Norway – Norwegian cruise – Kirkenes to Bergen

Norway – Norwegian cruise – Kirkenes to Bergen

Monday 16th February

Today we get on our cruise liner MS Nordlys.  By the time we board I’ve managed to spend my entire terminal grant plus some.  So that only managed to burn a hole for 2 days before I spent it!

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On board – lovely! 222 passengers – some do the entire cruise south to north and back whilst others do the northern leg and disembark at Kirkenes and others the southern leg embarking from Kirkenes like us and disembark in Bergen.  There’s a brilliant viewing deck, a gym, sauna, bar and restaurant.

 

We have a mooch and then the ship leaves Kirkenes and lunch is served.  All our meals are included but not our booze unfortunately.  Daz enters into a long, convoluted chat with our waiter to decide if he wants the wine deal, the beer deal, the water deal or to just order drinks from the bar.  All are expensive – the wine deal is £165 for 5 bottles of wine.

The ship stops a number of times each day.  One is the main stop (usually a couple of hours; today’s was Kirkenes); a short stop of about 45 minutes – today that’s Vardo where we get off and walk to the Vardohus Fortress and then there are a number of 15 minute stops.  Just enough time to bring the ship alongside and for forklifts to take their pallets of goods from our holds and deliver the post.

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We have decided to do the night safari.  Well it’s called “Snow mobile trip in the Polar Night” at the magnificent price of £250pp.  Yep stupidly expensive!  We get off at Mehamn (the world’s northern most mainland town) at 1am, get kitted out in cold weather gear and then get our skidoo training.  Then we’re off.  There are 7 of us in the group and we all have to follow our guide who clearly is adverse to travelling at speeds greater than 20 km/hr.  These machines are capable of 120km/hr but this is never going to happen because a.  We all have to follow the guide and b.  The boring bastards have fitted a speed restrictor.  Of course where there’s a will……………….. So I spend the trip dropping back from the guy in front and then putting my foot down ( well the skidoo equivalent – these are fully automatic and has a hand throttle but John Buchanan I still did my lifesavers!  Daz didn’t!!! )

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Behind me Daz is doing the same but he gets told off! We stop and all the lights are switched off and we see the Northern lights.  They’re the best we’ve seen to date.  Fabulous!  Then after the skidoo ride we get onto a mini bus and we’re driven to Kjollefjord.  As we enter this village we see barriers.

When the weather is particularly bad these barriers are closed and no one can drive out of the village unaccompanied.  They must wait and be led by a snow plough and on some occasions the conditions are so bad even the snow ploughs can’t get through.  And the village is completely cut-off.

3am and it’s back to bed but what a fabulous excursion!!!

 

Tuesday 17th February

This morning we pass the Snohvit-project.  The first facility in Norway to extract and export liquefied natural gas.

Today we visit Hammerfest.  One of the greatest men of polar history, Lindstrom, came from Hammerfest.  We visit the church and then walk up Mount Salen and look out over the town and harbour.

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Later we attend a midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral, Tromso. Beautiful!

 

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Wednesday 18th February

Early start.  At 8am we’re getting off for ‘A taste of Vesteralen’ and we’ll rejoin the boat at 12.30.  I’m at a bit of a loss to describe this excursion although Daz’s eloquent ‘shit!’ probably covers it!  However, we do have a lovely chat with a couple from the Lake District about ‘salmonella’!

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During the afternoon we sail into the 26km long strait of Raftsund, arguably the most beautiful part of the voyage.

 

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 In the evening we go ashore at Svolvaer.  We take a walk around the harbour and town but finally end up in a pub.  There’s a rather strange guy at the bar who appears to be eating his own hand and randomly having verbal outbursts whilst looking at us.  We have no idea whether he’s the local looney or if he’s just trying to be friendly.

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Bike picture included because Daz was so excited by the chubby tires – 5 inches wide for snow riding!  Never knew 5″ would excite D soooo much!!!!

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