July 31, 2012 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The city’s status as the capital of the nation is governed by the constitution. Amsterdam has a population of 790,654 within city limits, an urban population of 1,209,419 and a metropolitan population of 2,289,762.[7] The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. It comprises the northern part of the Randstad, one of the larger conurbations in Europe, with a population of approximately 7 million.

Amsterdam’s name is derived from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city’s origin: a dam in the river Amstel. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were formed. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam located in the heart of Amsterdam, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had tours planned for both days in Amsterdam and we have port days for six days in a row. As a result I do not have much time to post. Our tours here were with our travel agent, Cruise Specalists and our ship escorts Henk and Lucia Barnhoorn who are originally from The Netherlands.

In the two days we visited the city of Delft which is famous for their blue porcelain. We were fortunate to visit one of the few shops which still make and decorate the pottery by hand. Most today is printed or screened designs. We then visited The Hague and in both city we enjoy a walking tour.

The second day we visited a tourist area which demonstrated the making of wooden shoes and cheeses. We also had the opportunity to explore an actual windmill and understand it purpose and the way it operates.

I apologize for the haphazard presentation of the photos today but it is all time would allow. Anyway my formatting has been presenting challenges in my post. They look fine in Word, but when posted to WordPress the formatting changes. Anyway I hope you enjoy the photos. We are in Southampton on Thursday.

 

 

 

Lucia demonstrates the proper way to eat raw herring

 

Another beautiful sunset….

 

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July 29, 2012 – Bergen, Norway

Bergen is a city and municipality in Hordaland on the west coast of Norway. As of 24 June 2012, the municipality had a population of 265,800 and Greater Bergen had a population of 391,000, making Bergen the second-largest city in Norway. The municipality covers an area of 465 square kilometers (180 sq mi) and is located on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen. Trading in Bergen may have started as early as the 1020s, but the city was not incorporated until 1070. It served as Norway’s capital from 1217 to 1299, and from the end of the 13th century became a bureau city of the Hanseatic League.

Bryggen Complex of early 1700 buildings a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We arrived in Bergen in the early morning. Since we didn’t have a scheduled tour we took our time in leaving the ship. We debarked around 9:00 AM and walked Bryggen on our way to the Funicular Station. We were fortunate to have a beautiful clear day in the low 60’s. Our plan was to either walk or ride the funicular up to Mt. Floyen, depending on the line for the tram. Fortunately there was NO LINE so we paid the 40 Kroner each for a one way ticket.

The arriving funicular… Much different to those in South America.

The view from Mt. Floyen was beautiful and we were surprised at the size of Bergen.

 

Kay enjoying the view.

We did not have any specific plans other than to do some hiking and see the countryside. After looking at a map we decided to hike to Brushytten. It was described as a 1.8 km walk from the top station on the funicular on a grit road and path through undulating woodland.

Signs were everywhere but Brushytten was not listed. In after a brief conference we all decided to go to the right.

 

 

 

 

The description was accurate and the hike was very enjoyable; the forest was lush.

We reached Brushytten to discover that there wasn’t really anything there except another beautiful small lake, more trails and a “pop shop”.

Now our decision was whether to continue on another trail or return. Since we had been gone just under an hour, we decided to hike up the mountain ahead of us.

 

Carl contemplating the hike ahead.

It took about 45 minutes to reach the top but we stopped and enjoyed the view several times.

 

On one of the peaks a cairn had been erected and to celebrate our accomplishment on reaching the top we felt obligated to add our rock to the pile.

 

Carl makes his contribution…

As we journeyed back down the mountain, we took a minor path to shorten the distance. This trail was shorter but required some finesse in the navigation.

After getting back to the funicular, we decided to continue our hike down into town instead of riding the tram. The trail was very nice and passed through a park like area with beautiful old growth trees.

At the end of the path we then navigated through the streets and stairs and got to enjoy some of the residential areas of Bergen.

Once back in town we explored the Fish Market and did a little shopping while making our way back to the ship.

