|MS Trollfjord is anchored
to my right in distant background
Exiting the Hjørundfjord, we docked at
Ålesund where I joined several other
passengers for a climb up the famous
418-steps staircase leading to the
summit of Mount Aksla right in the
center of the city. From here, we were
rewarded with a splendid view of
Ålesund and the surrounding
|Ålesund from atop Mt. Aksla
|Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral on a showery Sunday morning
|Neptune was overseeing in the background
to my right!
encouraged to down a glass of
aquavit. To insure the authenticity of the rites, King Neptune was on hand.
|I concluded that aquavit is an acquired taste.
us suited up and boarded a rigid-inflatable boat or RIB (to my left below) for a safari
reported to experiences the
strongest tidal current in the
world. The special RIB watercraft
allowed us to safely enter the
maelstroms created by the coming together of the waters of both fjords.
Saltstraumen is also noted for its white-tailed or sea eagle. World-wide, Norway is home to about 20% of this species. In size, the sea eagle is comparable to the bald eagle. On our RIB safari we saw three or four of these impressive birds. Unfortunately they were perched atop buoys or on crags. None was in in dramatic or an crags. None was in dramatic flight as pictured below.
|(courtesy of the Northern Norway Tourist Board)
Late in our sailing we visited Tromsø with its impressive Arctic Cathedral. I accessed the edifice by walking across the Tromsø Bridge, a span of two-thirds of a mile that connects both parts of the city. The walk was invigorating! On the way back, I stopped at the city’s very unique Polarmuseet (Polar Museum). This compact but cozy museum is filled with exhibits that bring to life Norway’s very prominent role in Arctic exploration.
|Tromsø Cathedral (in summer!)
|Tromsø Polar Museum (as it appears much of the year!)
|Nordkapp - Globe Monument
The following day, we sailed into Honningsvåg, the closest port to the Nordkapp (North Cape). The ride to the Nordkapp is along the northernmost road in the European system. Nordkapp is at 71ᴼ 10’ and 1300-miles from the North Pole (by comparison, Point Barrow AK is at 71ᴼ 23’ and 1122 miles from the Pole). Nordkapp -- most accessible to tourists between mid-May and late August and at increasingly limited access between late fall and most of spring -- overlooks the Arctic Ocean from a 3000 foot promontory. Its most famous symbol is the Globe Monument (pictured left). There is an excellent visitors’ center at Nordkapp that provides a great audio-visual presentation, a peace chapel and exhibits. We visited Nordkapp on September 30, but fierce winds and snow squalls made it feel more like January in Boston!
At Honningsvåg -- Trolls are everywhere in Norway!
MS Trollfjord was a major part of this Scandinavian itinerary. The Trollfjord and her 11-sister ships – continually plying the waters of the Norwegian coast, visiting 32-ports in 12-days (round-trip) – serve a dual purpose. They provide the locals with postal, small cargo and ferry services along a coast characterized by fjords and mountains on the shoreline (beautiful, but largely inaccessible except by water). For guests, like us, the itineraries are a visually rich vehicle for immersion into Norway’s landscapes, outdoor activities, food, beverage and cultural heritage.
The range of shore excursions on Norway Coastal voyages varies depending on season. For example, in summer, mountain biking, birding, kayaking, horseback riding and midnight sun activities abound. In winter, dog sledding, snowmobiling, wilderness camping and, weather permitting, Northern Lights viewing are options.
Hurtigrtuen accommodations are simple, clean and comfortable. English is spoken on board (as it is just about everywhere else in Scandinavia). Most of the food is locally provisioned, making for memorable fish and vegetable offerings. The breads, cheeses and desserts were also super. There is neither gambling nor organized nightlife on board.
Given the activity level of the typical Hurtigruten guest aboard Norwegian Coastal Itinerary, bed times come early, anyway.
|Among the Grieg artifacts
|Harald And Sonja - Norway's King and Queen
|Munch room at Oslo's National Gallery
Ed McCourt, CTC