At the top of Europe, or what felt like the top of the world, we arrived in Honningsvag on an extremely icy and rough ‘Summers’ day. We were unable to dock and were tendered ashore which added to the excitement and anticipation of reaching our destination, Nordkapp or the Northcape. Hel and I were both escorting groups on this excursion. Our drive up to the visitors centre took us through a lunar like landscape covered in fresh snow where we stopped to visit a Sami camp. It is not certain when the Sami people came to Norway but it is thought that they arrived, originally from Russia, prior to Roman times.
In the North Cape the entire disc of the midnight sun is visible between mid May and early August. The visitors centre is located on a cliff top 307 metres above the Arctic Ocean, providing panoramic views (on a clear day). After a quick dash outside in the sleety conditions for a token photo in front of the globe that represents peace, we headed in for (more) hot waffles with jam and cream. We were all grateful to return to the ship that evening after our bus ironically overheated and slightly delayed the Artemis’ departure.
Our next port was Hammerfest-the world’s northern most town which has been rebuilt twice as a result of an 1856 hurricane and fire in World War 2. It is located on the island of Kvaloya, one of Finmark’s largest islands, off the coast of Norway. This was my least favourite town we visited as we docked in bleak conditions and the town did not boast the amazing architecture of previous places. After a short stroll through the town and a climb of a big hill for some quick photos, I walked along the waterfront back to the ship in the biting wind. This allowed me to reflect how truly difficult life must be in this part of the world. With the harsh cold most of the year and complete darkness for at least 3 months of the year, this lifestyle would only be for the most hardy!
Later that evening as we cruised south the sun broke through the clouds for the first time in several days, which made for a surreal occasion as many people braved the chill on the ship deck to witness the bright sunlight at midnight!
Tromso! I was looking forward to this port in particular as I had signed up for a tour to a husky farm. It was lovely to wake to a stunning warm (six degree) day, cruising through more snow capped mountains. Just glorious. The drive to the farm took us around the edge of the harbour boarded by the most picturesque mountains reminding me much of home. It was truly breathtaking. Once at the farm, which was home to approximately 100 Alaskan Huskies, we were able to pet the dogs and visit a week old pup. We learnt about how the dogs race and their different roles in pulling the sleds. These dogs are incredibly beautiful with their icy blue eyes and amazing intelligence. It was hard to resist the urge to take one home with me.