Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.


Last Day in Norway 10/7

I have been home Norway for over a week and am finally getting around to completing my final post for this trip.

Our last day was only on the ship until we reached Bergen. We had to put our luggage out by the elevator by 10:00 am.  Because we were in the astronomy group, we were able to leave our backpacks in the lecture room so we didn’t have to carry them around the shipl

At 10:30 we were invited to the lounge on Deck 8 to hear Norwegian music.  I took a photo of the program listing the music.  It will help me remember.

The music was beautiful and it was wonderful to relax while we watched the scenery through the windows.

When the concert ended, Marty, Ellen, and I decided to do a few laps around deck 5.  It was really, really, windy so on one side of the ship we had to push through the wind but on the other side we were being assisted by it.

Departure time was 2:30 and we picked up our backpacks and headed out to deck 5 to watch the docking. Jane and Sue met up with us and I asked somebody to take a last photo of us as we approached Bergen.  When I tried to open my camera (the brand new Lumix DX 80), it only made this grinding sound and would not open the lens.  Well at least it made it to the last day.  It is under warranty and insured although dealing with it since I got home is a pain.  Anyway, I pulled out my iPhone so we could get our photo taken. No selfies for us.

They announced our landing and the same person who taught the folk dancing class lst night asked everybody to not try to get off the ship until the equipment was attached.  He didn’t want anybody in the water.  I think I forgot to write that he came onto the ship a couple of days ago and took over for the original person who made all of the announcements because she left for vacation.  He has been very funny to listen all along. Anyway, we stayed in line and watched them attache the ramp.

We also saw them unloading the cars and our luggage.  We were to pick it up on a carousel just like at an airport.

Now for getting to the airport.  We had each purchased vouchers to take the Hurtigruten bus to the airport but we learned that a taxi might save us money and we could go straignt to the Comfort Hotel near the airport.  So we returned our vouchers to Hurtigruten the day before departure day.  It turned out that we couldn’t find a taxi that would take all of us at once.  We watched people get on the airport bus and others getting into taxis.  Just as I was getting one of the taxi cab drivers to call for a larger taxi, a bus driver in an empty bus asked Jane, Sue, Ellen, and Marty if we needed a ride to the airport.  He thought we had vouchers.  When he found out that we didn’t have vouchers, he said that he was going there anyway to pick up people who needed to come back to the Hurtigruten dock and he would take us for free.  We had an extra tour of Bergen from the bus and the best part is that he told us the stories about his life adventures, how he met his wife, and how they ended up in Norway. His stories were fascinating and he managed to take us right to the street below the Comfort Inn.  What a guy. And we saved about $150 that the bus and or taxi would have cost.

After checking into our rooms we walked over to the airport to check things out and look at the shops.  It was only a 2 minute walk.  At the airport we saw this sign.

We asked at the tourist information office why there was a question mark on the Bergen sign.  The woman said that if she knew, she would tell us.  Neither of the women working at this office liked the sign.  The man at the Comfort hotel told us that it may have had something to do with the fact that there is a  city in the Netherlands that was also named Bergen but he really didn’t understand it.  He told me that about half of the people in Bergen liked the sign and about half hated it.

After dinner at the hotel and headed to bed since we had to be at the airport at 4:00 on the 8th.  We were headed home.

Since this is my last post about this trip I am going to review some things to help me remember.

Our ship, Finnmarken, made many stops in the last 12 days, but most of them were either in the middle of the night or were only for only 10 – 30 minutes.  Sometimes local passengers departed or embarked and item (like mail) were loaded or unloaded.  On the 10th day of the trip I found a book in the gift shop.  The title is The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage and it was produced by Hurtigruten.  The book had a map of each day’s route.  I wish I had seen this book from the very beginning of the trip because it would have been very informative as we were traveling. I took a photo of each map and listed the places where we had enough time to get off of the ship included the length of time we had in each place.  The doted line is our route.

Day 1  We were traveling at night.

Day 2

  • Ålesund 9:45 – 10:15 (nobody left the ship)
  • Hjørundfjorden  12:15 – 15:45  (This is where I did the hike)
  • Alesund 17:50 – 19:30

Day 3

  • Trondheim 10:00 – 13:15

Day 4

  • Bodø 12:40 – 15:00
  • Svolvær 21:00 – 22:00

Day 5

  • Tromsø 14:15 – 18:30

Day 6

  • Honningsvåg 11:15 – 14:45
  • This is the day we were supposed to get off in Kjøllefjord where they were supposed to stop for 15 minutes; go visit the Sami people; and get back on in Mehmamn.  But the seas were too rough to make the stop in Kjøllefjord.

Day 7

  • Kirkenes 9:00 – 12:30
  • Vardø  15:45 – 16:45

Day 8

  • Hammerfest 10:45 – 12:45
  • Tromsø    23:45 – 1:30 This is the time we attended the midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral.

Day 9

  • Svolvær  18:30 – 20:30

Day 10

  • Brønnøysund  15:00 – 17:30

Day 11

  • Trondheim 6:30 – 9:45 . Day we toured Trondheim by bus and went to Nidaros Cathedral

Day 12

  • Our only stop was when we docked in Bergen.

