I spent recently a long weekend – in Norway! And Oslo wasn’t the destination but Hurtigruten which is said to be the world’s most beautiful sea voyage.
Our journey began in Tromsø which itself would have been worth exploring in depth but unfortunately we had only one afternoon in this Northern city. We had lunch at the local Scandic hotel (excellent food and special thanks for the wonderful dessert buffet where I completely forgot my sugerfree diet and had to taste all the wonderful chocolate and marzipan cakes and the hand made pralines as well and you can guess the results… ).
On our city tour we visited the famous landmark of the city: the Ice Cathedral built in 1965 which window mosaic is very impressive.
In the evening it was our turn to check in MS Kong Harald which had departed days before from Bergen. I got good travel company from my colleague and friend Henriikka Fingerborg who also runs a lifestyle blog.
I guess you don’t need words to describe this. The sunset seen from the deck somewhere near Lyngen.
The food was very_good! This is my first course, cod fish with lingonberry mousse. Even the buffet was excellent. Fresh fish and other local products were brought into the ship from villages nearby while anchoring. There was homemade buckthorn berry jam and soft porridge, wonderful full grain crisp bread from a local bakery and cheese from local dairies.
Do you recognize the symbol on the flag? It is the Norwegian Post Office. Hurtigruten, the fast route in Norwegian, was originally a means of transportation. Still one can get on the boat in a harbor and out in the next one. There are also commuters on the boat. You can also visit Hurtigruten when you spot one in a harbor where it makes a long stop. In some places the ships serve also as lunch restaurants as it can be the only restaurant of the village.
Most of the people cruise for 5-6 days but some come stay on board the whole voyage from Bergen to Kirknäs, near the Russian border. It means sailing 12 consecutive days!
The absolute highlight of our trip waited for us at the harbor of Honningsvåg, on Magerøya island. There we jumped on a bus that took us to Europe’s Nothernmost tip.
Campers in some of the most exotic corners of Europe.
We were extremely lucky with weather: three days of sun! It is common to have such a heavy fog in North Cape that you can hardly spot your own nose. Often even in good weather too the view point at a hight of 300 meters might be covered by a cloud but it can disappear in seconds. Then you get awesome views on the Arctic Ocean.
This was a nostalgic trip. I visited this place for the first time year 1998, that time by car and I continued to Lofooten islands that time.
I met this cute Sami man Nils. The beautiful Gaba is 4 years old.
If there is something I have learned to appreciate in my job, it is a professional guide. The South African born Clinton Smith was just like that. He moved to Norway five years ago but he spoke already a fluent Norwegian. He had been a safari guide for all his life and took care that we didn’t only listen but also absorbed the stuff he taught us. It was funny that a South African origin man told us about the Sami customs and how the raindeers are transferred to the island.
By the way, did you know how you recognize a married Sami man? From the ribbon on the right side of his hat. And a single? From a left side ribbon naturally.
We also learned that you never ask a Sami the number of his raindeers. That would equal to asking the balance of a bank account.
It was wonderful to return from a windy trip to a cup of hot chocolate and juicy apple pie.
King crab is the boat specialty. This creature was held by the boat chef Roy Kristensen. He has been working on the boat already for 34 years but he says that he doesn’t get fed of the scenery and for reason.
He recommended us to taste another specialty, the torsk ice cream, cod ice cream (!) but I felt a bit sea sick and had to leave it to the next time.
Finnkirkan is said to be the most impressing rock formation in Norway.
Ellinor and Ailu Ultsi from Kjollefjord village told us about the Sami culture and offered us angelica tea. We got to try their resin cream which healing qualities are well known.
Small, sympathetic harbors. Here we are in Mehamn.
I said before that the highlight of our trip was the visit to the North Cape but I have to admit that there was something equally impressive!
It is possible to order a Northern lights alarm to one’s cabin. I kept my outfit next to my bed and when I hear on the loundspeaker “Ladies and gentlemen, beautiful Northern lights are now visible on the left side of the boat” I rushed out of my bed, dressed up in 30 seconds and ran to the deck.
There equipped with my feather coat, a thick woolen hat and scarf and gloves I spent two unforgettable nights watching the sky. I sat on a deck chair also after the crowds went back to sleep and admired the incredible night show the nature provides some lucky ones.