Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Returning to the unfinished sequence: Day 6 (continued)

July 27, 2018

I had a wonderful cruise on the ‘MS Lofoten’ more than two years ago now. Somehow, the blog posts petered out when I reached Nordkapp, but I still have my notes and I might be able to find my photos. I still have a strong sense that it needs to be finished.  We left my journey with the travelling sandals at Nordkapp –

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the travelling sandals on board MS Lofoten

Day Six – Monday 16th November 2015 – was overloaded with experiences, and I can’t easily reconstruct their sequence.  You will have to accept the patchwork, and the jumble of times and events.  A little inflatable charged towards us in the dark – orange men in bright orange overalls – and I thought: how strange and wonderful to be one of the people for whom everything is laid on.  In this staged event, a local fisherman came aboard with a bucket of King Crabs (Kamchatka crabs).  “I bring them here for you; for your entertainment” said the fisherman.  Big boots.  He swung on board up a rope ladder – no faking it.  I felt like Elizabeth I on a progress.  What drama would next emerge? These invader crabs are wonderful to eat – but not nice to see them alive and maybe unhappy.  Surely unhappy – crawling around, or lying doggo, on that big plastic bin.  Was I about to see them killed?  I turned tail, revolted.  Didn’t take the photo (forgetting that I’m a sometime blogger and would need it later) – go on the trip yourself if you want to see the show of their struggle.  (This picture was taken in the fish market at Bergen.)

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Kamchatka crab

Before Nordkapp, what?

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A quick walk on the icy wharf at Harvoysund, when a smart black car swept up suddenly – a couple jumped out, embraced, and the woman stepped quickly on board.  A flash car, a sophisticated moment, were unexpected and somehow incongruous in this tiny place.  I gaped like a yokel.

These are puzzling places.  Some seem big: they’re not hick towns at all, for all their wintry inaccessibility.  So very far north, such an extreme climate, yet people still drive smart cars, embrace, express irony.  The houses around the wharf display lights in their windows – an old custom, symbolising lighting the seafarer home.

Our ship takes on cargo – Christmas trees at the next town – around ten am.

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It’s twenty to six, and there’s still dinner, and two more stops to make before today is over.  The boat is gently pitching now, instead of the rolling she more usually does. I suppose it’s to do with turning the top corner.

That was not all on this wonderful day.  Illuminated cliffs as the ship went near to a fjord, and shone its lights onto the steep rocks.  Earlier, I was standing on the deck in the icy cold, enjoying solitude in the growing dark when I realised that I was watching a blue-green light gradually extending itself across the sky.  The Northern lights, displaying themselves in cold abstraction across the heavens.  Behind them, the Plough (the Great Bear – the Ice Bear – the Isbjorn); Cassiopeia winding the lights as her hair.  Somewhere, the Pole Star.  And next to me, sharing them: an exhilarated, deaf, Irish-Australian  woman – Pauline – .  My heart, already softened at Nordkapp, rejoiced, delighted.  It will do feelings, after all, careless of rationality.  Hope and joy: “See, see, where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament – “.  I can’t help thinking it, though the blood bit is all wrong.  The chill green, pale as a drift of cloud, is there whether we are here with our amazement and wonder, or not.  Our primitive awe that takes no notice of scientific explanation, but just looks most deeply at the strangeness of it all.

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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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