Recap and reflections on traveling in Norway:

  • We had a great time in Oslo and Bergen.  Two days + in each were adequate to visit the places we wanted to see.  Getting clearer info on how to get to the Airbnbs before we booked them would have been a good idea but it all worked out in the end.
  • I am happy we took 3 days to do Norway in a Nutshell.  Wish we had known about the possibility of taking the train from Flam back up to Myrdal and doing the  walk back down to Flam.  We heard about it as we boarded the boat out of Flam.  I just read about it and it sounds amazing.  13 miles long and goes from 886 meters (2900 feet) to sea level but we would have had all day to do it.
  • Probably should have done the Breakfast at the North Cape excursion from Honningsvåg.  But it left at 5:30 in the morning and we were going to the midnight concert that night in Tromsø and it would have cost 2100 NOK or about $230. Looking back with the benefit of hindsite,  I could have pulled off the early morning and late evening.
  • Traveling with Jane, Sue, Ellen, and Marty was wonderful.
  • Three nights of seeing auroras was spectacular. The best way to end this post is with just a few photos of the auroras  The first one of the ones that was taken by Barbara Beck. She is the woman from Utah who allowed me to view her camera as we were watching the fantastic display.  I believe she took this with a fisheye lens.

  • The rest of the photos are just a few of the ones that John Mason put onto the flash drive that I purchased.  I think that maybe one of the shadows of the people in this first one is me.

I feel so blessed to have been there to see these.

… and there were many, many more.  How lucky we were.

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Sunrise in Trondheim, Nidaros Cathedral, Folk Dancing 10/6

We had to get up a bit early this morning to take a tour of Trondheim. Although taking photos from the bus was not possible, I really enjoyed the bus ride through the city. The old and new buildings were great to see.  The old ones had cable pulls on the top. The guide told us that Trondheim has the highest density of wooden houses.

Trondheim has a restaurant that from a distance looks just like the Seattle Space Needle.

We saw a great sunrise over Trondheim.

We had a wonderful view of the city.

Gerda and Walter were on this trip with us. I sure enjoy being with them.

When we were in Trondheim about a week ago we didn’t have time to go into the Nidaros Cathedral.  Since it was early on a Sunday morning the cathedral was actually closed but we had a private tour.  We learned about St. Olav and his tomb.  We saw a baptismal that had reliefs created by Gustav Vigeland (the sculpture whose park we visited in Oslo).  The two organs were amazing.  One was built by Johan Joachim Wagne.   It would be so wonderful to hear them being played.  I wish we could have gone up into the tower but they only let people do that in the summertime.

I did get a couple of photos on the way back to the ship.

One of my favorite places to relax on the ship is on the 8th deck that has windows all around.  The views were great today.

Gerda and Walter were at lunch today and I finished eating my desserts (yes, 2 delicious chocolate ones) with them.  Walter showed me photos of the rock climbing they did just recently.  I am so amazed about Gerda doing this at 83 years old.  What a roll model.

Marty, Ellen, and I purchased a small book this afternoon titled, The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage.  I wish I had seen it before we started.  It has small maps of each day’s voyage.  When I get home, I am going to try to photographs the maps and upload a post with all of them.

After our departure meeting we took time to walk around deck 5 several times when we were docked in Kjøllefjord.

We had another fabulous dinner. The presentation of the food is amazing.

  • Salmon Pastromi Cured with Polar Salt (Pickled cucumber and fennel, egg créme and trout roe.

  • Pork Shank (Light roasted vegetables, herb baked potato, fresh marinated red cabbage and Port wind sauce
  • N’yr Cheesecake (Raspberry sorbet from Gangstad Gård

As a bonus, we had a wonderful sunset.

We used my computer to stream services from First Unitarian in Marty’s and Ellen’s cabin as they were packing.

At 10:30 they made an announcement about a mandatory folk dancing dancing class.  Of course I had to go.  We learned 3 dances.

I was able to get a photo of Jane, Viv, and Peter also came.

It was a great ending to our last night on the ship.  We have to be out of our cabins by 10:00 tomorrow morning.  The astronomy program is going to store our backpacks so we don’t have to carry them around the ship until we depart at 2:30.


Selsøyvik, Arctic Circle, and Brønnøysund 10/5

We were having a leisurely morning looking at the wonderful rock formations as we ate breakfast.  They made an announcement that we were going to be passing the Arctic Circle again – this time in the day time so we would see the the marker.   They said that we would receive a gift if we came up to deck 8.  The waiter indicated that we were very close so even though we were in the middle of breakfast but we left everything on the table and went outside on level 5.  It was pretty cold and we decided to run down to our cabins on deck 3 and grab jackets and hats and head up to deck 8.

We had plenty of time.  On the way we passed Selsøyvik. It is a small island that is 0.8 square kilometers and has 9 inhabitants in winter, but in summer the number increases significantly. Selsøyvik old trading center dates from the 16th and 1 7thcentury although the web says the 18th century.

From 1777 there has been continuous operation at the trading site, but already in the 1600s Selsøyvik was citizen rent for outriggers from Trodheim.  The commercial site was preserved in 1942. The oldest buildings are over 200 years old and the youngest from the 1980s.

Between 1983 and 1985 a new fish processing facility was built and a refurbishment of Storbrygga. The work was designed by an architectural firm, Boarch Architecture, from Bodø, They were awarded a third prize in the Council of Europe Architecture Protection Competition in 1986 for their work on the listed trade site.



We also passed this site and I had to ask what it was.

I was told that it is a feeding farm for farmed salmon.

We hadn’t reached the marker yet, but the views were spectacular.

As I was taking photos, I saw this but nobody could tell me what it was.

Finally we came to the actual marker.  I took many photos but this is my favorite.

As I learned several days ago,the exact location of the Arctic Circle varies each time you travel past it. Over the course of a full year, the virtual line shifts by almost 15 metres – while Vikingen and its Arctic Circle Monument remain firmly in place. The exact position of the line depends on the angle of the earth’s axis compared to the plane of its orbit at the time.

After we passed the marker, they told us about the gift.

The small bottle on the table is cod liver oil.  They said that we would be given the spoon as a gift after we ate the cod liver oil.  I remember my parents giving me cold liver oil frequently as a child and it was not a pleasant memory.  First there were 3 children who at it.  Non of them made a face about it.

