P&O Cruises Oceana: Norwegian Fjords – Chapter 8

Our travelling pharmacist Dave Harcombe, a cruise virgin, has chosen P&O Cruises for his first expedition on the high seas accompanied by his wife Babs. Dave’s first-timer blog is not to be missed.

DAY FOUR: Fjord Fiesta – Part 2

On disembarking we found ourselves at the back of a long queue. The soppy kissing and cuddling mid fifties couple behind us were annoying. They kept talking about de-shipping not disembarking and laughing in a high pitched whine. Hair like Ms Bonham- Carter. Not only had they spent too long with the fairies, they were still away with them today. Matching anoraks. Need I say more!

We were heading for the famous Flam railway. We could see it but weren’t allowed to walk on our own. Frustrating yes. At one stage I thought we would  all be asked to hold hands so no one got lost en route. As the starting pistol was sounded (only kidding)  Babs and I began moving quickly and quietly through the crowds. And just as well we did!

Norwegian fjordsWe got one of the last two seats together in the second to last carriages. Many people were struggling to find seats. Those with walking problems were struggling to get onto the train. P& O could and should have done better.

We sat with a wonderful old couple from Yorkshire, a retired district nurse and ambulance driver, and enjoyed their company and chat.

The world famous railway began in 1923 and was one of the highlights of the trip. Travelling up 1 in 18 gradients, spiraling through mountain tunnels, past waterfalls, deep valleys, vertiginous drops and breathtaking quaint villages. The patronising Norwegian guide, when he decided to make an effort, said it’s the world’s steepest unassisted railway climb.

Climbing to the mountain station at Myrdal, 12 miles away and 3000 feet above, the journey took about 55 minutes. It was snowing at the top. And cold. And windy. Very picturesque. Very wintry. The frozen lakes and rivers were a delight. An unforgettable journey and a masterpiece of modern engineering.

As we jumped down from the train, helping the less able too, it began to pour down heavily. So we dashed into the shops. The sight of Oceana only a stone’s through away from us was reassuring.

Flam has a few overpriced souvenir shops. Compared to England everything is expensive .Funny though that we found the ice creams to be no dearer than at home.

A cafe and pub were doing brisk business. The local co-op was empty .Not surprising when charging £5 for a pack of biscuits similar to a £1 pack at home. A bottle of water was £2.50 -about the price WH SMITH charge in airports and that’s a rip off too.

In the sunshine Flam would be drop dead gorgeous. But not today. This rural idyll is known as the little place between steep mountains. Add the word wet and you get a more accurate picture. A great pity. It would have been great to have sat on the beautiful riverbank in the village and read a good book .Or just simply gulping in the clear fresh life affirming air. Maybe next time.

Cruising the Norwegian fjordsBack on board we headed to The Plaza restaurant on top deck. Self-service but very very good food. We always aimed to get there by 2.45 ish. At this time hot dinners and puddings were still being served. At 3pm this  side of the restaurant was closed and the other side opened for afternoon tea and cakes etc. So getting there when we did gave us a wonderful choice of hot and cold food and great puddings and cakes.

Five hours later we were at it again.

Dinner was superb. Poached Eggs Hollandaise with smoked salmon on a warm muffin ,followed by White Onion and Cauliflower Cheese followed by Prime roast sirloin of beef with French beans, thyme-baked potatoes. Yorkshire pud and pan gravy, followed by Orange curd meringue tart with chocolate pastry and citrus fruits. Then a cheese board and two cups of coffee .PS I asked for a second pudding too-raspberry sorbet.

“Stop In The Name Of Love”. P&O’s Headlines theatre company performed this wonderful musical, celebrating Motown magic and music.

Using music to tell the story of three couples in the 1960’s – their lives, loves, lost love. It was very well done and enjoyed by everyone. The enthusiasm and energy of the company was a delight.

If Motown wasn’t your cuppa then you could try the 60’s and 70’s Nigh fever party in Starlights theatre. A casual evening with optional fashions. Some on the cruise looked as though they permanently lived in the 60’s.

Cocktail pianist Adam was excellent in the atrium.

If you were still bored then the ship offered another late night disco, live music in two bars, a quiz at 10.30pm. And the daily dancing with Linda and Stephen. No guessing where we ended up.

There really is something for everyone!

•  Read Chapter 1
•  Read Chapter 2
•  Read Chapter 3
•  Read Chapter 4
•  Read Chapter 5
•  Read Chapter 6
•  Read Chapter 7
•  Read Chapter 9
•  Read Chapter 10

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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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