My Viking Sojourn, Day 1—Florida to Oslo, Norway!

The Viking and I are back from our Scandinavian trip!

My Viking’s so paranoid that he wouldn’t let me post while we were gone, so today I begin posting the travelogue that I kept for each of the 21 (OMG) days we were away.  So, sit back and enjoy! (I hope you won’t be bored)

dreamliner 2My Viking Sojourn, Day 1—Florida to Oslo, Norway!

If you’ve never flown on the new Dreamliner jets—you’re missing a real treat! Norwegian Airlines flies directly to Oslo from Ft. Lauderdale and their fleet’s composed of Dreamliners.

First of all, these planes can fly higher than most other jets, and that cuts the flying time by an hour and a half. Secondly, this was the most comfortable transatlantic  flight I’ve ever had. The seats recline and there’s a little footstool. If, like me, you’re five almost nothing, this rocks!

Thirdly, and this is the fun aspect, each seat has its own personal touchscreen tablet. OMG!

I dozed, I watched a couple of TV episodes, I played Sudoku and Scrabble , and dozed some more. The food was plain awful, but our Floridian Norwegian neighbor, Nina, had warned me about that, so I packed a picnic.

We took a FlyBus to the Oslo Radisson Blue hotel and enjoyed the passing scenery. Lush green farm after farm flew by. I’m not sure why I was so shocked, but for some strange reason I didn’t expect Norway to be so rural.

Water everywhere, but that I expected.

Because we wanted to stay aligned to the local time, we decided to shower and change, and explore the city. Here are some of the sights:

OSLO HARBOR 1   OSLO CASTLE VIEW 2

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Nina, our Florida Norwegian neighbor, picked us up later that night and we headed to her lovely home with a fantastic view of the city for dinner. The weather was perfect, we sat on the balcony sipping on a chilled chardonnay, and munching on sausages Nina’d purchased in Cannes, France, a month earlier.

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Yummy food, including a duck salad and by far the best salmon I’ve tasted to date, great company, and a breathtaking view—what more could a gal ask for???

When we returned to our hotel long after midnight the sky was still light and it felt like dusk had just fallen. So weird. This far north darkness never really happens in the summertime and it remains a surreal twilight from one until about 4:30 A.M. When I pulled back the curtains at that time, the sun was full in the sky and it felt like ten in the morning.

I’m so revved about this vacation that I have a strong hunch sleep will be elusive.

 

 

Brunch in Los Altos

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Los Altos, Rick’s Cafe

Traveling has to be one of my  favorite hobbies, topped only by spending time with family and friends, and having great meals. The wonderful thing about traveling is that I can combine three of my faves into one.

The Viking and I spent three wonderful days with my wayward son, his amazing and gorgeous girlfriend, and some of his roommates,  co-workers, and friends. Last night our son and his girl took us out for dinner to a fantastic Jordanian restaurant located on historic Murphy Street in Sunnyvale (their new home as of next week). What a wonderful evening! Our son’s new ‘babe’ totally won us over. Smart as whip, pretty, diligent, ambitious, and she adores my wayward one. The latter’s all that’s important to me, but the rest—the equivalent of a kazillion dollar signing bonus! (sheesh, you have to forgive me—my son’s a recruiter, and I’m starting to think in his lingo).

Yesterday, we said farewell to our son and his girl, and I did not tear up in front of him-an accomplishment I’m entirely proud of even if it means I’m a total suck. We had brunch in Los Altos at Rick’s Cafe, and then headed down to Santa Cruz. Here are some photos:

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Have a marvelous Monday!

Cheers,

Jianne

We Live on an Amazing Planet – The Largest Salts Flats in the World

My mother sent me this today and it was so amazing, I simply had to share.
salt flat 1The Largest Salt Flat in the World

The Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi) and it’s a major tourist destination in the South American country of Bolivia. The Salar is virtually devoid of any wildlife or vegetation but it is home to an estimated 10 billion tons (9.8 billion LT) of salt.