I was next in line and Marty took a couple photos of me.

I have a spoon as a souvenir.

Today was another laundry day.  The gathering in the laundry room is a social event.  It takes a bit to figure out the machines (finding instructions in english and choosing a cycle to use).

These people were trying to figure out how to get one of the dryers to work.

We finished our laundry, relaxed in the lounge on deck 8 and had lunch.

John’s last talk was at 2:00.  He continued his enthusiastic talks.

Then he showed us the fantastic photos he shot this year.  Barbara gave me her email address and is going to send me a couple of her photos.  I was so excited because John made a flash drive of his photos to sell to us later this afternoon.

At 3:00 we landed in Brønnøysund and took a walk with LIv.  It was a lovely town but the hike was too short.I did take a few photos.

Several days ago I took a photo of a sign that had the word, “Fart” in it Today I learned what Fart means.  This sign means speed bumps.  Fart means speed.

Before dinner I was able to upload the photos from John onto my laptop.  They are wonderful. It will take me some time to figure out how to create a post with some of his images.  I hope I can accomplish that.

I was disappointed tonight when I discovered that I could have done the hike that people did today.  It wasn’t on the original list of excursions and I missed it seeing it.  Walter and Gerda told me that it was wonderful.  They hiked up to Mount Torghatten whiich is mountain with a hole right through it.   We saw it from the ship but they were able to actually go into the hole.

We were served champagne at dinner and the captains and staff paraded through the dining room.

Tonights dinner was;

  • Soup of green peas with sourdough bread Gratinated with well -preserved jarlsberg
  • Cod with fried kale, beetroot Byggotto, and Beurre Noisette Vierge
  • Sukkerbrød og vaniljets fra Svolvær (Andvika- meringue and cloudberries.

We have seen the last of the visible auroras.  We have been so lucky on this trip to have seen them over several evenings.

The weather on this trip has been positiveoy way beyond any of our expectations. We were actually never had to walk in any rain which is quite amazing for this time of the year.

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Svolvær and Auroras 10/4

We slept in a bit today and didn’t eat breakfast.until after 9:15.

I took a couple of photos through the window before breakfast.

This morning I took a photo of the way they serve hardboiled eggs.  I don’t know how they taste. They seem to be continuously boiling.

At 10:15 were were called to deck 5 to  view Risøyrenna. The Risøy channel runs 4.8 kilometres long through the Risøysund. Before Risøyrenna was dredged several times, it had been a sound – shallow bay – that people could cross on horseback at low tide between Andøya and Hinnøya. In his capacity as a member of the Norwegian.  When we went through the channel, there were only 2 meters of water between our ship and the bottom.

There were cormorants.


Ellen and I went up to the lounge on deck 8 for a while before lunch.  The meals seem to come so close together. We saw navy ships before we lunch

I really like sitting up on the 8th deck lounge because I can watch the views in front of the ship.

The brds sure like to follow along with the fishing boats.

Sometimes the views are so etherial.

We were just looking at the beautiful rock formations when we noticed that one of the excursions was leaving.  A group of people had just transferred into a small boat and were on their way into the Trollfjord to watch them throw fish into the air so the Sea Eagles would feed on them.

That meant we were about to go back into the Trollfjord (We did this at night on previous day).  Seeing the rock formations(and how close they were as we entered the fjord in the daytimes was a treat since we couldn’t actually see in the dark of the night.


Marty and I helped this couple take a photo of themselves so they took one of us.

John’s lecture today, “Chasing the Moon Shadow – The Magic of Total Solar Eclipses” was absolutely wonderful.  John is not only an Aurora enthusiast; he has gone to many total solar eclipses.  It would be an incredible experience to be able to join John on one of his total solar eclipse trips.

We stopped in Stokmarknes at the Hurtigruten Museum and learned about Hurtigruten.

Richard With was an experienced sea captain who had been involved in trade in Risøyhamn in Vesterålen. He was one of the men behind the establishment of Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab steamship company in Stokmarknes in 1881. He started working with able pilots to experiment with sailing at night, even through the winter. This would enable ships to sail faster and to fixed timetables. Until then, the few steamships tended to be often late and have no clear or reliable schedules. In 1893, Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab received an annual grant of NOK 70,000 from the state that enabled it to service a route between Trondheim and Hammerfest in the summer, and Trondheim and Tromsø in the winter. Hurtigruten was in business.

In 1893 there was not a single steamship quay along the coast, and service at all the harbors was by relays. A despatch boat would come out to the ship with post, cargo and passengers. Quays were built gradually, the last being Berlevåg in 1973.

At half past eight on 2 July 1893, the ‘Vesteraalen’ sailed from Trondheim, under the command of Captain Richard With. He sailed through the night to Bodø, where he arrived in harbour on 3 July. Brass bands played, and the whole town of several thousand people turned out to watch, all wearing their Sunday best. No one wanted to miss this marvel of speed. The commotion was no less in Tromsø on 4 July, and there was just as much of a party atmosphere when the ship arrived in Hammerfest in the middle of the light summer night. The speed was amazingly modern and fast, and from the very beginning, the new connection between south and north was given the name Hurtigruten – the Express Route.

In 1936, Hurtigruten was complete, calling at one port per day, each way. However, war hit the fleet hard, sinking 9 ships with the loss of about 700 lives. For example, the first Hurtigruten boat, ‘Vesteraalen’, was torpedoed outside the Øksfjord in 1941. After a while, the ships only went as far as Tromsø, while Finnmark was serviced by smaller vessels on what was known as the Replacement Route. The fleet was built up again after the war, from the ‘Erling Jarl’ in 1949 to the ‘Nordnorge’ in 1964.

