Day 8 and we crossed the imaginary line (there’s an island with a plaque on it) and entered the Arctic Circle. For many, this was where the real fun starts. By now, the temperatures were dropping unlike the sun which wasn’t going below the horizon, causing 24 hour daylight and plenty of confusion about when to stop drinking at the bar.
Tromsø, the most northern city (with population more than 50,000) in the world. It sits on an island connected by a few bridges, the northern version of Manhattan.
The Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø.
Double rainbow! This happened shortly after midnight.
We had two days at sea to make the crossing from northern Norway to Svalbard. The only landmass we saw was this ominous looking island called Bear Island. Apparently in WW2 two German soldiers got dropped off to set-up a weather station, failed miserably and were abandoned. They have the dubious honour of being some of the last to surrender.
First eyes on Svalbard and its spectacular ice and glaciers everywhere. We were straight on to looking for polar bears and this involves sticking the nose of the ship into ice and being patient. We didn’t see any on this occasion but did spot a walrus and pup on one of the icebergs.
One of numerous land missions was to an abandoned (in the 18th century?) whaling station called Bamsebu. One of the byproducts of whaling is the bones and without having a whole lot of use for them, the whalers just left them in giant piles not the beach. A really sad and quite depressing sight.
And then as if to reassure us that they were ok now, these four beluga whales swam past and gave us a wave.
A kind of grumpy looking reindeer. These were the most common animal sighting and generally just hung around on the land eating rocks.
A giant pile of walruses. They’re amazing animals up close, but they don’t do a whole lot apart from roll around on top of each other.
Damnit Russia. This is a mining town called Barentsburg which has about 500 inhabitants for mining purposes. Although technically it’s Norwegian, Russia have complete control over it, hence the homely, natural feel to the place.
In case you were wondering, this is what standing on fast ice looks like. Crunch crunch.
The end of the road, our trip ended in Longyearbyen (the northernmost place in the world with 1000+ people). This sign warns people to not go past it as there are polar bears roaming that will almost definitely eat your face off. The people I’m pointing to clearly don’t read Norwegian.
I wasn’t quite ready to leave the Nordic region, so on my way back to London I stopped in Oslo for a look around. Aside from a ridiculous number of Tesla’s, excellent coffee and the most expensive beer in the world, it also has a park full of anonymous human statues. The Vigeland installation has a monolith at the centre with 121 human figures intertwined.
Last stop-over was Copenhagen. Really cool city, this photo doesn’t really sum it up but it is a giant wooden organ held up by elephants. (Inside the Church of our Saviour)