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Archive for the ‘northern lights’ Category


It’s hard to know really where day 1 ends and day 2 begins. Although the beds are comfortable I’m a light sleeper so didn’t really sleep through the whole night. Around about 4:40 we arrived in Floro, our first port, everyone was still fast asleep on the shore, save for the loan dock hand who was rapidly approaching the closed dock gates in his car. As the ship slowly manoeuvred into her berth the gates slid open as the car drove through, screeching to a halt not 10 feet from the ship, out sprang the driver, an tall young man, just in time to grab the mooring lines and secure the vessel. Hardly seemed worthwhile considering that by 5:05 we had already cast off and were on our way once again. By the time we woke again at 7 we were docked again at Maloy another fairly short stay as we were underway within 15 minutes. By the time we got up for breakfast it was well past 9 and we were out at sea, with just the mere hint of a swell.

After a nice breakfast Steph partook in one of her favourite pass times, shopping for a new handbag! I must admit that I also bought another bag, well I needed something to carry the iPad, MacBook, Kindle etc. While in the shop Steph was able to help another equally old lady to choose a new jacket! She’s good at making friends, picking up strangers, mainly of a certain age, old!

As I’d forgot my belt it was a good job that Steph bought the new handbag, and it just happend to have a spare shoulder strap in it, so now I have a designer belt to go with my designer jeans!

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At 12 we docked in Alesund for a three hour stay, so after a quick bit of lunch we disembarked and wandered around the town for a while. The weather was rather dismal so the town wasn’t really seen at it’s best, I think that on a nice sunny day, or with a good covering of snow it would look wonderful.

We spent most of the rest of the afternoon sitting in the bar posting on Facebook and listening to one group expounding on the best way to photograph ‘the lights’ if they appear. Not too sure that the long exposure in the bar proved very much though, beyond the fact that 4 to 8 seconds in a bar with relatively good lighting conditions provides a rather overexposed motion blur, no matter how still the subject sits! Steph did suggest I went and involved myself, but at the end of the day I’m not that big headed and some of the advice wasn’t necessarily too far off the mark, just a little incessant in it’s delivery. Mind you they weren’t the only people expounding, oh no. Another nearby party were discussing the ins and outs of why they decided not to take up the wine deal, it wasn’t the cost you understand, oh no just that they didn’t drink a bottle a night – anymore! Never mind, Steph managed to get the post cards written and I did get a couple of posts done, oh and I changed her picture on Facebook, I’ll let her use that nice one I took of her yesterday!

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About an hour before dinner the tannoy announced that we were just about to pass the largest gas and oil processing terminal in Norway on the starboard side of the ship, so we dutifully went out and stared at a very dark island, nothing at all like Ellesmere Port! Next announcement, “Sorry, the plant is actually on the port side, that’s the left side, not the right”, still not quite Ellesmere Port. I did fire off a quick shot but needless to say it was black, should have listen to all that advice from earlier!

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Down to dinner we went, just as the ship started to roll a bit. While Steph sat and patiently waited for the restaurant to open a well dressed young man, well the dressed bit was accurate, came and sat next to her. Unfortunately I scuppered her chances by returning just then, which meant that Mr Bean (the said gentleman) spent dinner on his own, though I’m fairly sure I saw him talking – to himself , maybe he’s Belgian, after all thee are some on board.

Sat at the front of the panorama lounge as we made our way into Kristiansund, where we were tied up for an hour or so. We spent most of the time sat chatting with a couple from the Wirral who are also on they’re first cruise.

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After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel Parc in, Bergen,we checked out and wandered into the city. Heading down the hill past St Paul’s Skol we made our way to the fish market where we were able to sample some wonderful local salmon, the young fishmonger wouldn’t let us go until we tried the salmon that had been marinated in cognac, mustard and dill. It was truly scrumptious!

We made our way to the funicular and managed to catch the 11:45 to the top of the mountain, interestingly it stopped several times for people to get off and on, well only on as no one actually got off until we reached the top.

