Honningsvåg, the North Cape, fish ice-cream & the Aurora Borealis

Day 20 – Tuesday 9/10

Each morning we woke up, to the slow rattle and roll of our beautiful ship, the MS Kong Harald pulling into port, we knew another incredible adventure was ahead of us. We chose to travel in Autumn, so the fact we had seen as much snow as what we had, was incredible. There were many hours where we would lay sideways in our bed and just stare out of our window, completely amazed by what we were looking at.

EUROPE - 7270It was hard to believe we had already reached day 5 of our trip. It seemed that this amazing adventure we had waited so long for, was going past so quickly. We wanted to embrace each and every moment and with relative whiplash looking from one side of Norway to the other, our eyes were drunk with beauty.

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Today was the day we would get to visit the North Cape, Nordkapp – the beautiful home to Honningsvåg. As awful as this is going to sound, the relief we felt when we were able to get off the ship and board an English-speaking bus away from the mass population of incredibly rude, pushy, eyes-for-Christmas people we had spent nearly a week within our small quarters, was invigorating!

Honestly, I think we had the best tour guide, he was so passionate and absolutely nothing on this Earth grabs my interest and inspires me than learning about a place from a local with stars in their eyes. It reminds me that although some people think that taking tours is not ‘authentic’ enough, I disagree with you completely. Having someone who loves where they are from, enough to share it with you is the epitome of travel and experience, really absorbing the location you are in.

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Nordkapp sits at latitude 71°10’21” N and safe to say it is the furthermost North I have ever been, or am likely to ever go! We knew that in terms of tourism, this particular location is known as a tourist trap, and it is expensive but it is beautiful. As I write this, I can see my beautiful Sami-made Christmas decoration on my tree and I have absolutely no issues with the cost we faced to visit this place. It was AMAZING. Our bus trip was around 30-45 minutes up the mountain to the visitor’s centre. We were still completely blown away to see snow wherever we looked.

Nordkapp was eye-opening and I would have loved to have spent more time in the Sami-district, but seeing as we only had a day in the area, that unfortunately was not an option. Grant and I made our way away from the crowd when we got off the bus – heading straight out to the point and avoiding the visitor centre and the actual monument. With hundreds of people up there, we preferred to enjoy the beautiful view, have a view moments without interruption and avoid the reality that it was definitely a tourist butterfly-net. It was worth it, completely. It was completely overwhelming to realise where we were, what we were experiencing and to try and imagine all of the people before us over hundreds of years who had visited the area.

We only had a short time in Nordkapp but I can honestly say, that as we exited the bus and headed back towards the ship, I was really dreading leaving such a beautiful place, the most northern place I had ever been to and one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. I think our kisses at the most northern point of Europe would stay with us for quite a while!

EUROPE - 6669This was also a pretty terrible day to realise that although my boots were great for hiking, they were 100% inappropriate for ice, I cannot count how many times I nearly completely stacked it!

So, some fun facts about Nordkapp, which we were told by our incredible tour guide:

  • Nordkapp is not actually the northernmost point of Europe, the neighbouring Knivskjellodden is 1457m further north.
  • In approximately 1664, the first tourist was reported to have climbed the plateau, he was an Italian Priest and it took him more than two years to make his journey.
  • The first group travel was arranged in 1875 for 24 participants.

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This destination is certainly expensive but it is absolutely beautiful and I figured that if we were going to travel all that way, only to stay on the boat and not go on the journey, it would have been a missed opportunity.

The entrance fee is 275NOK, which is around $45AUD – you will pay more to go on an organised tour, but the climb is steep and the tour guide is a local and is passionate – so well worth it if you can afford it.

Once we made our way back down the mountain and back onto the ship for our final leg of our Hurtigruten journey we finally tried the Brown Cheese and Stockfish flavoured ice-cream on board the ship (unusual, but not all that unpleasant), rugged up with warm drinks and waited for our chance to see the Aurora Borealis.

I had already been asleep for an hour when G came and woke me up once they were showing, I had the wrong lens on the camera and was totally out of it. However, you can see my very very amateur shots below!

Thank you for reading my post! I am a Brisbane based creative and blogger. I do not receive payment for my blogging, and in the event, I have been gifted any products and items, I will always mention this. I live with my Husband, make hand-crafted household and personal eco-friendly items, accessories, and provide photographic services when requested.

