Friday, 30 December 2016

Experience: Crown & Pearl Seaways, Bohus & Oslofjord, and best birthday ever!

After disembarking from the Finnsun, I did not actually head home - instead, I flew straight to Norway again and spent a few peaceful days there with Sverre before he had to head back to work on his ship. Nonetheless, already before the end of August I was back in Norway again, this time for a remarkably longer and more adventurous stay, which also included a worthy celebration of my 20th birthday. It also marked the first time I chose to travel to Norway without flying; I started the journey by taking my old favourite Viking Grace to Stockholm.
Starboard side panorama shortly before departing from Turku
With a ridiculously early arrival in Stockholm, and considering that I never manage to go to sleep earlier than silly o'clock when on the Grace, I was quite tired the following day, but I had more than 8 hours to kill in Stockholm before my train to Oslo departed. And the weather was lovely, so I chose to leave my suitcase in one of the extremely overpriced lockers in central Stockholm, and go for a long walk.

Giraffe crane and a drydocked ferry

My walk took me to Värtahamnen just as the Silja Serenade was coming in, still a while before the Romantika was due to arrive.
And while I was already there, I decided to have a look at how the new terminal is progressing; since the previous time I was there in March, the new terminal building had been opened and the walk from the ship to the terminal was not so ridiculously long anymore. However, the walk out of the terminal was. 

After a while of resting in the terminal, I headed southward again, more or less following the coastline. As my experience is, on a fine summer day, especially in Stockholm, there will be plenty of bigger or smaller things catching your eye. Af Chapman had divers working on her that day. I also saw several vintage trams that day, and a marching band or two, which is something I somehow see almost every time I'm there.

After another long rest in the beloved Slussen McDonald's, I took the sweet chance to take photos of the Mariella, too. 
After a long day of a lot of walking, I was very happy to sit down on the train for 5 hours. However, as the train arrived in Oslo, my legs were feeling so weak that I gave poor Sverre a nice selection of very emotional rants for daring to make me walk again. Fortunately I did somehow manage to make it to our hotel, and after some resting I even managed to walk to TGI Friday's for a dinner, and back. 
The next day I was fortunately alright again, because we were in for a lot of walking. We started the day with a walk in and around Akershus fortress, after which we took a ferry to Bygdøynes, a tip of the Bygdøy peninsula not far from central Oslo, where we photographed the departing Color Magic and had a look in the Norwegian Maritime Museum. Then we returned and took another ferry trip to Nesoddtangen, which itself isn't far from central Oslo either, but the way there by land would be very long, due to the location being at the tip of a large peninsula. Our purpose of going there was no other than the fun of sailing on commuter ferries and photographing the outbound Crown Seaways. After those trips we had a dinner and then took a train home to Fredrikstad. 

View of the City Hall from Akershus
Me and Mein Schiff 5
Color Magic about to back out of her spot...
... turn around... 
... and sail away.
And some hours later, we observed the Crown Seaways sailing away too.
Before going home to Fredrikstad, we went to the Skybar on the 34th floor of the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel; a place we wanted to visit all the way back in April, but couldn't due to a hotel workers' strike.
The following couple of days were more peaceful, we were mostly chilling at home in Fredrikstad, and we attended a joint birthday party of some of Sverre's friends.

The day after the party we headed to Oslo again, to start my three days of birthday-fun. 
First of all, we boarded the Crown Seaways for an overnight trip to Copenhagen. The Crown Seaways thus became the third of the four sisters I've tried, the other two being Viking Line's Amorella and Gabriella, and Isabelle of Tallink still remaining undone, hopefully not for long. 
Much like her sisters, the Crown Seaways was a very nice and cozy ferry. Perhaps that impression was further fueled by our choice of cabin, being Commodore Balcony up on the highest deck. We did spend most of the voyage sitting and chilling, most of the time in the Commodore Lounge, and we also had a nice dinner in Explorer Steakhouse. 

Sky Club 
Same place, upstairs
Columbus Club
Mandatory Funnel Photo
Mandatory deck plans
Ceiling selfies are starting to become somewhat mandatory too nowadays
Lobby floor tiles
Inbound Stena Saga in the Oslofjord 
The following morning, which was the day of my 20th birthday, we disembarked, checked in the Palace Hotel, had a short nap and hit the road, or to be more accurate, the railway, bound for Helsingør.

Copenhagen train station outside...
... and inside. Intentionally or not, Sverre managed to ensure his presence in every single photo I took of the train station.
In Helsingør we spent a couple of hours walking around and having lunch, and we also both got brand new backpacks.