There was a street entertainer who was very good. He traveled by bicycle and pulled a trailer with his equipment including a 12 volt battery to power his amplifier.

After we returned to the ship, I downloaded my GPS tracker which I carry to record the locations of my photographs. I was surprised to find that we had walked 10.2 miles. Well I guess we want need to walk the decks today for exercise…

As we sailed out of Bergen, we had a rare treat. There were several rainbows but I was able to catch one where I could photograph both ends from “sea to sea” in one photo.

 

The photo is not nearly as impressive as the real thing, but perhaps you can get the idea.

Tomorrow is a sea day, but there are several good lectures in the Exploration Speaker Series we plan to attend. One on Charles Lindberg and Beryl Markham and another titled “Cruising Across the Famous Lore & Legends of the Seven Seas”. There is also a lecture on upcoming ports. Lunch on the Lido tomorrow features a “Fish Market”, which will consists of a variety of grilled fish and seafood along with all the accruements. Looks like there will be plenty to do.

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July 28, 2012 – Alesund, Norway

Ålesund is a town and municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. It is part of the traditional district of Sunnmøre, and the center of the Ålesund Region. It is a sea port, and is noted for its unique concentration of Art Nouveau architecture. Ålesund town is the administrative centre of the municipality as well as the principal shipping town of the Sunnmøre district. Ålesund municipality has a population of 42,982 as of 2010, while the greater Ålesund area has a population of 47,772.

 

We again arrived in port early and I was able to get a few interesting photos coming into port.

 

 

Alesund is an unusual city in regards to it’s architecture. Due to a tragic fire in 1904 almost the entire city was destroyed. As a result reconstruction was done in the then popular Art Nouveau style. The vast majority of buildings are of this style.

 

 

Also as can be seen, the majority of streets are paved with cobblestones. Alesund is a very beautiful city.

We did not schedule any excursions today but planned to hike (climb) to the top of Mt. Aksia for a view of the city and surrounding areas.

 

In a number of places and ways the city fathers never fail to point out that the way is steep, 418 steps to be exact and that doesn’t include the areas which are incline only!

 

Our trek begins… the climb actually wasn’t too bad. It was not nearly as difficult or long as our climb in Molde.

 

 

The views were great and we all agreed it was worth the effort.

After our morning exercise, we just enjoyed the sites of the city for a while and then returned to the ship for lunch. We would have liked to eat in town but it was just too EXPENSIVE. At one restaurant the price for a 225 gm (about ½ pound) hamburger and fries was 200 Kroners, about $32.00. A beer was about $12.00.

After lunch we did return to town for a little souvenir shopping. During this trip we did stop at a McDonalds and “borrowed” their free internet to make a few Skype phone calls. At McDonalds you could get a Quarter Pound hamburger for about $13.00, a little less expensive.

We sailed at about 5:45PM and enjoyed dinner onboard. After the show around 9:30 we were able to see the best sunset so far on the cruise.

 

Bergen tomorrow, our last port in Norway…

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July 27, 2012 – Geiranger, Norway

Geiranger is a small tourist village in Sunnmøre in the municipality of Stranda in Møre og Romsdal county, in the western part of Norway. It lies at the head of the Geirangerfjord, which is a branch of the Storfjord. The nearest city is Ålesund. Geiranger is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, and has been named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet. Since 2005, the Geirangerfjord has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Seven Sisters waterfall is located just west of Geiranger. Norwegian national road 63 passes through the village. This third biggest cruise ship port receives 140 to 180 ships during the four-month tourist season. Several hundred thousand people pass through every summer, and tourism is the main business for the 250 people who live there permanently.

 

File photo of the Seven Sisters Falls. Better than any I had…

We arrived in Geiranger at about 9:00 AM, but we were in the fiord for several hours before arrival. I was up at about 5:30 to get a few photos. The weather looked like it was going to be another overcast rainy day but fortunately it cleared and was very bright and pleasant. Because the fiord here is so deep we were unable to have any internet service or TV. That is why my blog post is a day late.

