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 19) – Hurtigruten Day 4

Day 19 – Monday 8/10

IMG_7688Today is our Wedding Anniversary!!! Two heads married today and to start it at midnight, hunting for the Aurora Borealis could not have been a better way to begin!

Sadly the cloud cover was pretty heavy last night, as was the rain so our chances of seeing the Northern Lights, although at 55%, was drastically lessened by the weather itself. I am convinced that at some point my beautiful camera, Dotty certainly picked up on a greenish hue to the skies, however this didn’t last long and again with the cloud cover these photos hardly demonstrate the beauty these lights are known for. They were also completely hidden to the naked eye!

We woke up this morning around 9am, I think our gorgeous room attendant had the fright of her life when she came in to clean the room and I was, in the words of my husband not covered by the blankets with my bum facing the door (in undies, but still unsettling I am sure!).

F1CTXgl3RB6AHBxtX0yAagDragging ourselves to breakfast, the tango dance which is navigating yourself through the buffet of 50 people who are 100% in a different age-bracket to you. G and I are quick. We get in and we get out. we like to stay out of people’s way, we are polite – we generally are pretty mindful of others and personal space. Even though this is our fourth cruise, we seem to have absolutely forgotten that 80% of the population are NOT like this. It is so hard to ignore the habitual rudeness and gang-mentality of people without even the most basics of courtesy, but we are trying!

I have to say the staff on this cruise are amazing. Hurtigruten is professionally and beautifully ran and we are having the trip of a lifetime, so sometimes we can be quite horrified at how others conduct themselves.

During the night we docked at Stokmarknes, Sortland, Risøyhamn, Harstad (Hársttákcode), Finnsnes and we arrived into Tromsø at 2:15pm. Tromsø is a place which has been on our radar for a long time so we were chomping at the bit to get off of the boat. Unfortunately our budget does not allow for any more paid activities and we have had a pretty good run, so we were looking forward to taking a wander around town on our own.

When we got off the boat the first thing we noticed was the snow and how low down on the mountains either side of our ship it was! The snow fall is currently only 30m above sea-level, which is such a stark contrast to when we started in Bergen!

I wouldn’t say we lasted too long out in town, it’s certainly beautiful but it is very cold! We did what we do best and found a cute little pub and enjoyed a whiskey together (Grant is doing his best to get me on that Whiskey/Whisky train) ahead of our arrival into Scotland shortly! Now, about this pub – whilst our Norwegian is poor, we worked our pretty quickly that this place was basically a bar and served a variation of baked potatoes. It’s almost as though this place was made for the Redmond family. Seeing as we our shouting ourselves to a fancy dinner tonight for our anniversary at the a-la-carte restaurant on board, we refrained from the potato’s.

We made our way back on board ahead of the crowd which will be the returning optional activity crew, made our way to our room and decided on the whole Netflix & Chill approach to our afternoon. It’s 4 degrees outside and the view from our room is spectacular. So having some down time with one another is always the best.

Hurtigruten on its voyage north and south along the Norwegian coast will have on one night each a King Crab night, which happened to be on our Anniversary. Grant ordered the full King Crab experience, I on the other hand can only eat crab once it is out of its shell, otherwise I feel like I am breaking apart a giant scary spider (no thanks!).

img_0859It was definitely our fanciest meal of the cruise and it was nice to get dressed up and order a beautiful bottle of wine and just enjoy our anniversary. The staff also gave us complimentary champagne, which is really lovely!

It was a really unique and gorgeous way to spend our anniversary, I doubt we will spend it that far up north in the world ever again!

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

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x C x

 

Travel Diary (Day 15) – Sogndal – Bergen

Day 15 – 4/10

Well, sadly our time in Norway had come to an end. It was time to wave goodbye to our gorgeous Air BnB boathouse loft and head back to Bergen. Now on any other holiday and in literally any non-Scandinavian country we would have taken our time, we would have just paid the extra day. We however were renting a car in Norway and therefore there was absolutely zero chance we would be returning our car a minute past 11:30, because quite frankly we didn’t have the money to spare!

Grant woke us up at 6am and we were on the road by 6:30am, heading back to Bergen. Being the Wife of the year I consider myself to be, I very solemnly swore to remain awake and alert with Grant for the four hour journey (in the dark and in the rain). I then woke up in Njardarheimr in Gudvangen, which was around two hours into our journey. Bad Wife. Also, can I just say how confusing it is to wake up after sleeping to see two traditionally Viking dressed persons at the service station?

However this was not the most shocking part about the service station. Oh no, not at all. Pop quiz for all of you playing at home. How much would you expect 3/4 of a tank of diesel for a VW Polo? Did you guess $120 AUD? No?! Weird! Neither did we. I think we only cried for the next 40km.

