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Published: March 8th 2020
During the night we sailed through Stokmarknes, Sortland and Risoyhamm but was sound asleep so didn't notice the short 15minute stops. We arrived at Harstad at 6.45am and stopped at port for an hour, but was it was too early to get up plus we had a shore excursion booked later in the day.
Sailing further north, the temperature has been getting colder and there's also been a lot more snow. In fact, there's been so much that one of the crew goes out onto Deck 7 with a hand held plough, scooping up the snow and throwing it into the ocean. We watch him work and take lots of photo's as I find it fascinating (is this wrong???). It's nice seeing all the snow on the deck, and I love going out into the fresh air after the stuffiness inside the ship.
Sailing into Finnsnes mid morning, we port for 30minutes and everywhere we look it is white. I find it really magical looking at the houses covered in snow, although the photo's tend to look black and white without the contrast of any colour. The previously cleared snow on the outside deck has now become icy, and
the crew have sprinkled some type of granules (salt maybe) to prevent passengers from slipping over.
Before our arrival in Tromso, we add more layers to our top and bottom as we've got our husky dog sledding excursion and the air is icy cold. Greeted at port by a guide, we pile into a bus and it's a 30minute drive to Kvaloya. I can't believe all the snow on the roads, covering cars, houses, etc; it's the most we've seen so far.
Arriving at the Husky Village, we're given snow overalls, boots and goggles and then are led to the yard where the dogs are kept. Our guide (who is also a handler) gives us tonnes of information about the founder of the kennels, the dogs (there's 300 in total and a mixture of breeds, not just huskies) and gives us the opportunity to ask questions too. The dogs here are chained up until it's their turn to go for a run, and some are asleep in their kennels whereas others are super excited to see us and are howling or just happily watching what's going on.
After our talk, we trudge through really deep snow to
a large open area and wait our turn to go on our sleds. There's eight convoys at a time, each with a musher, two passengers and ten dogs. The dogs are a mixture of male and females, and varying ages and each musher knows which dogs work well together.
Climbing into the sled, Trav sits at the back and I sit between his legs (he loves that) and we get wrapped in a woollen blanket. Our handler (I can't remember her name, but she was lovely), takes a couple of photo's of us before we start, and then gives our dogs a command and they're off. It's amazing to see the relationship between the handler and the dogs; they are so passionate about what they do, and have built up a trust with the dogs which is evident.
The convoy slides over the snow covered highlands of Kvaloya, and every now and then we slow down when we get too close to the sled ahead of us. We stop at one point so the dogs can have a break, and also allows our handler to take some more photo's of us and the dogs. Everywhere I look, dogs
are rolling on their backs or eating snow, with tongues hanging out and tails wagging - they all look so happy😊
And we're off again, and now it's hailing (so glad we have goggles on or it would have really hurt). My hands are frozen from taking my gloves off constantly to video this adventure on my phone but they'll warm up once this is over. Regrettably, we're back at the starting point and it's time to hop out of the sled. Our handler encourages us to give our dogs a pat to thank them and we're more than happy to do so.
Back in the change rooms, we return our gear and then head over to a Sami lavvo for hot tea or coffee and the highly talked about chocolate cake. There's a pit fire in the middle and it's very toasty. Everyone is on a high from the dog sledding and we all share our highlights and compare photo's. One of the handlers brings in a puppy, and we get to have a pat and take some more photo's. Then, we're back on the bus for our drive back to the ship - it's now dark
and the houses and shops are all lit up and it's looks great.
After a delicious dinner and some drinks, we're feeling very relaxed and head back to the cabin. It's been a fantastic day and the dog sledding was definitely a standout, and being out in the fresh air has made us tired (and perhaps the red wine/beer at dinner and the Jack Daniels in our cabin after dinner may have something to do with it too).
A while later, there's an announcement that some passengers have sighted the Northern Lights. By this time, we're in bed and although not asleep we're not wide awake either. We decide to ignore this announcement and drift off but then there's a second announcement. Bloody hell, we've come all this way to see them so get out of bed and get dressed, grab the camera, fish-eye lens, tripod, info sheet with the settings and head up to Deck 7.
There's a few people out on deck, some with tripods and others just with their mobile phones. Looking at the sky, all I could see was very faint wispy clouds that were moving around and checked out other people's camera
screens or phones to see what they looked like once photographed. There was definitely green which you couldn't see as bright with the naked eye.
I play around with my settings on the SLR and click away but everything comes up black. Moving around the deck, I try different angles but no matter what I tried, none of my photo's show anything. After 1/2 hour of nothing, and feeling cold, tired and frustrated, we call it a night and go back to bed. Tomorrow is another day, and I won't let these lights beat me.
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