View up the fiord coming into Geiranger

Looking back at the Seven Sisters Falls from ship level

We scheduled an excursion with Holland America this morning to travel from Geiranger to Mt. Dalsnibba, a 4,900 foot high overlook about 10 miles distant by road. This was a tender port which all cruisers dread, but as tender ports go this was a good one. The ship docked very close to town and the ship operated three tenders so the transfers were fairly painless.

 

 

A view of the town of Geiranger and the fiord from the tour bus window as we were just leaving the town.

 

 

The view a little farther up the road. In this photo you can see the Maasdam peacefully awaiting our return.

 

 

As we neared the top of Mt. Dalsnibba, the snow increased.

Our guide told us that people were skiing until three weeks ago. The road we are traveling is one of two roads into the town. This one is closed all winter due to the danger of avalanches. The final two miles to the top of the mountain is a toll road which is only open three months of the year but the view is worth the trip.

 

 

Note the curving roads. Our guide said there were over 80 curves from town to the mountain top. Many of them were truly hairpin curves.

This lake, located at about 4000 ft is frozen most of the year. I believe its depth is almost 600 ft.

Kay and I at the top of Dalsnibba

 

 

Here you can see the town and fiord from Dalsnibba. Note the speck in the water on the left; that is the Maasdam from 4900 feet elevation and the water under her is 600 feet deep. It is hard to imagine the power of the glaciers that formed the Norwegian fiords.

 

 

On the trip back down from Dalsnibba we had a relatively rare treat; reindeer in the wild.

Back in town, the four of us with the ship in the background.

 

A few homes of the local residents of Geiranger.

Overall this was a very nice stop. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the town is so small it is impossible to get lost.

We got back to ship in time for dinner than we watched the movie “The Hunger Games” which was shown in the main showroom. It was ok, but the movie was not nearly as good as the book.

At 10:00 the Pilipino Crew performed their crew talent show. As always it was enjoyable.

 

 

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July 25, 2012 – Djupivogur, Iceland – NOT

 

This Is just a short post to update everyone. We did NOT tender in Djupivogur, Iceland. The captain felt the waves were too rough for the tenders. The winds were about 40 knts. This was a real disappointment, the third port (all tenders) that we did not make. Most passengers onboard don’t seem too concerned but I am really ticked off. On our South America Grand Voyage, captain Gunderson never missed a single port in 66 days. Many of the ports we tendered in were under much worse conditions than we have seen on this cruise. I spoke with Henk, the Cruise Specalists (our travel agent) representative who is on board. Henk said he had sailed with this captain before and he was extremely cautious compared to most. Well one thing is for sure, you won’t have any mishaps if you take no risks. On the other hand as Clint, our youngest son used to say “if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space”.

I am actually writing this at 8:00 AM local time on Thursday the 26th. We are currently 6 hours ahead of EDT. We have a pilot on board and are making our way from the North Atlantic into port at Molde, Norway. We look forward to spending some time in port. We do not have a scheduled excursion but plan to make use of some of the hiking trails in the area. Hopefully I will have a few photos to post this evening.

Until later….

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July 22, 2012 – Reykjavik

We again woke up to an overcast rainy day. Talking with some of the locals I understand they need the rain. This is the first rain they have had in about two months. It would have been nice for the photos if it could have held off for a couple more days, but I am just being selfish. I do want to apologize for the formatting of yesterdays post. Everything looked fine in WORD, but when uploaded to WordPress it did not translate. Maybe today will be better.

Today we had a tour which I had arranged over the internet several months ago with a local family owned travel service, Iceland Guided Tours. My contact had been very positive and they had great reviews on TripAdvisor. Nevertheless you always worry about how things will go especially when other people are depending on a good tour that you have planned. I should never have been concerned!

We were met at the appointed time, 8:30 by Odinn who I had been communicating with. He tracked us down since the Maasdam had not docked in the originally appointed berth due to our schedule change. There was a full mini bus of Massdam tourists so I wasn’t the only one who had found Iceland Guided Tours.