Once we made it back to Bergen, it was apparent that the beautiful weather we had been experiencing was long gone, it was absolutely bucketing down. So rather than wrangling all of our luggage in the rain in a cab, Grant dropped me at the Hurtigruten terminal and took the hire car back and then he cabbed it back to me.

Now. What happened next may or may not be a miscommunication, but it kind of set the tone for the rest of that day. We were aware that you could do a bag-drop at 1pm (thank god!) and could check-in from 3:30pm and get onto the ship. So, we cooled our heals in the coffee shop at the terminal, excited to know that technically it was our last out of pocket expense for food for the next week (we had paid for the full-board package oh our journey (this does NOT include alcohol). We dropped our bags at 1pm and asked what we needed to do to check-in. Now, our recollection of these instructions were that we could get our tickets and then at 3:30pm we could go upstairs and board. Pretty clear right?

So off we skip, into town to try and see more of Bergen than we had the other day. Except it was hammering down rain, which we don’t mind, but it can really kill your strolling around town vibe! We went to the Irish pub we had seen, except they don’t open until 5pm and quite frankly, I am not sure the Irish are aware of this. Surely it’s against Irish law?! The barkeep (I am positive that’s not the term, but ah well) kindly told us (with judgement in his eyes) that no, we could not drink there but thankfully there was a coffee shop around the corner where we could get a meal.

We found a booth at said coffee shop, saw a sign for ale, reminded one another of the dietary blessing that is a stout that it’s magical liquid is basically a steak and two eggs and that technically we were eating.

Guinness was not available but we found Murphy’s Irish Stout and promptly ordered several pints of this. We FaceTimed the kids which is always really nice when we are travelling and let them know that we would be on a ship for the next week so reception might be poor. We then took a walk around the old fishing village and checked out a few stores.

Bergen was founded in 1070AD and was the capital of Norway for many years. A central point for Norwegian travel it holds the beautiful history UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, which is dated back to the 14th century. When we stopped in at one of the sweet little gift shops down an incredibly old alley, we learned that the Norwegians take great pride in their manhole covers on their roads, and in fact each municipality has a different plate with intricate designs on them.

We had an hour to spare before we could get onto the ship and so we found a local supermarket, bought two rather large beers and drank them like uncouth backstreet bandits. It was pouring and we had a few stouts under our belts. Not my proudest moment but hey, that’s travel for you babe!

Now is the time to bring back into focus the aforementioned ‘miscommunication’ at the check-in counter, because it’s a doozy. We make our way upstairs, the lovely lady tells us that check-in has been moved to 4pm. No matter. That’s just another half hour wait. We see downstairs that there is easily 200 people waiting to do their bag drop and check-in. Oh my god we think, thank god we did that earlier. That line looks horrendous.

So 4pm rolls around, we’ve got the jump on hundreds of people and then it happens. We find out that yes, we’ve done a bag drop but no, we aren’t checked in. Wait, what?!

So downstairs we go, beaten. Devastated. Horrified. We were now at the back of the line of hundreds of people who, and I mean absolutely no disrespect here, but people who in the event of any emergency are not winning that hate v. Tortoise race. Ever.

An hour and a half later we get to the front. We check-in. We’ve had at least 15 comments on our age, our lack of luggage, our height and our age. Great.

Hurtigruten is not marketed as a seniors cruise, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s an incredible, educational and adventure trip up and down the coast of Norway and guess what? We had every right to be there with ever other person and we had certainly paid for it!

All of that aside we finally made our way onto the ship and even though they advise your rooms are not available until 6pm we figured if the room opened we could go in and drop our belongings. I think we may have been the reason it was announced over the speaker that you were not permitted into your rooms until 6pm. Sorry Hurtigruten. Also when we made our booking we had requested and paid for a room with unobstructed views. Trust me when I say the price difference is noticeable. So when we first boarded and saw large life boats sitting outside our room, our hearts sank. However when we had a peek into our room we saw that for the most part we could see outside of our window. Not whilst in bed though, we could only see the lifeboats. So that was disappointing but not the end of the trip.

Once we were allowed into our rooms we unpacked, found the laundry – washed our clothes and got ready for dinner. Our dinner spot for the first night was beautiful, the food was amazing and our early night to bed, in the comfiest bed we had had all trip was welcomed.

It was time to start our Hurtigruten voyage!

Travel Diary (Day 12) – Bergen to Sogndal

Day 12 – Monday 1/10 – Bergen – Sogndal

We woke up this morning in beautiful sunny Bergen, completely taken away with what an incredible location our hotel was. We were staying right near the fish markets and it’s location to the harbour made us wish we were staying for longer!