The Helsingør train station building was very beautiful, both inside and out.
Helsingør Castle
Plastic waste fish
After some hours in Helsingør, we took Scandlines' ferry Tycho Brahe over the strait to Helsingborg, a journey of only 5 kilometers.  In Helsingborg it was just a quick walk around and a drink in a bar before we took another train onward to Malmö, where we had a longer walk looking around and also a nice evening snack at TGI Friday's.

Helsingborg Gustav Adolf Church
Malmö was a city of many beautiful views, even during our very short stay.

I told you guys I see a lot of marching bands whenever I get out and travel a bit, it's almost as if they're chasing me around!
To be fair, I sometimes rudely intruded photos that Sverre took, too.
After a while in Malmö, it was time to take the train over the Öresund bridge and tunnel back to Copenhagen, change into something nicer and go to the nearby Hard Rock Cafe for a celebratory dinner.

I still sometimes wistfully think back to this holy mother of a party platter that we started with...
... and by the time we got to having this picture taken, we were both stuffed so full of very birthday-worthy food that we could barely move. 10/10.
The following day we spent looking around in Copenhagen, until it was time to board the Pearl Seaways, returning to Oslo.

The Italian school ship Amerigo Vespucci, one of the more majestic tall ships in the world, was visiting Copenhagen at the time.

Inside Trinitatis Church 
A Mandatory Copenhagen view
Pearl Seaways in Copenhagen
On the Pearl Seaways we also had a Commodore cabin, however this time on deck 7 with a "limited" view, most of which was the top of a port side lifeboat. Nonetheless, the cabin was very nice and spacious and as close to public areas as it gets. Most of the journey was once again sitting and chilling; we dined in 7 Seas buffet and enjoyed some wine in the Red + White wine bar.

View of our cabin from between the bed and the window
Blue Riband, a banquet restaurant forward on deck 8 
The Columbus Club, looking almost the same as that on the Crown.

Mandatory Funnel Photo
Passing the strait between Helsingborg and Helsingør, with two of the ferries caught in the photo.
The following morning we arrived, quite expectedly, in Oslo. After disembarking, we dropped off our luggage, walked around a little and took a ferry out to Hovedøya, a lovely green island, where we spent several hours resting and enjoying the nature.

Regal Princess arriving in Oslo 
Color Fantasy departing

After a while, we returned to mainland and took the metro up to Frognerseteren end station, 469 meters above sea level. The view from there was quite spectacular, though not quite comparable to Fløyen in Bergen. From there, we took a walk downward, going through the Holmenkollen area and then taking the metro down again from the Holmenkollen station, 277 meters above sea level, meaning that during our short walk we descended almost 200 meters.

Frognerseteren station
Frognerseteren view
Pearl Seaways heading out again


Holmenkollen Chapel

Holmenkollen station
Back in the centre, we met up with Sverre's mother, had a nice dinner and then took a train back home to Fredrikstad. 
Two days later, on the 2nd of September, we hit the road again, this time southbound, to Strömstad, just across the Swedish border. There we boarded the old, 1971-build Bohus of Color Line for a crossing to Sandefjord. 

Bohus arriving in Strömstad 
Semi-mandatory ancient lifeboat photo
A bit of a mismatch  
View of Strömstad from the sundeck of Bohus
Mandatory Funnel Photo 
The best deck plan photo I got. 
The Bohus was a small and lovely ferry, reminding me a bit of the 8 years younger Rosella. We had a light snack on board, looked around and in no time, we were already sailing into Sandefjord. Unfortunately, none of the interior photos I took turned out publishable.
In Sandefjord we met up with Sverre's father and stepmother, had a look in the Sandefjord Whaling Museum and had lunch, when it was time to rush back to the port to board Fjord Line's Oslofjord for our journey back. 

View of Sandefjord as we sailed out
Meeting the 1985-built Color Viking, the third ferry sailing the same route

Mandatory Funnel Photo 
The Oslofjord, built in 1993, received a very extensive refit in 2014 and therefore feels very fresh and modern.  
The Oslofjord also got her current name during that same refit; previously she was named Bergensfjord, but in 2013 and 2014 Fjord Line took delivery of two new sisterships, the latter of which was then named Bergensfjord.

After arriving back in Strömstad, we returned to Fredrikstad via Halden, and as I was due to start school again only some days later, it was time to pack up and fly back to Finland for the time being. 

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