(6 & 7) NORWAY - the Arctic Circle


NORWAY

THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

DAY SIX AND SEVEN. Arctic Circle celebrations on the boat deck this morning. This consists of some brave passengers having ice put down their neck by Neptune. Not the real one of course! Hot toddy rewarded their efforts. It was good to watch, but watch was all I did. Anyway I wear so many clothes: I’m thermally insulated from head to toe and I wear two hats (honestly) so Neptune would ne’r have managed to find my neck.

         Neptune about to do ‘his thing’ with ice-cubes

Neptune about to do 'his thing' with ice-cubes

If you have read the earlier articles in this series you’ll know I’m on my way to see the Northern Lights (hopefully), and you’ll also know that the weather so far has not been kind to us. Today our first stop was Bodo (the second largest city in Northern Norway). The rain fell on slush, ice and snow underfoot, but here’s the joy — the icy sleet has gone. Be grateful for small mercies I say.

BODO

Ahh Bodo, the driving rain forced us (again) not to look around too much and the deep slush meant feet had to be watched, so we were only off the boat for a breath of fresh air rather than seeing your glories.

Another passenger later told us that his organized trip from Bodo had been very disappointing because they’d had a terrible journey to get wherever they were going, and then whatever it was that they were going to see had been closed due to the terrible weather conditions.

There was a short film on the boat this evening about the Aurora Borealis. I wonder if this is as much as I’m going to see of the Northern Lights L. We were told that we were in the most likely place in the world to see it. I felt like adding ‘if the clouds part’!

DOG SLEDDING IN TROMSO

Guess what? I looked out of the porthole at 8 am and the sky was partially clear! Not a raindrop in sight and I could see the beautiful white land in the distance.

Guess what again? By 9 o’clock we were back to the norm. So it looks like the town of Tromso and our dog sledding will be in the rain. What’s new?

Bit of history for you … Tromso was the capital of polar bear hunting and exporting in days gone by. One fearless explorer had 79 dead bears to his credit (credit?), or so the film we saw onboard his morning said. Many of the bears in zoos around the world would have ancestors caught and shipped from Tromso. Okay history over.

Late morning it was announced that by early evening the weather would be extremely bad (can it get any worse!). It seems there is a hurricane on the horizon and it is coming our way. At some point we would have to find a safe harbour we were told. Well, glory be! What a holiday this is turning out to be. I sense that another four hours prone in our bunks is just around the corner.

Unfortunately by mid-day we learned that our dog sledding was cancelled due to Arctic conditions. Oh dear, this was supposed to be the highlight of the trip, next to seeing the Northern Lights. This holiday is fast turning from disaster to farce and I keep getting the urge to laugh at it all! There’s not much alternative.

HURRICANE ON THE HORIZON

At 2 o’clock lots of people were already waiting by the disembarkation area, all kitted up and looking like Eskimos. Then it was announced that all the coach trips from and around Tromso were cancelled due to the bad weather.

By 2.30 pm when we should have been docked, we were told over the loudspeakers that it was difficult to dock and some boats were going to be asked to move which would help us. All very odd.

By 3.30 pm we were told it was just not possible to dock at all, and we were going to sail around a bit and just wait and see what happened. I thought this was also odd because the sea felt relatively calm in the sheltered harbour water (my sea-legs must have kicked in after everything that has gone before).

Eventually we did dock. It took well over two hours and we only then had an hour on land to explore, but Tromso, Tromso, I love you — it didn’t rain! Wow! There was wind, yes. Snow, yes, but at long last there was no driving rain to force me to keep my head bowed. The snow covered its modern streets, which possibly without snow I might not have fallen quite so much in love with, but good on ya Tromso for bringing better weather.

Oh dear! Getting back on board the hurricane news was not comforting and my sense of immortality was about to set in. I am glad that I didn’t know the coming night was going to be the most terrifying twelve hours of the journey.

STAY TUNED — next time I guarantee you’ll be scared.

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