Andrew & Helen Gaylard


Andrew & Helen Gaylard

Asia » Singapore October 30th 2016

Our journey home began with a short hop from Vilnius to Helsinki; from there, unlike all our long hops on the route to Europe, the 11 hours to Singapore were undertaken without exit-row or bulkhead seats to benefit our respectively long and dodgy legs. Happily, we slept a few hours each, which was unlikely to be the case for the neighbours of a hard-drinking, Putin-T-shirt-wearing Russian passenger a few rows forward, who was eventually refused further service from the trolley. Like our stopover in Malmo, Singapore was intended mainly as rest and only a little recreation, to break up the long journey home. We were surprised to hear from our taxi driver from the airport to the rather classy Goodwood Hotel (taxis are cheap there) that we had arrived in the middle of the Deepavali (called ... read more
Newton Food Centre
Chili Crab!
Singapore Sling at Raffles

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius October 27th 2016

The pre-dawn flight to Vilnius arrived there at 11am, picking up two hours on the timezone difference. The airport is in old and new halves, and inexplicably they have decided to assign the Soviet-era-mausoleum half as the arrivals hall and the sparkly new half as departures, which to us was not good impression management. Anyway, the information desk was helpful, explaining that we could take a no. 88 bus to a stop very close to our hotel for one euro ($1.60) each “possibly with a charge for bags”. That actually turned out to be a mini-bus, with a driver who was surly but not unhelpful. It was Sunday, and on the way in we gave up seats to two grateful and voluble (in Lithuanian) old ladies. They and a number of others were being ferried straight ... read more
Craft market stalls
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
Classic row

Europe » Norway » Western Norway October 22nd 2016

The cruise finished at noon in Bergen. We disembarked and used our new favourite app, Here We Go, to navigate to the apartment where we were to bed down. Martine was a bubbly presence as a host, with a refreshingly untidy place, and she helped us with a plan to see as much of the town as possible in the few hours we had available. Highlights were an impressive town square, 12th-century palace and that famous row of coloured shop frontages along the Bryggen foreshore. And we did make the trip on the funicular railway up the mountain overlooking the city for a spectacular view, which was enjoyable even without going too near the edge. An even better view is enjoyed by a handful of goats – they must by definition be mountain goats – that ... read more
Bergen town square
Goats with a view
They're everywhere

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway October 20th 2016

The next four days gave a succession of stunning landscapes and small-town walks, punctuated by several excursions in larger towns, occasional on-board diversions, and two sightings of the northern lights on our first and second nights. Unfortunately they turned up when clouds and a full moon were around, so not the stunning display of the tourism docos, but fascinating all the same. The boat has an announcement regime that ensures you don’t miss them. Apart from those, the highlights really are the beauty of the land, water and sky, which can be seen in the photos (of which there were plenty, much reduced here) and require no further description. The boat accommodates 350 – we reckon no more than about 250 on this trip. Just one other Australian couple that we met – most people were ... read more
Coast I
Aurora + full moon
Midnight, Arctic Cathedral, Tromso

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Kirkenes October 16th 2016

The transport system served us well again the following morning when we were able to leave Maya’s apartment at 7.00am for a 7.14am train that took less than thirty minutes to take us 60 km to the airport with a stop along the way. The plane journey to Kirkenes was one of keen anticipation, as our destination was remote and cold way beyond Peter Dutton, our first time inside the Arctic Circle, by several degrees of latitude. Also, not unexpectedly, several degrees colder than we had been used to. The downy jackets from Iceland were starting to work for their keep. A not-so-new shuttle bus took us to one of the two hotels in a small port/industrial town with tourist overlays, just 10 km from the Russian border. There is a kind of passport-free zone for ... read more
First glimpse of Kirkenes
Husky centre
Puppy I

Europe » Norway » Eastern Norway » Oslo October 14th 2016

The rail trip from Gothenburg to Oslo is rather more entertaining than its predecessor, with some pretty lagoons and inlets north of Gothenburg followed by an extended series of regional towns and outer-outer suburbs on the Norwegian side of the border. The public transport system in Oslo is nice and friendly, and we found our way easily to our digs in an old apartment building, close to the centre of town. It was just down the road from the National Theatre, where Ibsen was booed and celebrated; as well as from the American Embassy and the Nobel Institute, both of which bring to mind the new Nobel Prize-winner for literature receiving a similarly mixed response. We had a little trouble contacting our host (who was up on the top floor) but a friendly co-tenant helped us ... read more
Viking ship
Helen at the folk museum
Opera (exterior)

Europe » Sweden » Västra Götaland » Gothenburg October 11th 2016

Malmo to Gothenburg by train is an unremarkable journey. Arriving around lunchtime, we orienteered our way to the docks where our hotel was moored. Yes, a boat that is a hotel. Boatel. The Hotell Barken Viking is an old schooner repurposed for accommodation, and a job really well done. Some things were a little cramped in our room, but the quality of everything about it was great, at a very reasonable off-season price. Apparently the place rocks over the summer. I was feeling worse again by this stage, and opted to spend an afternoon in bed trying to marshal the antibodies while Helen took off for a ramble around the city, an opportunity to shop without feeling continual pressure either to buy something or move along. She scoped out several shopping and eating options for a ... read more
Hotell Barken Viking
Opera House, across the harbour from hotel
A sample of the offerings with dinner at pub

Europe » Sweden » Skåne » Malmö October 9th 2016

There’s really not much to write, because we treated this time unashamedly as R&R after what was always going to be the most tiring part of the trip. I was starting to become very noisy with coughing fits, and spent a lot of time doing very little. Thought about visiting a local doctor but was pretty sure that this was a virus, so what can you do? A couple of walks around their neighbourhood and a family cycling excursion down to a waterside café (past the park where Matt plays footy, goalposts still up and perplexing the locals) were about as active as we got. Matt and Nelly were so welcoming, setting up their living room as our bedroom each night, feeding us very well and letting us play with their children (!) Gracie and Mike ... read more
Nearing the city
After lunch
Gracie poised

Europe » Iceland » Southwest October 7th 2016

Riding day for Helen: up early for two and a half hours and many kilometres in the sole company of the amiable Louise. The ride went down to and along an empty black-sand beach (they all are, here), and on her ready mare Rekna Helen quickly gained proficiency in the tolt, the so-called fifth gait, which looks a bit like a disrupted pacer’s gait, or maybe a quadruped Jared Tallent. I took the chance to wander out among the horses for a bit of in-paddock photography. The lack of sunshine for the camera is a continuing frustration: almost every photo taken so far has been in cloudy conditions, thus understating a country where the landscape often dresses in surprising colours. Yesterday’s wind had eased, though, which was a blessing. In the afternoon I took it easy ... read more
Paddock (2)
Paddock (3)
Paddock (4)

Europe » Iceland October 5th 2016

It was a regretful leavetaking of this wonderful family (it turns out they foster children as well) as we set out for Stykkisholmur, a harbour/holiday town on a western peninsula. Along the way was some more matchless scenery, including a climbable crater of a relatively recent extinct volcano with a view down onto another one. The weather continued grey and cloudy, but we were assured we were lucky it was not a lot worse, which was the forecast for Wednesday. We made Stykkisholmur in relatively good time and stopped for a feed at a bakery on the outskirts of town, Helen engaging the baker in conversation about some horses we had passed, which turned out to be his. There was time for an afternoon walk around a harbour prettily filled with small islands before dinner at ... read more
Autumn willdflowers
Young crater
Roadside Hvammstangi-Stykkisholmur

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