The Hurtigruten has been steaming its way, or I guess nowadays you would say powering its way up and down the Norwegian coastline for the last 100 plus year. During that time the operation has gone from one small boat to a large fleet with boats picking up passengers daily from 34 ports, starting the trip north from Bergen and returning south from Kirkenes. Long ago the boat was more purposeful as it carried mail up and down the coast to all of the hard to reach towns in the fjords and islands along the coast.
Today not much mail is transported back and forth by these ships. Now the cargo is hundreds happy vacationers looking for a diversion from their work or daily lives. For lunch today we dined in the main restaurant. Lining the walls of both sides of the room are windows that give everyone a spectacularly changing view of the scenery as it passes by. Today this moving view was the “Seven Sisters” peaks that are the inspiration for many Norwegian fairy tales and poetry. After stuffing ourselves with crab legs and meats and salads and desserts, the sun started to set. Normally the setting sun is something we all might categorize as simply a nice part of the day when the sky produces some spectacular colors and landscapes. However for us this sunset has a little more meaning.
On our quest for the trophy of conquering the North Cape in the middle of winter, we left the sun behind nearly two weeks ago. With bad weather since around Christmas, we had not seen the sun for quite a while before entering Scandinavia. Once we arrived in the land of the north, we quickly made our way above the Arctic Circle where we spent over a week…until now. Our treat today was a chance to interview the captain of the ship and film him navigating into the harbor of Sandnessjoen. I knew that we must be getting close to the Arctic Circle on the map so I asked the captain where we were. Apparently this town would be our last stop before crossing the official line south.
Both Mark and I were hungry, so after we finished up with the Captain on the bridge, we hurried down to the restaurant to be the first in line for the buffet at lunch. I really thought nothing of the fact that we were about to cross over the official Arctic boundary in the scurry downstairs to get fed. While we were eating, the boat left the harbor and started pushing on south and just as we finished up our second plates of the delicious desserts, Mark said to me, “There is a glow on the mountains behind you.” That was the moment we left the Arctic and the setting sun actually rose above our horizon to give us a total of about 10 minutes of time with that wonderful burning orb of gas I missed so much for the last couple of weeks.
The Northern Lights are an amazing thing to see, and I will most certainly take any chance to see them again. This last 10 days without sun is the longest period I have ever gone without seeing the sun. With the incredible beauty that lies up north, the aurora borealis, the fjords, and the mountains I can see why people choose to live up here, but for me…I will continue my love affair with the sun. Sitting here on the Hurtigruten after a successful trip to North Cape and a truly amazing sunset is definitely a stylish way to start the journey south…Africa here we come!
Steve making some calls on the bridge.
Helping to steer the boat.
Okay, okay the Captain really steering the boat.
The captain and his charts.
10 beautiful minutes of sun.