Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Norway in November – Nordkapp

April 5, 2016

Day 6 of my voyage on the Lofoten

The English seafarers of the sixteenth century were amazing people of great courage. Even so, how surprising that they reached so far into the Arctic Circle.  So Nordkapp has been known for centuries.  Surveyed in 1553 by the captain of the Edward Bonaventure, North Cape is the northernmost point in Europe – or so they thought at the time.  In fact the real northernmost point is close by: the neighbouring Knivskjellodden point, a little to the west, actually extends 1,457 metres (4,780 feet) further to the north.  From Nordkapp, one can look out over the Barents Sea, a name remembered from that childhood fascination with names and facts, and a part of the Arctic Ocean: a name to conjure with.

Nordkapp – a snowy, bleakly beautiful headland that the sea and the winds and storms have roughed out of solid rock -marked with a globe.

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Volcanic cliffs jutting into the sea – with an image of the world standing proud.

 

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To the West, the slightly more northerly point.

At last we have found good snow in this remarkably mild winter of 2015.

But who would want to quibble, after all. Between the two points there are scary crevasses – don’t worry: there was a good fence between me and those cliffs. The sunset light you see here, gently altering, lasted from well before midday onwards through the short afternoon. Pinks and apricots are the light palette of the sky, above this harsh rock and snow.

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The cliff has jagged inlets – mini-fjords, I guess – dramatic in their abruptness.

 

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We all took one another’s photos by the globe.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

 

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On the steps of the North Cape globe: a pair of sandals and a message.

The sandals speak to me directly – I can’t help listening to them – they ask me to take them further on their journey around the world – I wonder whether anyone else will feel that responsibility. . . .  and I leave them there.   For now.

I wonder how far they have come.  Remember the gnomes in Amélie? who sent all those postcards?  It felt like that.

travelling gnome

Given that I’m inclined to address inanimate objects anyway (and emphatically not in a twee way) I knew that it was me they were speaking to.  But, for Pete’s sake, I’m on holiday: fresh responsibility is the last thing I want.  Maybe someone else will adopt them, and I’ll be off their hook.

It’s getting colder, and a low inviting building might offer coffee.

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Sunrise. Or is it sunset?

In fact, inside there is a sophisticated visitor centre, with good coffee and a café; displays about Arctic bird life;  a kind of son et lumière response to the changing seasons of the Arctic Circle;  a film of the Northern Lights (which last I missed – ran out of time).  Perhaps I’m not going to see any Northern Lights at all – but I don’t mind that.  I know better than to set up great big goals for myself.

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Inside the visitor centre: someone has a sense of humour.

I ran out of time then because I was transfixed by simplicity: a narrative series of posters on a wall – the story of the naval Battle of Murmansk.  They call them the Arctic Convoys here, but for some reason I know them as the Murmansk Convoys. The Arctic Convoys and the sea battle when the Scharnhorst was sunk with nearly all hands.  I was moved to tears, reading it, and thought of my father.  How he cared about it all so much and tried to tell us the detail, even in the sixties.  How little I grasped then, or bothered to grasp, back in the day.  But now the terrible story, the awful courage and the dark, cold deaths – I weep for them all, long gone.   Here, at Nordkapp on a clear calm day, it was suddenly poignantly easy to imagine those big fierce vessels in the black dark in a force ten gale, violently and blindly beating towards one another through huge waves, with their appalling firepower and blazing hellish explosions.  When the Scharnhorst went down into those terrifying December seas, only 36 men were saved out of her entire crew of nearly 2,000.

Shaken by maps and facts, I heard the call go out for the bus, so I seized the last moments, as I always will.  This time I lumbered out, crunching the snow, and salvaged those sandals from the steps of the globe: the image of a unified and generous world.

Day six held much, much more – I’ll continue it next time.

 

Comedy signs on board a Norwegian ship

November 25, 2015

Some Barkerian impulse directed me to photograph these signs, found on the Lofoten on the first day.  I’d been awake all night and travelling all day – that’s my excuse. I gave up making fun of foreigners after that, I promise.

the first word probably means 'boat' ???

the first word probably means ‘boat’ ???

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Interesting location – visible as you come up the stairs, of course.

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Lofoten carries the post between coastal and island towns - some of them very small.  You can post a letter on the ship and have it stamped with the ship's own postmark.

Lofoten carries the post between coastal and island towns – some of them very small. You can post a letter on the ship and have it stamped with the ship’s own postmark.  A few days later I noticed that the flag flying at the stern has the word ‘post’ on it – they have a contract with the government, I heard.

 

View from the deck of the Hurtigruten sign, and of cargo being loaded - dark already at a quarter to four in the afternoon. That fork-lift device is amazing - so delicate and precise in managing odd, clumsy, and heavy sizes and shapes of goods.

View from the deck of the Hurtigruten sign, and of cargo being loaded – dark already at a quarter to four in the afternoon.
That fork-lift device is amazing – so delicate and precise in managing odd, clumsy, and heavy sizes and shapes of goods.  They carry all sorts of things – lots of construction materials, fresh fish in ice in big plastic boxes,  barrels of oil, even damp cardboard boxes.  Some are lifted down into the hold under the foredeck, some just rest on the deck.  At every stop something comes or goes: a load of Christmas trees was moved northwards.

 

 

makes me think of whales

This shape makes me think of whales.  There are lots of pictures of ships on the ship.

 

Note the name of the Captain!  A very nice man. We asked if he was any relation to the explorer. His answer was clever and ambiguous.

Note the name of the Captain! A very nice man. We asked if he was any relation to the explorer. His answer was clever and ambiguous.

 


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