Odinn was a tremendous guide. His English was excellent and his knowledge was inexhaustible. We were signed up for the classic “Golden Circle” tour. Holland America offered an identical tour for $175 per person on a large bus. Our tour with Odinn was $65 per person with only 16 persons. In addition Odinn was willing to make stops or diversions if anyone was interest in a particular place. If you are traveling to Reykjavik I highly recommend Iceland Guided Tours.

 

 

Odinn, our tour guide.

 

This is not a great photo, it was taken from the bus, but is shows one of the 6 geothermal plants located in Iceland. Each pipe represents a borehole about 7000 feet deep which brings superheated water to the surface. The water is then used not only to generate electricity but to supply homes and businesses with hot water. Hot water is so inexpensive here they even have one ocean bay which is heated from 50 degrees to 70 degrees with geothermal heat.

 

The above photo is of one of the borehole sites. Here the water is captured and the sound muffled. Apparently without the sound deadening it sounds like a jet turbine constantly. The building to the right of the dome is the muffler.

 

Geothermal heat is so inexpensive that it heats many huge greenhouses which produce vegetables and flowers for the Island. Odinn said they is some fruit production but not enough to sustain the country without imports. One plant would be sufficient to produce enough electrical power for the entire island. Iceland is working to entice more industry to the country with its cheap electricity. As a result there has been some development of power hungry industries such as aluminum production.

 

We stopped at Kerid. This is a volcanic crater located near the road from Sog to Reykholt. It is about 160 feet deep and almost 1000 feet across. This crater is about 3000 years old and is a part of a group of volcanic hills called Tjarnarholar. This is considered to be a very small crater but not quite a mini-crater. There are about 800 volcanoes on Iceland and about 40 are active and 10 are considered very active.

One of the highlights of the Golden Circle tour is the famous waterfalls Gullfoss – the golden falls. The next several photos are of the falls. I was very disappointed in my photos. The falls are so large and impressive that it is absolutely impossible to depict their beauty and magnificence in a photo. Also the weather did not allow for the best photography, but we take what we are given.

 

The people above the falls give some scale to the photo.

 

 

 

 

Note the people on the cliff in the left center of the photo.

 

The above photo was taken from the Gullfoss falls looking back to the mountains toward central Iceland. You can see the glacier Langjokull, which is the second largest in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe.

 

Trivia question… What is the only Icelandic word introduced into the English language? Yes, you are correct, geyser. The photo above is of geyser. Not a photo of a geyser but a photo of geyser, the first so named and the name became the moniker of all such hot water spouting fixtures. Geyser does not spout too frequently, but there are others in the area which does.

The photos below are of the geyser Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes, shooting a tower of water and steam about 100 feet into the air. Since there is almost no warning and the display only last a couple of seconds, getting a good photo is not easy.

 

One of the most interesting, even though not necessarily the most spectacular places we visited today was Thingvellir National Park. This park encompasses two very different but very important parts of Iceland. First the Althing (national assembly) was established here around 930 and continued to convene here until 1798. Many crucial events in Icelandic history took place at Thingvellir and it is at the heart of Icelandic nationhood. No less remarkable is the geology of Thingvellir. It is here that the North American and European tectonic plates come together. We quite literally drove off the European plate through what is known as “no man’s land” which is the “new” ground formed by the expanding plates and then onto the North American plate. As the new land if created at the rate of about 1 inch per year, the area between the plates sinks forming what is now a valley through which many streams flow. It is beautiful and almost magical to think that here is where the separation of the North American Continent and the European Continent begins and continues. It is also amazing that the early settlers of Iceland over 1000 years ago chose this exact spot to form their most important council area.

 

One of the fissures in the area.

 

 

This is the wall which forms the North American plate.

 

Just as a note of interest, it was here the Vikings executed women who were convicted of a capital crime. The execution was by drowning and it was known as the drowning pool. Men were beheaded, often with a not too sharp sword.

After our last stop, Odinn brought us back through Rejkyvik with a brief tour of the city. Overall it was a great trip and the only thing which would have made it better would have been the weather.

