After crossing the English Channel, we found a rental car and immediately set off for Westvleteren Brewery in Belgium. This brewery produces three beers that are consistently ranked among the best in the world. However, the Trappist monks only produce enough to finance their Abbey so it is difficult to find in the USA. I tried all three.
As part of her PhD research, Katie submitted a robotics paper to the Hamlyn Symposium in London. We weren’t planning to go back to Europe for a while, but given the opportunity we decided to see parts of continent that had so far evaded us. We started with the London Eye.
This monolithic ferris wheel is in the heart of London and difficult to miss. Although we’d been to here twice before we’d never had an urge to go up. The lines were always long and it just seemed a bit too touristy. We caved and bought tickets – it was neat.
Travelling abroad is never easy, but most of the time the return journey home is more difficult. Throughout the trip we are constantly exhausted yet the thrill of being in another country keeps our energy high. As our return flight approaches, the thrill is replaced with fatigue. Additionally, we always book weird flight paths and that doesn’t help.
Since this trip was planned spur-of-the-moment, our return journey home took us first through the small town of Trondheim, Norway. Here we stayed briefly overnight so we could catch an international flight home. We didn’t have time for much, just a good dinner and a stroll around the city in the rain.
Our ferry from Flam arrived in Bergen late in the evening and we were too tired for nightlife. So we found our condo and took some good pictures of the cityscape from our balcony, before going to sleep. This was the end of the trip for Matt and Chris and a quick stop for all of us. From here, Katie, Lyle, and I were heading up north to the Arctic Circle.
The next morning, we made our way down to the iconic harbor where we got coffee among the smaller shops. We walked along the district before heading to the mountain tram that took us to an overlook of the city.
From Oslo, we caught one the rail services westward to the small town of Myrdal. From there, we hopped on a smaller line called Flamsbana. Ever since researching for my first Europe trip, I had heard of this train ride as it is consistently listed as one of the most scenic in the world.
Lyle, Katie, and I woke up in Stockholm at about 4am to catch the first flight to Oslo. We navigated our way to city center on a high speed rail and found our hotel easily enough. After meeting up with Matt and Chris again we decided to start exploring the sights nearby.
Our hotel happened to be next to the Oslo Opera House which was an architectural oddity with massive glass walls and granite exterior. We walked around it with care because an early morning rain made the granite a little slippery.
Katie and I landed in Copenhagen on Thursday morning to a clear day. After checking into the hotel and grabbing coffee to fight the jetlag, we met the rest of our party (Lyle, Matt, and Chris) and headed to our first destination: Tivoli Gardens.
We didn’t mean to visit Scandinavia – it was sort of by accident. Originally, Katie and I planned on attending Oktoberfest in Munich and sightseeing around Germany. I guess we enjoyed the country so much last summer, we couldn’t wait to go back.
One thing lead to another; Matt and Lyle decided to accompany us and then flight prices ballooned across mainland Europe. We already planned on taking the vacation days and as September was approaching we started to get desperate for an alternate destination. Matt jokingly checked the flights to Copenhagen and they were reasonable. So in the words of Hunter S Thompson, we decided to just “buy the ticket, take the ride”. Because of that, this trip might get a little weird. We didn’t do a ton of planning and our expectations are a little vague. All we knew was that Vikings used to roam in that area, but they haven’t been around for hundreds of years so it shouldn’t be a problem.
On top of that, we have a new addition to our group. Matt’s friend Chris decided to go globetrotting with us. He helps run an amusement park in Kentucky and had been wanting to visit some of the parks in Denmark and Sweden. It seemed perfect so he had to come.
We’ve been home now for a few weeks and I’ve finally uploaded all of the pictures.
Katie wrote this post
Day 2: Geneva is known for its watch-making and is home to multiple world-known watch brands including Rolex. There is even a walking tour for watch enthusiasts. It starts with what is known as the “flower clock.” This clock features the world’s longest second hand at 2.5 meters long and over 6,500 flowers (these are changed throughout the year, so the clock is always flowing even in the winter). Unfortunately, the first time that we stopped by, the clock was in flower transition and a complete mess!