a unique perspective on this crazy world


Once you leave Trondheim, the journey becomes a bit metaphysical.  Early in the morning the next day you cross the Arctic Circle.  I set the alarm but had been reading late into the night and expected it was likely a non-event.  If you get up for it and tell me otherwise, I will need a re-do 🙂

Whether you get on-deck at 7am or not, you DO end up in the Arctic Circle.  Had there been free champagne instead of bad Prosecco for 55 kroner, I would definitely have been outside on three hours of sleep 🙂

remember to go outside and check it out :)

remember to go outside and check it out 🙂

I grew up not far from the Arctic and wandering through these tiny, remote towns in northern Norway reminds me of my youth.  It’s late May so I have experienced worse cold – but bring fleece!  Wind-stopper fabric.   Serious gloves.  Even if the temperature is above zero, the wind chill will test you.

But there is a beauty and majesty to these places that is impossible to describe.  You look out the window and you see endless stretches of ocean, yet another set of snow-capped mountains, blue skies with barely a horizon (yes, it has stopped raining!) and you start to feel bored…

But brave the wind chill and get outside on deck and take photos… even if you aren’t sure how they might turn out… because you will upload them and be astonished by the interplay of colour, texture and light that is the arctic in spring.

I am typing this wearing my souvenir – a moss green Helly Hensen (Norwegian!) fleece emblazoned “the arctic awakening” – the current Hurtigruten theme.  And they are right.  The arctic is awakening – and it is the most fulfilling part of the journey.

This is a cargo ship so information is sporadic and incomplete.  I fear I should have stayed up – or been on deck – to see specific things but it’s not very clear just what you should be looking for – or when you might find it – so I have just accepted the randomness.

You do get to go ashore at least once a day so I have just embraced the experience and whatever journey I ended up on.

Bodo was OK.  What I have discovered as we advance north is that the physical beauty of the landscape and the interplay of light with the physical surfaces have been enhanced but the man-made stuff is pretty basic.

tromso...

tromso…

What is impressive is some of the new modern architecture – and how the locals have to be outside in an outdoor café even though it’s only 8 degrees Celsius!  I grew up in that world.  Once you have been in darkness and minus 40 for a long time, it turns 4 degrees positive and you’re thinking tank top and sandals 😉

The Arctic has been my favourite part of the journey and I would highly encourage you to experience it.  I do think that Tromso could really use a better tourist office though.  I have never been so confused!

They would have got more kroner from me but I couldn’t find either of the tourist attractions I was seeking.  It was like a Monty Python skit.  It was the first tourist town with NO signs to attractions.  Fine, I had a map.  Oh, but the tourist map only had a few random streets.  And only a few random streets actually had street names marked on them!  And the streets named on the map were generally NOT the ones with street signs!

Seriously???  Maybe the Mafia is in charge of tourist buses… “you no pay the tourist fee and take the bus, we no tell you where the tourist stuff is”…  It is the first time in the history of my traveling through FOURTY EIGHT countries that I couldn’t find what I was seeking…

It was a combination of not having a specific address, the tourist map not including all the streets and most of the streets being incognito.  I walked the blocks the map indicated in its general way at least four times braving the icy polar winds, but to no avail… so I finally just decamped to the ship.

Of course, Tromso had been promoted on the ship in the typical Hurtigruten hyberbole as “the Paris of the North”.

paris...

paris…

Seriously, have ANY of you BEEN to Paris??? Or even Buenos Aires?  I could see it as the former Paris of South America, with a faded majestic charm.  But Tromso… you don’t even have enough street signs – or a decent map – to be considered a Norwegian tourist town.  It is entertaining how many cities want to be Paris… perhaps setting your benchmark as probably the most thrilling city in the world from a man-made perspective may be setting your sights a little high 😉

 

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