Thursday July 5, 2012

Talk about lucky! We’ve already had one “as-good-as-it-gets” day this week – in Geiranger, remember? And today, we had another. True! The weather was perfect, the fjords were glassy-green, the landscapes were once again STUNNING … and, as the sightseeing unfolded, it was hard to know where to point your camera next!

(A warning to all friends and family-members: You do realise, don’t you, that you’re gonna have to watch several zillion photos when we all get back? So please pretend to be interested!)

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Dwarfed by more sheer mountains and more crashing waterfalls, Eidfjord wins first prize as the most beautiful town among many in this western part of Norway. Located on a narrow neck of land between the Hardangerfjord and the Eidfjordvatnet (a large, deep lake), and ringed by charming farmlets perched on mountain ledges, Eidfjord is simply magnificent.

There’s been a settlement here forever. Stone Age hunters used to follow migrating reindeer to put steaks on their table – and (although we never laid eyes on either a Stone Age hunter or a reindeer) Europe’s largest herds apparently still inhabit the grassy slopes and mountain ledges around here.

We Kiwis chugged ashore in one of the ship’s tenders. Then our tour-guide-for-the-day (a knowledgeable Scottish lady who has lived in these parts for 40 years) took us around the misty coastline, across the fjord on a car-ferry, then up steep, windy roads past gushing rivers, grassy meadows, mirror-lakes and painted villages to the impressive city of Voss. From here, seated comfortably aboard an alpine train, we enjoyed a spectacular rail journey across the Hardanger Mountain Plateau – with nonstop vistas of snowy slopes and mountain lakes, and even the occasional glacier thrown in for good measure.

We derailed in the resort-town of Geilo (where another sumptuous lunch was awaiting us in a posh hotel) – then hopped onto another coach for the return journey down the other side of the plateau, through countless long tunnels and with an en-route stop at the take-your-breath-away Voringsfossen Waterfall, plunging forever into an impossibly deep gorge.

As the Rotterdam up-anchored and set sail (once again) for its namesake-port in Holland, our Mad Midlifers sat down to yet another four-course feast – with an after-dinner musical in the Showroom-At-Sea.

(Oh, this lifestyle’s gonna be soooooo hard to give up …)


We’ve been too busy having fun to catch many Mad Midlifers in the middle of embarrassing moments, but a couple more little rubber duckies were given out this morning:

The Conservation Award was won by Judith – who discovered, to her surprise, that the rest of us had been receiving fresh towels in our cabins as often as we wanted, simply by leaving the wet ones on the floor. Judith and Allen, by faithfully hanging theirs up each morning, had sent their cabin-boy the message that all was well – and had, thereby been using the same towels for the past 15 days!

The Hurry-We’re-Early Award was accorded to Robyn – who, worried that she and I might be late for our appointment at the Pinnacle Grill this evening, made me interrupt my blogging, shut down my laptop, put on my bib-and-tucker, and follow her obediently to the restaurant … where we discovered we were actually an hour early!


Our floating hotel keeps its bow pointed south and steams full-speed-ahead back through the North Sea to theNetherlands. We don’t want to think about it yet, but the end is regrettably nigh – and our grand Baltic adventure will soon be winding down …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Oh the photos are simply divine and breathtaking. Enjoy the last night or two. We are looking forward to having you safely back in NZ Mum and Dad (aka Maureen & Kevin). Love Tracey, Steve & James Johnson

  2. Hi Mum (Joan)
    Have a great last day on your trip. We are very excited to have you home soon and look forward to all the stories. Love you lots, Kylie, Andrew, Jessica and Ben

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