Tag: Dark tourism

Posts that mention our dark tourism tendencies or specific sights that may appeal to dark tourists.

Slow in Oslo

We’ve arrived in Oslo without any firm plans, so there won’t be much on the agenda. After breakfast we fight our way through the crowds down on the dock and indulge our dark tourism tendencies by heading for the Vår Frelsers gravlund (Our Saviour graveyard) and the grave of Edvard Munch.

We make a detour at the Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church) to pick up a geocache (#GC1XE09) and take a quick look at the Devil of Oslo. On our (uphill) journey we notice that just about everyone in Oslo goes running on a Sunday morning – there are packs of joggers everywhere.

Top tip: They take Sunday seriously in Oslo, so all the shops are shut. If you’re going on a shopping spree, visit on a Saturday.

Dark tourism done for the day, we head back down the hill in search of a bar. Passing a pro-Ukraine rally, we take a patio seat at the Williamsburg Bab & Beer kebab restaurant. They may have craft beers and free WiFi, but at more than £22 for two pints, you can’t afford to stay for long.

UPDATE MAY 2024: It appears that the Williamsburg pub has closed and been replaced by The Scotsman bar.

Top tip: Alcohol is ridiculously expensive in Norway. Your best bet is to head back to the ship if you really want a cocktail or second beer.

We squeeze in another geocache (#GCJ3CA) on the way back to the dock and then back onto the ship. Enchanted Princess sails quite early in the afternoon, allowing us to really enjoy the views as we head back to the Baltic.

Copenhagen tomorrow.

Coping in Carlsberg, Copenhagen

Docking at midday, we had initially planned to spend the day at Tivoli. However, the weather looks pretty poor so we decide to try something different.

Boarding the 164 bus from the stop directly opposite the cruise terminal, we head down to the Nordhavn train station. We then jump on the ‘B’ train down to Carlsberg station (definitely not probably the best station in the world).

Top tip: You can buy a 24 hour ticket valid for all public transport for 80 DKK from the vending machine next to the kebab shop opposite the cruise terminal

This area used to be the home of the original Carlsberg brewery and there are some great brick building reminders. However, we’re here for the Elephant Gate:

Suspicious elephant seen, we’re back on the bus towards Assistens Cemetery for some more dark tourism. Here we come across two ‘celebrity’ graves – Hans Christian Andersen and Nils Bohr. The graveyard is surprisingly busy – not with tourists, but dozens of Danes walking and jogging.

There are also some quite unusual headstones to see:

We walk back up to the Nørrebros Runddel metro station and hop on the M3 to Copenhagen central station. We score an outside table at the very welcoming Jernbanecafeen and sample a local ale. The pub is a family-run affair and very well looked after – apparently it is also the third best bar in Copenhagen. Again, not cheap, but more pleasant than many we have visited.

Afterwards it’s back to the ship and a quick snooze before dinner.

More than a feeling

Another day, another port, another ridiculous accent. Today we’re in Boston, the city where the British Empire began to crumble.

There’s a massive crush leaving the ship – the city has laid on several shuttle buses to take the assembled masses into the city centre. Even cooler, the shuttles are actually the big yellow school buses so ubiquitous on US TV. Obviously, this entails much moaning from entitled cruisers – which is weird, because the buses are free.

We’re dropped off near the city aquarium and immediately head off looking for some dark tourist sights. Our wander takes us along some of the ‘world famous’ Freedom Trail, and we do encounter a few sites that were pivotal in the American Revolution. Obviously, we’re not taught about this episode in British schools, so the significance is somewhat wasted on us.

We managed to grab a few geocaches on the walk, eventually arriving at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. There’s some impressively old gravestones to check out and the visit is enlivened by a re-enactment troupe doing their schtick.

Dark tourist tendencies sated, we head back in town in the hope of finding somewhere selling a Boston Cream Pie. We fail. Instead we stop for a beer in the sunshine at The Landing overlooking Central Wharf. Being in Boston, it has to be one of the Samuel Adams variants for me.

Definitely not Yorkshire

Today we’re in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is nice. claiming to be ‘The World’s Friendliest Cruise Port’, we’re even greeted by a bagpiper down on the dock.

In the cruise terminal, a local guide directs us towards a bus that will take us out to a true dark tourism site – the Fairlawn Cemetery. This is the final resting place for the majority of victims recovered from Titanic. The range of ages and occupations is extremely interesting – as is the fact that some of the people still have not been identified.