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Travel Diary (Day 18) – Hurtigruten Day 3

Day 18 – Sunday 7/10 – Welcome to the Arctic!

IMG_2653At midnight the night before, we had been given the advice that there were in fact going to be passing over the Arctic Circle sometime in the morning, there was the option to place a bet of the exact time this would happen and if you won, you could receive a prize.

We awoke at 7:32am and found ourselves passing the Arctic Circle, our gorgeous MS Kong Harald blasting her horns as we did so. It was something really beautiful to be a part of. It is a lot to take in, being a girl from Australia crossing the arctic circle on a ship! Here are some pics of the incredible views we had as this occurred.

 

This invisible line is situated at 66 degrees 33 minutes north and marks the border to the Arctic Region. However, the exact position does change, as of today it is 66°33′47.4″ north of the equator. It is the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude. It marks the northernmost point where the noon sun is visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point where the centre of the midnight sun is visible on the June solstice. Sadly the Arctic Circle is drifting northwards at a speed of 15 metres per year.

After our beautiful crossing of the Arctic Circle we headed off to breakfast and then came back up onto the deck for Hurtigruten’s Arctic Circle Ceremony on deck, an Arctic Baptism if you will. This happened at 10am. We were taken through one of the most fun and well-thought-out activities ran by the Hurtigruten expedition crew. We were all taken out onto the deck and there was a presentation with our expedition crew leader (who was fantastic by the way) and her warm, yet fierce welcoming of Norde, who appeared on deck and looked suspiciously like our other expedition crew member? Though his feet looked like mine, so I am sure he was the real deal.

 

We had read about the Arctic Baptism and thought about the icy-cold water being slipped down the back of our jackets, but it really is not until you are on that deck, freezing your butts off that you realise exactly how cold the entire thing is going to be.

ea5adcd4-7a50-4ea9-a885-3dda08d7966cWe weren’t there to muck around and there was no way we weren’t going to participate. We held back ten or so minutes to avoid the football scrum which any activity aboard the Hurtigruten managed to be before it was our turn. I am next to certain the Captain/Norde’s eyes lit up when they saw Grant and that ladle went to the bottom of that soup pot and was given the most impressive stir.

Sitting through it is fun, honestly, how many times does anyone pass through the Arctic Circle and have the opportunity to join in something so fun? If you weren’t awake before hand, you certainly were afterwards, I am pretty sure Grant and I were picking ice out of our clothes for the next hour or so! Thank you to the staff for the shot of cloudberry wine and of course the champagne, it certainly made it better!

Grant had way more poured down the back of his jacket and it was hilarious, we all knew who was behind the mask and I think they knew we were pretty good sports so it was actually pretty fun!

Our cold activities for the day were not over, we were excited to be docking in Bordø and to go on the Salstraumen rib boat adventure.

Salstraumen is a small strait with one of the strongest tidal currents in the world and is located in the municipality of Bodø in Norway. The Saltstraumen pushes up to 400,000,000 cubic metres of seawater through a 3-kilometre long and 150-metre wide strait every six hours and creates whirlpools. We had obviously booked this trip ahead of time and there is no way to tell where the tides will be at when you visit the area.Jules Verne wrote about Salstraumen in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Edgar Allen Poe has also written about the whirlpools in A Descent into the Maelstrom and it was even described by Herman Melville’s character Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.

Our rib boat safari took around half an hour to get to the Saltstraumen, being in that gorgeous Norwegian water going past sea eagles and the landscape (and of course, rainbows which we hd become accustomed to in Norway!) was beautiful. Beautiful and freezing, as if Norway was not cold enough, throwing yourself on a boat moving at top-speed was amazing!

We also saw parts of the Caledonian Fold Belt which is one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges dating back more than 250 million years. As we made it back to the terminal it started to hail/snow? Which as direct hits to the face was both painful and hilarious. When we arrived back to the port, the Captain of the MS Kong Harald was making it quite clear that we had gone over in time, so it was a quick change and back onto the ship.

There was one couple who seemed quite annoyed that the mans pressed slacks (I am not making this up) were wet and wasn’t the outfit meant to be waterproof? The largest man I have ever seen, who was hanging the outfits up laughed the best and loudest laugh I had ever heard and said “No, not at all! Embrace your inner viking!”.

It was time to continue on up the coast, hands-down one of my favourite days on the ship.

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