For dinner this evening I was famished and embarrassingly had 5 courses. I started with salmon and tuna tartar with caviar, followed by five onion soup and then an excellent salad with blue cheese. My entrée was probably the best seared tuna I have ever had. It actually did melt in your mouth. My dessert was described as rich chocolate studded with candid fruit and pistachio nuts – delicious. Dinner was accompanied by another bottle of the excellent Chilean chardonnay and with dessert I had coffee. Sure, I am not going to gain any weight… Actually we have all been doing pretty well. We do a lot of walking, often 7 or 8 miles on shore days and 2 or 3 while at sea and we never take the elevator while on ship. Going from promenade deck 6 to the Lido deck 11 or the observation deck 13 by stairs is pretty good exercise.

We are looking forward to fjords tomorrow morning and our next stop Djupivogur. No folks, I don’t make these names up.

 

 

 

 

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July 21, 2012 – Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.

Its latitude, at 64°08′ N, makes it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay. With a population of around 120,000 (and over 200,000 in the Greater Reykjavík Area), it is the heart of Iceland’s economic and governmental activity.

Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which Ingólfur Arnarson is said to have established around 870 C.E. Until the 18th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population, and governmental activities.

We arrived in Reykjavik today (Saturday) around 2 PM, a full one and one-half days earlier than scheduled. Unfortunately I have not been able to get any photos like the one above with blue skies. We arrived early because we were outrunning a storm system and it appears that it is catching up with us. After only one day ashore in seven days at sea we were all ready to spend some time on land. Since this was an early arrival, no excursions had been planned.

The pier is located about 2.5 miles from downtown and we decided to walk instead of taking a shuttle. This gave us some needed exercise and saved us a total of $40.00. It was an easy walk except for the occasional drizzle.

There is not a lot to share tonight. We just strolled around town and then back to the ship. We got in about 7.5 miles of walking. There is a great walking/biking trail along the shoreline from the pier to past town. We were all exhausted when we got back, but not from the distance or difficulty. We decided it was because of the temperature and the drizzle. It just wasn’t a relaxed walk. Anyway here are a few photos.

The city is known for its night life especially during the summers on weekends. With sunset after 11PM the partying in the streets is nonstop. We heard a band and commotion and cut down a side street behind some buildings. There was a lot of dancing and other activities, but it was the building graffiti which got my attention.

I was surprised at all the flowers in the City. Not just in formal plantings, but wild flowers along the road and on the shoreline. I guess their season is so short the plants have adapted and waste no time in blooming and germinating.

 

The above photos are of the iconic church of Reykjavik, the Hallgrimskirkja Church. This is a Lutheran Church which boasts the 3rd largest organ in the world. It has almost 2300 pipes.

As noted by the name of the church, one of my biggest difficulties in Iceland is reading and pronounching the names. I feel like I always need to buy a vowel!

Some new color suggestions for your home?

Coke is everywhere. This counter café had the best food prices we saw. You could get a hamburger, fires and coke for only 1000 IK, a little over $8.00.

Well, that’s all for tonight. We are going on a tour tomorrow and hopefully there will be more to share.

 

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July 19, 2012 – At Sea

 

Well, a lot has happened weather wise. I was very disappointed that our stop in Red Bay, NL was cancelled but expecting to get a few extra hours in Nanortalik, Greenland was to be a bonus. Unfortunately that is not to happen either. Weather yesterday was pretty bad. Fog almost the entire day, sometimes you could not even see the ocean. This morning the captain announced that weather sources indicated a pretty severe storm pursuing us
moving from south-west to north-east.