We had an early buffet dinner tonight so we would be ready to take a walk in Svolvær.

Svolvær is tiny even by Norwegian standards with a population of less than 5,000, but it’s a place that feels much bigger.  Svolvær itself was first mentioned in historical records in the late 16th century. The name is likely derived from the Old Norse word ‘svair’, which means chill. We walked up to a church.  Lil tells many stories as we walk.

We ate dinner early so we could take a walk with Liv  in Svolvær. It is is tiny even by Norwegian standards with a population of less than 5,000, but it’s a place that feels much bigger.  Svolvær itself was first mentioned in historical records in the late 16th century. The name is likely derived from the Old Norse word ‘svair’, which means chill.

We walked up to the church as usual.

Liv pointed out the fish drying racks.

We were again so lucky tonight because there was another Aurora.  We went up to Deck 8 at about 8:15.  We didn’t see much because we were still in port in Svolvær and the lights were too bright.  But patience paid off.  Again it is harder to see the colors beyond the green in the arc with our naked eyes but standing next to Barbara (a woman from Utah) as she took photos helped to enhance the colors that I could see. It was pretty cold outside but it didn’t seem as cold as it was on other nights. Eventually the ship departed from Svolvær so the lights that interfered with our seeing the Aurora were not as bright.  That made it much easier to see the arc and rays.  We even saw curtains and a corona.

After a while the ship stopped in Stamsund for a short stop and when we left there we were able to be on the back of Deck 8 and face in the right direction.  We could see the glow of the arc in the sky.  John was with us and it was so much fun to have him there pointing out constellations with his laser light.  A arc appeared and even sent up some rays.  John was busy taking photographs.  People with a great deal more scientific knowledge were asking him many questions.  Then the sky began filling with some puffy black clouds.  That actually made the arc behind the clouds even more beautiful.  John’s photographs were great.  We stayed out until about 1:00 am and then gave up on their being any more activity.

I can hardly wait for tomorrow when John is going to show us all of the photos he took on this trip.

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Hammerfest and Tromsø 10/3

We woke up to more snow in the mountains this morning. Marty and I stepped out side to see the beautiful cloud formations over the mountains.

We were called to the 7th deck to view Snøhvit.   I took some photos on the way there.

Before we reached Snøhvit I could see a building on the top of the hillside.  I have no idea what it is, but found it interesting.

I zoomed in on it but still didn’t know what it was.

Snøhvit is the first development in the Barents Sea, and the first major development on the Norwegian continental shelf with no surface installations. Large quantities of natural gas are brought onshore and cooled down at the most northerly export facility for LNG, Liquefied Natural Gas.

Hammerfest LNG, outside Hammerfest in Finnmark county, is a facility that receives and processes natural gas from the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea.

At first I thought the orange tanks were on the land

But we came around the other side and I realized that there was a tanker docked there.

We landed in Hammerfest close 10 11:00.  They literally docked in the middle of the main streets.

Hammerfest is the worlds most northernmost towns.  The town’s history includes several attempts by men and Mother Nature to remove it from the map, like after the hurricane that blew it down in 1856, and again after a devastating fire ravaged the town in 1890. But the worst thing was the Nazis in 1945, when the order came down that “no building be left standing”.

Some people walked up to the top of the hill to see the views but they walk way to fast for us.  So Janne, Sue, Marty, Ellen and I (along with others in the astronomy group) took a walk to see some of the sights.

The people who walked up to the top of the hill can almost be seen in this photo.

We walked up a short distance to the church.  On the way we saw another mural painted with an Aurora.

Hammerfest Church on the hill above the centre of the town. The triangular shape of the church is meant to symbolize the Holy Trinity.

The interior is warm and welcoming, with a wooden ceiling reminiscent of an upturned boat.  This is the organ.

The east wall is adorned with a beautiful stained glass window made by Jardar Lunde.

This is a tapestry in the front of the church.

Smaller windows set into the low walls alongside the nave are decorated with Christian symbols in glass blocks. These are a few of them.

As we were leaving the church, Marty notices a sign in Norwegian.  It is one that we can actually understand.

Liv said that these houses look like the one where she grew up. The one where she lived had absolutely no insulation.

This sculpture of a boat is meant to symbolize a ship being stuck in the ice.

We liked this sculpture.

We spent some time in the Polar Bear Club which was established in 1993 and working to preserve the history and culture surrounding the Arctic nature, life and people..  Ellen purchased a couple of gifts and Marty bought a post card which I photographed.

Today’s lecture by John was titled, “Distant Universe with Giant Telescopes.”  I love his enthusiasm.  He told us about the current telescopes being used to study everything in the Universe.  They are studying how planets beyond our solar system are being formed.  He described the technology of building telescopes. They are developing humongous telescopes and hope to have them completed by 2023 and 2025.  Even though I do not understand the science of all this, his enthusiasm is absolutely contagious.

Ellen, Marty and I took a walk around the outside of Deck 5 before dinner.  I love the snow on the mountains.  We have been passing awesome mountains like this all day.  Capturing the beauty with my little camera is almost impossible but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Just as we were walking they were walking, the ship was docking in Skjervøy for a short 30 minute stop.


Gulls on the rooftop.


I even tried on panorama.

Tonight was another sit-down dinner.  We noticed that the woman who had been sitting with us, Jane from London, did not come to dinner again.  We asked the waitress to check on her.  Veronica, the woman who checks us in for almost every meal told us that she had left the ship the day before.  We were thinking that it must have been because of not feeling well in the rough waters.  I will try to contact her.  We were served.

