July 31, 2008
The tiny town of Flam, behind us, and a most restful day aboard ship, as we failed to secure the wait-listed ride on the Flam train, with its five redundant braking schemes, to thwart hair raising, hairpin turns, we entered the most beautiful city, yet, Alesund. Voted the most picturesque city in 2007, it lived up to its reputation. It has 65,000 residents, compressed into a relatively small area of 3 islands, strung out, linearly, and visible from an observatory-restaurant, to which our bus headed. Most of the transportation outside the city seems to be accomplished by ferries and buses, though there was supposed to be an airport somewhere nearby, not in evidence.
On January 23, 1904, the town was destroyed by a conflagration of its largely wooden houses. It was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style, termed, Jugenstil, and with a sizeable contribution from Wilhelm.
Our visit included a trip to an outdoor museum and a boat museum with a preserved, or reproduced, “Shetland Express,” which kept a clandestine pathway open to Britain during the German occupation.
The prices continued to impress, or rather, depress, us, as dollars are worth very little, and postcards including stamps cost about $5.00, limiting communication with the grandchildren, but we’re managing to send a troll or two back to the states.
We’ve been fortunate, generally, in our open seating dinners, to share the table with interesting people. This night, it was Dave, a volunteer fireman from Bloomington, MN, and his wife, Maria; Elna and her daughter, Marlene, from Jenny Lind, CA, in Calaveras County. Marlene and her husband raise llamas, originally to create firebreaks in extremely rugged land with ragged drops, and with a capacity to kick their way to victory against coyotes. They have an emu, as a defense against rattlesnakes. Apparently emus have some aggression and offer a scant target for rattlesnake bites. Marlene is looking forward to constructing a straw house for its insulating properties.; Bob and Carol were from near Littleton, CO, at about 5,500 feet, and he requires oxygen at that level, but is most reluctant to abandon a home they built with multiple solar energy devices. After a chemistry degree, Bob entered the USAF where he was transformed into a meteorologist, and following his retirement, he taught solar energy courses. Carol attended Northwestern and worked in drafting and engineering. Both Dave and Bob have emphysema. It seems that everyone at our table was looking forward to “change” in November.