Published: June 6th 2012June 5th 2012
Troll in Bergen
We had no idea that the troll was such a big symbol in Norway we see these creatures everywhere! Oh, and we keep seeing Fred everywhere too!
Bergen to Kirkenes - the half part of our cruise with Hurtigruten
Thursday 31st May 2012
Fred and Lorraine left a little earlier than us as they wanted to take the funicular up Mt Floyen and we hadn't made up our minds on where we wanted to go. We walked around the old buildings near the YMCA and then came across the entrance of the funicular train, a long line of people waiting.
Rags hates waiting in queues so we decided to walk up to the peak using the paths, stairs and roadway shown on our map. It was only 320m above sea level but the zig-zag course made it well over an hour before we finally reached the summit. Both of us were pleased with ourselves, even if we were warm and a little footsore, as only a few groups were climbing it and we were certainly the eldest!
The lookout and shop were packed with sightseers, the view of the city certainly worth the effort of getting there. Bergen is quite large, the area we were staying in, the port, only a small part. The city is
Bergen fish Market
Since we are in for 2 weeks of feasting on fish we decided not to pay the high prices at the Bergen Fish Market on the wharf.
set in a valley and stretches back down it, houses, parks, industry, filling it with more houses on the hillsides.
As our legs were now feeling the climb we thought we'd ride down in the train. Imagine our chagrin when the only working ticket vending machine decided to stop working. On enquiring on an alternative way to purchase the required ticket we were told the only way was to talk to the driver. Great help that was, you need a ticket to enter the area where he could be reached! Back on the path down we managed the walk down in about 50 minutes, easier than going up but hard on the knees.
We met Fred and Lorraine at McDonalds as arranged at 12.30pm, to eat what was probably the most expensive burger in the McDonald world before walking along the harbour. We found a museum displaying artefacts of the German invasion of Bergen in WW2, showing how the Resistance movement thwarted the Germans and assisted the Allies. Interesting yet sad, telling of the atrocities and death that are part of war.
As the transfer bus to the ship wasn't coming
until 1715 we decided to get out of the cold and rest our legs in the lounge of the YMCA. Here we were able to do our normal duties whenever we have an internet connection as well as warming ourselves up.
The 25 minute wait for the bus at the harbour had us cool again, the wind off the ocean being most chilling. We have been lucky though, since coming to Europe it has only been wet on 2 days, and only for part of those. The bus took us on a tour of Bergen, picking up more passengers around Bergen before delivering us to the ship terminal just before 1700. Here, our baggage was taken, we sat through a film on boat safety and a talk on the tours available on the voyage, before we were allowed onto the ship and into our cabins.
Our cabin was on the Deck 6, and though not huge, had enough cupboard space for our gear and a reasonable sized bathroom. This will be our home for the next 12 days.
No sooner had we unpacked than the dinner bell went. Tonight it was “free seating” as are
breakfast and lunch normally, then set seating for later evenings. It was a self-serve buffet and what a spread! All sorts of fish – pickled, salted, spiced, fried, you name it, plus hot vegetables, salads, cold meats etc. Breads, cheeses and desserts to finish. We all hoed in to several plates full of food, eating heartily. We need to be careful if we don't want to end this cruise weighing several more kilos than at present.
Friday 1st June 2012
Having an inside cabin has its advantages, we were able to get a great night's sleep even though sunset is at around 2300 and sunrise 0200. By habit we were up and about by 0700 and with a cup of tea in hand we sat and watched the scenery go by as the ship made its way up the coast.
Occasionally, the ship does sway a bit and go up and down, this only when we go through open water. Most of the time we are in the lee of islands, or, today we travelled 100km down a fjord, Geirangerfjord, dropped off some going on a sightseeing trip at the little town
Another of the beautiful sites we sailed through.
at the end Geiranger, had lunch, and returned to the entrance of the fjord to pick them up.
The fjord, one of the most visited tourist sites and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 2005, was interesting with little villages by the side of the water, very isolated in some cases, some connected to other islands and the mainland by causeways and bridges. The scenery was similar to what we saw in New Zealand with green pastures, snow-capped mountains and fast running waterfalls ploughing down the steep mointains, making it very picturesque.
The evening meal was a set menu, with us booked in for the late sitting of 2030. We had pre-dinner drinks with Fred and Lorraine in their cabin beforehand and then had to wait until 2100 for our entree and the rest of the meal coming out very slowly. Nothing to write home about – fishcake with salad, chicken on risotto, and a chocolate tart with icecream for dessert. A small meal compared to the others
Saturday 2nd June 2012
This morning we had an early breakfast as the boat was docking at Trondheim, the
Overlooking the port
third largest city in Norway, at 0900. As it was only a short walk from the port we walked the 10 mins or so into the centre of town. The buildings were similar to the older ones we have seen so far, cities now blending into one throughout Norway. The city was described as a university and research area and we did come across many young people.
The streets were quiet, most shops were closed as they don't open before at least 1000. One thing we noticed was the large amount of litter about, this probably was from Friday night activity.
After spending some time window shopping in the main complex we made our way to a large cathedral and the former residence of the archbishop. Quite a splendid building with many tourists like us around it.