  • Bottarga Borealis Risotto with parsley and chives.
  • Pollock (Steamed turnips, radish, summer cabbage, pickled onion and Sandefjorbutter.
  • Beetroot and Chocolate Cake (Dandelion syrup from Rolvsøy and Lofotpils ice cream.

Since we were going to go to the midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral, we all decided to take naps.  I actually slept for about 90 minutes and was ready to go. We met Gerda and Water on the way and Marty took a photo of us.

We were taken by bus to the Cathedral.  It was just beautiful.  I wish I could have seen it in the daytime. I was able to take a few photos before we entered and of the inside.

Ellen, Marty Sue, and Jane were ready to listen to the concert.

The music was so beautiful.  I loved the women’s voice.  We sat where we could see the keys of the piano being played.  The cello and piano playing were also so wonderful to hear.  Acoustics are fabulous.

I took a photo of the program.

When we returned to the ship, i took another photo of the Arctic Cathedral from the deck of the ship before we departed.

It was cloudy so I didn’t think there would be any visible Auroras tonight.  We were so lucky to have seen the incredible display last Sunday.


Kirkenes 10/2

We woke up late and had a leisurely breakfast. The ship was still rocking an rolling and I decided to take one of Ellen’s BONiNE pills.  Putting on another patch was not a good idea because another bout with Anisocoria was not an option.  I knew I didn’t have any of the causes listed (direct trauma to eye, concussion, bleedig of my skull, inflammation of my optic nerve, brain tumor, aneurysm, meningitis, or seizures), it was best not to chance it happening again.  I am thankful to Dr, McBride for lowering my anxiety level last night.  Both pupils were totally back to normal this morning.

Our Kirkenes was at 9:00 am but we took a  bit longer than that to get dressed.  We really bundled up because the temperature in Kirkeness was 3 – 4 degrees C but felt like -2 C.  That is not too bad because it is only 28F.

Kirkeness is  near both the Finland and the Russian border.  We decided to go on a short walk on our  own. It began to hail very shortly after we started.

Ellen and Marty stood under a street sign but we were not sure which way we wanted to walk.

It was surprising to see flowers growing in this cold weather…

… The changing colors of the leaves was what we expected.

I have no idea what “Farts” means.  I will have to ask LIv.

We made our way to the Kirkeness Church.  The original one burned down after the WW II.

They used the spire from the original church.

It was a lovely church …

…with a stunning crucifix.

There were many tapestries on the walls.

After visiting the church, Marty realized that we had to hurry back to the ship because it was going to be taking off soon.   I took a photo of Marty and Ellen in front of me.

Just when I was getting all of my warm clothing off, they announced to come to deck 8 to see our departure from Kirkenes.  There really wasn’t much to see.

I couldn’t fine Marty and Ellen so I ate lunch with Gerda Dieth (a woman I met on the first day who at 83 years old totally out hiked me.  Water, her husband, joined us.

At 2:00 we went to our astronomy lecture about our Violent Sun and Space Weather.  Even though I don’t get all of the scientific language, John is totally entertaining.  In addition watching the waves splash up over the windows in the rooms where we hear our lectures was great fun.

After our lecture I told Marty and Ellen that Gerda and Water were going to take a walk in town when we landed in Varde because we would have an hour.  So we bundled up again and were waiting in the cabin.  It was getting pretty warm and I looked at the time on my phone.  We were 10 minutes passed the landing time so I called the reception and learned that because of the weather, we were skipping that stop.  There we were all dressed up with no place to go and I had to take a selfie.

Tonight’s dinner was:

  • Sami Láibi (Soused herring, sour cream, egg, and onion salad
  • Reindeer (Fried Mushroom, Savoy cabbage, Broccoli pure and lingonberry sauce.
  • Russion Honey Cake: Sour-cream, salted caramel sauce.

We went to deck 4 after dinner to relax with a cup of tea.  Seeing an aurora is not too likely tonight.  When we were docked in Berlevåg, we looked out of the window and noticed that we were having a snow storm but it didn’t last very long.

Many people disembarked in Kirkeness.  They were only on the 1st half of the trip.  I just asked the information desk how many people are still on the ship.  She told me it was between 250 and 300.

Marty, Ellen and I stayed awake and streamed the First Unitarian Alliance meeting at 21:30 local time.  I am so glad we stayed up to see it.  Because of the stormy weather we were not interrupted tonight to see an aurora.  Hoping for another wonderful aurora tomorrow night.

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Higher Seas Day + Havøysund 10/1

When I woke up this morning at 7:00. The ship was rolling a bit. After showering and dressing, I decided to put on one of the patches since seasickness is not on my agenda.  Marty and Ellen were still in bed.  Before breakfast, Ellen and I did a load of laundry.  It is very nice having washing machines and dryers on  this ship.

We chose not to pay to go on the excursion to the North Cape.  Besides the cost of it, they were taking 45 people on each bus and that is not something I enjoy.

At about 10:00, they were selling post cards that we could use to get the North Cape stamp.  Ellen and I each purchased one.  They also had the captains of the ship available to sign any books you purchased.  Ellen had the idea of having the captains sign our postcards.  Again, kind of silly but I decided to photograph the postcard, stamps, and signatures since I probably won’t save the original.

Ellen and I sat down for a cup of tea.  She looked at me and said that the pupil in my left eye was much bigger than the one in my right eye.  It was very strange.  Then she asked me if I thought it was the patch.  That had never happened before but I decided not to take any chances and when we went back to her room, I removed the patch.

After lunch Ellen, Jane, Sue, and I took a walk with Liv in Havøysund.  Havøysund is a fishing village which offers a generally wide range of common services. The town has been rebuilt after the war.   The first thing we saw was a replica of a fish rack.

