North Cape exploring, giant crabs and reindeer hearts July 21st 2019


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July 21st 2019
Published: July 26th 2019
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Cruise day 7

North Cape exploring, giant crabs and reindeer hearts July 21st 2019

We ventured ashore again today as we had arrived in Honnigsvag. There had been a few Fred Olsen tours but none we really fancied. Claire had looked on Tripadvisor and found a company called Blue Puffin which sounded like something more our style....and they had good reviews.

After breakfast we got off the ship and had a wander until our guide turned up. It turned out there were only four of us and we were in a minibus which was great and so much better than a big coach. This meant we could stop when we want to get photos and go to more places as well, giving it more of a personal touch.

We got lots of information on life here and our guide Monika even nipped to her house to show off her village and get a cable. We went to Nordkapp which, depending on who you ask, may be the most nothernmost point of Europe. There’s a large metal globe, a four storey visitors centre and some amazing views. The cloud was low hanging and we’d arrived while it was quiet which was great: can’t stand tourists ;-)

The visitors centre has three of its floors underground and includes a church, a light show, a cinema show and a post office amongst other things. We took some photos, walked through a grotto, bought some souvenirs and were getting out of there just as many tour buses headed to the cape.

Everywhere we went today we saw many things precluded by....’the northernmost....bakery....cafe.....etc. Does this mean Longyearben doesn’t have these things or that it is not in Europe? I guess we’ d better find out!

Life is pretty tough up here with the region being cut off for many months of the year and, definitely, no Amazon Prime with next day delivery. Items ordered from the internet may take weeks to arrive even in Summer and there’s no hospital so they built an airport to fly people to one instead. Digging yourself out of your house in the Winter can take up to 45 minutes.

Good money can be made in giant crab fishing though especially as some are exported as far as South Korea. When it costs about €50 for a giant crab meal here, imagine how much it must cost over there!! We went to see some giant crabs and Monika held some for us after taking them out of a tank. The female was with eggs (up to 450,000 of them) and was quite bitey, managing to remove Monika’s glove. Up close they were a bit like the alien in Alien.

Next we stopped at Monika’s village where we walked round the harbour to see cod drying. There’s no crime here so everything is left outside including their food for the Winter months. After a few months the cod can be re-moistened and eaten as if it was fresh.

Vegetarians....don’t read the next bit. Monika had promised us a traditional Sami snack (Sami are the indiginous locals) which was some dried reindeer meat. She gave us some small bags of dried meat which turned out to be ‘very special’ and was actually reindeer heart. It was actually quite nice, as was Claire’s.

One of our photo stops was for some reindeer of which there are 5-6000 around. They are not wild as they are owned by the Sami but all roam free, sometimes even eating the grass in the graveyard. The ones we photographed had some pretty impressive antlers and, apart from being more interested in eating, didn’t run off and eventually looked up for their photos.

Monika showed us around town and then dropped us off near the church. We enjoyed the tour as it was more personal, had less people, it was interesting, had more photo opportunities and was good fun.

We wandered round the town for a while, visited an art gallery recommended by Monika and Claire saw a cat which will probably warrant about 1000 words in her blog. The town was quite small and our wander didn’t last long but it was nice to stretch our legs on land.

We had an afternoon nap but were back on deck for us leaving and then we passed Nordkapp by sea. There appears to be more confusion about the northernmost point of Europe but the definition may be that which is accessible by road for Nordkapp. We have people who know these things and we help out with bird spotting in return......

Our ‘tribe’ joined us and we had some fun despite the lack of passing mammals. Their bird watching trip had been excellent so it was great that we’d all had a good day. Everyone was a bit pooped though and the general concensus was to get an early night as whale watching opportunities would be much improved in the morning due to being in deeper waters.


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