Melvin.
|We say good-bye to Alesund. That building on top of the hill at the top of the picture is the Aksla Viewpoint.|
Soon it was time for dinner and we made our way up to the Crow’s Nest for our usual pre-dinner drinks, but it was closed for a private event so we made our way down to the Mix Lounge. The Mix has pub trivia every night at 7:00 so even though I am not really into the trivia competitions, I made an exception this evening for Val’s birthday and joined in. We found a couple of others who didn’t have partners so that’s how we met John and Dick. We had our drinks and played trivia and didn’t do too badly.
After trivia it was time for dinner so we made our way to the dining room. We had a good meal, but as dessert rolled around I was getting nervous that they had forgotten about Val’s birthday, but as TJ, our dining room steward, handed me the dessert menu he gave me a little smile so I figured something was coming. He also whispered something to Mary Beth sitting at the next table so then I was sure something was coming. Ken started to get up to leave, but Mary Beth quickly motioned for him to sit back down and he was a bit surprised, but sat down without a word thankfully.
Within a few minutes a group of the dining stewards surrounded our table, put a big piece of birthday cake in front of Val, and serenaded her with an Indonesian birthday song. She was completely surprised and really enjoyed it. The piece of cake was huge so we shared it with Ken and Mary Beth. It was also very, very good, but the birthday celebration ended and dinner was over. Thank you Ken and Mary Beth for staying and helping us celebrate a special night.
|Val's birthday celebration. That's our dining steward TJ behind her, he was great.|
|That's Mary Beth leaning back and taking a picture on the right/|
|This picture came from Mary Beth. That cake was even better than it looked.|
After dinner it was the casino and I would like to say that Val’s birthday celebration continued, but it seems the casino didn’t get the word and Val lost all her allotted gambling money for that night. Oh well, I think she had a great birthday anyway; how many people get to celebrate their birthday on a wonderful cruise in Norway. We are a very lucky couple. Tomorrow we will be in Eidfjord, Norway, but we won’t be arriving until 10:00 so we don’t have to get up so early.
|Another beautiful sunset as we sail on to our next port.|