But what is no less incredible, is where people who visit this amazing place stay, and how does one build something in the middle of the vast emptiness? The answer is quite remarkable.

Anyone arriving to visit this exotic part of the world is in for a real treat and a stay in one of the world’s most unique hotel experiences. Due to a lack of conventional construction materials in this area, many of the hotels here are built entirely with salt blocks cut from the Salar itself. The most famous one is called Palacio de Sal, Spanish for “Palace of salt”.

salt flat 2. salt flat 3

The hotel is made of about 1 million 35-cm (14-inch) salt blocks, which were used for the floor, walls, ceiling and furniture, including the beds, tables, chairs and sculptures. The hotel even has a dry sauna and a steam room, a saltwater pool and whirlpool baths for guests to relax in and fully enjoy this unreal place.

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Imagine what it feels like, sleeping on salt beds, sitting on salt chairs and even eating at salt tables. And while no one can deny how beautiful everything in this hotel is, that beauty is nothing compared to the view…

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The salt flats are so white and clear they often show a perfect reflection of the sky and the objects above them. In fact, because the Salar is so flat and has such a strong reflection, similar to that of ice sheets, it is used for calibrating the distance measurement equipment of satellites in space!

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The white, endless flats also offer visitors a unique opportunity to take some truly mind bending pictures. With no other objects in sights, the human eye loses its ability to establish a proper field of depth. The results are some of the most creative and bizarre pictures you will ever see…

salt flat 15.   salt flat 17

The salar is truly a place like no other, a magical kingdom of salt and beauty where one can drive on the endless flats and see the sky both above and below him. It is just one of many places on earth that prove that beauty has no rules and that nature always has one more trick up her sleeve.

Sigh, yet another item to add to my bucket list. At this rate, I won’t be able to live long enough to get through half of items currently on that Medusa’s Head of a list.

Definitely an appreciating Mother Nature Friday!

Cheers,

Jianne

Ricky Less & More

IMG_1039During the month of August, I am going to be working on revamping my website. Any suggestions? Send them in.

We returned from our trip to a Ricky less house. We’ve had Ricky for 6 months because his master (my young ‘un’s friend) was not in a pet-friendly building. It was supposed to be for one weekend in December and, well, it’s now been six months.

I love Ricky and it’s terrible to not have him sleeping on the landing when I wake up. I miss him dogging my footsteps every morning until I pick up his leash for our walk. I miss his toys being scattered all over the house. I am in mourning. So, I will be featuring my favorite Ricky pics today and for the rest of the month until my blog hop next week.

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Cool Ricky

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Sheepish Ricky

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Embarrassed Ricky

 

Coping with Change Trini-style!

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Taken from the second floor of my mother’s house. That tree needs to go :)

It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve visited Trinidad for longer than a couple of days. (I don’t count the visit 2 years ago, when I broke my leg on the second day in Trinidad). The changes are astounding. Port of Spain, the capital, and its environs have grown explosively. I thought I’d share a few pics with everyone.

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South-west View from The Union Club situated in the Nicholas Building in the middle of downtown Port-of-Spain. In the distance on the right is the city of San Fernando.

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Looking directly at downtown.

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North-west view of the Northern Range of mountains. The first pic was taken from the middle mountain in the background.

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The Union Club is one of those British Old-boy clubs, which only allowed women memberships in the late 80s. The restaurant has a 180 view of the city.

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The Tobago Ferry awaiting passengers and cargo. The ferry-ride to Tobago takes about 2 hours.

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Looking directly at the Gulf of Paria, which separates Trinidad from Venezuela. At it’s closest point, the distance between Trinidad & Venezuela is only 9 miles.

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The swath of green on the left is The Savannah. The Trini equivalent of Central Park. It’s the biggest roundabout (traffic circle) in the world.

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A partial view of Independence Square.