The view was just stunning, the snow deep and crisp, cean and white. First stop was the viewing rail, rather icy to get to but well worth it, even if Steph did manage to loose her walking poll down the gap!

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We walked up the path to the lake which was frozen solid so that we could actually walk on it, good job that the safety elves weren’t around! As we walked round the lake there was a wonderful smell of wood smoke, this was coming from the BBQ bit which was being used to cook sausages for the kindergarten outing. What a fantastic day out for the kids!

We made our way back to the station via the gift shop, not for a purchase you understand, just so that Steph could let the people know that even though there was a walking pole the other side of the safety rail there was no one with it, in case they were concerned. Well the lady in the shop assured her that she was not the first stupid tourist, not sure that those were her exact words, to loose something over the side and that she would get a man to fetch it. As the man was struggling down the icy rocks another old lady dropped her walking stick down the gap too!

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Back down the funicular we went and then over to the old water front, where we stopped for a hot chocolate and a shared pastry, yes I did say shared! A slow walk back up to the hotel followed, stopping off at various shops on the way, only to browse you understand. At the prices in Norway browsing is about all one can do. We did stop in a health shop and bought some tea and crystallised ginger, good against sea sickness apparently. When we got back to the hotel at about 2:30 they made us some fresh coffee and fed us some brownies, even though we had already checked out hours earlier and were really just collecting our luggage, so friendly and nice, highly recommended.

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At around 3:30 we caught a taxi to the Hurtigruten terminal, only a short ride about 5 minutes and 150 kroner, about £17 but there was no way that we were going to drag the 3 cases down the snow and ice covered streets. And yes I did say 3 cases, we were traveling light! We were quickly, and cautiously, dealt with. Our boarding cards were in an envelope along with our cabin number, our table number for dinner and sone basic information. Within 10 minutes we were on board and in our cabin, snug but very clean and comfortable. First stop was the bar, no not for a drink just to get our key cards validated so that we could use them to pay for things. We also bought our refillable mugs, 250 kroner but allows you to drink as much coffee and tea as you want so not bad value when you consider that a cup of coffee costs 27 krone! We did thing about maybe taking the wine deal, bottle of wine and water with dinner each night, but 3669 kroner was just a bit over the top, so guess we wont be going home alcoholics. Mind you we may well finish the bottle of Amaretto from the duty free before the cruise is over.

Thought we’d better try the coffee now we had the mugs, need to make sure that we get our full monies worth don’t we! Went and just sat in the panorama lounge to drink it. Joked with some other Brits that we’d be down each morning with our towels to reserve our seats, if you’re British you’ll understand this, if not, just ask a Brit, not a German!

By the time we returned to the cabin the luggage was there ready to unpack, three cases into a ten inch deep wardrobe is a real feet of magic. Some how or other everything found a home and our snug clean cabin is as neat and tidy as when we first arrived, well almost. It’s probably slightly larger than the caravan, but to that we normally only take a bag or two, not three bloody cases!

Thought we’d go and have another coffee and enjoy the views from the lounge again before the excursion desk opened when we’d tried to book it before leaving it had been fully booked and it was the one she really wanted to do. Good job we walked past the excursion desk on the way to the lounge as it was already open and we certainly weren’t the first, that would be the several hundred Japanese, alright I’m exaggerating slightly, 99! Actually the japanese were walking past but there were a number of Brits in front of us and needless to say there still was no availability, so instead we booked the reindeer safari which includes skidoos as well, so at least we got a refund on the original skidoo excursion.

Dinner was an open buffet, and very nice it was too, cold plates, various hot dishes and a multitude of puddings, not too sure how the diet will fare after 12 days of this. There was then the usual welcome type meeting, which though useful went on a little too long for me. It was nice to here that the ship has just come out of a short spell in dry dock, which explains the particularly nice clean carpets everywhere. It was nice to be back in the panorama lounge as we departed Bergen at 10:00 pm on our journey north.

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