When we passed this sculpture, Liv said that it was of a man with a small fish.  It didn’t look so small to us.

There were several stone sculptures…

…and views of the harbor.

It was just a short walk to Havøysund Church. Like most other churches in Finnmark, Havøysund church was burned down by the Germans during the evacuation of Finnmark in 1944. The new church was built of whitewashed concrete and dark wooden timbers in a long church style in 1960

Liv told us that this stone is carved with the names of people from this town who went to Finland to help the Fins in the war.

On the way back to the ship we saw these planters in front of a pub…



… and this sandal display.

Ellen and I went to the craft store.  Ellen bought yellow wool mittens.

We relaxed after lunch and then went to a very informative lecture on oil in Norway.  Norway has the highest market penetration per capita in the world and also has the world’s largest  plug-in segment market share of new car sales, 49.1% in 2018. As of 2018, 10% of all passenger cars on Norwegian roads were plug-ins.  This is the same information that the people I met in Geilo an Flam told me.

The ship was still rolling.  Marty,  Ellen, and I decided to take non-drowsy Dramamine.  We put our warm clothes together and were waiting for the announcement that we were arriving in Kjøllefjord for our trip to visit the Sami People.   We were going to be taken by bus to about the mystical cultural practices and natural medicines of the indigenous Sámi people living in Europe’s northernmost region.

While we were waiting I looked up information about one pupil being larger than the other.  The info on the web about the possible causes was down-right scary.  I decided that when we got back from the Sami visit, i would use Ellen’s phone and call my eye doctor.

First they announced that the information meeting T 17:00 was cancelled because it was going to be too difficult for people to stand up and get to the meeting.  Then much to our disappointment then announced that the Mehamn excursion was being cancelled.  That was our trip to visit the Sami.and was the one excursion that was important to us. We were seriously disappointed.  That was the one excursion that we all wanted to do.

Well there was nothing to do but wait out the rolling waters. The 3 of us laid down and listened to a podcast on Ellen’s phone.  We managed to go for dinner (which was again a buffet) at 6:30.  Sue joined our table because Jane was not feeling well.  There were many open tables in the dining room.

After dinner we went up to the lounge on deck 8.  I decided to write an email to my eye doctor explaining what was happening with my pupils.  He immediately wrote back to me and told me that it was certainly due to the patch and that I would recover soon.  That was a great relief.

The ship was rocking in the waves.  I was so surprised that I was one of the people who was not feeling sick.

They announced an Aurora forming on the left side of the boat.  We all rushed outside on deck 8.  It wasn’t very strong.  We went down to deck 6 but were not allowed to go to the back of the ship because of the rough seas and wind.  The aurora was pretty faint.

Ellen and Marty went to bed about an hour ago and I decided to finish this post. We are still rolling; I am feeling fine; time to go to sleep.

It was well after 1:00 am when I went to sleep. I woke up this morning still feeling excited about last night. What a night.

After my shower and getting dressed i heard a knock on my door.  I thought it was Ellen or Marty waking me for breakfast.  But it was one of the women from the information desk.   She asked me if I was okay.  Apparently when I took my shower this morning, I created enough steam to set off an alarm on the deck so she came to check on me. I asked her why they didn’t just call on the phone.  She said that they are not allowed to do that so she had to walk down to my cabin.  What was funny was that it took them so long to get to my cabin.  I had already sorted out my clothes for the day and was completely dressed before she got there.

I went to get Marty and Ellen for breakfast and they were just getting up.  We didn’t get to breakfast until 9:00 and it was the most crowded breakfast so far.  It may be our last late breakfast.

at 10:00 we went to John’s astronomy talk.  Today’s topic was about observing and imaging the Northern Lights.  Even though I don’t have the proper equipment to take photographs of the Auroras, it was very informative.  I actually realized that I am glad I don’t have to deal with all of the issues with setting up tripods, settings on my camera, or any technical difficulties.  Last night I was just able to stare at the sky and enjoy the experience.  I will rely on other’s photos and John will sell us a flash drive with his at the end of the trip.

For the rest of the morning and early afternoon we just hung out on the ship, had lunch, and dressed to go to the Tromsø Planetarium when the ship docked at 2:15. Only the people on the astronomy part of the trip went on this excursion.

We were given a lecture on the constellations including the ones the Sami people name.  Then we were shown a movie created by an expert on Auroras, Ole Solomonsen.  I loved watching it.  I asked the people at the desk if there is a website about him.  It will be fun to look at the photos on his site.

After the presentation we spent some time looking around the planetarium.  It was sort of like being at OMSI.  The gift shop had great children’s toys.

Liv asked the bus driver to take us around Tromsø through tunnels.  There are actually roundabouts inside the tunnels.  I think Tromsø was the first city to build tunnels with roundabouts.

Ellen, Marty, and I took a short walk in Tromsø before getting back on the ship.  We went to the Tromsø Cathedral.  It is probably the northernmost Protestant cathedral in the world. With over 600 seats, it is one of Norway’s biggest wooden churches. It originally held about 984 seats, but many benches and seats have been removed over the years to make room for tables in the back of the church.

On the way back to the Finnmarken we passed a wonderful store with very nice art work.

Another great dinner tonight.

  • Baked Celery Soup: Frans Joseph sausage from Mydland Tromsø
  •  Arctic Char  from Sigerfjord: baked beets and green cabbage, dill potatoes, Hollandaise
  • Chocolate Terrine: Blueberry compote and lemon thyme meringue

From our window at dinner we could see the Arctic Cathedral where we will be going to hear a midnight concert in a 3 more days on the way south..

I realized that I am taking fewer photos than I usually take on trips.  The sights are wonderful, but taking photos (line the above one) through the windows of the ship is not very satisfy8ing and it is cold outside.  So we are just enjoying what we see and having a wonderful time.


