Thursday, October 24, 2019


Stanley - Thursday

For the second time in three years I'm enjoying beautiful Norway. Last time Mette and I were here with two friends used to the cold. This time our companions were South Africans who blanch at the thought of temperatures below +5C. Their reactions were an unending source of amusement, especially when the wind came up.

Aron and Jenny Frankental putting on a brave face.  Mette wasn't as uncomfortable.
Since Mette and I had visited Norway before, we knew of the astonishing cost of alcoholic beverages. A beer can cost $15, for example. So we stocked up beforehand, squirrelling bottles in our suitcases and backpacks.

(Photo: Aron Frankental)
We started near the Russian border at Kirkenes, where we were fortunate to see very nice Northern Lights. Even though they were monochromatic, they were amazing, moving and morphing, coming and going.

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)
Kirkenes is only a few kilometres from the Russian border, so the Russian influence is very strong. One thing we learnt was that the town was one of the most bombed cities during World War II. The Germans had a large presence because of iron mines and for maritime strategic purposes. The Russians flattened the town many times.

From there, we set sail on Hurtigruten's Nord Cap boat, which is a working ferry with sleeping accommodation for about 400 passengers. The most notable aspect of the trip to Svolvaer on the Lofoten Islands, where we disembarked, was the amount of food we consumed - mainly fish. All four of us loved the variety of herring dishes, the salmon, and gravlax. The only disappointment was we couldn't enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.

The gastronomic highlight was king crab. These were introduced into northern Norway waters by the Russians, whether for nefarious purposes or not we never found out. The crabs are huge, reaching up to 2 metres across. Aron and I decided to splurge - they are very expensive - and enjoyed a meal on board. Yummy.

It is difficult to appreciate the size of this platter from the photo. 
There was, of course, wonderful scenery the whole way, as well as a few surprises. One of these was at Hammerfest, a port that has adopted the beluga whale accused of being a Russian spy.

In a delightful pun around the Russian President Putin's first name, the whale has been named Hvaldimir (Hval, pronounced val, is Norwegian for whale). It is quite the celebrity, not only for its alleged spying activities, but also because it is so friendly. Recently, it retrieved a cell phone that a woman dropped into the sea while watching it. We watched a movie of it playing with a seagull, coming up underneath it and gently nudging it.

Before I tell you about some other remarkable sightings, here are a few pictures of the scenery.

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

When I think of witches being burnt at the stake, I think of Salem in Massachusetts. But it is nothing compared to Vardø in the Norwegian far north. In the 17th Century, nearly 100 witches were tortured, then burnt, usually for trivial or fabricated reasons. There is a fascinating monument to them, with a plaque for each person killed together with their 'crimes'. I found it very depressing.

Each light represents one person killed. The plaques are in a long dark passage inside the structure.
The Lofoten islands off Norway's west coast are a string of beautiful islands with spectacular scenery - beautiful coastline and magnificent mountains. One day we were driving around, when we arrived at the little (read tiny) town of Unstad on the west coast. To our amazement, it is a surfing centre and, what's more, people were surfing. We couldn't believe our eyes. The temperature was only +3 degrees  Celsius.

The surfing shop
To our further astonishment, it also boasted the World's Best Cinnamon Rolls. Of course, we had to try one.

And delicious it was. It had to be. I think it cost $11.

 Here are some more scenic pictures:

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental) 
(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)

(Photo: Aron Frankental)
After another trip on a Hurtigruten boat, we arrived at Bergen, a lovely town to which I feel a strong attachment. My paternal grandmother was born here, and her family's house is still standing. So, of course, we had to visit it. Opposite it is a bust of my great uncle Claus Hanssen, who is very well known locally for starting the Boys Brigade, when he was 12, opening a bathing house where people who didn't have baths in their homes could come and clean themselves, and generally being extremely community-minded.

Dr. Claus Hansen
Claus's brother Arnauer Hansen was also a physician, after whom leprosy was named - Hansen's disease. His statue is also somewhere in Bergen.

Being in a genealogical frame of mind, I also looked for other relatives - not on the Hansen see, but rather on the Trollip side.

Great great great grandad, Ole Troll

Ole's brother Sigurd Troll
One of the pleasures of Norway, as Mentioned before, are the fish. it is a fishing nation, both catching and eating. We wandered through the indoor fish market, enjoyed the displays and walked out with many Norwegian krone's worth of salmon.

All sorts of fresh fish.
One of my favourite sushi dishes is uni - sea urchin. These were nearly $12 each. Ouch.
Today, we take the train from bergen to Oslo. It is reputed to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. Can't wait.


Tuesday, October 29: 6:30 pm Murder by the Book, Houston, Texas. Michael joins Yrsa Sigurdardottir for a discussion and signing.

We’ll be at BOUCHERCON in Dallas at the end of the month. It looks like an exciting meeting and we’re looking forward to these panels!

Thursday, October 31:

11:00 – 12:00 PanelThe Novel Stands Alone
  Kendra Elliot, JT Ellison, LS Hawker, Stanley Trollip, Sheri Lewis Wohl
  Participating Moderator: Laura Benedict

Sunday, November 3:

8:30 – 9:30 Panel: Detectives Overseas
  Ian Hamilton, Ragnar Jonasson, Michael Sears, Jeffrey Siger
  Moderator: Nancy Tingley

After Bouchercon we’re on tour. Please join us somewhere if you can!

Tuesday, November 5: 7:00 pm Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, Arizona, with Solari Gentill and Tim Maleeny

Wednesday, November 6: 4:30 pm Totally Criminal Cocktail Hour, Stillwater, Minnesota. Contact Valley Booksellers at (651) 430-3385 for tickets

Saturday, November 9: 10:00 Private book club event

Saturday, November 9: 1:00 pm Barnes and Noble, HarMar, St Paul, Minnesota

Tuesday, November 12: 7:00 pm Mystery to Me, Madison, Wisconsin

Wednesday, November 13: 7:00 pm Centuries and Sleuths, Forest Park, Illinois

Saturday, November 16: 10:00 Nokomis Public Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Monday, November 18: 7:00 pm Barnes and Noble, Galleria, Minneapolis, Minnesota. More details to follow.


  1. Well that's a few more things added to my To Visit List. Congratulate your friend on the photographs, they are spectacular! You can almost sense the clean, fresh air. I'm using fresh in the Scottish sense, to mean 'just above freezing'. See you soon!

  2. Great pictures! I'm sure the train trip was spectacular too!

  3. Caro said it all for me. Kudos for sure to Aron for the photographs. There's something about the Nordic life and weather that draws me there--as I am to Iceland. Only one question: I have a suspicion of the answer, but why is everything so expensive in Norway?

  4. If you're looking for a neighborhood print shop, printer or a company which provides quality printing services in your neighborhood, then you're in the proper place. Find more interesting information about Print Shop here.