Day 9 of our journey and it was hard to wake up. After our midnight concert the night before and staying up to watch us leave Tromsø and search for the Northern Lights, it was after 2 o’clock in the morning before I finally fell into bed. It was a good thing that they served breakfast until 10am or I would have starved…as if it is even possible to starve on a cruise ship! All of my devices needed recharging. I don’t know if you knew or even thought about the fact that electrical outlets look different in Europe. In order to plug in your stuff, you need to have an adapter or adapters. Norway is no different and the ship was no different, either. I did know about this ahead of time and brought along my handy-dandy adapter kit. In Norway, the outlet is a round, recessed receptacle with two round holes. The little gadget at the top right fits into that port and then the larger, square voltage thing plugs into that and finally you can plug the charger for your Kindle or MP3 or tablet or phone or whatever right into the voltage thing. It’s a little awkward with all this jumble of stuff plugged into each other and hanging out of the outlet, but it works! Within just a short time I was all recharged and ready to go. At about 10:45 we arrived in the little village of Risøyhamn, with a population of 211. Risøhamn is connected by a beautiful bridge to the island of Andøya, which is closest to some of the best fishing banks on this coast. The fish are transported to Risøyhamn by truck and then transferred to the Hurtigruten ships for delivery. I got out to take a quick walk up and down the main street, to stretch my legs and get a feel for the place. You can see the moon up in the sky and our ship docked at the quay. In about fifteen minutes we were once again on our way.
Our next port of call, just after lunch, was Sortland, (pronounced SOTE-lan), the main town in Vesterålen, (pronounced VES-ter-RONE), with a population of about 4,600. Sortland is the headquarters for Norway’s Coastguard, patrolling the vast area of the North Atlantic. Lots of houses in town are painted blue, so it is sometimes referred to as the “blue city”.
Some ship passengers took the opportunity to try out using a kicksled, which is very common in Norway, especially where roads are not plowed. We saw people everywhere using them.
I was intrigued by this church, which was visible from the ship, peeping through the trees. I found out that it was built in 1902 and if I ever visit again, I will go visit it.
On our way once more, our next stop was in Stokmarknes, (pronounced STOCK-mark-NESS) where we arrived a little after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. This is the home of the Museum of the Coastal Express, where it all began for Hurtigruten. Those who were on the full voyage were treated to free tickets to the museum. The centerpiece of the museum, is being able to go aboard the Finnmarken, built in 1956 and which is now being restored.
I found the museum to be very interesting. It told the history of the Vesteraalen Steamship Company, founded by Richard With in Stockmarknes in 1881. He piloted the first ship along the west and north coast of Norway in 1893, opening up communications and trade along the remote coast, even in the winter.
A gingerbread village created by the town’s children, depicting Stockmarknes, greeted visitors to the museum.
One of my favorite photos in the museum showed how they used to lift automobiles onto and off of the ship, using cranes. Today, cars and trucks just drive right onto the ship.
This is the lobby area leading to the Finnmarken, built in 1956 and being restored to her original beauty. This is the other part of the museum.
This is one of the ship’s dining rooms being restored. Notice the turquoise and pink color scheme so popular in the 50’s.
The cabins were still in the process of being renovated. They looked very similar to the cabins on our modern ship. The ceilings throughout the ship seemed much lower, however.
The outside decks were interesting, with beautiful wooden deck chairs for the passengers.
The ship’s bridge looked small and almost primitive compared to the bridge on today’s modern ships.
Saying Good-bye to Stokmarknes, we continue south where it looks like we are sailing straight into a mountain. Then, we enter a narrow channel where we wind our way through, with mountains on either side it seems like you can reach out and touch them. This is Raftsundet (raf-SOON-ah), a 12-mile long passage. The ful moon was out illuminating the snow on the mountains, when there they appeared again — the Northern Lights!
It was quite exciting! Almost everyone was out on deck to witness the magical scenery.
We arrived in Svolvær (slow-VARE), in the heart of Lofoten (low-FOE-den) and the world’s largest cod fishery, after dinner, where I went ashore for a tour. Our first stop was the cod drying racks, which would soon be filled with fish. We then visited one of the fishing shacks at the shoreline, where several fisherman would live together during cod season between January and April. Today many of those shacks have now been converted into lodging for tourists.
Next we visited a replica of an old fashioned Lofoten country store.
Lofoten was home to the famous artist Gunnar Berg . (1863-1893). Here we got to see his famous painting Trollfjordslaget (The Battle at Trollfjord) as well as many of his other paintings of daily life in Lofoten.
It was all so very interesting, but unfortunately, I was so tired from our late night last night that I could hardly stay awake, and kept nodding off during the lecture. Wah!
Arriving back to the ship I fell into bed and was immediately asleep, after our long and busy day. We made the bumpy crossing between Bodø and Ørnes during the night, so I didn’t even notice it this time. Sweet dreams!!