Arctic Circle Crossing Celebration, Bodø Walk, Aurora Borealis, Trollfjord9/29

We crossed the Arctic Circle this morning before I left the cabin.  Even through Eric gave me instructions about how to guess the crossing to the second, I didn’t enter the contest.  I just spaced it out.  A bit later in the morning we had an Arctic Circle crossing celebration on one of the outside decks. We were waiting for King Neptune to arrive.  This was a very cold morning.  Jane, Sue, and Ellen are bundled up.

When he arrived …

The ship manager announced the name of the winner of the contest.

The winner was given a flag which was special.  But when they baptized her by pouring ice down on her back, I knew I wouldn’t have wanted to win that contest.  There were many people who then chose to be baptized with a bit of ice. then they poured actual ice water over the newest crew members.

We were given the opportunity to purchase a postcard and receive an Arctic Circle crossing stamp.  After I did that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it so I photographed it.

We also found certificates of the crossing hanging by our cabin.

The funny part is that John (our astronomy expert  told us that the time we crossed the actual marker for the crossing was not accurate because the Arctic Circle has been moving 15 meters north every year.

A small navy coast guard boat passed us when we were on the deck.

After lunch Liv took anybody from the astronomy group for a walk around Bodø.

Bodø also had pretty manhole covers.

It was a pretty short walk.  We passed a building that had a mural of a child painting an Aurora.

On the way back to the Finnmarken I took a photo of the hills around Bodø but the buildings in the foreground were distracting.

I took another photo of the Finnmarken.

A woman took a photo of Ellen and I as we were getting back onboard.

John gave a wonderful talk entitled, “A Tour of the Planets,” and it was wonderful.  He had photos of all of the planets and the moons that circle them.  I just love listening to him.

We had another spectacular dinner.

  • Asapargas with goat cheese cream from Haukeli Chevre, Flow mince, and chives.
  • Mushroom and Oak Cake from Jæder Ådne Espeland, Flow Mince and chives
  • DUGA Grain Créme: LIngonberries and Oat biscuits.

The presentation of the food is wonderful and it was all absolutely delicious.

Ellen, Marty, and I decided to stream church services from First Unitarian.  Marty wanted to hear the choir and we all wanted to hear the sermon.  We were really happy to be watching it on my laptop.  The testimony by a transgender woman was inspiring and the music was beautiful.  Then the announcement came from the loud speaker.  There was an Aurora.

We threw on our many layers of clothing and hurried out to deck 5.  At first there was not much to see.  A woman named Barbara was taking photos.  She told us that the photos showed colors that we could not see with our eyes.  Then all of a sudden the skies exploded with arcs, bands, rays, curtains and a corona.  We kept turning around and around looking at the sky.  We could see all of the colors and it was astounding.

After a while the clouds moved in but we had seen it.  My camera won’t photograph an Aurora but John is going to share his on the last day.

We hung out for a while because they were serving fish soup on deck 11 at 11:45 pm.  Were selling a tea and rum drink in troll cups in honor of the Trollfjord that we navigating …

but we only had the fish soup.  It was wonderful.

I went back to deck 5 but it was all cloudy so I was about to go back to my cabin.  I met a group of women from Arkansas and we were talking.  Some people were going back outside so I followed them.  The captain of the ship was sending out beams of light on each side of the ship.  We were going through the narrowest part of the Trollfjorden.  The light mist in the air was actually snow.

The Trollfjord or Trollfjorden is a 2-kilometre long fjord cuts into the island of Austvågøya and flows out into the Raftsundet strait. The fjord has a narrow entrance and steep-sided mountains surrounding it.

It may be only three kilometers long and 70 meters wide at the mouth, and Norway may have bigger, broader and deeper fjords than Trollfjorden, but if you measure the drama here per meter, there are few fjords that can compete! This is a channel that penetrates deep into the 1000 meter high Trolltindan, and finishes in a dead end in the dark and dramatic Raftsundet.

There are small communities to be found here, some of them inaccessible by road, tucked into narrow straits at the feet of thousand meter high mountain sides.

It was absolutely mesmerizing watching the captain negotiate this narrow passage, turn the ship around like on a dime and go back through the fjord.

It was after midnight when I went back inside.  I took this photo from the live action map showing where we where at that time.  Looking at this map we had just negotiated the narrow fjord that is to the left behind were our ship is at this moment.

The people I was talking with told me a story about men fishing in the fjord about 130 years ago so I looked up the story.

In 1890, a clash broke out on Trollfjorden between tradition and modern times. On the 6th March, in the middle of the fishing season, the fjord was full of cod. Steamboats were attempting to take all the fish for themselves, shutting out the old sail-driven fishing vessels. However, the fishermen took matters into their own hands in order to put an end to the blockade and fighting broke out. Although the fishermen were doused with steaming hot water from the boilers, they eventually succeeded in breaking the blockade.

The Battle of Trollfjorden is described in Johan Bojer’s book The Last Viking, a work that had political repercussions. The Lofot Act followed promptly in its wake. This law regulates where different fishing equipment may or may not be used during the Lofoten fishing season.

This was absolutely the most exciting, satisfying evening of this voyage.  Seeing the Aurora so exceeded my expectations.  Going through the Trollfjorden was an additional treat.  I am having trouble finding words to express my joy.


