Go to Allan's Page Our Home Page Holidays Home Page British Canals Page Go to Deb's Page
FlickR album of these photos   Part 1: From Dover to the North Cape    

2022: To Norway for the Northern Lights

2. From the North Cape back to Dover

Northern Light

 

As we headed southwards, we were enjoying a magnificent fish dinner when the call came through that the Northern Lights had re-appeared. Many people left their food and rushed up to the top deck immediately, but I took the time to finish my dinner as quickly as I could before fetching my camera and going out on deck. Most people were already returning as I arrived, complaining that the light-show had been very poor and not worth missing dinner for; I took a couple of photos but they were indeed very dim, so I returned to the restaurant for my dessert followed by a drink in the bar. However, on the way to the bar I decided to pay one more visit to the now-deserted (and very cold!) top deck, and was rewarded by the sight of the Northern Lights starting a new display. It was fairly dim at first, but soon brightened up to paint some wonderful pictures in the sky - including the fabulous shape in the photo above which Debbie has had printed onto a T-shirt. Back in the bar I found the ship's photographer having a drink; he commented that the lights had been rather dim so I showed him my photos and he immediately put down his drink and rushed up to the top deck!

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
The display was fairly dim at first ...

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
.... but soon brightened up to paint some wonderful pictures in the sky

The next day we had a coach tour around the island of Senja, which has recently been declared a National Park. We expected to find this a bit tedious, but actually the icy mountain scenes were stunningly beautiful as the coach weaved its way around, over, and even sometimes through, the frozen mountains.

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Beautiful icy mountain scenery on Senja
Nobody went swimming on this icy tourist-spot beach
... which has Norway's most expensive public toilet

We paused for a stroll at a well-marked beauty spot, a lovely beach near the Devil's Teeth mountains, where there is even a public toilet - which cost 3,000,000 Krone to build but which cannot be used most of the time because it is frozen! That adds a new dimension to 'spending a penny'. We continued for a fabulous lunch at a harbour-side restaurant on the other side of the island before the coach took us back to the ship

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Seen from the beach, these mountains are called the Devil's Teeth
The ice by the roadside was absolutely solid
The mid-day sun gave us some beautiful views ...
.. but the blue light before dawn was even more spectacular.

The following day was billed as an 'expedition day' whose activities would be decided according to the day's weather. It was a beautiful morning as we nosed our way into Nordfjord before dawn. This was the first time the ship had visited this beautiful little fjord, and as I took a few photos I thought the camera had developed a fault because everything looked so blue. I soon realised, however, that this was the 'blue-light' effect which sometimes happens just before dawn; it is as if the red sunlight of the dawn has been refracted away to be ready for its own display, leaving the blue light behind for maybe 30 minutes beforehand (the same thing can also happen after sunset). My own senses had assumed that the blue effect was a mistake which my brain had promptly corrected, but the camera had captured the real effect after which my brain stopped applying the correction and showed me the true picture (see also at the foot  of this page). These clear, monochromatic images remain in my brain as amazing memories - and also now as my computer screensaver and wallpaper pages.

Not far from Nordfjord is the small island of Rdya (translated as Red Lion, after the shape of its dominant mountain) where we were to spend the rest of the 'expedition day' ashore. The ship had not visited this island before, so the expedition crew were particularly keen to explore it. After going ashore in the RIB tenders, as well as the usual paddle-boarding and kayaking activities, passengers had the choice of taking a difficult hike up the mountain (too energetic for me) or an easier hike around the lower slopes (which I chose) or doing nothing at all (which Debbie chose).

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Transferring into the RIB which would take us ashore
Leaving the ship moored offshore
There are strange sculptures around the Norwegian coast. I do not know what this one is supposed to represent.
For the hike we were loaned some spiked snow-chains; they were certainly very necessary

For those souls who were really hardy, there was the further option of a Polar Plunge dip in the freezing seawater; several people actually did this! I loved the comment to them from the expedition leader who said as they emerged from the water, 'Gentlemen you may have noticed that a part of your anatomy seems to be missing, but don't worry it will soon grow back again as you warm up'

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Setting off on our gentle hike
Looking back as we hiked, I spotted the ship's photographer climbing the mountain
We hiked through beautiful scenery
Back at the beach, several people went for a Polar Plunge in the freezing seawater

I thoroughly enjoyed the short hike (about 2km each way), but admit that I found it surprisingly tiring to tramp through a foot or more of soft snow, where every step involved lifting your foot high out of the snow and stretching forward to gain a small distance before putting it back to sink through the snow again. perhaps the snow-shoes that had been issued to those taking the extended hike to the top of the mountain would have helped, but I was glad that I had not volunteered for that expedition.

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Crossing the Arctic Circle that evening
A coastal warship watches over the harbour of Kristiansund
Just after a storm has passed, the contrast in the quality of the light is very clear
I loved these little garden ornaments in a shop window

At Kristiansund (not to be confused with Kristiansand, which is 500 miles further south and which we visited on our Baltic cruise in 2019) we went for a guided walk through the town and up to the top of the hill where there is a pretty little watchtower. Suddenly there was a snowstorm; we sheltered in the lee of the tower and after just 10 minutes the storm had passed and the weather was beautiful again. The town is very pretty, and clearly loves its many statues..

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Some of the lovely statues in Kristiansund

After an unscheduled stop at the little village of Floro to put an injured passenger ashore, we made our way between rain and snow showers to arrive at the city of Bergen. We knew Bergen fairly well after visiting in 1999, so decided to do something new by taking a ride up the mountain by cable car. At first the view was spectacular and beautiful, but soon before we reached the top there was another snowstorm. The view disappeared, the car swayed alarmingly, and at the top the wind was so strong that it was difficult to stand up. We came back down as soon as we could, and enjoyed a stroll through the narrow streets of old Bergen back to the ship. The houses had become deeper and deeper as, after each catastrophic fire, the rubble had been pushed forward into the sea and then built upon. The houses had also been busy workplaces so the area became very busy, and eventually a law was passed to prohibit the lighting of fired inside the buildings; I cannot imagine living and working without warmth in such an environment. Just one building, well separated from the others, had been permitted to have a fire for warmth: this was the local pub!

 

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Waiting for the cable car
Spectacular views from the cable car
Nearing the top; the view is about  to disappear in a snowstorm
Narrow streets of old Bergen

Finally our journey was coming to an end, and we set sail back towards Dover in increasingly rough seas (again gusting to Force 9). The evening's Norwegian fashion show was cancelled as one of the expedition team members was feeling seasick, but instead we were treated to an impromptu, gloriously silly and utterly hilarious enactment by the remaining team members of the old Norse legend of the goddess Skadi (if you don't know the legend, I can thoroughly recommend that you read it here)

Our arrival at Dover gave us a surprise; there was neither passport control nor customs inspection to pass through, we simply stepped off the ship and then collected our luggage from the quayside before retrieving our car and driving home. Presumably the formalities had been completed for us while we slept; what a contrast to the utter chaos that is being reported at the various airports. And so we were able to drive home, arriving early to collect Jessop from the kennels and reflect on a marvellous holiday while looking forward to our next one ...

 

Fjord in blue light

 

 

FlickR album of these photos   Part 1: From Dover to the North Cape    
Go to Allan's Page Our Home Page Holidays Home Page British Canals Page Go to Deb's Page

 

 

All pictures on this site are Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

Valid HTML 4.0!