Our hotel came with a free breakfast and everything you could possibly want was available to us. I will never say no to a free breakfast, I’ll pretty much load up on as much food as I can to survive the day. Also, given the price of pretty much everything up here I’m inclined to shove pastries in my pockets (but haven’t….yet).

After a quick walk around Bryggen, several coffees and a forty-five minute battle with Lycamobile via phone / text / app and website to get G’s up and running. Here’s a tip, play dumb when someone rude as hell in an airport sells you a Sim and Credit, and ask them to top it up for you. Otherwise you are going to end up with a useless little plastic SIM card.

We ended up seating ourselves at a coffee shop, feeding off of the free WiFi and managed to get Grants sim working for 100NKK, which was around $20 Australian. Also, the credit that comes with SIM cards in Europe is crazy! He know has 60gig, which I doubt he would use in a year. I on the other hand, Ashe dutiful Wife will make light work of it!

We headed back to our hotel, I packed our bags and Grant caught a cab to the Hertz to pick our car up and drive it back. He was back with a zippy little VW within the hour, we did a small grocery shop and hit the road.

Our nav told us it would be four hours out to Søgndal and it was already passed lunch so we legged it. We drove straight through Flåm by accident and decided to keep going, with the hope we could see the area on our way home. Originally when we made our travel plans we had intended on doing the Norway in a Nutshell journey, but the price was obscene and still incredibly limiting without your own transport, so we scrapped that and decided to make our own way.

We had time to stop and see the incredible Borgund Stave Church, this place is absolutely incredible and was completed in the 12th Century.

Our little hire-car did the job and before we knew it we had made it to the Manheller-Fodnes ferry, which only costs around $20AUD to get across to the otherside. The efficiency of these barges are amazing. Once we crossed the fjord we were faced with two tunnels, one of which was 24km long! Which is a crazy long tunnel to drive through.

As we drove into Sogndal, we knew we had made the right choice, on heading in-land for a while, just our Air BnB in the loft above a boat-shed. We arrived quite late so we did a quick shop (just basics but honestly, the price of Norway is crippling!).

Sogndal is a municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is a beautiful little town on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden and has a population of just under eight thousand people. Your three star hotel averages around 200 euro’s, thankfully we had managed to score our Air BnB for three nights for under $600.

We settled in with some wine, some Netflix and an early night, we wanted to make sure we made the absolute most of our time in the area!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

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x C x

Travel Diary (Day 11) – Faroe Islands to Bergen (via Copenhagen)

Day 11 – Sunday 30/9 – Faroe Islands – Bergen (vis Copenhagen)

Well we knew today was a write-off, as most transit days can be. We had no idea how long the day would feel though! As our schedule really only allowed us to visit the Faroes for three days, this meant we would leave on a Sunday. Sadly there are no direct flights on a Sunday from Vàgar to Bergen, so we needed to fly via Copenhagen.

As our travels tend to play out, we woke up to shocking weather and we were beyond pleased to have experienced the beautiful weather we had whilst we were there.

Our flight was not until lunchtime, so we had a few hours to explore Vagar a little more, we drove out to a beautiful old cathedral, boat harbour and village with some older style log buildings.

We drove back to the airport, dropped off our fantastic little cat which had served us well and decided that wine + beers at the airport were our best-bet for some time wasting.

Once we were on the plane we had a few more drinks and watched movies on our phones and we were back in Copenhagen. We had around a four and a half hour layover in Copenhagen, but once we collected our luggage and then took it to the departures terminal and survived that disaster we couldn’t be bothered leaving the terminal. We had originally planned to maybe go back into Copenhagen and see some more, but sadly that was not to be!

We departed Copenhagen around 9pm and landed in Bergen at 10:30pm, it was such a long day. Once we had our bags we then headed out to our bus transfer which dropped us off at the Torget stop near the old fish markets which was the same block as our hotel!

Originally we had booked to stay at a place called Citybox Hotel, but in my over-prepared state as I couldn’t pre-pay the stay I had cancelled it and booked elsewhere. We stayed at the Magic Hotel in Bergen and it was gorgeous! The rooms great, the location could not have been better, incredibly comfortable bed and all-inclusive breakfast in the morning. If you are heading to Bergen, I couldn’t recommend this hotel any more!

Really not too much to update on today, given it was a transit day – only that we are finding the serving of hot fish meals on planes to be, um…different? Also a lady kept turning around in her seat and turning our air pumps off above our seats. Seriously she did it three times, until I had to tell her ‘No, leave it – that’s my fan and it’s on me’. Oh and the other lady that tried to stay on her mobile phone during our plane’s taxi – hiding behind her seat. Hilarious.

The Scandinavians are a very tolerant and patient bunch, put it that way! We all know what sort of responses occur with that sort of behaviour in America!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x