I had noticed last night that our speed had increased and this was apparently in response to the storm front. The captain’s announcement informed us that the decision had been made to completely by-pass Nanortalik and Prince Christian Sound and make straight for Reykjavik. The idea is to stay ahead of the storm and be safely in the harbor in Reykjavik when the storm hits. At 10 AM the captain and the bridge officers held a program in the showroom to present their reasoning. The presentation consisted of a very good explanation of the situation along with weather charts and weather bulletins. Although I am very disappointed about the change in agenda, I did appreciate the captain taking the time to fully explain the situation. Had we stayed with the original plan of visiting Nanortalik and then traversing Prince Christian Sound, upon exiting the sound we would have been in the middle of the storm with expected winds of 70 MPH and 60 ft waves (trough to crest). The tentative change will mean we will have two nights in Reykjavik (arriving 2 days early) then an extra stop in Molde, Norway. We will then be back on schedule. Fortunately for those of us making the full voyage (all but about 90 of the passengers) we will have another opportunity to visit Greenland on the return.

This does mean I will have to contact our tour provider in Iceland to reschedule our full day excursion; hopefully this will not be a problem. We are scheduled for Tuesday and it will need to be changed to Sunday. As I write this it is about Noon on Thursday. We are currently 2 hours ahead of EDT.

It is now Midnight and I will give a brief recap of the balance of our day. We heard a presentation of Glaciology which was fascinating. Having seen glaciers in both hemispheres as well as visiting the Tablelands in Newfoundland where glaciers formed much of the geological terrain the presentation today was very informative. In the afternoon Carl and Janet attended another lecture while Kay and I caught up on our reading and news. Dinner tonight was another formal night. We all had the Surf and Turf which was very good. We then watched a movie in the theater Joyful Noise with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah. This was then followed by musical in the showroom at 10 PM. I just thought I would finish this post while unwinding to sleep time. The wind has picked up and the waves are the highest we have seen. We are getting a lot of motion so I expect to sleep well tonight (rocked like a baby!). The doors to the promenade deck have been locked. We could still exit from our door directly to the deck, but for the life of me I can’t imagine why I would want tooJ.

We are all ready to have a non-sea day. There is plenty to do on the ship but I am anxious to visit some new places and get some photos. Tonight is another time change. We move the clock ahead another hour which makes us EDT + 3 hours.

Maybe there will be more to report tomorrow.

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July 17, 2012 – Corner Brook, Newfoundland

Corner Brook has a population of just fewer than 20,000. Corner Brook holds a unique Canadian record. It is the oldest community of its size in Canada. Other communities of this size have either grown into larger ones (+75,000), were amalgamated with other communities or collapsed.

 

Corner Brook is home to the Corner Brook Pulp & Paper Mill (owned by Kruger Inc.), which is a major employer for the region. The city has the largest regional hospital in western Newfoundland, as well as shopping and retail, federal and provincial government offices, and Grenfell Campus, Memorial University.

 

There was a pier which meant we didn’t have to tender; always a good thing. It was a very basic pier but the local people more than made up for the rudimentary facilities. We were welcomed by a live performer and greeted by very friendly faces.

We docked in Corner Brook around 7:30 AM, about the time we were finishing breakfast. We returned to our cabins and I called Enterprise Rental to request someone to pick us up. (isn’t Skype wonderful!) We only had to wait about 5 minutes before a nice young man transported us to their office which took another 5 minutes. By 8:30 we had acquired our car and were on our way.

Our plans today were to visit the Gros Morne National Park. Holland America offered a tour to the park which cost $140 per person. We rented an auto, paid park admission and gas for about $130 total for 4 persons. This was a savings of $430. Not bad…

The park is located about 1.5 hours from Corner Brook. About half of the trip was on the Trans Canadian Highway which was great. The remainder was on two lane park roads. It was not a bad drive.

Gros Morne National Park is a world heritage site located on the west coast of Newfoundland. At 697 sq mi, it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada (surpassed by Torngat Mountains National Park at /3,700 sq mi.

The park takes its name from Newfoundland’s second-highest mountain peak at 2,644 ft located within the park. Its French meaning is “large mountain standing alone,” or more literally “great sombre.” Gros Morne is a member of the Long Range Mountains, an outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching the length of the island’s west coast. It is the eroded remnants of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago.”The park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed.

The Gros Morne National Park Reserve was established in 1973. It wasn’t until October 1, 2005 that the National Parks Act was applied to the reserve, thereby making it a Canadian national park.

