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They had announced the night before that we would be arriving an hour or so late in Alesund.  That didn’t affect us, since we had no plans.  I woke up before everyone else, and showed up at the spa just as it opened.  The mineral bath was under repair, which was too bad, so I just was on the heated beds for 90 minutes or so, reading my Bernard Cornwell.

When I emerged from there, I ran into Chris at the pool deck and we ate breakfast together while we watched the ship pull into the harbor.  The town was very picturesque, having been re-built after a fire in 1902 or 1906.  It was re-built, not quickly and cheaply like so many others we’ve seen, but in a style that everyone there calls Art Deco, but that I would describe as Victorian re-imaginings of the historic past.  Lots of grey stone.  Tall, pointed, coppered roofs, dramatic arched doorways.  Cobbled streets with patterned stones.  Iron railings and balconies. Very pretty.

While we ate, we found out about a neat looking local attraction to try and see in the guide book: The Sunnemore Museum.  It was primarily an exhibit of rural architecture for the last 150 years, but the description in one of the guidebooks mentioned a Medieval Museum with it.  It was in a neighboring town, so it was going to be an adventure to get there.  And adventures are problematic, but we decided to give it a try.

We went down to our stateroom, woke up the girl and disembarked.  A block from the cruise terminal was a tourist office, so we went there and, after waiting in line for a while, I asked about getting to the museum.  She said it was easy (and that could have worried me, but it didn’t, I’m so trusting . . .) to take a bus and scoffed at me when I suggested taking a cab.  She had also just called a cab for the couple in front of me in line, and it was looking like a long wait to get one.  So all we had to do was walk to the bus station by the town hall, catch a 618 bus, and get off just after the bridge and we would be at the museum.

We had trouble finding the town hall.  We kept walking, following the direction the tourist office woman had pointed, and following her landmark (“by the construction”).  The big grey building we thought it must be turned out to be a shopping mall, but when we stepped out on the other side we saw a 618 drive by.  We followed it and got to it before it left the stop (there were _a lot_ of tourists trying to get on).  I did the smart thing and asked to make sure it went to the museum and the driver said that it did not.

Phew.  Close call.  Mistake avoided.

He had pointed back the way we came and said that we needed a stop on the other side of the street, a bus going in the opposite direction.  So we went back that way.  By now, the confidence that we could do this was waning and Becca was very frustrated and anxious.

We went around one more corner and could see off in the distance a group of shelters with benches.  That looked like what we wanted.  It was harder to get there than we thought, it being across a very busy street and there were few places to cross it.  But we got there, and there was even a 618 there waiting for us.  We climbed on, making sure that it was the right bus, and took seats.

The drive was nice with a great view of the fjord.  Our stop was easy to find and we walked down a long driveway to the museum. 

It was fabulous, with one of the best gift shops we’d seen so far.  They had a small exhibit on stone- and iron-age tools that was very nice.  There were some impressive gold armrings and two sword blades.  There was also an exhibit about rural dress in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

After the exhibits we wound up in the gift shop, where Chris and Becca both bought ice cream.  I got a coffee and a neat cinnamon pastry that tasted as good as it looked. 

We walked through the rest of the grounds of the outdoor museum on our way to the Medieval longhouse exhibit.  There were quite a few neat buildings all clustered around the shore of a large pond.  One of them was a small water-powered grain mill, that looked like it fully-operational (except that it wasn’t near any running water).  It was a huge thrill for me; I took lots of pictures. 

The Medieval museum was a large rectangular structure built over the excavation of a 12th Century longhouse.  There was just foundation left, with a lot of old timbers from which you could kind of imagine what the old house looked like.  But not really.  A walkway went around the perimeter of the excavation and it had a bunch of informational displays along it.  Talking about medieval life, the history of the settlement there, that kind of thing.

There was also a boat exhibit, that had a replica Viking ship and they were giving rides in a 19th C. fishing boat.  But we didn’t do that.  We spent a lot of krone in the gift shop.  Chris got the Thor’s Hammer pendant that she was on a mission to find on the trip -- a beautiful bronze one that she later got a nice leather braided necklace for.

We caught the bus back with no problems and walked back to the ship.  I let Chris and Becca re-board while I stayed in town for a while.  I had thought about going out to one of the islands where there was a Norman church and where Rollo, the founder of the Duchy of Normandy, was born, but it was a long way and the church was closed for restoration.  So instead I got a walking tour map of Alesund.

The tour wasn’t actually all that interesting, so I just wandered.  I was idly looking for an authentic Norwegian restaurant, but in that quest I would be unsuccessful.  I did find a neat church, a friendly cat, a glassblowers and best of all, an antique store.  Mostly what they had was turn of the century prints, housewares and maritime items, but they had a huge selection and I spent well over half an hour in there.

I met the girls for more Settlers.  Dinner was delicious, and I think I’m addicted to those strip steaks.  But we were all tired, me especially from the late night the night before and all of the extra walking, so we called it an early night.


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November 2013

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