Today was sea day number 3. It went much the same as the previous ones, which is to say, relaxing. We again we didn’t win the trivia contest by just 1 question. This time, we didn’t remember that Super Bowl #1 was held in LA.
As we’re traveling down the coast of Norway, we could see land for most of the day, though it was distant and misty. It also meant that we could use cell data, and not rely on the ship’s WiFi (for a much better experience).
I also set the camera up to take pictures through the night. I worked out what the mysterious gremlin in the camera was, so I got a complete set.
We stayed up late partying at the “Midnight Sun Party”. The party stretched across midnight to allow people to view the midnight sun, and the North Cape.
What midnight is, is open to interpretation, you can say it’s when the clock shows 12:00, but that’s somewhat arbitrary, and the sun might disagree. You can also say it’s when the sun is lowest in the sky, or directly north of you (the same thing). That’s “solar midnight”, which seemed more like really midnight for the purposes of midnight sun to me. That depends on where you are in the world, at what longitude you are.
Most people went with the clock showing 12:00, I was more interested in the solar midnight, which was happening at about 12:20 where we were (I have an app to tell me that). However, the view at 12:00 was great, but the ship was headed into a cloud bank and rain. At 12:20, the view wasn’t so great.
The captain also arranged to be at the North Cape just as the clock stuck 12:00. So we got a view of all the people lined up to watch the midnight sun from there. (One of its popular attractions.)
This afternoon’s adventure was an “ATV Safari to the North Cape.” Which is an overblown way of saying we rode ATVs all the way to the North Cape. The North Cape is the northernmost something.
The tour operators may not be totally accurate saying it’s the northernmost bit of Europe. There’s a headland to the west which sticks out 1.4km further, but it was too expensive to build the road there. It’s not really the northernmost part of Europe; Svalbard, the Norwegian Islands, are further north. Most accurately it’s the most northerly point in Europe which you can get to by car (from mainland Europe).
But anyway, the safari was a lot of fun. The views were totally stunning, the weather glorious. Unfortunately, again there were not so many stops for taking pictures. Cathy drove the way up, and I drove back down (about 25km each way). The ATV really did not inspire confidence going around corners, so I was rather slow (but it’s not a race).
Like yesterday, we put on an arctic survival suit, and like yesterday, we really needed it. Despite all the padding, we still got a little cold in places (cheeks and fingers). We even bought extra stuff to keep warm from the gift shop there. The wind was fierce, and threatened to blow us off the road in places. The weather was much better than the morning, the guides said the wind we had was tame in comparison, and the morning also had snow. We had a short rain shower, and what I think was hail briefly just as we were leaving the cape.
This post delayed by midnight partying (more later). Today was Honningsvåg, that’s on the island right at the north of Norway. The ship docked, which was a surprise, I would have expected a tender, but the port has facilities for large ships. It started out very unpromising; gloomy, wet and windy so the rain was going sideways, not down. When it did brighten up later it was very pretty.
The morning weather did make me reconsider the advisability of our afternoon adventure, but in the end the weather was again glorious for us. In the morning we did try to go into the town to get sundries, I made it to the tourist information office (the white building in the picture) before being beaten back by the weather. Cathy forged on and managed to obtain both Norwegian money and stamps.
This post delayed by very flaky internet. Today’s adventure was a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) ride around the fjords near Tromsø. What I was particularly interested in, and what the tour headlines was the Tirpitz.
The Tirpitz was a WWII German battleship, the heaviest ever European battleship. It was largely ineffective as a battleship, such ships were largely outdated by WWII where air power was more important. It did however, pin down a significant British naval force, just in case it tried to do anything. So the Brits were very keen to be rid of it.
There were many attacks on it, mostly ineffective. There was a raid on it near Leknes, with human-guided torpedoes launched from the Shetland islands (we learnt from an on-board lecture). The RAF took to sending mass raids of Lancaster bombers with bunker buster bombs, and finally managed to hit it, but only damaged it. It was then moved to Tromsø for repair.
When it was in shallow water at Tromsø the RAF finally managed to sink it. The boat took us to the site of the sinking, and then around the fjords for sightseeing and nature viewing.
There’s not much to see where the ship was sunk. What you can see is the remnants of the post war salvage operation. Still it’s an important chapter in history.
To go on the boat, we were bundled up in arctic survival gear, over the top of our regular warm clothes. That kept us warm in the face of 7°C winds as the boat was running about at up to 86kmh (54mph). Too warm even as we got rather sweaty.
The ride was surprisingly energetic, and rather rough on the legs/knees (you need to hold yourself up off the seat when it’s bumpy, sort of like riding a horse, and it gets quite violent at times), so we decided to swap the other RIB adventure we had planned for a different outing. It was a great experience but once is enough for now.
The next stop was the Fygle Museum, this was a small museum of normal local life. It’s in an old school building, and there are exhibits of a schoolroom, and schoolmaster’s room. There’s also craftsmen’s tools. Outside is a “rurbu”, a fishermen’s shack, with exhibitions of fishermen’s life.