Rags had commented on the dark sky moving in and just as we decided to start our walk back the rain came down. We were well protected by our trusty parkas but even so it didn't take long for our trousers to be soaked and our fingers freezing cold. There was a little hail
but fortunately it was small and only lasted for a short time. On our return to the boat we soon had ourselves in dry clothing and settled into a lounge with a warm coffee.
Here we stayed for the next couple of hours, as usual with our laptops doing the usual. Whereas others have their TV on whenever they are in their cabins we prefer to be with our computers. Lunch today was at 1330 and by the time it started we were very hungry as we had breakfast early. Fish was again the highlight, we being told by a couple from Mandurah, who had the earlier lunch, that it was well worth having. Coal Fish was the name of the dish, a delicious white fish in a sauce.
The afternoon was spent snoozing and reading, a set dinner being available at 2030. This could be the pattern from now on, with a short visit to a town each day. Be interesting to see if we can cope with this pressure!
Sunday 3rd June 2012
At 0800 we crossed the Arctic Circle and it was as we imagined it to be, cold
with snow-capped mountains in the background. A leisurely breakfast was had with Fred and Lorraine.
After lunch we docked at the town of Bodo but as it was Sunday nothing was open. It wasn't an attractive town with its grey buildings but it appears as if its wealth came from fishing and during the winter months as a ski resort.
The late dinner is becoming a bit of a drag as we are hungry by 2030 and the meal, even though quite reasonable in quality, leaves a lot to be desired as far as quantity goes. The table next to ours found the same and on asking for another basket of bread (4 small portions/table) it was almost a scene from Oliver Twist (“You want MORE?”). It took a while but they did get it.
After dinner we spent some time in the lounge on the bow of the ship, watching the scenery go by. Seemed a little strange to have daylight at 2300 but we have now reached the 24 hours of sunlight line.
Monday 4th June 2012
After a brief wander around the small town of Harstad where
we docked from 0715 to 0800, we had breakfast before settling in on a comfortable seat in the Deck 8 lounge. Here we stayed for the morning until just before lunch when there was a ceremony to celebrate crossing into the Arctic Circle. King Neptune was there, and with the assistance of several crew “baptised” passengers with ice down their backs before giving them a shot of the local spirit.
Lunch was a fairly quick one as Judy was booked to go on an excursion at our next port of call, Tromso. She went off with Fred and Lorraine to see a place where huskies are bred and trained.
Rags opted not to go, rather to wander around the town. Tromse is northern Norway's largest town with a population of about 66 000 inhabitants. He spent a couple of ours just browsing around the harbour and town finding it an interesting place.
Fred had indicated it might be a good time to buy some spirits locally, and as we hadn't seen any outlets up to now Rags made this a priority. A short walk down back streets didn't find anything so he asked one of the local
Ice down her back wasn't expected!
lads. No problem, he spoke good English. Found the place he pointed out only to find that the costs were high enough to make us all wowsers! The cheapest wine was of all things, Australian, but at over A$30 for a bottle of Eaglehawk shiraz and A$55 for a cheap Scotch he left empty-handed.
Instead he continued on up the street and came to Mack's Brewery, the most northern brewery in Norway. Attached to the brewery was the oldest pub in Tromso so of course he had to go in and check. The interior was similar to an old English pub and had a pleasant atmosphere. There were about 8 beers on tap and Rags had a dark ale, which the barman explained was only made at this time of the year. It was quite a dark colour, very tasty, and at 7% the pint Rags had was sufficient.
Many different types of beer were found at a nearby supermarket, so Rags bought a few to share with Fred in the evening, as well as 2 different types of cider for the ladies to try.
Tuesday 5th May 2012
We had an early lunch
and just as we finished we arrived at the town of Honningsvag, population 2800 and the capital of the North Cape. Its a pretty little town, nestled in the side of a mountain. Fred and Lorraine went on an excursion to North Cape, we deciding to explore the town.
At a little park we again met up with the couple from Mandurah and we joined them on our walk. Edie and Helen talked about what they did, both being keen cyclists with an over 55 group. They were interested in what we had done in the Netherlands.
When we introduced ourselves we were surprised that Helen knew Rags' name and it turned out that she taught at Karratha High School when he was in Dampier. They were still in contact with many of the ex-Dampier residents, all retired in Mandurah. Small world.
We photographed the church there, the only surviving building on the island after an attack in WW2, before continuing up the mountain where we took photos of the town below. On our return we looked through the obligatory tourist office and souvenir shop, this one being reasonably priced. Judy bought a
new fleece jacket to replace her well-worn black one before we posed in front of the troll statue. Trolls feature everywhere in Norway, almost their national symbol.
We returned to the ship and after reading for a while felt a 'nanny nap' and the newly found 'pop flop' was in order. The boat was by then on its way to its next port, leaving about 30 minutes later than expected. They certainly don't stick to timetables the way the Dutch and Germans do!
The evening was spent listening to the music/singer they have on the 8th Deck every day, the type of music not the type we like to dance to, it being more for an older group. (and that gives you some idea of the ages of many of the passengers)
See below for lots of further photos of things we have seen on this part of the journey.
There are more photos below