Norway not such a bad place to be stuck?

Alas the trip through lovely Norway has ended. What a magnificent part of earth this is. It would be wonderful to return in the days of the Midnight Sun.

I’m supposed to go back to the US tomorrow, but supposed to are key words here: I’m scheduled out of Gatwick, which you may have heard is a mess.

We shall see what we shall see.

One last photo above: I noticed the padding on the ship’s deck resembles snowflakes. How cool is that?

As Days Go, This Was a Pretty Good One

Possibly because the weather was pleasant, the water smooth; probably because of the pristine beauty of the Lofoten Islands; and most certainly because it was the best night so far for Northern Lights, it was a rather pleasant day.

(I actually did take these Lights shots. As well as about ten thousand more.)

I hope you enjoy these photos. They say so much more than words can, but I did want to offer one not-very-helpful guide to Norwegian pronunciation: Skjervøy is pronounced Shareway.

Live all you can, and try to see the Northern or Southern Lights in person.


Welcome to Hammerfest, land of The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society and a ginormous gas refinery Norway does not need (all those electric lights to keep winter blues at bay are generated by hydroelectric – the gas is shipped to Europe and the US, and is an economic boon to the area). How’s this for cunning marketing: the refinery is called Snøhvit (Snowhite)?

Knowledge I Have Gained On This Trip I’ll Probably Never Use Again: with my current gear, I can last outside on land in the Arctic for 45 minutes before the toes and fingers start to go solid. On deck: quite a bit less; say, 10 minutes?

Hammerfest is the hometown of A.H. Lindstrøm, an in-demand expedition cook who, it turns out, went on more polar expeditions than all the famous explorers.

The docks are lit up underwater, and mostly it’s cool to see into the frigid water, although it was sad to see that vandalism knows no geographical bounds.

Lastly, look who I ran into, and, yes, the boat has a jacuzzi. Which I will not use.

Here are photos from today; I hope you enjoy them.

Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.

And this was in -10 weather

I stood on the aft deck, covered in layers and layers of clothing, and within minutes, my fingers were numb. I yearned to return to the warmth of my cabin, but staying was the least I could do: some of my intrepid boat-mates had opted for “ice dipping,” and I felt compelled to witness their bravery. First they trooped down the gangplank and made a stalwart march to the changing room on the icy pier; eventually they emerged in a variety of swimming costumes and made their way down to an enclosed bit of the Berents Sea. All was quiet until the first dip, when the whooping and yelping rang out. Yowza.

If any of them write blogs, they’ll have a fantastic entry tonight; that is if they are ever capable of typing again.

Live all you can, but do be sensible!

Almost Russia

Today’s arrival in Kirkenes marks the turning point of the journey; it is also the most eastern, only 17 K from Russia. It’s a chilly -8C out there; “a bit bracing” as a crew member remarked.

The town has 10,000 inhabitants, and two very large Lowe’s-like stores right near the port. There is also a memorial marking the Liberation of Kirkenes by the Russians; the place was heavily bombed during WWII.

Because we turned south in the night, daytime was longer, and the sky was mostly clear of clouds. Very, very nice.

Here are some photos for you.

Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.