Afterwards we take a walk to a local shopping mall. On the way we pass a much less well-known dark tourism site, the West End Cemetery. This unassuming black-fenced lot is the final resting place of 125 victims of the Halifax Explosion – an event that levelled most of the city in 1917. I doubt that any of the cruise excursions go past this relatively anonymous corner of the city.

Another bus back from the mall and we stop at the Garrison Brewery on the dock. This is a great excuse to try out one of their beer flights – and sample five beers at once. It certainly makes up for not trying any local brews yesterday.

Grey Town

Today we’re in Le Havre, what appears to be a relatively industrial enclave on the Normandy coast. The ship docks within seeing distance of the city centre – but it’s at least a mile to walk into the town.

The city is overwhelmingly grey, undoubtedly a result of post-war reconstruction that heavily favoured concrete. This is not a pretty town – if you want something more visibly attractive, Honfleur is supposed to be nicer and it’s not too far away by bus.

Top tip: The Normandy coast saw some of the most vicious fighting towards the end of WW2. Dark tourists may want to check out the D Day landing beaches which are located to the south of the city.

On the way into town we grab a few geocaches, including a fun one in a puzzle box under a bridge. Sadly there’s not much by way of sights in the town – and we have arrived near lunchtime as all the stores shut for an hour or two. The place feels deserted.

Top tip: Most cruise lines advertise this port as Le Havre – Paris. Don’t be fooled – it’s almost two hours drive to the French capital. Even the cruise ship excursion staff have a hard time selling their trips because you have almost no time to see anything in Paris. Our advice? Don’t bother.

We make our way to the faithfully restored Cathédrale Notre-Dame which still bears some scars of bombing and fighting in 1944-45. However, inside we discover something quite incredible:

In one of the side chapels is a fairly standard crucifix. However, the photograph besides reveals something quite astonishing – Jesus was the only thing to have survived the heavy bombardment of the Cathedral in September 1944. The only damage he sustained? A gash on his side, just as described in the New Testament book of John.

It has to be said, Le Havre does have a more famous church to visit, but we found this undocumented piece of history particularly fascinating.

Afterwards we retire to L’Havrais Bière, a local brewpub serving its own beers. With six to eight ales to choose from, there’s something for everyone – and my cloudy IPA is pretty decent. Then it’s the long walk back to the ship…

Sadly, we’re back in Southampton tomorrow. But we have Norway, Iceland and Poland coming up in May…

Titanic’s forgotten stop

Overnight we have crossed the Irish Sea, arriving in Cobh (pronounced ‘cove’) as we wake up. A pair of tugs push and pull us into position on a dock near the centre of town.

Top tip: The railway station is directly opposite the dock. You can catch a train straight into Cork city centre which is about €6, much cheaper than taking one of the excursions arranged by the cruise line.

Bonus tip: If you are super organised, mobile and up for a challenge, you can reach Blarney Castle with its famous stone by public transport. However, you should allow between 90 and 120 minutes each way.

Like Falmouth yesterday, Cobh feels like a bit of a filler for the itinerary. We can’t really find anything of interest in Cork, so decide to stay local and take a look at Cobh itself. Interestingly, Titanic made it’s final stop here to pick up 150 unlucky locals – and the Titanic Experience commemorates this fact.

Obviously this appeals to our dark tourist nature, so we take a look. The exhibition takes place in the old White Star Line ticket office which is quite cool, as are the recreations of the various cabins on the ship. We are given a tour by a guide and then left to check out the last part of the display ourselves. There’s probably nothing new to be learned here, but it’s still worth a visit.

Top tip: Book your tickets for the Titanic Experience online when you arrive in Cobh to avoid long queues and waits at the ticket office. Tickets cost €12 and are slightly cheaper for OAPs, students and children.

Afterwards, we visit the Titanic Bar & Grill downstairs so Linda can have a real Guinness and I can sample a local beer. It is absolutely heaving with other travellers from the ship – thankfully ours is the only one in port today, otherwise I imagine it would be even worse. The beer is reasonable and the food looks delicious so it’s not the worst tourist trap we have ever landed in.

One for the tourists

Beer drunk we head back to the ship. I’m sure there are a few other things to look at in town, but we decide to call it a day early on.

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