The park is huge and one could easily spend a week or more exploring all of its interesting features. We elected to visit the Tablelands. This area of the park is sometimes called the “Galapagos Islands of Geology”. This is because of its varied geological structure. It main feature is the vast mountains of exposed mantle rock. It is one of the largest in the world. Geologists from the world over come to Gros Morne to study its rocks and rock formations. We walked on exposed rock in excess of 2 billion years old.

We hiked about 2.5 miles into the Tablelands. The contrast of this area to the area adjacent is startling. Because of the chemical composition of the mantle rocks, very few plants are able to survive here. The soil simply does not have the calcium and phosphorus need to support plant life.

 

An insect catching pitcher plant located just on the edge of the Tableland area.

A very desolate looking place. Just on the other side of this glacier cut valley, trees and other vegetation were plentiful.

 

Carl, Kay and Janet, listening to the GPS device the park service provided. It was a wonderful tool which would ring a bell at certain places based upon your location as detected by the GPS. It would then either provide you with written information about the area or a particular rock or plant or it might play a video. It was really a neat device. It was provided at no additional cost to park admission which was about $20 for the four of us.

There were several beautiful streams from the snow melt which looked pristine, but according to our GPS device the water had the pH of bleach and was unpalatable. This was due to the dissolved minerals from the mantle rock.

 

This is a photo Janet took with my camera of Kay and me. I thought it was a very nice photo of us. After several trips traveling together Janet is getting pretty good with my camera!

We had a disappointment this evening. The Captain announced that due to the possibility of larger than normal icebergs and growlers, he and HAL headquarters had decided it was not wise to navigate a certain strait (not sure which) at night. Therefore in order to navigate it during light hours it would be necessary to miss our next port, Red Bay. This was disappointing news for me because this is supposed to be a most photogenic area. The positive side is he hopes to make our stop in Nanortalik, Greenland earlier so we will have more time there.

Just one more note. After complaining about the food in yesterdays post, I had a most enjoyable dinner this evening. I started with tuna tartar, followed with a delicious bean/vegetable soup and the main course consisted of marinated broiled steak served with forest mushrooms and cheese grits. Kay and I accompanied this with a very nice Chilean chardonnay. The meal was finished with an Espresso Bomb, espresso ice cream coated in dark chocolate.

Till tomorrow….

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July 16, 2012 – At Sea

 

Today is the second of two days at sea. It is currently 3:30 PM, overcast with a slight wind. The temperature is 61 degrees. We rounded Halifax about 2 hours ago. Janet is playing Mahjong, Carl went to listen to an Exploration speaker about “The Vikings: North Atlantic Voyages” and Kay is taking in a movie, The” Vow” at the theater. I initially intended to attend an International Beer Tasting Event at 3PM, but after lunch I just wasn’t in a beer mood. Instead I have read and caught up on the news.

This morning we all attended the “Good Morning Maasdam” program at 9:30. This was after a 2.5 mile walk and breakfast. Kay, Carl and I then heard a great lecture on “The Young Winston Churchill”. I thought I knew a lot about the man, but this lecture really enlightened me about his early life. Janet, I believe, spent some time in the fitness center. We are trying to contain our weightJ.

We had dinner and then attended the show. So far I have been disappointed with the food. It’s not that it is bad, for it is not. It is just that it is not up to the quality we had experienced on the Prinsendam. Part of the problem might be the service. Again the service is not bad at all. The difference is that on the Prinsendam for 66 days we had the same waiters and wine steward. On this cruise we were unable to get early seating so we have open seating. This means we can eat at any time we wish (although it is best to make reservations). As a result our service staff varies from night to night and the staff never has the opportunity to get to know your likes and dislikes. On the other hand our room stewards are excellent. It seems that if we leave the room for an hour, they have serviced the room. You can’t use a towel without it being replaced after you leave the room. Well, enough of my complaining. This is a short post for today; perhaps there will be more tomorrow after we visit Corner Brook Newfoundland.

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