Monkholmen: Walk in Trondheim; Lighthouse; Watching for Northern Lights 9/28

On the way to Trondheim this morning we  were called to the deck this morning to see Monkholmen (Monk Island).  Munkholmen Island was Trondheim’s execution site in the Viking era. Benedictine monks built a monastery on the island in the early 11th century, probably one of the earliest monasteries in Scandinavia. In 1658.  They actually produced beer on the island.  People from the mainland could hear them singing in the evening and it was loud.  They stopped putting alcohol into the beer.  I believe they said that the beer is still sold.  Monkholmen was converted into a prison and fortress, and later a customs house. Its most famous inmate was the Danish Count Peder Griffenfeld, who spent 18 years as a prisoner there. Today “The Monks’ Island” is a popular recreational area, with a nice beach and a restaurant,

At 10:00 Jane, Sue, Ellen, and I went on a 2 hour hike in Trondheim with  Liv.  Marty stayed back to rest because of her cold.  Liv is the assistant to our astronomy expert.

Trondheim is the 3rd most populous municipality in Norway.  The settlement was founded in 997 as a trading post, and it served as the capital of Norway during the Viking Age until 1217. From 1152 to 1537, the city was the seat of the Catholic Archkiochese of Nidaros; since then, it has remained the seat of the Lutheran Diocese of Nidaros and the Nidaros Cathedra. It was incorporated in 1838.

This is the entrance to the Trondheim Clarion Hotel.  We are very lucky to have this escorted walking feature of the astronomy cruise.

Trondheim (like Bergen) has decorated manhole covers.  I think that depicted on in are a king and an Arch Bishop.

The words on this walkway tell the distance to the shopping area and say the walking is good.

told us stories as we walked.  I took a few photos.

We walked over the Nidelva River. The 30-kilometre long river travels through the municipalities of Trondheim and Klæbu. The name translates to the “River Nid” since the suffix elva or elven is the Norwegian word for “river”. I liked this wooden boat.

Liv said that Trodheim had the largest number of wooden structures.

This is the symbol of the Vinmonopolet colloquially shortened to Polet, is is the government-owned alcoholic beverage retailer and the only company allowed to sell beverages containing an alcohol content higher than 4.75% in Norway. Liv told us a story about people leaving Norway to buy alcohol. One year the people  was were told that there was a surplus of alcohol so they had to give it away free.  They told people that they had to bring their own containers.  But when they all lined up to get the alcohol, they were told it was April Fools.  Some people laughed but others were angry.

This is a famous violin player from Trondheim.  He is now about 83 years old.  He was married quite late and had 2 daughters.  He is very, very pleased with his daughters.

Today there was an open farmer’s market.  It was so much fun to wander through it.

They had samples of some of the local food specialties and we were able to do some tasting.  There were many booths.  I  only photographed a couple of them.

This is the dried cod fish (Klipfisk) we learned about in Bergen.

One of the booths had the fish cakes.  Liv purchased 3 or 4 of them for us and we each had a taste.  They were much tastier than the ones we had at the cafeteria at Edvard Griev’s home.

We walked to the Nidaros Cathedral.  It is built over the burial site of King Olav II, who became the patron saint of the nation, and is the traditional location for the consecration of new kings of Norway. This was a cemetery on the way.

This is a sculpture we saw on the way.

I took several photos but we did not have time to actually go into the Cathedral.


LIv took us on a different route back to the ship.  I really liked this bridge.

These are more photos I took on the way back.

The name on this place means something about the people’s house and the good neighbor.  The words above (Folk & Me) mean, People and Cattle.

This was a very small house where obviously the boats were important.

I loved the doorways – especially the red ones..

Interesting how the vines cover several the windows.

Even Liv was not sure about the exact way back to the ship so she was asking people.  We walked over this lovely bridge with flowers along the sides.

This boat is a very fast boat.  Norwegians designed it.  It works really well for transporting people from island to island; town to town.

We made it back to our ship and attended John’s lecture called, “In Search of Northern Lights.”  Before the lecture, Liv read us a story from a book about Norwegians.  John is so informative and entertaining.  We learned about Common Auroral Forms.  This is a very brief summary

  • Glow: A brightening of the sky with no discernible form
  • Arc: Usually like a grey-green or greenish bow stretching roughly from east to west
  • Band: A ribbon like structure
  • Bright spots: May develop along arcs and bands
  • Rays: Vertical bundles moving along an arc or band
  • Curtains and draperies: They stretch higher into the sky.

I love listening to him but cannot repeat what he as said.

We saw several sail boats on the water.   I loved this red sail.

We were called to deck 5 to see the Kjeungskjær Lighthouse which is located on a tiny island at the mouth of the Bjugnfjorden about 3.5 kilometres west of the village of Uthaug and 5 kilometres south of the village of Nes in Bjugn municipality.

Marty took a better photo than I did because she arrived on deck 5 before me.

Originally, the lighthouse was permanently manned, as rough weather made daily travel to the mainland impossible. The lighthouse keeper lived here. In some cases, a private teacher also lived in the lighthouse to educate the keeper’s children. The last permanent lighthouse keeper left Kjeungskjær in 1987, when it was automated. Since then, the Kjeungen Lighthouse Association has taken over and restored the interior of the five-story building.

After we viewed the lighthouse, they served mussels on deck 8.  They were delicious. One of the men who cooked the mussels they served told me that at one time there were 8 children living at the lighthouse.

I took several more photos today.

It was beautiful passing under this bridge and looking back into the sun.

We haven’t seen many birds but today there were gulls on this island.

Dinner was again delicious.  The menu tells information about each dish but I don’t have time to type all of the information..  We had Barley Soup, Salmon from Aukra, and Tjukkmojolk Pudding.

We met with John on Deck 5 at 9:00 to watch for the Northern Lights.  John pointed out star constellations and the milky way.  We were excited to see the glow, an arc, a couple of bands and even some rays.  With our naked eyes we could not see much color but there was some.  This was just the first night of observations so we were hoping for more..