Time to put some distance under me quickly as I head to North Cape to meet my boat.
Saturday the 22nd July
Walked an hour to the Bodo airport from town. I had plenty of time before my 8:20pm flight to Tromso.
I wanted and got a window seat on the left of the plane. The initial views of Bodo and Lofoten were great, but then we entered the layer of cloud that made today 'overcast'. On flying above it - WOW! Bright sunshine and the clouds below me formed valleys and 'mountains' that looked like powder snow. I just wanted to jump out and snowboard on it!
Tromso was wet and overcast. Welcome to 'Paris of the North'.
Caught a cab to my hotel dropped my bags and headed out to see what a Sat night in Tromso looks like, apart from not being dark. This is the last day offically of 'midnight sun', but the weather meant that I don't actually know if there was sun at midnight.
Every pub wanted a cover charge. Add that to the price of drinks and not knowing if it is a good bar or not, empty of patrons or full of life, made me realise I was not that thirsty.
Yippee! A hotel room with my own bathroom. After a few weeks of hostels, this is a welcome change. They have internet and a PC, so I used the chance to put all 1000 photos off my camera and memory cards and onto CDs.
Sunday - Day exploring Tromso.
No surprise to regular readers of my stories, today I walked for hours.
Tromso is on an island. I walked to the wharf, then along the shore to a huge bridge across to the mainland. From there I walked to the cable car base station. Here I was faced with a choice - hike 2 hours up a mountainside through forest, ferns and streams with views of the city and nearby mountains all the way, OR take a cablecar with a screaming kid in it to the top in 4 minutes.
Not a choice for the Wandera really.
The hike up to the top at nearly 500m was physical, but fun. (I'm going to be stuck on a boat for a week, so took my chance today.) The views of Tromso and the harbour were panoramic. Right at the top the layer of cloud just hovered above me. I've hiked up to the clouds, literally! The cold wind reminded me how far north Tromso is.
I caught the cable car down and continued my wanderings of Tromso. No I don't have a map, but it is not that big.
As for 'Paris of the North'? Where do silly names like that come from? No Eiffel tower, no underground railway, not even a croissant to be had. A few French tourists around though got me wondering - Did they come to find 'Paris of the north, or did they call it 'Paris of the North' because it is full of French people? I could say I will get back to you with an answer, but the truth is I won't because I don't really care.
Another Sunday in Norway where everything is closed.
The Mack brewery was closed. (Can you imagine if Little Creatures or the Sail and Anchor breweries in Fremantle closed on Sundays?) Walking along the harbourfront I saw 'my' ship, the Kong Harald. Tomorrow I fly from Tromso to Hammerfest and then to Honningsvag at the North Cape. Here I will meet the Kong Harald Hurtigruten ferry, my home for the next week as I journey the full length of the Norwegian coastline from Kirkeness near Russia, to Bergen in the south.
The Kong Harald was parked up for 4 hours this arvo before continuing to head north, where I will board it at lunch time tomorrow. I could have caught it here, but then I wouldn't get my flights over the rugged north Norwegian coastline, or catch up on my blog on the PC in the hotel.
I found the Polar Museum and it was open. Very interesting. It was not so much the polar hunting history, but rather the history of exploration that interested me. It is through the efforts of famous and heroic explorers like Roald Amundsen, that paved the way for future journeys to the polar regions, something I will be doing in just 10 days.
Monday - Couldn't sleep and up early for my 8am flight to Hammerfest.
What a journey! I LOVE flying and the smaller the plane the better. This one had propellers.
I'd been faced with the 'choice' of two days by bus from Tromso to Alta and then to Honningsvag, eating hotdogs all the way, or, two short flights. Tromso - Hammerfest and then Hammerfest to Honningsvag. As the plane departed Tromso snow-capped mountains, deep-blue fiords and the white-capped Barents Sea were the view from my window seat. Don't worry, I had my camera handy! I have paid more, for less amazing 'scenic flights' and this was just a commute. Northern Norway is spectacular, even if a little harsh.
After a 40 minute flight of wonder, I arrived before 9am with a 4.5 hour stop over, before my 20 minute flight to Honningsvag (North Cape). A pain? NO! An opportunity! Yep! The wandera once again gets to wander.
The lenticular clouds, a favourite of mine, http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Lenticular_cloud hovering over nearby mountains gave me false hope this would be a great place.
I walked into town photographing wild reindeer beside the road on the way. The road entered at the far end of town and I walked the full length of the shoreline, photographing reindeer on the shoreline on the way to the main shopping area at the other end of the bay. I don't use the word beach, because you might think of a sandy thing that would be pleasant to lie on. Probably doesn't matter anyway in this god-forsaken place. This is summer and no one here knows the freedom of running around in a t-shirt, shorts and thongs.
There was a couple who wanted to have sex on the beach, but before they did, she broke it off!:-)
Hammersfest has an interesting church. AH ha! A hill to climb. The 'zig-zag path' circa 1893 took me to the top for panoramic views of this bleak place. "The northernmost town in the world". (Apparently other communities further north such as Svalbard where I will go soon, don't count as they are not big enough to be a town, or so say Hammerfestians.)
It is summer, but a freezing wind roars through this town, straight from the Arctic and off the Barents Sea. Brr!
This is one of those places that just makes you glad you don't have to live here. I thought old people came here to die, but I think if you lived here the urge would kick in sooner!
The Nazis razed the place in 1945, burning it to the ground as they retreated. Perhaps they should have taken the hint and moved to warmer climes?
4.5 hour wait for a 20 minute flight from Hammerfest to Honningsvag - North Cape! This flight was not the joy of my earlier one today. The weather had turned to muck and so views not so good.
On arriving in Honningsvag, the horizontal freezing rain reminded me I was now at the northermost point of the European mainland.
I caught a cab to the wharf for my embarkation on the Hurtigruten.
I shall leave you at this point. The next blog will be my journey on the "World's Most Beautiful Voyage". Their claim.
I will report in full in my next blog - The Hurtigruten.
If you would like to follow my progress, first northwards to Kirkeness, then south to Bergen, I am on the Kong Harald. Use the link http://www.hurtigruten.com/en/default.aspx?side_id=421to get there.